A Witch Brewing among Catholics

The church looked amazing. The altar was adorned with huge candelabras, white roses and tulips, and there were chains of white daisies draping from the back of every pew. My catechism instructor had told the class that Father Elias was going to marry a couple after he was done with our confessions. I was a little confused because it was Wednesday afternoon, and I thought people only got married during Sunday mass.

I looked at my watch. I had been sitting on a wooden pew for over an hour. My butt was numb.

“You’re next.” Manuel Tapia’s voice made me jump. He was the oldest boy in my catechism group, and I had a crush on him. I confessed it to God as soon as I realized I liked him. I wasn’t sure if liking Manuel was a sin, but I told God anyway—you can never be too safe in the ever watchful eyes of God.

I walked to the confession booth rubbing my behind. Please God let the seat have some padding, I prayed in silence. My poor butt couldn’t take any more pew torture.

I got to the booth, climbed three steps, and took a look. Crap! Another wooden pew. I stood very still waiting for my punishment, and then I guessed that saying or thinking the word ‘crap’ wasn’t a sin because God didn’t strike me on the spot. I sat on the accursed bench.

“You have to kneel.”

“Crap!” Father Elias scared the living Jesus out of me. For a moment, I believed God had decided that saying ‘crap’ in his house was a sin after all, and I was about to get it. But it wasn’t God. The horrible breath sipping through the tiny screened window belonged to a familiar mortal.

“I won’t tolerate that kind of language in the house of God.” Father Elias moved so closed to the window that I could clearly see his angry little eyes. I wanted to protest and tell him that God hadn’t said anything, and it was his house. But Father Elias’s putrid breath made me dizzy, so I just nodded.

“Well?” asked Father Elias impatiently. “Didn’t you learn how to confess? You need to kneel.”

“But I don’t have anything to confess. I ask God for forgiveness as soon as I make a mistake.”

“Insolent girl! You can’t confess without a priest!”

I stared at the livid man thanking God for the screened window. Father Elias would have probably spat all over my face if it wasn’t for it. He continued ranting and I continued to stare without listening. My mind’s voice was screaming at me. Why do I need a priest to confess my sins? Why am I here? Why would I share anything with this lunatic? Will my mom be mad if I leave? One question actually crossed my lips: “Why can’t I talk to my God on my own?”

Father Elias was on my face a couple of seconds later. “Get out! Go talk to your teacher and tell her you are not ready. I will speak to her later. Send in whoever is next.”

I walked out of the booth and looked at my best friend, Dahlia, who had been seating behind me, waiting for her turn. I froze. What kind of friend would I be, if I let her face this crazy man without warning? Help me God.

“Well?” Father Elias spat into my thoughts.
I looked at the condemning fire in his eyes, and I knew that I had to do something, and do it fast.

I took off running.

I ran until my 11-year-old lungs ordered me to stop. I found an old oak tree to lean on, and waited for my breath to catch up.

“Maggy, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

It was Ms. Toledo, the town librarian. She was always nice to me. I touched my face and realized she was right. I was crying. I told her everything as we walked to the library. When we got there, Ms. Toledo offered me a chair, but I declined.

She let out a long sigh. “Oh, don’t worry too much. It’s not the end of the world.”
I knew she was trying to help, but she hadn’t seen Father Elias’s face. She wasn’t there when he told me that I wasn’t ready. Ready for what anyway? And why didn’t he answer my question?

Ms. Toledo must have read my mind because she said, “Tell you what, I’ll have a word with Father Elias.”

I gave her a pained look and said, “Thanks.” But I wasn’t sure if talking to the priest was the best idea.

Ms. Toledo walked away and I thought about stopping her. She should know that Father Elias wouldn’t listen. I gathered some courage and was ready to go find her, but she came back before I had a chance to move.

“Here,” she whispered. “Take it home. Come back next week and tell me what you think.”

The excitement of taking a book home made me forget all about Father Elias, sins, and confessions. You see, the library in my town was so small that it couldn’t allow people to check out books. So taking the book with me was an adventure, especially because I didn’t own any books. My family was too poor, so we couldn’t afford them. That was the reason why I was such good friends with Ms. Toledo. I used to spend as much time in the library as I was allowed, in order to finish a book.

I thanked Ms. Toledo and left with a smile on my face. I walked the 3 miles from the library to my house, taking glances at the book every now and then, but not daring to open it. What about if I dropped it and ruined it?

I got home, climbed my favorite mango tree, and opened my borrowed treasure. I read about ancient gods—males and females—who interacted with their people. I learned about olden times when humanity lived in harmony with the earth, when people honored the moon and the sun and these Old Powers listened; times when folks believe in the power of their own energy.

I enjoyed the book so much that I was really sad when Monday came and I had to return it. But my sadness didn’t last long; Ms. Toledo replaced the book. The new volume was filled with gods from all over the world. Some of the gods were terrible and scary, but I loved learning about each and every one of them. Their eclectic nature, the spontaneity of their ways, their darkness and light, reminded me of me.

***
This is a retelling of my first post, A Tale of Mythology and Paganism.
I felt it was appropriate to share it before Witches in Fiction.
It kind of explains some of my love for everything
Bookish and Witchy

24 comments:

  1. I loved it. It was so riveting, I did not want it to stop, I wanted to keep reading about what you read next and what, if anything, happened with Father Elias!

    Thank you for letting me walk down your path with you for a bit!

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  2. Fantastic story! And a VERY familiar story as well.

    I too immediately questioned confession as a child. We were always told "God knows what you do, and knows when you are sorry," and then we were told that we couldn't be forgiven unless a priest "absolved us of our confessed sins."???? That just didn't make any sense to a seven year old.

    So - I made up sins. I recited the same list of memorized sins for years until I was old enough to make the decision to stop going to church.

    I didn't run to mythology right away, though - I focused on the female face of God - Mary. Hence began my relationship with The Goddess.

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  3. This was just as I remember the whole "out of place" in a catholic world thing. I was the only non catholic in an all girls catholic school. Made for an interesting start to my schooling.
    I loved every word of your story. Very vivid and powerful. The Olde Bagg

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  4. This is gorgeous, Magaly! My mother is a "recovering Catholic" and her stories about Catholic school and all the masses are horrifying. And yet I cannot stop collecting Mary statues, pictures, etc.

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  5. Very gripping story, Magaly! What did happen with the priest? I am also a book lover ... used to read a book every day of the week and 2-3 Sat. and Sun. ... wouldn't go to bed until I had finished it! I loved reading about mythology and the gods and goddesses until I became a teenager and switched to romance novels (lol). I never understood why Catholics think they have to make confessions to a priest, instead of directly to God...but, then again, I'm not a Catholic!

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  6. A woman after my own heart! Books and anything Witchy'ish! Oh, and did I mention Books? LOL Loved the story too! I'm not Catholic but honestly want to learn as much as I can, at least about the Saints and Angels. It falls perfectly in line with my VooDoo/HooDoo interests! ;)Hmmm...wonder if I can find flash-cards? LOLOLOL

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  7. I remember this from last time...it was also good in the retell...

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  8. Bella - as it is common in this situations nothing happened to the priest while I live in the Dominican Republic. I know "he was transferred" after I left DR; he had some alcohol issues and was kind of sweet with the ladies, which in his faith is a no-no.

    Aine - the idea of you making up sin is hilarious and of course a little sad. I can see why you like Mary; I used to love to play her part on the church plays, until I was told "Magaly, Mary never grinned that much! And she certainly didn't dance!" Yes, my Mary role didn't last long lol

    Linda - I got in so much trouble for speaking my mind in Catholic school...

    Mama's Thyme - Ooooh! I'm going to your blog to search for your Mary collection.

    Nancy - Catholicism is complex and as with any other faith, it has some really scary fanatical followers. But there are really good people too. My dad is Catholic and he is a sweetheart (he throws a bit of witchy stuff into the mix too ;-)

    Bandhura - SanterĂ­a and Catholicism go super well together. You might be interested in checking out Carolina Gonzalez's blog, she has LOTS of great info on this. Here is her link http://magickshop.wordpress.com/

    Judy - you are too lovely ;-)

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  9. Magaly, I really loved reading this, thank-you! It reminded me of myself! And actually my mom and brother too. Even though we were brought up Catholic, it just wasn't us and now none of us are! LOL! Have a great day!

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  10. I, too, joined the Pagan path because of a book. But you'll have to wait for that story at the blog party.

    I grew up Catholic too, but I have no scare priest stories to share. Everyone was nice. It just wasn't for me. I have some Virgin Mary stuff too. But it's okay since the Virgin Mary is actually Isis. No really. Go and read the profile of Isis I made in December.

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  11. OOOOOHHHH! Magaly! Just popped on over to Carolina's blog! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Beautiful and will be a HUGE help!

    Hugs!
    Bandhura

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  12. Magaly, WHERE are your published novels, woman?! Your writing is absorbing, meaningful and exciting...I could read your work all day. Excellent!

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  13. Riveting story!
    I grew up Catholic and have scary priest and nun stories.
    They worked hard at taking a relationship between God and a young one and making it difficult.
    Mythology was too arbitrary for me. The gods too fickle and not too intelligent.
    I now focus on relationship and it works for me.
    Hugging you
    SueAnn

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  14. Magic Love Crow - I'm very happy you loved this and could relate. I think one of the things that helped me most was the fact that I knew I wasn't alone; so many felt the way I did.

    Isadora - How delightful! I'm going to check Isis.

    Bandhura - I had a feeling you would! I'm so glad ;-)

    Green Witch - You just made me squeal! I'm hoping I'll have an answer for that by 2013 and links to some published shorts by the end of the year ;-)

    SueAnn - My mother superior's nickname was Mumra (that'll tell you nice or cute she was). I can definitely see some of the limitations of the gods and concepts from mythology, but the fact that there are so many and I get to choose, left me quite content--heck, it left me thrilled. But in the end , I do focus on Nature, my connection to other living things, and on my own energy.

    Ginormous HUGS!

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  15. Geez, if your society had been Protestant, you might never have felt the need to walk the witchy way after all! (No, I doubt that. But Protestants do have some advantages in comparison to Catholics...)

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  16. I don't think there is a thing in this world or any other that could have kept me from Witchcraft. I do agree that Protestantism gives more power to the individual than Catholicism.

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  17. Wonderful, vivid and real. Your writing is so captivating, Magaly. It soaks me in and I become absorbed by its magic.

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  18. Mina - This makes my writing heart very happy ;-)

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  19. I had the very same thoughts as a child about the needing a priest to talk to god thing when I was younger.

    Thank the Universe for Ms. Toledo!

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  20. Wait. Was this a real story? Oh man, I want more. ;-)

    Thankfully, I grew up Baptist (although, I'm not sure if the hellfire-and-brimstone take is any better). At 11 years old, I never would've made it as a Catholic because I would've wanted proof that I had to confess my sins to a priest and couldn't speak to God alone.

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  21. Colleen - The thought of having to through a third party to speak to the Divine is just too weird.

    Marcia Colette - Oh yeah luv, this is as real as it gets; down to the priest's stinky breath!

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  22. This is gorgeous, Magaly! My mother is a "recovering Catholic" and her stories about Catholic school and all the masses are horrifying. And yet I cannot stop collecting Mary statues, pictures, etc.

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  23. This was just as I remember the whole "out of place" in a catholic world thing. I was the only non catholic in an all girls catholic school. Made for an interesting start to my schooling.
    I loved every word of your story. Very vivid and powerful. The Olde Bagg

    ReplyDelete
  24. Fantastic story! And a VERY familiar story as well.

    I too immediately questioned confession as a child. We were always told "God knows what you do, and knows when you are sorry," and then we were told that we couldn't be forgiven unless a priest "absolved us of our confessed sins."???? That just didn't make any sense to a seven year old.

    So - I made up sins. I recited the same list of memorized sins for years until I was old enough to make the decision to stop going to church.

    I didn't run to mythology right away, though - I focused on the female face of God - Mary. Hence began my relationship with The Goddess.

    ReplyDelete