The Pope and I

The Pope and I

“Stand up,” she demanded. “Now, I am giving you one last chance to tell me your full Christian name, or else.”

I was terrified. I had already given her my full name.

I was baptised with the namesakes of two famous monks. Saints, both of them.

Francis Benedict. That’s who I was known as to my parents until about the age of five. From then on they called me Frankie. The problem was me. I couldn’t get my tongue around it.

It is quite normal for a child that age to have a slight problem with pronunciations. At bedtime I would pray to Jesus, Mary and Jofis. I couldn’t say Joseph properly. My two best friends were John Coss (Crossan) and Gerard Kaana (Kavanagh).

I remember the time when our regular teacher (a nun) was off sick or something. A new nun came in to teach us for a day or two. We were lucky in that our nuns were nice; Nowadays we hear some very sad stories of miserable childhoods.

But anyway, this new nun, Sister Assumpta, was winning us over by asking each child his or her name and making each one feel special. She was lovely. Young and full of joy and peace. Until she met me.

“Oh, look at you with your lovely curly golden hair.”

I smiled.

“What is your Christian name, child?”

“Francis Bendy-dick.” I replied, all proud of myself.

“Sorry. What was that, child?” Her smile was more fake now.

I told her again. I also told her that my granny had helped pick the name at my birth.

I think she blessed herself and then…well then she lost the plot. She turned into the nun from hell. A few of the children started to cry. My friend John had my back “Please Sister, that is his real name. I swear.”

And so it continued until she sent for the head nun. It was eventually all sorted and explained. She apologised to me and to the others. The head nun explained that Sister Assumpta had a build-up of wax in her ears. So that was that. Sorted.

It was sometime around then I became known as Frankie.

As a matter of throw-away fact, tomorrow is the feast day of Saint Benedict. I only know that  because there was a Benadictine monk on the radio today talking about opening a new monastery in Ireland.

If I could just give an opinion on the subject of names, in general. It doesn’t matter which name parents give to their child. It is how the child lives and how they treat those they encounter which is important. Even if his name is Lucifer it doesn’t mean he is destined to be a bad ass.

Good manners are worth more than any college degree.

I hadn’t given much thought about my double barrelled name until last year when, for only the second time in history, there are two Popes alive at once. Francis and Benedict.

I will strive to clean up my act from now on. I have a name (or two) to live up to.

Thank you for reading

Francis Bendy-dick.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/writing-challenge-names/#more-70813

Bless me Father.

Bless me Father.

“Three full Rosaries? You’re asking me to say three full Rosaries and yet yer man before me only gets a Glory Be, an Our Father, and a Hail Mary! After what he did!! You cannot be serious!”

But he was serious.

Today is known as Ash Wednesday in the Catholic religion. I’m sure you have heard something of it. I won’t go into the whole meaning, for two reasons: Firstly I don’t know the whole meaning, and Secondly I didn’t get my ashes today. I was “too busy.” So it would be a bit rich if I were to start a full scale lecture on it.

Of course my wife and kids recieved their ashes. In fact, I could right this moment ask any one of them about the meaning, and they would be able to give me the complete story. But I won’t because dads know it all, everything! It would be a sign of less than perfection. No need to rock the boat. “Steady as she goes, Captain.”

It is the norm in our faith to attend confessions at regular intervals throughout the year. It’s particularly common to have your confession heard in the lead up to an important Holy day, for instance, Ash Wednesday, or Easter Sunday, or Christmas day. You get the gist. The idea is that it wipes the slate clean before you recieve an important Sacrament. It have to admit, in most cases my conscience felt a lot lighter after a visit. It’s a strange one.

But the truth, and I’ll have to whisper in case the kids hear, is that I haven’t been to confession in about three years. Just plain old laziness. I’ll burn in Hell yet.

Speaking of whispers, there is one occasion which stands out in my memory. I was visiting the relations on my father’s side.  He is originally from County Mayo. The county famous for the Apparition at Knock, a small village, in 1879. Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Saint John appeared along with an Altar on top of which stood the Lamb, and there was a large Crucifix behind the Altar. None of them made a sound but the apparition lasted an hour or two. Fifteen people of all ages witnessed it. You can find out more on the WWW-dot if you’re interested.

Whether or not their surroundings had any influence, my father’s family were, and still are, devout Catholics. Everything was done by the book. So on the visit in question I tagged along to the local Church for confessions. When in Rome..

“..and maybe we’ll do the stations of the cross while we’re there,” announced my wife. Oh she is good!

When we arrived there wasn’t much of a queue, thanks be to God. And it seemed like no time at all until I had shuffled along the seat to be in the next up position.

I felt nervous. Not because I had murdered anyone. But because I knew that my devout relations would hear every sin I told, thanks to Father Echo, behind the curtain. Each faux pas that the sinner was mumbling, was being repeated at full volume by the priest, who sounded old and deaf. But his vocal chords were in mint condition.

“AND YOU HAD SEX WITH HER!”

“mumble mumble mumble.”

“AND YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF MARRYING HER!”

“mumble mumble mumble”

“I TRUST YOU WILL FIND HER AND APOLOGISE! FOR YOUR PENANCE SAY ONE OUR FATHER, ONE HAIL….” he went on to absolve the poor lad of his sins.

I was next. I hadn’t counted on this scenario. So I played it cool.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been a while since my last confession…”

“HOW LONG IS A WHILE?” he interrupted.

“Oh about five years,  I can’t remember.”

“FIVE YEARS! FIVE YEARS SINCE YOUR LAST CONFESSION!”

Damn! By now the whole of County Mayo has heard my business thanks to Father Megaphone! All my wife’s good work, down the drain. I had to think quick. I couldn’t list all the real sins I had committed. I would be excommunicated, and worse, embarrassed.

“Oh I wished bad luck to a few people here and there, Father. You know, the usual thing when someone gets on your nerves.”

“YOU WHAT? THAT’S THE WORST TYPE OF SIN.”

And he left it at that. So now the folks outside think I am the Devil incarnate. Oh my God, tell me this isn’t happening. But it was, it was happening. He started shouting absolution prayers at the top of his lungs. I had lost the will to kneel. I slunk back into a corner of the cubicle. “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I mumbled.

“..AND SAY THREE ROSARIES FOR FORGIVENESS….”

There it was, the final nail! My reputation was in tatters. That’s pretty much all I remember. The rest of the day was a blur.

Thank you for reading

Frankie

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/prompt-sleep/