When I was in sixth grade I had Sister Augustine (maybe not her name cause I’m getting old). Sister Augustine was an older nun – remembering I was just a boy and 30 year old people were old.
Sister Augustine put me the 3rd group for reading. Every afternoon the few in the 3rd group would be required to read a “3rd” grade reader aloud. Well this blew me away. I was embarrassed, self conscientious which didn’t help me focus one bit on reading.
At the end of sixth grade Sister Augustine recommended I go to summer school and successfully pass it to advance to the seventh grade.
My self esteem intellectually was shot. It was rumored Sister Augustine was going to be the seventh grade teacher the next year. With that news I was determined I would play Hooke from Catholic School and self enroll in the local Junior High. Don’t ask me how I thought I would get away with that with my parents but rest assure I was determined not to have Sister Augustine as a teacher ever again in my life.
Why Catholic’s Shouldn’t Read the Bible
After reading in the afternoon Sister Augustine taught class on the history of heresies in the Catholic Church. During that period of history the people of the church were uneducated and some very ignorant. As such folks in those days were easily persuaded to believe many heresies being propagated at the time. Sister Augustine told us because of such heresies only scholars should interpret scripture from which a young immature sixth grade boy with low intellectual self esteem would conclude – he should ever read scripture because one who can hardly read a 3rd grade reader will never be a scholar. Hence I came to believe I should not read the bible!
Forgiveness – How Long Does It take
Years later when I was in my early 30’s, I found myself working at the Chicago O’Hare Air Traffic Control Tower, the world’s busiest. Somewhere along the line I began to suspect I must not be the intellectual dummy I had concluded and accepted I was. As I found myself solving problems no one else in the country was able a light began to go on. Maybe, just maybe, this boy had a brain!
How Long Does it Take?
A trip to Cleveland Ohio and an encounter with Fr. Cullen who opened the doorway to my heart. St. Ladislaus Catholic Church, Westlake, Ohio, the home of my calling! God loves you just exactly like you are was the message! B___ S___! was my inner response. But with that response bubbled up a thirst and a search for an answer was triggered. The search took me down memory lane to remember and relive the life of a boy too immature and lacking in knowledge to know how to respond to the woundedness of the soul. The wounds we opened afresh and the anger was still there!
Still Not Ready – A Trip to Miami
By now I knew I was being called but to what I wasn’t sure. Certainly I could not articulate this call. To St. Louis Parish in Perrine, Florida and Fr. Russel. Now Fr. Russel was a thespian in college, you know an actor. At the first Mass I attended at St. Louis Parish, Fr. Russel raised his voice. lowered his voice to a whisper. But when he raised arms high above his head my back was pressed against the pew and I immediately reached for the booklet in the pew to verify I was in a real Catholic Church.
You see, the good Lord knew the young boy living itself the man needed some serious stretching if he was to answer the call to which he could not yet articulate.
What Another Move
Miami was a stretch stop preparing the boy to grasp and discern the call he did not yet understand. It was on to Atlanta, Georgia and St. Philip Benizi and the formation of a mission church which held Mass in a local school cafeteria. It was there the boy finally came to understand the call and applied to become a Permanent Deacon.
But the Holy Spirit knew the angry boy was still trapped inside the man. How to get him out? Fr. Beltran was the priest sent by the Archbishop of Atlanta to build the church and the Parish of St. Gabriel. Now Fr. Beltran taught some of the RCIA (adult education) classes and the boy attended. During one such class Fr. Beltran was asked why the catholic Church taught it’s people shouldn’t read the Bible. Well Fr. Beltran went on and on about how the Catholic Church has never taught it’s people they should not read scripture. The boy said to himself how could I be so sure they did and Fr. Beltran sure they didn’t. Well for sure Fr. Beltran never knew Sister Augustine!
The Forgiveness Door Finally Opens
When the new deacon finally began to preach, the woundedness of the boy living inside began to pour out as living water on a people thirsting for truth and hope. The boy finally understood the lesson of Sister Augustine – the woundedness of the boy was serving as a forgiveness bridge over which the love Fr. Cullen taught could travel to the heart of God’s people exactly like they were without condition while the raising and lowering ones voice and held captive the sacred gathering of people.