Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wickedness Is Taught In Catholic Schools. God Bless Them!

I posted a rhetorical question earlier on my Facebook page today wondering what God was trying to tell me by way of last night's thunder storm.  I've considered it carefully and this is what I've come up with...

I am wicked.  Not in a nasty, XXX rated sort of way.  Yes, sometimes this can be fun and it's not for a lack of trying; however, I was raised by whom I consider the strictest, most devout Catholics of them all, the Sisters of Notre Dame.  Because of this, no matter how hard I try, that kind of wickedness is just not easy for me.  The standard, nonbehaving wickedness, that's what I'm all about. 
Sisters of Notre Dame

Memories of Sister Mary Therese Anne in the second grade guiding me through my First Holy Communion Services.  Young, sweet, and patient - she was loved by all of her students.  She was my inspiration to become a nun for about three weeks.  Then, I started watching Wonder Woman on TV.  If I couldn't be a flying Nun saving the world from utter calamity and come home to a handsome airforce pilot at night than I'd have to give up being a Sister of Notre Dame.  God would just have to understand. 

Sister Mary Jose.  A 110 year old curmudgeon (God forgive me) who insisted that we stand up and say, "pardon me teacher, pardon me class", every time we sneezed, coughed, or dropped a pencil.  I believe this is where my wickedness began. This frightening old women put the fear of the Lord into me and to this day I still can't spell thanks to this woman.  She was from the old school and believed in knowledge through humiliation; however, it certainly backfired on me.  Sister had a habit of holding up spelling tests and pointing out who did badly each week.  I refused to be the center of this attention because I came dangerously close too many times.  One week we were learning contractions, i.e., we are, we're, I am, I'm, etc., and I studied ferociously.  I even asked my mom to quiz me.  I was aiming for an A+.  I knew the words perfectly and was confident.  When it came time to hold up the miserable failures I sat relaxed.  This time Sister was the cruelest she'd ever been.  "There is only one student who got every single one wrong!  A complete F on the test!  How can anyone be so stupid?"  Then, without any mercy, she held up the test, pointed at me, and said my name.  It appeared that in my excitement to complete the test and hand write beautifully (she was also a stickler on this), I had forgotten to put the apostrophes between the contractions.  D'oh!
 
I was only in the fourth grade.  I was young.  "Hate" was a big word for me.  I learned it at that moment.  I started wishing for something bad to happen.  I felt like Damian from the movie, The Omen.  Maybe if I just stared at her long enough the world atlas globe would fall on her head and she would put my spelling test down.  That was the year I started placing Valentine party cupcakes in Geography books and pushing readers out the windows into the bushes outside.  When she wasn't looking, I'd snag her pencils, break the tips off, and place them back into her pencil holder.  Yes, it was wrong.  I am coming clean now some 35 years later.
 
Eventually something did happen.  She could have hurt herself, but she didn't.  Sister would carry her supplies in a large, clear bag.  During a spelling test - oh, sweet karma - as she reached over to grab it, her chair went out from under her and she landed on her fannie.  Most of the class was quiet or asked her respectfully if she were ok.  No, not me.  I and several other comrades laughed loud and heartily.  There was no mistaking the fact that we were wicked, wicked children and did not like Sister Mary Jose.  The three hours of picking weeds behind the convent (typical hard labor punishment) was well worth the crime.  In fact, I would have gladly done more time.
 
Then there was Sister Mary Agnel. She taught the fifth grade and was terrifying to behold. At the time, next to my great Uncle Art, I didn't know a face could have so many wrinkles. When she spoke it was as if a thousand eating utensils were being scraped across a wash board. She was strict and was not to be crossed. On Friday mornings, instead of going directly to school, we were required to meet at the church several blocks away for 8:00am mass and sit with our respective classes. My little gang of friends and I would sit towards the front or at least as far away from Sister as we could get. The word, "GIRLS!", would often come hissing from the utinsily voice from the end of the pew. One more time and that would be it. We would be pulled from our seats and have to sit next to her with one of the truly awful boys in the last row. Total misery and humiliation!  As it turns out, all these years later, I loved Sister Mary Agnel the most and I know she loved her "GIRLS!" very much.  I think about her almost every day.  I wish I could have had the opportunity to tell her but somehow, after last night's thunderstorm, I think she knows.

So, the thunderstorm last night.  It kept me awake and made me consider what God was trying to say to me.  Oh wicked, wicked girl...mend thy ways?!  I know that Sister Mary Agnel probably knew I was wicked in the fifth grade and secretly liked that about me.  I'm sure she smiled when I wasn't watching or maybe I was watching but couldn't see it through all her wrinkles.  Who knows?  Maybe the thunder was her shouting, "GIRLS!" from the end of the pew again.  If that's the case, I heard you loud and clear Sister.  No need to shout.  I'll try to behave a little more. 

By the way, if that was you Sister Mary Agnel, please let God know I got His message too.  And, just for good measure I'll say an extra Hail Mary for Sister Mary Jose.  It's about time I let go of the grudge.  Pardon, me teacher.  Pardon me class.

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