SOME FOLKS ACTUALLY CHOOSE TO BE CATHOLIC?
THERE IS NO RECOVERY FROM BEING CATHOLIC
You know, the organizational church continues to embarrass itself and the rest of us, who still consider ourselves Catholics, by trying to minimize this pandemic problem of sexual abuse which has been pervasive and on-going for a very very long long time. The issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is just one example of powerful people feeling free to sexually exploit less powerful people JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. The abuse of power is an issue not just within the Church, but within societies and families universally. It’s one of many on-going human phenomenon that we will need to address till the end of time.
But this hub is not about the abuse scandal. I started putting this hub together about six months ago, late at night, while in a humorous stupor! Now a humorous stupor is when I am trying to "sneak" in a hub late at night when my sweetie pie is fast asleep and snoring and whether prayer is constitutional or not, I’m praying like crazy that she will not wake up and "catch" me. But the humorous stupor part is I’m laughing about what I’m writing, so keeping quiet becomes doubly difficult and the prayers become even more significant!
Unfortunately, because of yet another volcanic eruption around the sexual abuse scandal, I’m not sure if there is anything funny left about growing up Catholic nor is there anything interesting about grown up folks actually choosing to become Catholic. Perhaps with all the scandal, most potential "converts" are thinking only once about converting and it is a pretty quick decision. "I don’t think so." But who knows? Maybe one of you know whether or not the scandal has had an impact on folks joining the church. If so, leave a comment.
But I have decided to take a chance and publish this humorous peek into my life as a Catholic. The original hub has sat unpublished waiting for me to complete the final touches of formatting and to clean up syntax errors. Let this be a lesson to all of us. When you have a hub to publish, publish it!! History changes too quickly and may "stamp" the hub irrelevant or outdated or NOT as funny as it was originally!
SO HERE GOES. The curtain is up.
HUB STARTS HERE!
Hey, what's with the recovering Catholic notion, as if being a Catholic is an addiction? I mean, yea, I liked the altar wine, even before Mass, and I loved the incense, especially when we were getting a few hits before the service started, and I like Bingo, and all the nuns have habits, and some ordered (as well as disordered) priests have habits, and hey, I get it. Being Catholic sounds synonymous with an addiction, but let's face it. It aint! I mean, either you're a cradle catholic like me, or you were crazy or inspired enough to decide to join as an adult!
There is no recovery process here. I mean, my family is so nutty that on Halloween, my Dad placed a "wet paint" sign across the stairway leading up to our front door to keep Trick or Treaters away, and my Mom would send me out the back door around to the front porch to hand HOBOS a brown bag lunch because she was afraid if she opened the front door, something bad might happen to her. And I was three years old! And both my Mom and Dad allowed me to go to town with my alcoholic Uncle when I was six years old. He stopped at every bar between 138 Clark Street and downtown Fresno. The bartenders would say to my Uncle. "I'm sorry, we can't serve him." And my uncle would respond with a slew of profanities. "God d...., the kid doesn't want a drink, for Christ's sake. He just wants a coke. Isn't that right, Butch?" He called me Butch, but it never caused me any anxiety even when I wondered if I was gay! I didn't know what Butch was, except that it was my uncle's nickname for me, and my uncle was one heck of a guy. He bought me my first lunch pale and my first bicycle. He should've bought me my first drink too! The point here is that my family had and has a lot of things to recover from, but being Catholic aint one of them!
So I think all you folks who write about recovering from being Catholic are just using a gimmick to get folks to read your stuff! (Of course, I use gimmicks too!) The fact of the matter is THERE IS NO RECOVERY FROM BEING CATHOLIC!
My Mom used to say a curious thing. "We are the Catholics in the neighborhood." The way she said it made me think that we were the only Catholics in the neighborhood, and I never questioned it, even though, I walked to Catholic School every morning with quite a few kids from our neighborhood. Of course, they were Catholics too! That fact never changed THE fact that we were THE Catholics in the neighborhood. Now how crazy is that?
For Mom, there were never any exceptions to church law, like not eating meat on Friday. But we tried to sneak "cheeseburgers" by her when we went on trips. When she heard us ordering a cheeseburger, she would just assume that we were being good Catholics and ordering a cheese sandwich. UNTIL the cheeseburgers arrived. We tried to eat the burger quickly, before she had a chance to catch on, but she was also quick and embarrassed us by shouting, "We can't eat this. We're Catholics!"
Speaking of the no meat on Friday deal, THE WORST PART OF BEING CATHOLIC for me was having to walk four blocks to the fish market on Friday afternoon to get fresh fish for dinner. Well, the dogs would chase me all the way to the fish market, and they would really chase me all the way home. The fish market was on Belmont Street between Clark Street and Diana Street. Would you believe, my second wife's name is Dianna? And she insisted we get these two dogs, who try to bite me when I get into bed with her! How my past haunts me!
So needless to say, I hated Friday afternoons. I hated walking to the Fish Market. I hated Fish! And on Friday afternoons, I hated being Catholic UNTIL, Leon Peters, a well-known Fresno rancher, owner of Valley Foundry, and a benefactor, whose foundation built Fresno Community Hospital, asked my Dad why our family never attended his company's Christmas Party.
You see, Dad was an accountant and his firm took care of Valley Foundry's accounting needs. My Dad explained to him that we were Catholics and could not eat meat on Friday which is the day the Christmas Party was held, and Mr. Peters always served a traditional turkey dinner.
Well, Mr. Peters was totally stunned and told my Dad that he would personally see to it that we were served fish, and that our family was to attend the annual Christmas party! So we did.
THE BEST PART OF BEING CATHOLIC was going to Leon Peter's Christmas Party.
We sat at a typical large round ballroom table. In fact, the party was held in the ballroom of the Hotel California, in those days, the posh place in Fresno to have any kind of shindig. When the food was served, everyone at our table, except for us, was served their traditional turkey dinner.
Then the kitchen doors swung opened, just like in a movie, and waiters carrying large serving trays with dishes decked with stainless steel covers swept across the ballroom floor to our table. They set a covered dish in front of each of us. Then came the moment of revelation. The stainless steel covers were elegantly removed, and there in front of each of the Bradleys was the most expensive item on a menu. For all those trips to the fish market, I had no idea what a Lobster tail was, but behold on my plate, lobster tail! And you can imagine, just how many of Mr. Peter's employees converted to Catholicism by the next Christmas party!
Hey, you know another cool thing about growing up Catholic was indulgences. You could perform certain rituals or say certain prayers to gain what was called an indulgence which would knock off some of the time you might have to spend in Purgatory. AND there were certain rituals and prayers that could gain you a plenary indulgence which meant, at the moment of death, you went instantly to heaven.
Now, in Catholic school, we learned very early on about these short prayers called ejaculations. They were like "spurts" of adoration or praise, like "Jesus, Mary Joseph," or "Jesus, have mercy on me," or "Praise God and all of Her magnificence." There were certain of these ejaculations, when uttered a specific number of times and followed by an Our Father and an Hail Mary, could potentially earn you a plenary indulgence.
Well, earning a plenary indulgence for ejaculation took on a whole new meaning for me when I turned twelve years old. The very first time was in the shower. I wasn’t even sure what was happening, but it was definitely exciting, perhaps the most exciting thing that I had experienced to that point in my life. And yes, I was shouting, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on me!" I was almost out of breath! And since there was some possibility that ejaculations could earn me an instant ticket to heaven (you actually bypassed purgatory), I started doing it as much as I could. This was a long time ago, and I knew nothing about terrorism or 72 virgins!
Of course, only part of the above is true. The reality was I suspected that I was doing something impure, which meant I was committing a mortal sin, which meant I was going straight to hell if I didn’t get to confession before I died, but not even that fear could stop me from enjoying my new found pleasure.
But it was still a little confusing, because Sister Mary Agatha, who showed us a holy picture of St. Agatha with her breasts on a platter, kept insisting that certain ejaculations could earn you a plenary indulgence. Torn between one awareness that I was committing a mortal sin but hoping that maybe Sister Agatha was correct, I figured that maybe I could plead ignorance or innocence with St. Peter. But the image of me standing there at the gates of heaven, pleading for my eternity with St. PETER over the issue of ejaculations just made me roll on the floor and earned me a trip to the principal's office with Sister Mary Regina who insisted her name had a long i in it, and with great curiosity, I made as many trips to her office as possible. I mean, come on, we were just a bunch of horny catholic boys who had to make sense of our sexuality on our own because no one else was going to utter even a peep to us about body parts, urges, and what the heck to do about any of it.
I remember Sister Regina saying to me, "Your Father goes to Mass and Communion every day (AND HE DID). How could you dare to even have an impure thought?" Well, I was never sure what my Dad's going to Mass and Communion had to do with me having impure thoughts, but I was really concerned that she knew I had them!
As my Catholic life moved forward, and I continued to grow in hormones and wisdom, my oldest sister ran off to become a nun. My second oldest sister tried, but was turned down, and I ran off to become a priest. My oldest sister made it all the way even becoming principal of a Catholic School in Los Angeles. I made it through ten years of study and then decided that celibacy would be my undoing. So I left the seminary and married a nun! I really did, and she was a real sweetie pie. There is a blog about her A LADY. My oldest sister eventually left the nunnery and married her husband Del and they ended up having five dogs!
I have remained a consistent church goer until recent. We will be here for weeks on end if I begin that story, but I still identify myself as Catholic, and I am proud to be Catholic. I think the Pope is a closet homosexual. I think the organizational church is so disconnected from sexuality that it is outright embarrassing. But, for better or worse, it is MY church and I will remain faithful to my Church through nonsense and more nonsense and I hope, through healing.
I still hope for the day that I will be invited to be ordained as a priest in my Catholic Church. I am not holding my breath, but I believe it is possible. I actually thought of becoming an Episcopalian priest and then converting back to Catholicism, but that’s like traveling to Antartica to get to the North Pole. See HOW GREAT THOU ART
So what is the conclusion here? I have lots of things to recover from. I’m not convinced that being Catholic is one of them!! And for those of you who actually chose to be Catholic as an adult, Wow! Just remember how lucky you are. You probably like FISH, as I do now! But you will never have to suffer the martyrdom of walking four blocks to buy fish with dogs snipping at your heals and then having to make the return trip, now with fish in hand, and the dogs even more determined.
Unfortunately, all of us, cradle catholics and so-called "converts," have to suffer the complete incomprehensibility of the Church’s continued defensiveness with respect to sexual exploitation. Hey, Mr. Pope, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Would you put any energy into trying to convince any of us that priests and bishops don’t go to the bathroom? I mean come on. Sexual exploitation comes with the territory of being powerful and those in power will always face the challenge of using their power in the interest of the folks they serve or NOT.
The fact is, as people, we do not always meet our challenges. We are not always GOOD people, and it’s OKAY! Really. What is NOT okay is to try to minimize or cover up that we are NOT always GOOD people. To attempt to project an image that those in power are spotless or victims of the media is to trivialize and desecrate the sacredness of power.
Life is like a baseball game. BASEBALL GETS IT
When it comes to getting a hit, the best we will ever bat is about 300 which means we fail at getting a hit seventy percent of the time. Baseball requires that you fail seventy percent of the time because it requires that you to step up to the plate one hundred per cent of the time, knowing full well you will fail seventy per cent of the time.
It’s time to step up to the plate, Benedict! So the healing can begin.
And, Jesus, Good God Almighty, have mercy on us. I think that one just bought me 300 days off time in purgatory