Reason One:


I have longed for God ever since becoming convinced that there was One. And yet, during thunderstorms and Mass, I wondered whether God longed for me in the same pleasant sense.

It all came down to the cross, I knew that. I had often stared at the crucifix above the altar at church. Iíll say this for the Catholic church: it did make me realize that something big happened at that cross. They just never told me what it was. They themselves acted like nothing had happened there, because we all kept having to do stuff to purge ourselves of sin.

I tried to be a good Catholic, mainly because I wouldn't get dessert if I didn't. I went up and down like they told me to. I stood when I was supposed to stand, I knelt when I was supposed to kneel. I tried to sing the songs, but I couldn't sing and still can't. They weren't songs anyway. They were hymns. I thought at the time that the difference between songs and hymns had something to do with not wanting to go to hell.  

I was told that I had to have my throat blessed regularly so that I would never choke and die on a fish bone. I was told that I had to stop eating chocolate for God during Lent so that I would know what Jesus went through on the cross. I was told I had to force myself every month to remember my sins and recite them to Father Passoli.

This part was awful. It was unbelievable pressure, shame, trial and humiliation to tell somebody you didnít like all about your failings. Nobody could have made it more dramatic or spooky had they tried. The confessional had everything you needed to pee your pants: shadows, muted light, muted sound, walls surrounding you, stillness, a smell that told you you were in the very presence of God. (I realize now that this was Father Passoliís aftershave.)

Copyright 2002-2006 by Martin Zender.  All Rights Reserved

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