About a month or so ago, a dear long cousin asked me on Facebook “are you Catholic Mr. Bill?” My first reaction upon seeing that was “where in the world did she come up with that question and why ask me that. After a few minutes of trying to figure it out it dawned on me. Sarah is well aware of my religious up bringing and some of my posts on Facebook have been reposts of some Catholic sites, for example “Pray The Rosary” and “Or Mother of Perpetual Help” just to mention a couple. Sarah would know that I was Baptized and Confirmed Lutheran. So my dear, I guess an explanation yo my madness is in order, First we have to go back in time to when I was I first grade. The following account of my childhood, as far as religion goes, I have never shared with anyone. I have always been a rather private person in regards to talkin about somethings, that is probably one of the reasons I have a hard time dealing with my PTSD.
My grade school years were at Trinity Lutheran School fro first through eighth grade. For the most part I had a terrific childhood filled with wonderful memories. I was fortunate to have two wonderful loving and caring parents. I had a sister that I thought the world of and my parents had another son that was a different story.
My parents were very religious, as was the entire family on my mothers side. I had a Uncle that was Lutheran School Teacher and one of the greatest Organists I have ever heard. Needless to say it was mandatory that we attended church every Sunday and all the special church services throughout the year. Now I must stress that every school function required mandatory attendance as well.
My memories of my years at Trinity are not at all good memories. I can honestly say, to this day, I cannot recall one good memory of grade school. I dreaded each and every day that I had to go to school. I had descent grades so that was not an issue at all. From grades one through four I had the distinct pleasure of having Adolph Eichman as a teacher. He missed his calling somewhere along the line. He should have been a prisoner interrogator at a Nazi Concentration Camp. This character had a habit of walking up behind people and snapping their ear with his finger or swatting you behind the head with his hand. He also took great delight in throwing an eraser at your head also. This is not to mention pulling people out from their desks by their ear or hair.
Now he did not treat everyone with abuse, oh no, if your father and mother were pillars of the congregation or were very well to do financially you could absolutely do no wrong whatsoever. These teachers pet were another reason for me to be miserable. I am not by any means saying that I was a little saint and did not merit the hand or child abuse (and that is exactly what it was) from “Adolph” on occasion. However, I was wrongfully accused of things by the teachers pets on way to many occasions. Sometimes I did not even have the foggiest idea what I was accused of doing. I went to school everyday in total fear. I used to beg my parents to let me go to a Public School or even better yet. let me go to one of the Catholic Schools in town, Saint Joseph or Guardian Angel. Heck both were within four blocks away the same as Trinity. Of course these requests went unheeded. I really wanted to go to a Catholic School since I can remember. More on the heart of wanting to go to a Catholic School later.
Fifth through eighth grade were not as bad as the earlier grades. After “Adolph” it had to be better. However I still had a major issue to deal with. That issue was the teachers pets moved up right with me, Guess what? Their lying and instigating continued. I forgot to mention in the early grades I had never once been chosen for the annual School Christmas Pageant or any other school function. This also continued through grades five to eight. But I did finally get the last say. When I told my parents that I was not partaking in the School Christmas Play that year they wanted to know why. My reply was “in ight years I was never given a part in the play”. “Not even a non speaking part as a shepherd or even a sheep, the same people get the parts every year”. Well apparently my parents went to talk to the teacher about this. he next day they tried to make nice and give me a part. My reply….”Nope won’t be there”. I did not show up for the play either. My Mother was furious with me when she and my dad got home. My dad on the other hand was quite the opposite. When mom finally mellowed out dad called me asisde and shook my hand. He told me how proud of me he was that I stood my ground and stood up for what I believed and he did not blame me at all. Now there is one positive thing that did happen to me in the seventh and eighth grade. I was appointed Captain of the Safety Patrol. That upset a lot of the “pets”. It was pretty prestigious to be Captain of the Safety Patrol. I ended up resigning half way through the eighth grade however. I will get to that shortly.
I need to dwell on the eighth grade, as this was the ultimate tipping point on what religious road I would take in my life. In the eighth grade it was mandatory to go to classes with the Minister to prepare you to be confirmed in the spring and become a full member of the Church. This was a very bad experience for me. One that I remember vividly each and every day of my life. I don’t know what I ever did to this Minister but he and I did not see eye to eye or get along Whatsoever. This man picked on me and would embarrass me in front of my classmates on a daily basis. I hated that class, the Minister and I started to realize I did not like this church and maybe not the Lutheran religion. I did contemplate saying No the Confirmation but I was kind od addicted to breathing. Needless to say I did get Confirmed. I did beg my parents on numerous occasions to not make me get Confirmed.
Back to how I got myself fired as Captain of the Safety Patrol. It seems as though one day I was on duty at the busy intersection on the highway that was two doors down from the school. The Minister had two sons and a daughter. Supposedly the younger son went home from school this particular day and told the Rev that I swore at him, called him dirty names and used the Lords name in vain. When I got home from school I was confronted by my parents about this. To this day I have no clue at all what this was about. Of course nobody could tell me what I supposedly said to this “outstanding son of a Minister” I can swear on a stack of Bibles that this never happened and I never even saw his kid or talked to him that day. Up until then I had nothing against the kid and we always got along just fine.
Anyway, my mother took it upon herself to inform the Minister that immediately after Church the next Sunday I would come back to see him and apologize for what I had said to his son. First of all, after this turn of events sunk in, I thought “why am I apologizing to the Rev? If I was guilty of all charges I should be apologizing to his son” So after Church the next Sunday I hauled my skinny ass back to see the Minister. This folks is one of my proudest moments. The Minister asked me what I wanted to talk to him about. I replied “I don’t want to talk to you about anything” He asked “why are you here then. I replied “because my mother told me I had to come back here and apologize to you” He said “I’m waiting” I then said (he was sitting in his chair and I bent down with my face about three inches from his ugly face and stared him right in the eye) “there is absolutely no way I will ever apologize for something that I did not do or say. If anybody should be apologizing it should be your son for lying and you owe me an apology for accusing me of something and not even having the balls (yes I told him that) to get my ide of the story. I never even saw your son there. Your son is a big liar”. I turned and walked out I got home and my mom asked if I saw and talked to the Minister. I told her yes. She asked what I tld him and I said “You will have to ask him”. I never heard another word on the subject after that. The next day I was asked by my teacher to turn in my Captains Badge for Safety Patrol and informed I would no longer be on the Safety Patrol at all. Oh well, I was so looking forward to a career as a Safety Patrol Officer.
Now I know it is unchristian like to hate anybody’ I only truly hate one person to this day and he is the only person I honestly hate. I made myself a promise many years ago. If I ever find out where the Reverend is buried, and it is nearby, I will make it a point to visit his grave every morning to urinate on him.
Now I will get to the Catholic part of me. I do not recall how young I was at he time, but for as long as I can remember I have always had a fixation for the Catholic Church. Why I don’t know. I remember while I was in grade school that I dreamt of becoming a Priest. To this day I truly believe that the Priesthood was my calling and I missed the boat.
I do not attend Church on a regular bases whether it be Catholic or Lutheran. Yes, I know I should and I want to change my attendance. It will however be at one of the Catholic Churches in Town. About the only time I have gone to a Lutheran Service in the past fifteen or more years was either for a Wedding or Funeral. I do however on occasion attend Mass at a Catholic Church.
I feel very comfortable at a Catholic Service. I do not feel that same comfort at a Lutheran Service. When I would attend a Lutheran Service I always felt like I was going to a meeting. At Mass I feel like I am in Church and it seems more…I don’t know…maybe more traditional and more old fashioned.
I am not a Baptized or Confirmed Catholic nor do I claim to be. I have given very serious thought to taking lessons and converting but there is an obstacle down that road also. I was married to my first wife in a Catholic Church and since I am Divorced I understand that I cannot jon the Catholic Church. If someday it does become possible I will take that fork in the road. I am currently taking Catholic Classes through a Correspondence class. I have studied it religiously now for a few years and have been totally engrossed in it. I find it very rewarding and cannot believe the knowledge I have gained about the Catholic Religion, History and the Order of Worship. I have memorized the Rosary other prayers. Not only memorized the Rosary but studied it in depth.
I have not taken communion in a Lutheran Church I long long time. I could but I will not do that. I feel it would be totally wrong to partake of the Lords Table in a Lutheran Church as I don’t follow the Lutheran religion in my heart. On the other hand, I have taken Holy Communion at a Catholic Service only because the Priest invited anyone from any Christian religion to take part. This has happened on several occasions the past couple of years. Mostly at a Funeral Mass.
I am by no means condemning the Lutheran Religion or any other Christian Religion. I feel we all worship the same God only in different ways. I never argue Religion or debate Religion with anyone.
So in closing, I ask you my dearest Sarah……What am I. I was Baptized and Confirmed Lutheran but my heart is Catholic. I am very confused and have been for years about this.