Memoirs of a Catholic School Girl
I’m way too much
of a Catholic convent girl to merely count sheep when I can’t sleep. As much as I’d love to picture a few Merinos
leap over fences or imagine them being horribly abused by wandering shepherds,
it’s the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries I turn to when I’m in need of
slumber – and since I’m an insomniac and I would DO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW to get
some rest, this means they often come to mind.
Do you have any
idea how much this pisses me off? I’m
trying my hardest to be a lapsed Catholic here. I blaspheme, I never go to Mass and I’ve broken many of the
commandments, including some of the biggies.
I’m pretty much bound for Damnation and I like it that way. But as I’ve observed before, once the Church
gets you young, it’s got you for life.
*Sigh* I suppose a disclaimer is
in order here, though the Heartless Bitch in me doesn’t want to do it. This site is satirical – you’re all presumed
to be able to take it. But I know some
of you will freak right the fuck out and hyperventilate and stick pins in your
Morrigan dolls and send me death threats.
Yawn. I don’t personally care
who or what you believe in, as long as you don’t (a) try to inflict it on me
(b) use it as a justification to show me why you rock and the rest of us suck
(c) try to cite it to prove that my rights must in some way be limited. I have no problem at all with God, but his
representatives here on earth can be awfully annoying.
So before we get
started, keep one thing in mind: this
is comedy. If you don’t
like it, DON’T READ IT. Are we clear?
(And I don’t mean to offend any of the Scientologists out there by saying
I had Father
O’Neal prepare my class for First Communion and never was the Spectre of Satan
more real or terrifying – none of this “God is Love” nonsense. He brought the Flames of Hell right to your
front door and underlined the lesson with the strap. It’s no wonder I still know this off by heart.
But for the
Heathen among you, a bit of explanation is required. The Church “believes” that there are typically 15 “mysteries” of
the “faith” and breaks these up into groups of five. Each individual mystery has a virtue or “fruit” associated with
it and you’re supposed to learn something or other from it – I never quite got
that part and I never dared question him.
But I made sure I could rhyme them off like a parrot, so let’s get this
(and I can do it standing on my head – I didn’t have to look ANY of this up
The Annunciation. This is the one where the angel Gabriel
appears to the Virgin Mary and tells her that she’s about to get pregnant by
God. The “fruit” of this mystery is not (as you might suspect), incredulous
laughter but humility.
The next joyful mystery is The
Visitation. I never really understood
this one. As far as I understand it,
Mary goes to see her pregnant friend Elizabeth and the fruit is loving your
neighbour. This is the only one of the
bunch that (a) sounds vaguely plausible (b) isn’t even remotely mysterious. Except Mary stays for 3 months, which I bet pissed
Elizabeth off, what with being knocked up at the time. It wears you out and having someone hanging
around who doesn’t know when to hit the road can be at bit annoying at the best
The Nativity. Well we all know about this one and the fruit
of this mystery is poverty and love of the poor. Just as an observation, my recent exploits with the Ontario
Health care system have persuaded me that being 9 months pregnant and being
shifted from pillar to post would likely be your fate in this bloody province
and you might well wind up in a barn giving birth on a pile of straw these
days, so maybe the Church was just ahead of its time here.
Jesus’ presentation at the Temple
comes in as the fourth Joyful Mystery.
This is where the baby Jesus was brought to the Temple after his birth
and was the basis for the “Churching” or purification of women following their
delivery. That was a nasty patriarchal
tradition, suggesting that women who had given birth were somehow unclean and
it’s not the Done Thing these days but a few hundred years ago, it was all the
rage. The fruit of this mystery is
The Disputation is the last of the
Joyful Mysteries. At least that’s what
they called it when they were beating it into me but I think the name may have
changed. Mary and Joseph took their
eyes off Jesus for one minute and by the time they turned around,
there He was, telling all the elders at the Temple what the score was, and this
was when He was only a Kid. The fruit
here is wisdom.
That ends it for
the fun stuff. We move now to the
Sorrowful Mysteries and man, did Father O’Neal ever lose his temper if you
fucked up or laughed or had to go to the bathroom while he was going on about
one of these.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
1. The Agony in the Garden.
This is where Jesus has His whole “Take this cup away from me”
moment. Anyone see Godspell? It was that. When everyone else was sleeping.
Right before the dawn. I mean,
who could blame the Guy? If I had
advance knowledge that I was going to be betrayed and nailed to a tree after
being tortured and humiliated, I likely would have a moment or two as well at
the very least. Fuck me: I’d be half way to Syria. The fruit of this
mystery is compliance with the will of God (though this always struck me as
being somewhat harsh) and true repentance for sin.
Scourging. See what I mean? This is where Jesus gets strapped to a
pillar and gets the shit thrashed out of him.
I hear Mel Gibson did a very vivid job of this, but I bet Father O’Neal
did a better one. He scared the crap
out of a whole class full of Grade One students and gave us all nightmares for
YEARS. The corresponding fruit here is
mortification of the flesh and you might want to stop and think about the fact
that this still goes on in some parts of the world to this day.
mystery number three: the crowning with
thorns. This always struck me as a bit
gratuitous and Father O’Neal always described it with particular glee – some
Roman soldier, not being satisfied with whipping the shit out of poor old Jesus
actually TAKES THE TIME to find some thorns, make a crown and jam it down onto
Jesus’ head just to make fun of the whole “King of the Jews” thing. Talk about police brutality. Fruit of the mystery? Contempt of the world and by that I think
it’s a roundabout way of saying “laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and
you cry alone”. It has to do with not
caring if you’re being humiliated.
four, we have the carrying of the cross and its fruit is patience. Every time I think of this one, I think of
the scene in Life of Brian where the Good Samaritan offers to shoulder the
cross for a minute and the condemned man legs it. It always cracks me up, but then again I’m headed straight to
Hell. You probably wouldn’t find it
the Sorrowful Mysteries is the Crucifixion, which is a downer any way you slice
it. We all know how this turns
out. A Guy, a tree, some nails, a
couple of thieves in the chorus – bah, it ain’t pretty. The fruit is salvation. Talking about the crucifixion itself always
worked Father O’Neal up into a nearly pornographic frenzy – his eyes would roll
back in his head and he’d slam his hand – BAM!! -- onto the desk
to illustrate the force of the hammer – it was pretty fucking chilling. No wonder Catholics are so messed up.
That’s the worst
of the gruesome bits but now we turn to the REAL nosestretchers – the so-called
“Glorious Mysteries”.. Father O’Neal
would turn a baleful eye on the entire class before launching into these and
sometimes he’d deploy Sister Mary Helen and Sister Assumpta to walk the
perimeter (swinging their rulers like nightsticks) in case any of us were
inclined to giggle in disbelief. Even
at the age of 7, we could all smell a whopper when we heard one and you have to
admit, these are pretty hard to swallow.
The Glorious Mysteries
Resurrection. After being nailed to the
cross, Jesus dies. It takes a long time
and Father O’Neal luxuriated over the Agony of it all, lingering over the poke
in the side with the sword and the drink of vinegar near the end. Then, tired out with the Glory of it all,
he’d generally allow Sister Mary Helen to pick up the slack and lead us into
the Resurrection. This always struck me
as odd, being rather central to the Faith and all. In any event, after He’s given up the ghost (the holy one, you’d
assume), His friends put Him in a grave then three days later stop by to check
in on Him. Lo and behold, the stone has
been rolled away and the Body is gone.
Christ has Risen. The fruit here
is faith. During this part of the
narrative, Father O’Neal would have his eagle eye on us all, sharply watching
for a glimmer of doubt. Nobody dared to
say a word, but I seem to recall a lot of shoes being closely inspected.
Ascension into Heaven is the second Glorious Mystery and it’s about Jesus
floating up into heaven and taking His place at the right hand of God. This
happened, apparently, forty days after He was resurrected and while He was just
hanging out with His friends. It was a
kind of astral projection thing, or that’s how I always understood it. He was just kind of beamed up there. The fruit is desire for heaven. If only it were that easy.
followed by the descent of the Holy Spirit, the third Glorious Mystery. I guess the Holy Spirit was just saving His
place, eh? Apparently, or so the story
goes, about a week and a half after
Jesus disappeared for good, the apostles were hanging around having a beer when
they heard this great rushing wind and then there was this whole flame thing
and then they all started speaking in tongues.
This was the Holy Spirit filling them with the desire to go out and
spread the Word, so if you’re with me so far, it makes sense that the fruit
here is holy wisdom and sharing the “truth” as the Catholic Church sees it.
Assumption of Mary is the fourth of the Glorious Mysteries. It’s her turn now to zip up to heaven and
the fruit is mystery, which in my opinion should be handed out by the orchard
as it regards all of this. I mean really:
this all sounds kind of suspicious to me. This is what started the whole Cult of Mary in the Catholic Church
and believe me, it’s still a pretty fierce one.
5. The last of the Glorious Mysteries is
another of Mary’s: it’s her
Coronation. She officially gets crowned
by her Son up there in the Great Blue Yonder just in case there was any nasty
talk going around about what business a virgin had getting pregnant. The fruit is perseverence. I remember laughing right out loud once that
word was explained in context and I grasped the concepts of conception and
virginity -- and getting strapped for
So there you have it. Memoirs of a Catholic girlhood and yet
another of the reasons I’ll be dancing with the imps and demons and roasting
over a toasty little fire in the unlikely event that any of this is actually
Till next time,