“The Church is to transform, improve, “humanize” the world – but how can she do that if at the same time she turns her back on beauty, which is so closely allied to love?”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI!!)
My ideal grocery store is an indoor/outdoor market-place, like the Eastern Market in Detroit, where exotic and everyday mingle on the streets and in the shops. It needs a meat-market, fresh produce, and a spice shop - where herbs, spices, and teas line the walls floor to ceiling. I’m still waiting for my ideal to come to New England, but Saturday, we took a walk around the local Whole Foods. It isn’t ideal, no smoky spice shop, no outdoor produce stands, but it was lovely. Cleaner than Eastern Market, and less exciting, the store still impressed me: fruit piled in pyramid displays, warm colours, inviting meat and cheese counters; looking and feeling like an upscale indoor market.
Aesthetically, it has a Catholic spirit; I could feel their desire to create a sense of community among the shoppers, to appeal to our senses. I loved it, the only thing that keeps me from making Whole Foods our regular store is the rumor I hear that they are big supporters of Planned Parenthood. I haven’t yet figured out if the rumor is true or not, and until then we’ll stick to our usual store. Visiting Whole Foods made me wish I could make over all aspects of life in the Catholic ideal – cafés, theatres, and all manner of shops. I want that, Catholic aesthetic without all the morally problematic elements that so often go alone with it. Why is it that so many Catholics forget that the ugliness and artlessness we surround ourselves with “constitutes a really grave spiritual problem” (Thomas Merton).