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ARosarySt.ChristopherandaSixPack

ARosarySt.ChristopherandaSixPack

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Published by: jiffeepop on Feb 27, 2013
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09/09/2015

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A Rosary, St. Christopher, and a Six Pack By Larry Neuburger We never talked much about religion in my house.

My parents made sure my nine siblings and I polished our shoes and laid out church clothes on Saturday night in preparation for Mass the next day. On Sundays, Mom and Dad, with the help of the older kids, would scramble to get us all fed and dressed in time to make the 9:00 Mass. My parents left most of my religious education up to the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught us the Catechism at St. Teresa’s Catholic school. In second grade I learned I would go to hell if I died with a mortal sin on my soul. A mortal sin ranged from missing church on Sunday to first degree murder. The good news was that I could still go to heaven if I confessed my sins to priest. In order to confess, I had to receive the sacrament of Confession. Because someone decided this is the age of accountability, around age seven all good little Catholic boys and girls must learn special prayers in order to receive this sacrament. I hadn’t considered killing anyone yet, but I could imagine life without having to go to church every Sunday, so I figured it would be a good idea to learn the requisite prayers. Besides, Mom told me I would get some new clothes and a brand new rosary. I also hoped I would get a shiny St. Christopher medal as a surprise bonus. I did get the new rosary, but my new clothes were actually hand me downs from my older brother which were way too big for me despite Mom’s insistence that they fit perfectly. In addition to the ill-fitting clothes, the St. Christopher medal never materialized, which I think laid the foundation for my disillusionment with the whole church thing. Anyway, I made some inferences with my seven year old analytical mind. If someone had to receive the sacrament of Confession in order to get to heaven, a lot of people were going to go to hell because only Catholics are able to receive the sacrament. This was a source of

extreme pride for me, and I wore my Catholicism with pride. It wasn’t until much later before I started asking myself questions like, “Why is God going to send all these non-Catholics to hell?” When I was 19 my rosary had long been lost, and I would have to finance a new one on my own; Catholicism wasn’t offering any more trinkets, so it seemed to be a good time to opt out. All around the country people my age were engaged in a new type of religion based on peace, free love, and enlightenment through drugs. I dove into this new philosophy with all the gusto I could muster, but quickly discovered after getting the clap and doing a stint in drug rehab to avoid criminal prosecution that peace was unattainable. But, just as I began to think there was no hope for a burned-out, wanna be hippy ex-Catholic, a miracle happened. Passing through Denver, Colorado on my way back to Kansas I sat in a bar drinking a beer in the Denver airport when two long haired grungy looking guys with huge smiles on their face approached me. One was tall with brown hair tied in a ponytail that fell to his waist, and he carried a bunch of pamphlets. The other guy had red frizzy hair that protruded like an afro making him look like a basketball with a happy face. Basketball-face carried an acoustic guitar sporting a sticker that said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Basketball face asks me, “Are you happy?” “I’m not sure,” I replied. He never stops smiling. “Would you like to be happy?” he asks. I think about for a moment and try to think of the honest answer and say, “I guess so.” The guy with long grungy hair smiles and hands me a pamphlet that says, “How do you find true happiness” on one side and “Jesus, jesus, jesus” on the other. As soon as the pamphlet is transferred into my possession the two strangers lay hands on me and start praying loudly about my unhappiness and how I wanted to be saved from the fiery furnace of hell.

Basketball face asks me, “Do you believe Jesus died on the cross.” With my head slightly bowed, but with one eye open to keep an eye on these two characters, I respond “If you say so.” “Do you want to be saved from eternal flames of hell?” “I guess so” He starts screaming because I guess Jesus is hard of hearing, “Oh Lord, you have heard my brother’s words. Please accept him into our fold.” They both start patting me on the back, laughing and congratulating me. Longhair says “This is the best decision you’ll ever make man. Welcome to the fold.” “You mean that’s it? I’m saved?” I ask. “That’s it man,” basketball face responds. Long hair reaches out and hugs me. “Congratulations, man. How’s it feel to be saved?” “Uh, pretty good I guess,” I reply managing a smile. Basketball face says, “Let’s celebrate. Got any money?” They indoctrinate me on what being saved means over beers for three hours. When I tell them I am out of money and can’t buy another round they abruptly get up, remind me to spread the word and they leave. As I drove home I thought about how good I feel being saved and about how I am going to evangelize to the world. My first opportunity presents itself two days later when I visit my parents. I started it out by telling them about my good news, that I had found the meaning of life. I told them about how they had it all wrong. They just needed to listen to their nineteen year old son and I would enlighten them. I then proceeded to tell them they needed to quit the Catholic

Church and get saved. I told them if they listened to me they would be spared eternal damnation and put on the correct path to God. My mother started crying, I thought because she had delivered a son who was going to deliver her from eternal damnation, and my dad sat silently, his eyes conveying an entirely different attitude. He patiently waited for me to finish my explanation of how to attain enlightenment. The more I shared, the more his eyes started to glare at me, wrinkles on his forehead deepened, and the corners of his mouth did something I hadn’t seen before or since. One corner of his mouth went up and the other went down, but his firmly closed lips protruded in a wavy fashion. I could tell he was probably wondering why he bothered investing so much in my Catholic education. He would try to speak but no words would come out. After about 45 minutes of my evangelizing and my mother’s tears of joy, Dad motioned for me to follow him outside onto the patio, and my mother went running into her bedroom. Dad and I stood under the patio cover where he pointed his finger at me and said, “Don’t you ever bring that monumental mountain of bullshit into this house again!” I left their house trying to figure out what had gone wrong. I thought about my conversion at the hands of basketball face and longhair when it dawned on me. I had forgotten to bring the Budweiser.

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