As a dedicated, former Roman Catholic, who “paid, prayed and obeyed” with the best of them, my childhood was a mixed bag of catechism lessons, church school, Saturday confessions, Sunday mass, “sinful thoughts” and a whole lot of undeserved childhood guilt…that eventually led to narcissistic adolescent guilt…which ultimately resulted in a buttload of unwarranted adult guilt…and…well…you get the picture.
Years ago, I came to the inauspicious conclusion that psychotherapy sessions were designed for two categories of Catholics–guilt-ridden ex-Catholics, who needed to purge their souls of eternal guilt and perpetual sin; and current, practicing Catholics, who needed validation and permission to love their Buddhist, gay neighbors and celebrate “diversity” in the truest sense of its definition.
Being an Ex-Catholic, myself, I spent an inordinate amount of time, energy and MONEY, lying spread-eagled on a couch; revealing my inner most secrets to a number of overworked (underpaid), exceptionally tolerant therapists, trying to find the “exact combination” to crack open the safe to my captivating (highly amusing) psyche.
I wasn’t an easy patient, to say the least.
But I think all of my many (and solicitous) therapists would agree-I was a “worthwhile wacko” and at times, even an entertaining one.
It’s unorthodox how constant guilt, occasional sin, and never-ending childhood dysfunction are innate pre-requisites for highly talented, quick-witted, perceptive humorists, isn’t it?
“OK, so I’m not too talented, quick-witted and perceptive. Ya gotta admit, though, I get a chuckle or two out of you, once in a while, eh?”
It’s almost like God/our Higher Power (in his, her, or its) benevolent wisdom, is out there and carefully selects those of us that “he” believes is best suited for having a formidable, difficult life and says, “Yep, I’m gonna let this precious munchkin get his/her butt kicked and then dropkick him/her again as an adolescent and adult. If he/she successfully rises to the challenge enough times, I will bless him/her with the ability to make people laugh, and encourage all who benefit from his/her silliness, to go out into the world and pay it forward.”
Why else would I be here, writing this-with you reading this?
It was preordained.
I was supposed to bring some kind of happiness to your life today.
It’s the only logical, reasonable explanation.
That’s why he had me, 7 year-old Lucie Benedetti, enrolled in Reverend Mother Bonaventure’s catechism class at St Francis of Assisi in upstate New York in the 1960’s.
It was my job to pepper the stoic (over-the-hill) Mother B. with inane and stimulating questions every week-a job that I took seriously; and diligently and enthusiastically did everything in my power to excel at it.
It was, after all, my sole mission in life to get that “metallic red star” pasted into my First Communion Catechism book.
Praise didn’t come often or easily with Mother B., so receiving one of her “red stars” was an honor that was dear and highly desired by those of us, who were under the age of reason and highly impressionable.
I recall one such lesson, I really wanted acknowledgement from this constipated, humor-less nun, and she just wasn’t “giving out” that morning.
She was in her routine aisle march, vigilantly strolling up and down the aisles, methodically slapping that damn, thick wooden ruler in to the palm of her right hand; trying to “snag” an unsuspecting student “snoozing” during the lesson, so she could callously smack the ruler down on the front of his desk to maliciously scare the beejesus out of him; when she suddenly started an animated discussion about the blessed Virgin Mary.
Never quite understanding this “virgin” concept, I innocently inquired about “the blessed Virginia Mary”.
Not missing a beat with her systematic “ruler slapping”, or habitual “aisle march”, she actively continued strolling for snoozers and impassively remarked, “No Lucie, it’s blessed Virgin Mary, not blessed Virginia Mary.”
Yeah, well, being a know-it-all 7-year-old, and really wanting that damn star, I initiated a discussion with the Reverend Mother that I’m sure nuns aren’t really prepped for, at the nunnery, before taking their sacred vows.
In all innocence and ignorance, I shot back at her, “Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but we don’t have any Virgins in our family.”
“Don’t have any Virgins as friends, either,” I innocently continued.
“We’ve got an Aunt Virginia on my Dad’s side, but I don’t think we’ve got any Virgins in Italy, either. Sounds like a stupid name to me,” I naively remarked, as Mother B. abruptly stopped her “aisle march”, s l o w l y turned around and proceeded to quickly goose step down the classroom aisle to where I was seated.
Let’s just say, I didn’t get any “red stars” that day and found myself nervously squirming in my seat, innocently looking up at the towering, formidable Reverend Mother Bonaventure, as she irritably glared down at me, over the rims of her Ben Franklin spectacles; while methodically slapping that damn, thick, wooden ruler of hers on her sweaty, right palm, and callously eye-balled me into a guilty submission.
“Sometimes kids say the darndest things!”
Go out and make someone laugh today, People, and remember: make sure to cherish your childlike qualities, and I’ll catch ya next adventure-looking at life from my shoes!