“So Mr. B, when did you lose your virginity?” one of my more vocal students asked.
How to answer this question smoothly?
“OK, first off, inappropriate. Secondly, how does that relate to the ninth Commandment?”
My Saturday mornings for the last three years have been spent in voluntary service preparing ‘tweens for the sacrament of First Communion. But first, they need to figure out how to examine their conscience to make a proper confession. And stop asking me personal questions.
For those who’ve known me for some time, teaching Sunday school (on Saturday) is not an activity befitting my reputation. “Sex, drugs and rock & roll” was my personal mantra for years. When I first told a few of my friends how I’d be spending my Saturdays, the first question out of their mouth: “They DO do a background check right?” Non-believers.
I am the product of twelve years of Catholic education. And I was an altar boy. This combination means I am one twisted individual. At least I used to be.
When I moved to Florida in the nineties, I went to church sporadically. From ’95 on, I barely went unless it was someone’s wedding, funeral or if my folks were in town. There was a decade long stretch of self-indulgence that was my form of worship. I wasn’t a saint, dear readers. I was a sinner like the best of ’em. I’ve hinted at my “bad boy” behavior in previous posts.
Then I remembered I made a promise to raise my kiddies Catholic. I chalk it up to Catholic guilt that crept up on me one night the summer before my son began second grade. My mom was in town and she asked me where to find the closest church. Though I’d lived there for nearly three years, I had no idea. Behold the power of the internet. The nearest one was five miles away. Who knew? I took her to this modest little church, surprised I didn’t burn into a pile of ashes as I entered the lobby.
Like riding a bike, I remembered all the responses and sang along with the hymns I thought I’d forgotten. I felt like the prodigal son from my favorite parable returning home.
After my mom went back north, I still attended mass. The rest of my family started going as well. And I made a proper confession. Shocker.
There was a religious education program for my son to attend to make his first Communion. Twenty-six weeks later, my sonny-boy was able to partake in the celebration.
Alas, religious education is an ongoing process, especially since Confirmation was the next hurdle for my son. Daughter dearest needed to make her sacrament, so both of them needed to get signed up for classes. The weekly announcements asked for volunteer teachers. It took me a week to decide and here we are.
Three years later, Saturdays are becoming quite the challenge. My new gig has me working six days a week, Saturday being my only true day off. While I’m still having fun passing on knowledge to the younger kids, this new batch of students have been pushing my buttons. I get the fact that their attention span is as quick as Charlie Sheen’s sobriety, but sometimes they make me feel I’m wasting my time. Not a good feeling.
Last year, I blogged my bucket list. Aside from wanting to travel and learn how to ride a motorcycle, getting a teaching degree was a goal. Needless to say, I’m rethinking my priorities. I figure I’ve just been having a few bad weeks. The nun in charge of the religious program calls me the “son she never had.” I wouldn’t want to let her down.
What’s next on my road to redemption? I’ve been asked to join the Knights of Columbus a few times. I don’t know about that one. My son’s now an altar boy. I signed on to become a Eucharistic Minister. Surprised by that move? I am.
I find my rediscovered faith a stabilizing factor. It keeps me sane. I’ve touted myself as a bad man for a long time, I’ll take whatever help I can get to side with the angels.
By the way, I was two months shy of my nineteenth birthday…