Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Cradle Catholic's Priests


A Cradle Catholic's Priests

Father Mike
“Ack! Linda. Good to see you dear.”

“Ok, Mike, what in holy hell is going on?

I had waited until last. All the blue-haired ladies had lined up in front of Mike’s station self-consciously patting their hair and arranging their rosaries just right. They all had crushes on Mike, a bespectacled, gouty man with a Boston accent, because, I suspect, he delivered to all those dirty-souled little biddies that squeaky clean feeling that forgiveness brings.

I tried to control my decibels and failed. The whole church heard me anyway when I entered the confessional to exercise my sacramental privilege of Catholic penance. All the little old ladies hissed and sighed at the sound of my voice.

Skipping the prerequisite formalities, I plowed right in. Loudly.

It was the first time I was back in the jump-seat for maybe 30 years. God knew my peccadilloes already because I had installed direct trunk line to heaven’s mailroom without the intercession of a priest.

I cop to my own sins directly.

And, I am innately suspicious, no actually conditioned to be paranoid, of voluntarily coughing up my failings to a black-frocked human being. It gives him what he needs: Power over my life. And in the olden days, I am sure that it did. That was then. This is now, however.
Mike is a different kind of priest though.

And I needed answers.

“It’s like any family, Lin, and families have rotten apples. Just think about that. I am sure your family has black sheep who make everybody miserable with what they do. So do we. Pedophile priests are rotten apples and they must be cleaned out of the barrel. And they will be. Now let’s go have a beer at the Claddagh.”

That’s what I loved about Mike. He took one look at my face and knew what was on my mind. And over Harp beers we talked and talked…

He knew I was lapsing. No, my faith was losing me, and he still loved me.

  Monsignor O’Looney
“Come stand here next to me young lady. Let’s just see what we have here.”

We knew that Monsignor O’Looney was coming to class for “Report Card Day” because the nuns became all tiddly and excited dusting off shelves and spitting on their hands to smooth down cowlicks amongst the “young gentlemen.”

The monsignor was their celebrity crush, all-Catholic style.

We kids stood as he imperiously entered the room in full black cassocked Monsignor regalia. O’Looney would thoroughly embody his authority by sitting king-like in the front of the classroom, removing his bi-nodal Monsignor hat with the red pom-pom on top, and by going through up to twenty-five reports cards.

Out loud.

In front of everyone.

His Irish brogue was a buzzing drone as he called each of us up to stand by him in the front of the classroom while our grades were read off for the whole class to hear, including conduct. I made sure I had visited the bathroom before each of these events because I didn’t want any puddles forming under my knocking knees.

“Linda, Linda, Linda. Do ye t’ink you’ve been mindin’ Sister here properly?”

“Yes, Monsignor. I do t’ink I have.”

Shining a big smart ass grin out to my friends, they stared at me with fear in their eyes.

“Well, according to this, you’ve been a bit of a problem child. A “D” in conduct is nothing’ t’be smilin’ about! You’re going to stop that infernal whispering and fidgeting now, aren’t you? I want to see improvement in your behavior young lady. Your grades include a C here in Math as well. You’ll be bringin’ that up too before next time…”

And I always heard the “or else” lingering in the background like so much incense smoke. And never a mention of the A’s and B’s I earned.

Somehow I don’t think this kind of thing would fly in schools now.

 O’Looney was on the scene long before I was receiving his rough attention for my report cards. In fact, I was just an egg in my mom’s ovary. When my parents were engaged, it was this very man who would not allow them to marry in the church unless my Lutheran mother signed a document promising not to raise the children in any other faith except the Catholic faith.
“Luther was a heretic, y’know?” he snarled at her during the interview.

 Father Pete

“What should I do now?”

“Pete, just put your hands in that incubator and bless my daughter. Please.”

Pete peeled rubber to make it to the hospital the day my daughter was born.
He was the new/ old priest at our parish and all the others were attending to weddings and funerals the day I called for help.

Still not unpacked, he just got on his rental car horse and rode like the wind…

My daughter was born a little early but her heart and her lungs weren’t working on their own. We had to flick the soles of her feet and hope she would take a deep gasp and to coax her heart to beat and her lungs to expand.

When Pete arrived, she was lying on her stomach naked but for a tiny diaper and a pink visor attached to her eyes with velcro to protect them from the glaring bilirubin lights. She looked like a midget pink Power Ranger with bruised feet.

Pete’s hands were what I remember best. They were chubby and his gentle holy fingers sported a tuft of white hair on each knuckle. When he put his hands in through the incubator ports and placed them gently on Tori’s little body, the blessing just poured out of him like honey.

Tori wiggled and smiled.

Naturally, Pete became close friends with us in the English tradition of priests home visiting parishioners. His was always a knock on the door at dusk when he was winding up his neighborhood walk that day and wanted to undo all the good he had done with his exercise regime. After a scratchy kiss on the cheek, Pete would always make his signature demand.

“Where’s my ham sandwich and my gin and tonic?”

For the first time in my cradle Catholic life, we had a priest, a real live priest friend with spiritual benefits, at every one of our family events.

As is the practice in the Catholic Church, no priest really remains long enough in parish to put down roots, it gets too emotional, and Pete was transferred to Georgia after a while.

We made plans to visit him next time we headed north.

At Mass one Sunday, the new priest in a matter-of-fact tone, announced that Pete had died. It was a punch in the stomach. I gasped so loud the church went silent and all heads turned to me. I felt my knees buckle in grief. I had to leave.

Father Manning

“Have you said your morning prayers?”

“My whole day is a prayer Father.”

“But have you said your morning prayers? No? You know you’re driving the nails into His hands yourself! Kneel down here now and say them!”

“But Father…”

“The bus will wait!”

Every morning Fr. Manning would stalk the bus stop interrogating us about our prayer life or obscure Baltimore Catechism questions. It was an art form to avoid him by arriving at just the right second to board the bus before he could sneak up and pin us down.

He scared us mostly with his graphic passion for the more violent aspects of crucifixion and martyrdom.  He always told the stories of the saints who were made so by becoming lion food or for enduring the untimely ripping out of one or more body parts while still consciously professing the faith...

When I went on to high school, I didn’t see much more of him. I assumed his senility had advanced and he was being kept under a tighter rein much to the relief, I am sure, of the grade schoolers who had been tormented by him at the bus stop.

After I achieved a successful run as the lead in the school play, Father F-, a young progressive priest fresh from seminary, proposed that I do a new thing during the Mass at church.
He invited me to be the first girl ever to present the scripture readings at a full-on Mass. This was even before girls were thought of to be altar servers.

This was going to break down some barriers…And I was thrilled.

For the first time in my life as a Catholic, I thought , “I can do this!”

It makes the whole Mass thing something in which I can really participate rather than passively sitting- standing-kneeling. No more hokey-pokey rigamarole through every dreary service…This was getting interesting.

So young Fr. F- and I rehearsed and rehearsed and studied and delved deeply into the theological interpretations of each piece until I felt like I knew exactly what I was sharing with the congregation perfectly.

And my father was so proud. Bonus!

The Sunday of my groundbreaking came and Fr. F- and my father proudly escorted me up to the church entrance.

Suddenly, a figure in black blocked out the sun and my way in.

 Looking up, the butterflies in my stomach turned to vampire bats.

Father Manning.

He was in full black cassock and hat, literally shaking in anger with a look of pure disgust on his face. Looking closely, he had not remembered his dentures that morning so his face was all sharpness and angles. He spit a little when he spoke.

“This girl will not enter this church until we get something straight. She will not be allowed at the pulpit if I have anything to do with it.”

Fr. F- tried to intercede. “Alright Michael, it's ok.  Maybe she can do the readings in front of it.”
“Absolutely NOT!” His voice was booming. “She is PROHIBITED from even approaching the sacristy by church law! It would be an abomination.”

My father, now so conflicted between his pride in me and the authority of the priest confronting us, blurted the central question, “Why?”

“Don’t you know? What kind of Catholic are you? She is female. She bleeds.”


I was moved to write about these priests, both good and bad, so that I might discover some way of reconciling my profound sadness and, yes deep anger, with the Roman Catholic Church.
I feel mortally wounded on a spiritual level by the Vatican’s recent misogynistic rulings. Although as a cradle Catholic with obvious past healed-over flesh wounds from which I have recovered, I cannot reconcile the obvious categorization by the Church of women as potential egregious violating wounds on the body of the faith any more.

To borrow from Someone who would’ve found all this so very wrong:  It is finished.

“Here's what the Vatican's internal prosecutor, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, said from the news conference in Rome, when asked to explain why ordination of women was included alongside of rulings concerning sexual exploitation of children and the disabled by male… priests: ‘Sexual abuse and pornography are more grave dealings, they are an egregious violation of moral law. Attempted ordination of women is grave, but on another level; it is a wound that is an attempt against the Catholic faith on the sacramental orders.’
In a report from the AP, reporter Nicole Winfield explained that "The rules...list the attempted ordination of a woman as a ‘grave crime' to be handled according to the same set of procedures as sex abuse -- despite arguments that grouping the two in the same document would imply equating them.... Scicluna defended the inclusion of both sex abuse and ordination of women in the same document as a way of codifying two of the most serious canonical crimes against sacraments and morals that the congregation deals with. “ -From Psychology Today by Regina Barreca, Ph.d

Excellent post, Linnnn. I too encountered a variety of priestly personalities during my years as a practicing Catholic. I too had a Father F, a great and likeable guy. But nothing he could do or say were he still alive could make me understand the basis for this ruling on female ordination. She bleeds? Excuse me?

I know that among my Catholic friends, the church has become far less of a fixture in their lives than it was in their parents' lives. So much of its doctrine doesn't reflect what they know to be true -- about women, about birth control, about gays -- and then the molestation cover-up just added to the growing divide between The Church and The Little People Who Are Supposed to Just Shut Up and Believe What We Say. (And...she bleeds!? I'm wishing you'd gone all Carrie on him.)
For years it hasn't made sense to me why, theologically, women stay Catholic. They are not wanted or equal in the Church's sight. It's different than your race or your nation, which you don't really get to choose. Thanks for the interesting meander amongst some characters. R
That is why I belong to the Anglican (episcopal) church.
Henry the VIII was a very liberal outrageous person and formed the above church.
While I do not agree with beheading and a whole lot of other things, I wold be like you now if I did belong to the Catholic church.
Rated with hugs
So are you now a Lutheran?
Fascintating post. I think it is good this is how you are working out your anger. I find it quite healthy.
Everyone needs to remember that priests are human beings under those robes, with the same good and bad that make us all, us.


Good piece. I'd Tink Pick it but Ed has sullied the paper!!! ;D Just kidding, I'll Tink Pick ya!!!! ~huge hug~
Terrific post, Linnnn! I was raised Catholic and taught in a Catholic school for 26 years. Like you I have some great memories about some wonderful priests ...and then some others. I consider myself a very spiritual person, and a person of faith who has now made a home in the Episcopal church. I never left God out of the loop in my daily conversations either. The Episcopal faith is a much better fit for me as a progressive woman. Thanks and congrats on the EP!
Thank you for presenting both the good and the bad priests. Coming from an insider it has a ring of compassion and understanding that folks poking holes from afar can't match. I am not a cradle Catholic, but a relatively recent convert (I always do things the opposite of everyone else). I understand your anger with the church over the role of women. They will have to change and atone for this approach, which I think is a sad embarrassment.

As a non Catholic who listened to my father's sister-and-convert-by-marriage-to-Catholicism as she attempted to save her nephews from Hell (Scare the Hell out of us) while she lived with us during the Korean war, but also my mother's brother who came back from WWII with the stated calling to go to Mexico to save the heathen Catholics, as well as at one time having tried to marry a Catholic woman who was divorced and using birth control, I agree it gets pretty confusing. All of the nuts aren't in the Pentecostal or Fundamentalist Protestant tree, though I grant you they can and do keep the squirrels happy.

I've found that I take my spiritual comfort where I find it in the person who has it, Straight or gay, male or female. The single most comforting spiritual pastor I've known is a nominally Christian woman who speaks with dead people.
I was raised catholic myself. A sad group of lunatics if you ask me. Waving insense water on people. Everyone sitting and standing. Who needs it?
Eventually these dried up loons will die out. Then, if there's any women left real women - not the kind that parrot the current thinking, the Church, the Church will grow or die. That said, some American Cathedrals should die. The buildings could be made into excellent supper clubs...with the proceeds going to abuse shelters. I'm thinking of one in Boston, in particular.
what a post! "she bleeds!"
i am a pseudo priest when i feel like it, and i would say:
"she bleeds for you. for the continuation
of the species. for the church itself,
upon which the blood of many female martyrs runs down
unto the altar, into the pews,
a true stephen king horror show, buddy boy...."

The vatican is first foremost and forever a financial in-
stitution, its sins are well known
in the annals of eternity,
the evermore
here and now, the forever present presence
which is the christ..

You are a brave woman of faith and you have used your intelligence here, excellent post. Recently Sheila O'Brien wrote an editorial in the Chicago Tribune. I think you would find it beneficial to read her piece. She is an appellate court judge and is asking to be excommunicated based on this same ruling you have referred to. The thing is she too was an active devout Catholic. When I learned about what she wrote, at the direction of the editor who is a FB friend, I wrote this:

"As a former Catholic, steeped in a family of traditional values and religious traditions, including an aunt who was a nun, I am forever grateful to my parents who broke away. They both, WWII veterans, religious people, experienced the failure of priests and the institution of the church and allowed for the humanness required in participating in organized religion which the church in many cases failed to encompass. Rigidness, absolutism, all in the name of Christ on earth, which ultimately seemed incongruent with the message and teachings of Christ, stonewalled their faith and forced them not to adhere to a system of belief that they did not support. Faithful believers until their end on earth, they provided the thinking spiritual foundation which I practice today. God gave you a mind, do not be afraid to use it. " Sheila R
Linnnn, I appreciated this very human look at four very different and interesting, and very human, priests. I think people lose touch with the diverse and human aspect of personality involved with those in a particular profession or vocation. Although I did not grow up Catholic and cannot share any of these childhood experiences with you, as an adult I have known many priests whom I consider to be close personal friends, have seen some I consider to be very holy men, and have known others with a range of troubles. They are not all holy, and they are not all troubled. Thank God for the good ones. Even the holy ones will have a beer with you and sit and watch a football game in their jeans, and I think that's an image that's lost to much of the world. I had to laugh a little at your "girls on the altar" story because I had a similar parallel growing up Mormon. When I was in college (and before), women could not pray in Sacrament Meeting (the rough equivalent of mass) in the LDS/Mormon Church. My branch president at BYU at the time was a very progressive law professor, Monroe McKay, who went on to sit as a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court. He decided of his own accord to have women praying in church when they were not at that time allowed, which was very controversial. Some things with churches of any stripe change over time, some do not. We thought growing up that the Mormon Church would never give the priesthood to blacks, and they did. Everyone needs to draw their own lines about what they consider flexible and what they do not; if they find that doesn't agree with the faith they've chosen, then they're probably in the wrong faith. I crossed that own bridge myself.
To say that you write well is like saying that people breathe. Fine work beyond that. Of course you're angry, with the misogyny, the ritualized cruelty, the attempt to scare kids into a brainwashed submission to make them passive their entire lives. And then to see this bureaucracy - this *business* - try to hide the child molesters and then moralize about how women are unfit to serve as priests, how could anyone not be angry? Yes, there have been good priests and bad priests, but how could so much of this have gone one without a hell of a lot more people knowing? And knowing, why didn't they do something? As I think about that, I wonder just how good any of the priests were or could be, beaten into submission and stripped of any real sense of moral responsibility because it was up to the church to make all the decisions.
As one who is still moved by the "trials" of Mary Magdalene, it was touching to read your article (in the intended vein).
congratulations, linnnn, once you know the truth, you act on it. your history is rich, and father pete was a treasure. i feel like i got to know him a little too.
Bleeding as that which singles women out from performing sacred rites has always been a weapon wielded by many cultures.

As a Catholic myself, daughter of generations of Catholics, I know this feeling. I went to Catholic school, had some wonderful priests and nuns and some plainly horrid. I wrote a piece on this, too, that feeling of alienation from one's beliefs due to the lukewarm positions of those in power.

Wonderful piece, Linnnn, thank you.
Linnnn, vanessa, that business about "she bleeds" reminds me of a story my husband told me about his mother, back in the '20's in Chicago, who after she gave birth, was told by her in-laws to stay away until she'd been officially "churched," and was very offended by this notion. I didn't realize that anything like this had even occurred in the twentieth century: Churching of Women I'd have been offended, too.
I could certainly relate to this post because of my Catholic upbringing which included wonderful priests in my life. As a matter of fact, I've not known one "bad" priest. One of our closest friends is a "Father Tom." Not only does he stop by when he's in the area, he'll take us out to dinner, take us to the movies and has even entertained us over at his home with delicious food and great conversation! Although I know the Church is not perfect and possesses flaws, I don't have a problem with it as long as they learn from their mistakes and correct the "sins" within. I will not shun the Church because of a few bad apples, just like I won't shun the human race because of some bad apples within it. It doesn't bother me at all that women are not allowed to become priests. If it bothers a woman, join another church! If it's a wrong decision on their part, the practice will change with time.
Wonderful post. I'm a Cradle Catholic, also, and attended 12 years of Catholic school, so I have similar memories of the priests in my younger years.

I am now an Episcopal priest. Interestingly, I find the same sort of variety among my clergy colleagues: some who are curmudgeonly and scolding, others who are looking for innovative ways to break barriers, others who seem like old friends of the family. I suppose that all "professions" have each of these characters (and so many others) represented within them. Maybe these idiosyncrasies are more easily spotted in people that wear a collar.
Wonderful post. I'm a Cradle Catholic, also, and attended 12 years of Catholic school, so I have similar memories of the priests in my younger years.

I am now an Episcopal priest. Interestingly, I find the same sort of variety among my clergy colleagues: some who are curmudgeonly and scolding, others who are looking for innovative ways to break barriers, others who seem like old friends of the family. I suppose that all "professions" have each of these characters (and so many others) represented within them. Maybe these idiosyncrasies are more easily spotted in people that wear a collar.
"They all had crushes on Mike, a bespectacled, gouty man with a Boston accent, because, I suspect, he delivered to all those dirty-souled little biddies that squeaky clean feeling that forgiveness brings."

Are all old women biddies or only Catholic old women? Rather bitter, ageist description. Dim view of aging.
I left my childhood religion in my early teens, took a lot of LSD, and then returned when I was 18 and got baptised.

I left again, for good, a few years later. As a women, I was not allowed to adress the congregation, nor could I ever become an elder or aquire any position in the church.

I was also required to wear a skirt (of modest length) and would always be a second class citizen.

So I left. Now I wonder why I needed "religion" of any kind. Why worship this god? I hate suffering, and if I am created in his image, doesn't he hate it? If he has a hand to play to end suffering, why hasn't he? (And forget ab0ut all the "God has a plan," bullshit. I don't care about his "plan" if it allows for suffering.)

And, if he doesn't have a hand to play, why would I worship him?
Good post. Thoughtful and meaningful message.
Best Wishes,
Linnnn: what a great post. I am a cradle Catholic and a product of 12 years of Catholic School with nuns and priests. I got to the point where I could not rationalize my membership because of the Church's stance on women and their attempts to cover up pedophilia until they were caught. I won't even get into the brainwashing and power trips the Church travels on. R-
This is simply brilliant, Linn. So many kinds of clerics, all faiths, r.
This was definitely Ep/Cover stuff! I am so glad that my family was not a religious. I was never taught to fear God, or hell and damnation. I have my own religion, which I use. My conscience has always steered me in life. My father taught me about how to be a good person. I just can't believe in anything that is orgainized. Everything in history that has been organized has been corrupted at one time or another.
I've known a few priests too. In the Biblical sense.

This was many years after I abandoned Catholicism. The Roman Catholic church is like a musical that died in Boston. Great sets, fabulous costumes, the music is beautiful -- but the book needs work.

Back in the 70's in what Bard Gooch calls "The Golden Age of Promiscuity" you could always tell the priests at the baths. They were the neediest.
I don't even know what to say. That we survive our childhoods and grow up to be functioning adults is a crapshoot at best. To have this kind of fear hurled and hung over you makes me squeamish and suspicious of what the intent of religion is at all, other than to scare the hell out of people. Excellent post.
I grew up Catholic also, schools, nuns the whole thing. I finally left for good after the pediphile incidents came to light. To think how we spoiled those priests and they were molesting are kids the whole time. And the fact I wasn't ever allowed on the altar, I remember asking why also. How do I belong to a church that patronizes me?
I don't.
I'll be damned before my children will sit in front of authority figures who treat women this way. I don't care what cloth you wrap your penis in. You're still a penis and no better than a vagina.

Random, but I've been thinking about my children and myths. I grew up with religion... they have not. I grew up with nightmares. They've not had one. I grew up scared of the dark, thinking monsters and demons were real. They laugh when I tell them this.

Great piece xoxo
Outstanding. In any given religion, in any given denomination, there are saints and sinners . . . including among the clergy. I like the construction of this piece, as it really highlights the personal experience well.
I do t'ink you were a precocious one!

You've covered the spectrum of Catholicism here, Linn. Your account of Father Pete was especially poignant. I agree with the others- there are good and bad in every religion or group.
imagine that? she bleeds.

as if the christ they honor didn't bleed. as if, that very blood isn't symbolized,considered a holy sacrament during communion.

imagine that. she bleeds. too.


give thanks for father pete.
Vivid writing, Linn. I've said it before: faith is for God; religion is for humans. Alas that they should be so far apart.
Your post leaves me speechless. As a non Christian and having no experience with the church, I am mesmerized by your perceptions. Each priest is a revelation into the make up of a very complex sytem, and how Catholicism could mess up a person from very early on. ~R
Linnn, this was enlightening for me. I grew up pretty much faithless and always had an philosophical sensibility when it came to spiritual matters. I have particulary disdained the Catholic church and I guess you could say I still do, but reading your story about the different priests was good for someone like me. Even if I'm not into organized religion, it's good for me to know that the clergy are just people...some good, some bad.

You've presented a nuanced view of a system I've never fully understood. Thanks!
This is so deserving of an EP! The humanity of these priests shines through, and, yes, sadly, so do the flaws. What we have done to women in the name of religion, then and now, is awful.

Your writing, as always, is wonderful!! Thanks for this!
Linnn, I could write volumes about this detailed, artfully crafted post but I will not hijack it. Let it be known, that I inhaled every word. I appreciated the concepts and feelings presented but I also admired the way your words flowed. This is some of the best writing I have had the honor of reading. This is why I so enjoy this place. I particularly liked this: "I cop to my own sins directly. " I am so happy this is getting some of the recognition is so richly deserves.
It's always easier--and indeed possible--to love the individual without embracing the group. This post shows you can love the priests who were good to you without loving the rigidity that may have led to the crisis within the Church.
Your post is universal to almost any religion. I'm a lapsed Protestant. I quit going to church because of the way women were treated also. Even though women are now ordained in the church I was raised in, I haven't been back. Something about God only being viewed as masculine.
This was an interesting read, Linda---sorry I'm late. When I posted today about the albums that have most "shaped" my life, I thought a lot about a kid I dated in high school that I was madly in love with. After his mom found out I wasn't Catholic, she wouldn't speak to me (not even to say "hello"). He was her oldest, they were a very traditional Italian family, blah blah blah, but her behavior definitely diminished my respect for the faith.
A very human view on the subject. rated.
As always Linnn, excellent writing ! You have a gift, and I always enjoy your pics........I was raised Catholic, and though I don't practice anymore, I enjoyed the stories about each priest. Rated.
I forgot to mention......My Grandmother was a devout Catholic, and she had a favorite priest.....when she died my family called on that favorite priest to perform the funeral service.....a few months later, that priest's picture was on the front page of The St.Petersburg Times....he was a child molester......Grandma would have been heart-broken, had she known.......
Thanks for writing this, Linnn. Having converted to Catholicism in adulthood, I have no direct knowledge of the horrorhouse known as the pre-Concilliar Church. I have to get all my stories secondhand -- from my mother, James Joyce, and now you.

My mother remembers listening to lectures on martyrdom graphic enough to count as intro courses in forensic medicine. If she were to run into Ss. Agatha, Lucia or Maria Goretti on the street, she'd probably martyr them all over again, just for spite.

I've never actually made friends with a priest the way you did with Fr. Pete. In fact, I've yet to take one into my confidence, beyond what the Sacrament of Reconciliation requires. All my best spiritual advice has come from a Sister of St. Agnes.

Would you believe these douchebags are dressing up in cassocks again? Apparently, the newest generation of seminarian considers them very chic. In this article, Fr. Andrew Greeley calls them "Young Fogeys":
What a read Lin! I can't say what I enjoyed more - the crafting that is so excellent or the thoughts you have woven together throughout the piece into an insightful, smart POV. It's getting a 2nd read from me.
I am late to this one, Linnnn, but I wanted you to know that when I finally arrived, I found it to be an extraordinarily moving read.
i've had this bookmarked to come back and read again for two weeks. part of the time i was out of town was spent at a class reunion for a prenovitiate high school my husband went to in wisconsin. if i wrote everything this post made me think of, the comment would be pages and pages long. so i won't but maybe it will inspire one of my own sometime.

terrific post, linda. absolutely deserved EP.
Cradle Catholic here. My 83 year old mother is the church lady of the local cathedral. All the priests and priests-in-training assigned to her parish are her boys. She mends their vestments, makes them cakes, cooks and serves for their functions and never takes payment. They love her and her place in heaven is assured. She thinks a woman on the altar is sacrilege, homosexuality is a sin, laments the end of Latin mass and I will go to hell since I left the church as soon as I possibly could. I have met some lovely priests through her. They come and go, but she does, maintain friendships with them through their transfers.

The daughter of a friend, a former nun, had herself "ordained" as a priest. My mother thought it was insane that her friend supported his daughter. He attended the "ordination" and because of that he was excommunicated. I just listened and shook my head. She didn't know that I was shaking it at her response.

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