My Soul According to Sister Simeon
I really do believe that the seeds of my 20 year battle with alcoholism, self hating, and inability to be in a functional relationship with a woman for most of my adult life were planted by this man hating penguin monster masquerading as a nun and the institution known as the Catholic school system. Yes, I just called a Catholic nun a monster, but I’m just try to be nice. She was actually a high level assistant to Satan himself, or possibly left over from the 3rd Reich. She beat the Krap out of me at least twice a week. Open hand slaps to the face were Sister Simeon’s specialty.
Yeah, soccer moms, welcome to 1963 in the Catholic school system. There were no time outs in Sister Simeon's classroom, but there were plenty of child endangerment felonies.
To her credit, she was versatile. In addition to her mastery of violence against children, the good sister was skilled in the art of turning words into flaming arrows which were targeted at our innocence. She verbally humiliated the krap out of her chosen few in front of the class regularly with destructive pinpoint emotional precision. I’m sure quite a few of those kids are now either alcoholics, drug addicted, or highly dysfunctional on a number of levels or all of the above - trust me on that one. It was as if she was teaching a class on felonious assault against small children, especially boys. If you went to Catholic school in the sixties, then you probably knew a few of these holy criminals by different names and you were probably a victim or witness to this Catholic school brutality.
Sister Simeon and the Cathedral Grammar School in Boston were my introduction to the life and the world. Back then, if Father Pedo-feelya didn’t get to you, then Sister I’m-Gonna-Beat-And-Humiliate-The-Living-Krap-Out-Of-You was waiting in the wings with various foreign objects that she wielded like one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Penguins..
Now she is gonna teach me about my soul
One lovely day Sister Simeon was lecturing us about the technical aspects of the soul, venial sins, and mortal sins – according to the Catholic Church. It was kinda-sorta like a science class where the teacher talks to the kids about the moon and the sun - you know, real stuff.
This would have been fine if not for the fact that she was talking to a room full of six and seven year-olds and not the senior philosophy class at Boston friggin University. How about teaching us to read and write before you scare the shit out of us with all this fairy tale Catholic mumbo-jumbo. The soul? You’re going to teach us about the soul? James Brown had soul. Aretha Franklin had soul. I still didn’t know what the hell that meant, but I was pretty sure soul had more to do with black people playing really good music and nothing to do with venial or mortal sins. I grew up in a Motown neighborhood sucka, don’t tell ME about soul.
She started her brainwashing session by drawing a big circle on the blackboard, then turned around and said “this is your soul”. In hindsight, it would have been cool if next she took some colored chalks and drew a rainbow in the circle and said to us “this is your soul on drugs”, but she didn’t.
She proceeded to draw what looked like corona rays emanating from the sun, radiating out from the circumference of the soul circle. It was like one of those pictures of the sun you see in the astrology magazines where they block out the sun and all you see is a black circle and the brilliant corona sun-rays.
“This is your soul”, she said again as she jabbed her finger repeatedly at the black hole and looked sternly at us. She always had that stern gangsta rapper, angry look on her mug.
Next she reached for her trusty wooden pointer, which my ass and back had come to have an intimate relationship with, and pointed to the corona ray looking stuff “this is grace, and when you commit a venial sin, you loose some of your grace”, as she erased some of the corona rays from the circle. All the kids were really paying attention now, we're talking about grace daddy-o, this is some serious shit……right? Fear is an amazing thing, especially when combined with bullshit, but pure religious bullshit is much more interesting and makes for a much better story. I’m thinking, “what the hell is grace”, she hasn’t told us what grace is, what the hell is grace”? My grandmother had a friend named Grace that used to bring us these awful fruitcakes during the holidays, but other than that, I had no idea what grace was. Apparently losing your grace was a bad thing.
She sat the pointer down and repeated, with a growl, “when you commit a venial sin, you loose some of your grace”. Then she erased some of the corona stuff emanating from the circle. “When you commit a mortal sin, you loose all your grace and when you die, you go to hell”, she said as she erased the rest of the corona looking stuff in one swoop leaving behind the circle she started with. She turned to the class and made eye contact with me for what seemed like 5 minutes, but it was more like 5 seconds. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t have to, the scowl on her face said it all. Fear is an amazingly destructive thing, especially to a seven year old.
Sister Simeon is one of the reasons I ran away from Christ as fast as I could, sending me into a 45 year period of atheism, alcoholism, and self-hating. I finally made it back to Christ at 55. That was a close call. I almost went to my grave without ever knowing Him.
Check out part 1 of this rant Priests Nuns and Lil Bambinos. Stay tuned for part 3.
© 2015 John Ceccon