My Catholic Permanent Record
Posted by LOTGK on November 3, 2007
The Grassy Knoll Institutes Permanent Record
The nuns had upped the ante and pulled a new term from their habits to combat us Catholic kids, especially me. After my run in with the “Noah’s Ark” debacle I was informed that all my bad deeds were somehow being mysteriously recorded in my permanent record. The head nun, sister Charlotte, proceeded to tell me that I was in big trouble and that my permanent record was starting to fill up and that it was such a pity since I was so young.
What was this thing called My Permanent Record? I needed to know and needed to know quickly. This was a new wrinkle thrown at me by the nuns and I had to turn to my trusted sources to find a solution.
So, when I got home from school that day, I waited around until my older brother Jack came home. He would know the low down on the permanent record. I would have to pay the price however, but at this point, he was the lesser of the two evils.
My brother Jack did not disappoint. At first he looked bemused upon hearing my inquiry, sighed a moment or two, ran his hand through his hair, and then exhaled very slowly as if he was about to tell me the secrets of the universe. Jack lowered his voice to almost a whisper and said that the living room was not the place to discuss such topics as ones permanent record.
Of course the garage would be more appropriate. (What was I thinking?) Once in the garage, Jack began a ritual of looking under the cars, in the roof rafters, through the windows, and out the garage doors. Apparently spies were everywhere in 1967 and one couldn’t be too careful discussing such topics as a Catholics permanent record.
Satisfied that no one was watching or listening, my brother Jack began spinning his tale as if he were rehearsing a work of literature. Homer, the author of “The Odyssey” had nothing on Jack. Jack began by saying that God created your permanent record and passed it down to the nuns to help keep track of all your sins. You see, God was really busy and only paid attention to the really bad people like bank robbers, murderers, and people that left church services before mass was over.
All the rest of the people, especially the children were to be monitored by the nuns. I looked on in disbelief and waited for some sign that he was kidding but he pressed on. Every time you sinned he continued, the nuns would record the sin in your record book and keep a running total. Then, when you died and went to the pearly gates to face Saint Peter, he would have all the ammunition he needed to send you to hell. Damn those nuns I thought.
Jack continued explaining in more detail. He told me that the people that had to many hits (sins) on their record were not permitted to get into Heaven. Instead, they had to go to a waiting place, a way station so to speak and once there, had to work off their sins until they were pure enough to enter the kingdom of Heaven. He said this place was called Purgatory. Jack said not to confuse Purgatory with the other place called Limbo, where all the little babies that weren’t properly baptized had to go and had to wait to get into Heaven until a certain amount of prayers were said for them.
Jack also said that some people who were bad people and knew they were going to Purgatory were able to go to the Parrish priest and set up an account and start paying off the time they would spend in there. He said it was called paying an indulgence. This sounded like paying off a mortgage. Jack said that maybe I should open my account and start paying off my time. Jack then added his famous disclaimer that I was to tell no one of this conversation and if I did, he would deny it all the way to his deathbed. This I believed. Everything else was a little shaky at best.
Sadly, much of what Jack told me was true and only later did the church begin to dismiss such beliefs.
Armed with this knowledge, I began formulating my game plan for revenge. To begin, I wondered how the nuns knew when I was committing a sin when I wasn’t in school. Did they have some sort of nun radar or sonar that would pick up my sin signals? And, how were they able to filter out all the sins being committed by all the kids in the Parrish? How did they know it was me and not Tommy from the next street? I had to know.
I had to somehow test the nuns. Then it came to me. My logic was so flawless that it even scared me. Mr. Spock would be very proud if he were able to show emotions. My test would be to sin on Monday morning, maybe say a bad word or two but not loud enough for my mother or father to hear, but say them nonetheless. Then I would be as good as possible on Tuesday. At the end of the day, I would walk up to the nun after class and ask in a meek and frightened tone if she or the other nuns had written anything in my permanent record for today for I was a little worried about what I had done earlier in the morning.
The trap was set. The nun took the bait, and leaned close to me and said that not only did she write several sins down in my record for today, but had also told Jesus in a prayer what I had done today. She was trying to lay it on thick, making me feel guilty for what I allegedly did earlier that morning. She thought that for once she had the upper hand and would relish in her good luck. Being the good Catholic that I was, I took the sermon from her and tried to look as somber and guilty as possible knowing full well that this nun was lying through her teeth.
Several minutes later, after the nuns jaw got sore flapping it at me, she stopped and said that I hope that I learned a lesson from all this. Slowly, painstakingly, I turned towards her, and in a low voice I lowered the hammer on her. I simply asked who kept a tally of the permanent records of all the nuns lies and sins? It was out there. I implied it. She knew it. Knew that I was aware that she had lied to me right then and that of course I had regained the upper hand.
We’ll take this up with the Pastor first thing tomorrow morning young man was all the nun could muster to say.
I couldn’t wait to get home that day. I wanted to tell my brother Jack what had transpired. I knew he would be proud of me. When Jack walked in the front door, I asked him to come to the garage for a moment. He knew I meant business. Once in the garage, I spilled the beans and told him the whole story. Jack was laughing and said that I did good but he had one problem with my story. He asked how did I know the nun was lying when she said she wrote down several things in my record book that day? After all, he said I did sin by conspiring against the nuns in the morning and then again by going through with my plan. Two sins, two entries in the record book.
Tomorrow would be a bad day at school.
LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL