Belts

When going through metal detectors, everyone has to take off their belts.  I know enough not to wear a belt and complicated tied shoes, when going through metal detectors.  I laugh at people who always have to wear a belt, and shoes that one has to sit down and pull off and sit down and worm their foot back into.  Don't they think ahead?  Do they like making others wait for them to take off their belts and shoes?  Or do they have oppositional personalities--because I told them not to wear a belt and go buy a pair of clogs or loafers, they won't?  Do you think they just don't think?  Are they self-absorbed?

These thoughts came to mind when I read the Gospel for this Second Sunday in Advent, Matt. 3:1-12.  John wore clothing made of camel's hair and had a leather belt around his waist.  Why would an ascetic wear leather?  Why not rope?  Why anything at all?

This morning I was reading December Magnificat.  Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. wrote an editorial on belts.  He quotes the Jesuit Father Cornelius a Lapide saying that a belt can be penitential.  Leather is sturdy and strong.  John's hair shirt held securely in place with a leather belt would prick and be very uncomfortable.  Following this thought, so would a "girded" mind. The tight belt helps keep the mind focused on the task at hand and not fantasizing who knows what.  So that's why John wore a leather belt.

So did St. Dominic.  In fact, there's a story that said when Dominic and Francis met, they exchanged belts.

Knowing this background information, doesn't erase my amusement at people going through metal detectors. They are not ascetics.  They are not wearing belts for spiritual reasons.  My feeling  is that they don't think.  They don't think of others--that they'd be holding people up.  They don't think ahead.  They never think to buy different shoes.

God bless them.


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