“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong!” –Anon
Having served my apprenticeship, so to speak, growing up Catholic, during the 50s surviving the convent, the priests and the nuns, then a strict Catholic boarding school, I felt pretty comfortable that I had come through this ordeal mostly intact. Oh there were scars and wounds that needed to heal, but as they say… “Time is a great healer”… or is it?
So, the spiritual coaching continued and I longed for Saturday to come around. I learned so much from my mentor and so called “Spiritual Adviser”. Kind, gentle, caring, compassionate and of course very gay – a priest that was ahead of his time. He, was after all, the Bishops’ Secretary and ran his affairs and those of the Diocese. Not for one moment did I feel threatened or intimidated by this incredibly intelligent and learned scholar. When it came to church doctrine, or Canon Law, there were not many that could complete in his arena. As the weeks became months, I learned many things about the indoctrination of seminarians. I was caught up in this doctrina and once again heaped with the guilt. I had many open and frank discussions with my Adviser and I came to the conclusion the the power that the Vatican wielded was more than immense. He told me that The Vatican has large investments with the Rothschild’s of Britain, France and America, with the Hambros Bank, with the Credit Suisse in London and Zurich. In the United States it has large investments with the Morgan Bank, the Chase-Manhattan Bank, the First National Bank of New York, the Bankers Trust Company, and others. He told me of the billions of shares it has in some of the most powerful international corporations in the world, including Gulf Oil, Shell, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, General Electric, International Business Machines to name a few! He also said that the Catholic Church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. He said that it is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. I was not entirely surprised at this forthright statement. He had seen much in his time as the Secretary to the Bishop. He warned me to think long and hard about this so called “Vocation”. Was I doing this for the right reason, or was it grown out of guilt and a sense of duty and obligation to my local priest, but above all… to my mother?
I was wracked with guilt as I didn’t want to be in this institution any longer. I fell into, what I believe now to have been guilt inflicted depression. I began to rebel against the daily teachings and begun questioning. Once again I was summoned to the Rectors’ office. Again, I refused to sit in his chair and this time rebutted pretty much everything he said. I was angry as I firmly believed I had been tricked into this vocation by the church, it’s priest and my mother. So, I did the unthinkable! I told this narcissistic rector to stick his seminary where the sun will never shine! Turned out, I was not the only one who left… or as the church will have it, was “Cast Out”…there were 5 others. I turned to the only person I knew at that point who would show some empathy, Fr Kevin! He comforted me by simply saying what I had known all along. It was a decision surrounded by guilt that had led me here. Over the next few days, I met more of his colleagues, priests that had a very different view of the church at that time and were concerned with the increase of abuse that was taking place. It was a common topic at the time, that may be priests should be allowed to marry. A number of these men I met, had female companions, sure, there were a couple in relationships and from what I saw and those I became friends with, I believed that it had had a huge influence on their ministry.
I left the security of my friends and joined a commune. I lived with a great bunch of men and women and it was during this time that I worked on myself alleviating this guilt! I took a job in the local wool store, regained my fitness both mentally and physically and became involved in theatre. I took a flat in the city and my life changed for the better. I moved to another city, fell in love and married, still, being catholic and still with that underlying guilt.
I went to Mass, met up with one of the priests I had got to know. He became a good friend and on Sunday, shocked my fiance when we were both going to receive Communion, he said “The Body of Christ Brian” I replied “Thanks Brian” This blew her away. So, life was good…then the unthinkable happened. I was working on the railway, shunting trains and I had a horrific accident, loosing both legs above the knees. I recovered, still got married (in the hospital Day Room) and went on to have two fine sons… I feel that I have been dealt a pretty good hand. Sure, in hindsight, I would do a lot of things differently, wouldn’t we all? After the accident I was told on more than one occasion that this was God punishing me for not becoming a priest!
It took me back to that time all those years ago when that guilt was instilled in to me by those Nuns, Priests and my mother. I was just a small boy growing up, simply “Being Catholic” Thankfully time’s a great healer… I’ve moved on. I’m reminded of this these words again, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong!” – Anon
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