“Baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul and there is no way nor any reason that one could be re-baptized.”—Andres Ortiz, possibly quoting a catechism.
“Whatever happens, don’t let those bastards touch me.”—a friend of mine, requesting that last rites not be administered in the event of his death.
“I was told that you were a kind and considerate young man.”
“I’m afraid you’ve been given false information, Father. Now get the fuck out of here.”—conversation between myself and a priest attempting to administer last rites to my youngest brother while he was in hospital after suffering a cranial fracture. (He’s fine. My brother, I mean.)
“Can I be an altar boy?”
“Hell no!”—conversation between my father and myself.
“I don’t know how you’re going through with this. I find the female form disgusting.”—Father Magee, to my father, shortly before my father and mother were married. By Father Magee. Whom I vomited on upon during my baptism. Not on purpose; I was a baby.
” A woman is not a problem to be solved; she is a mystery to be explored.”—spoken to me by a Jesuit priest.
“Is that how you talk when you’re at home?”
“Well, alright then, fuck it. Let’s play some basketball.”—Father Will, after I cursed in front of him while playing ball outside church.
“You didn’t go to Catholic school; I did; that’s why I’m an atheist.”—my wife.
“What are you giving up for Lent?”
“Catholicism.”—conversation between myself and a Sicilian. (I was the one trying to be funny.)
“I don’t believe in God.”
“That doesn’t matter; he believes in you.”
“Well yeah, because I exist.”—exchange between myself and a number of people of different faiths.
I’ve been a Catholic, an agnostic, a Buddhist (the fake trendy kind), an atheist, and a Catholic again.
I don’t know what the hell I am, now.
I know I’m a human being.
I’ve gone to Mass twice in the last decade; the last time I had a panic attack during Communion and had to leave, which was okay, because both myself and almost all the members of my family have been excommunicated due to political considerations.
I have no hard feelings about that.
I do have hard feelings towards the Church, for a variety of reasons; I was never abused by a priest, but I know lots of people who were, either sexually or in the form of corporal punishment; the friend whom I quoted above, who asked me to not allow last rites be given to him is a good case in point.
He grew up in Derry and went to a Catholic school. One day he got caught carrying a copy of “The Communist Manifesto”.
This was considered a high crime by his mentors.
Three priests took him into a room, forced him to sit in a chair, and began circling around him, asking him the same questions over and over, one of them occasionally slapping him with the book, telling him that he was in danger of losing his soul for reading a book.
Later in life, he suffered far worse treatment by the hands of the RUC and British soldiers, but that event left such a scar on him that he never again trusted the Catholic church.
Still, he considered himself Catholic.
“I don’t have to go to Mass. I’m at Mass wherever I go, because I do what I think is right.”
Lots of things can leave an indelible mark on your soul.
If you let them.
“Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.”—Pope John Paul II.