Well,we can all breath a sigh of relief...the new Pope has been chosen. Religion is one of those touchy subjects I usually keep away from but all the hullabaloo lately about the new Pope reminded me of an incident that happened to me years ago.
Yes,I'm a lifelong Catholic. Not so much a practicing one but it's there in my blood and being. I had always gone to public schools but right after 6th grade my parents enrolled me in Catholic school. But after 7th,8th and 9th grades I found out I was really a "public school" kind of kid after all. The Catholic schools were kind of "clique-y"...just didn't fit in. These kids had gone to school since kindergarten and didn't take to a "newbie" invading their space.
Believe it or not, in 8th grade I seriously considered being a nun,lol. It was after our class took a field trip to a priest's seminary to see how they live. That's something you never quite forget. Plus one of the nun teachers always told me..."Oh,you're so sweet..you should be a nun". Guess that put ideas in my head. It made me feel good that she said that but now looking back,was she just buttering up recruits? lol
Near the end of 8th grade my school had a "Big Sister,Little Sister" day where they took you over to the Catholic High School and hooked you up with a freshman student and you tagged along with them for the day to give you a preview of what you were in for the next year.
I remember my "Big Sister"...she was all thin and bubbly and blonde haired with anklet socks and teeny fashionable sneakers. She looked like an "in" kind of person. Right away a gnarly feeling knotted in my stomach. I wore glasses. I wasn't hip. I wore size 9 1/2.
Ever been to an all girls Catholic high school? (Ick!) During Christmas vacation MY freshman year I remember lying in my bed at night and thinking.."I can't go through another year of this". First there was the creepy "Theology" teacher. (Think that's what religion class was called) He used to look down the girl's blouses..I saw him do it multiple times. (ick!) Then there was the time I actually saw the Vice Principal with a broom shoo-ing boys off the campus. (I'm really not making this up!) During assembly's all the girls would put their arms around each other and sing together...I'd look around the whole circular auditorium and each girl blended in with the next all chained together smiling and crooning. But not me. I stood to the side tired of all the perfume and skirts and girl chatter. I wanted to smell some sweat,see some whiskers and pants! Boys!!!
Classes there kicked my ass...it was tough but somehow I made it through. My only friend was this Mexican girl who didn't speak a word of English but somehow we managed to be friends. Laura her name was. We ate lunch everyday together. She had a gold front tooth.She gave me a Christmas card and I still have it to this day. Don't know why she was even there or what she could have possibly learned but I never forgot her and never found out what happened to her. Laura,if you're out there,HOLA!!
Well,anyway,back to the story,lol.
Right before graduating high school (public,yeah!) I quit going to church. My parents couldn't make me anymore! Not that it was a burden... it's just that period where you want to start making your own decisions. And it wasn't until my father's funeral 11 years later I set foot back in the church.
But it felt a little different this time.
The "incident" had happened...something that shook my faith....something equivalent to finding out there was no Santa Claus. (I've never really been the same since THAT moment,lol)
It was while I was clerking at a neighborhood liquor store. (I was the Lottery Ticket girl!)
HE walked in one evening.
A man I hadn't seen since my childhood.
A man who had given me my First Communion...heard my First Confession (shudder!)....gave me my Confirmation.
Father Such and Such. (Can't remember his name anymore)
He wasn't wearing priest's clothes but that's not so unusual when they go out in public sometimes.
He came up to the counter carrying a bottle of wine. Again,not so unusual I suppose. But something felt...different.
I can't recall our exact conversation but we got to talking and I mentioned remembering him and how he had given me my sacraments. He then said he was NO LONGER A PRIEST.
Guesss I kind of blanked out when he was explaining himself. How are you a priest and then NOT a priest? OK,I know it really happens in life but at the time it just dumbfounded me.
This man had placed a Holy Host in my mouth...put the Body of Christ on my tongue...had sat on the other side of a screen and heard me confess lying to my mom about something. (What can you expect...it was third grade after all,lol)
I realized at that moment he was just a MAN. There really WAS no Santa Claus.
Years later I sit here and ponder how much this has affected me. Oh,not enough to EVER make me NOT believe in religion ...God is everything to me.... but it sure broke some kind of "illusion" I had about it all. Now I look at it more "realistically" I suppose.
Except at Christmas time. Because even today...if I listen hard enough...I STILL think I hear Santa on the roof!