It’s a normal, average, uneventful eighth-grade day in Catholic school. I find myself surrounded by classmates, desks, books, the Holy Ghost, and all the paraphernalia typically associated with such an environment. In our parish, eighth grade was the year us little kiddies experienced the sacrament of Conformation. (Oops! That’s supposed to be Confirmation.) Confirmation focuses on conformity, which is why I got the name messed up. One pledges to God that one will remain affiliated with the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” for the rest of one’s days, confirming one’s baptismal vows and conforming to the church’s prescriptions. It’s a big deal and the school treated it that way.
Fortunately, those of us attending the school didn’t have to exert any effort towards this end because confirmation classes took place in our regular religion course. So… no outside time commitment except for attending the ceremony. We didn’t have a priest or nun teaching the course, or anyone competent for that matter. I think they had intentionally given our teacher this assignment so she couldn’t screw us up on the “important” subjects.
You have to love that logic in a Catholic school.
But this teacher did have one thing going for her. Her manner and physical appearance resembled this lovely specimen:
To steer clear of copyright infringement, I shall refer to my teacher as Lady Church.
Lady Church was a pious little thing and I suppose that’s why the school didn’t fire her. Every day in class, students would take turns reading one paragraph aloud from the textbook. When a chapter ended, we took a test. As you can see, not much teaching took place.
One day, it was time for Lady Church to prepare us for our Confirmation interviews. Before receiving the sacrament, we all had to pass an interview showing that we understood its significance and wanted to proceed. After all, the sacrament was optional, to the extent that Catholic school students can permissibly abstain from religious proceedings at the center of a grade-bearing course. Even the dabblers in Satan worship who I wrote about here didn’t refuse. God bless the path of least resistance.
But I digress. Lady Church had to prepare us for those interviews and the textbook did not include any relevant information. Would she stand before us and stutter and stammer and pontificate incoherently? Surprisingly, no. Lady Church was one of the interviewers and she spoke to us directly in class that day, triumphantly providing us with the interview questions and correct answers. Just memorize it and spit it back.
“Just memorize it and spit it back” pretty well sums up daily life in Catholic religion classes, at least in my experience. But that’s not why I write today. I was 13 or 14 at the time. My decision-making capacities were, by law, insufficient for me to pursue relations with my sexy homeroom teacher. I was not considered mature enough to drink alcohol responsibly and not old enough to make sufficiently informed political judgments to allow me to vote. And if I had committed murder, my mental immaturity would have meant that I couldn’t be imprisoned beyond my 18th birthday. However, 14-year-olds receive the “freedom” to “choose” whether they want to affiliate themselves with a religious institution (but not with a spouse) for life. Or until they realize the lunacy of keeping a promise to a deity they don’t worship. Or until they realize that few organizations besides their church let children make lifetime vows… and then hold them to their word.
Well isn’t that convenient? Who could inspire such shenanigans? Could it be Satan?
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. But… December 23rd has arrived and once again I’m preparing to observe what remains a secular holiday for me. Lady Church is my holy ghost.