One that almost got Away pt 1

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When I was four, I was introduced to theology by my father; it consisted of this: if you sin, you will go to hell. When I was eight, I started going to weekly CCD classes; Thursday afternoons were led by earnest but theologically inadequate homemakers into the enlightened new religion of post-Vatican II. We went to Mass every Sunday, and for me it was very similar to the medieval contraption named the Iron Maiden: one twitch, and instant pain, until the next movement.
My friends were all Dutch Reformed. Catholics were backwards, non-American superstitious fools- not quite as bad as Jews, however nearly so. The very idea that we HAD to go to church on Sundays was a concept worthy of ridicule- as soon as they got over their astonishment of such a doctrine. First Communion was memorable, though at the time I did not realize why. First Confession was horrifying; the concept of sin while well understood was overwhelming for a boy of eight. Even at that age I knew those eight years of sinning could not be properly accounted for in a mere minute or two of babbling amidst abject fear.
Confirmation –even more fun! For some reason I was serious about the whole process, yet when I picked as a sponsor my father’s former closest acquaintance (Now a near deadly foe due to my parents’ divorce- where the former “friend” sided with my mother–no, I refuse to go further.). Things went downhill rapidly- Benedict Arnold comes to mind when I remember my father’s opinion of me. Confirmation was however a distinct memory; that of facing the Bishop and receiving his blessing; I was keenly aware of the symbolic pat on my cheek in remembrance of the suffering a Christian was to endure. Unfortunately with the social ostracism of a child of Catholic divorce in those days, I could not imagine things getting any worse: Such a silly young boy.
Amidst the debris of my family’s destruction, religion was abandoned in our family. Being left to my own devices I once returned to Mass alone after getting a drivers license. What struck me like a felled tree was confusion: What’s all this about Jesus? I thought the whole thing was supposed to be about God, not some guy who lived a million years ago. Such was spirit and intellect as a young Catholic in those heady days immediately following Vatican II. Onward goes the story and a few lucky years later I by pure chance picked up a KJV Bible. Believe it or not, I was lucky enough to start reading the NT. What I now realize as indwelling grace at the time overpowered my senses in a physical and highly emotional way.
The romance of love begins to fade during the trials and combats of living; when one of the two lovers fails to understand the principles of commitment and union within a relationship, said relationship begins to founder. Besides, I fell in love with a real live girl. We were married in a Methodist church(hers) as I could not discern the difference- poor catechesis and a failure to adhere to what I was taught- I was sure she was the one for me(correct on this point) and was also sure the trivialities of doctrine and dogma were irrelevant(incorrect on that one).
Armed with a new wife, a new life and the wide ranging vistas of a promising future, I deigned to let God impinge on my reality: I would call on Him when needed, and He would respond. Our Lord was reduced to a bumper sticker on my vehicle of life- and a rear one at that.

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About john spizziri

I am a retired rancher who sold his ranch after 30 years of cowboying, and now spend my days teaching high school in rural montana. I have a lovely wife of 35 years, and ffour grown children who have scattered to the four wings of the world. My family is all active members of the Catholic Church, and We are all Faithful, Evangelising followers of the Magesterium. My love for Our Lord and His Church has evolved into these feeble attempts at spreading the Good News. The rest of my life involves grandchildren, students, and when the time permits, mour horses. View all posts by john spizziri

2 responses to “One that almost got Away pt 1

  • katieequinn

    As I read this, it dawns upon me that I know little about your early life, especially your faith-life. Thank you for sharing this! I hope to read the continuation soon. Love you! 🙂

  • Gabbi

    That’s about how I was. it did not mean much back then when I was 8 or so. it was just something I was supposed to do because it was my Grandma, Grandpa, and parents did

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