St. Gabriel’s, on 97th Street in East Elmhurst, was such an exceptionally good parish, including a school. The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay faculty members ran quite a tight ship but they were entirely likable and fair too. One would think, logically, that nothing of any significance could possibly go wrong there. There was one incident when I was a kid, though, that boggles people’s minds to this very day. Sister Rose Eugene, my first grade teacher, was quite a tall, imposing looking lady. Back then the Sisters of Charity wore old fashioned black habits and bonnets, and Rosary beads as belts. To this very day I still remember my very first day at St. Gabriel’s, as a student of hers. We youngsters all got the shock of our lives when we first showed up on that otherwise fine September morning so long ago. My neighborhood friends and I all got off the Q 19 B, the local utility bus, and walked through the schoolyard in order to enter our new school. Uncontrollable shock and chaos set in the instant we first walked through the school’s doors. The children arrived for the first day of school to find that there were no desks in any of the classrooms. Being six years old at the time, we youngest kids didn’t know what to think. “Maybe Martians took them,” said Dale. Upon hearing such a claim, Jo Anne whined, “Oh shut up! Everybody knows Martians don’t even have butts so they can’t even sit anyway!” After the shock had all somewhat subsided, the principals, Sister Dolorita and Brother Andrew, got us all together for an assembly, so they could explain how to deal with our most unprecedented problem. They ended up deciding that they couldn’t let us stay unfortunately. Being kids, we were all so very happy to be allowed to go home. Our very first day at our new school ended up having to come a week late because of all the problems that were involved with finding new desks. To this very day no one has any idea what could possibly have happened. It wasn’t a result of anyone’s negligence and there was no criminal activity involved. It was just a weird quirk of fate. Even now my oldest friends and I still always talk about it, often wondering which of us may have perhaps been the guilty party.
The only thing I can remember having specifically said, when I was a kid, that I wanted to wanted to be when I grew up, was a priest. There were all sorts of other things I was interested in during those days. There may have been other things that came up, that I expressed an interest in doing, but I’ve appeared to have plum forgotten them all. Back in the 1990’s I got a chance to see if I should become a diocesan priest or a professed religious but I didn’t end up becoming one. I was always quite a very studious intelligent young fellow so I knew there was most certainly no problem with intellectual aptitude or conscientiousness. Not everyone is cut out for life in that world. The people in charge have to be extra exceptionally careful whom they accept. There are all kinds of psychological and emotional requirements that must come into play. Especially because of all the trouble with the liberals’ attempt to discredit and to destroy irrevocably the Church, and the scandals they’ve been exploiting, everyone has to be wary of any kind of trouble that may ensue if a diocese or religious community were to accept the wrong man for that kind of vocation.
I don’t especially want to talk about a specific incident when I’ve felt very guilty but it’s always been quite a particularly rotten feeling for me. Knowing I’m the bad guy in a particular given situation is so terribly uncomfortable an experience. It’s one thing when an individual is at least in the right, or when he can honestly claim to have done all within his power to avoid any kind of trouble. There’s a much different feeling, though, that goes with being the bad guy. When such a thing happens to me it’s entirely too much of a sense of wishing I could backtrack and start over again. Besides that, of course, there is still the inevitable fear of being caught, without my having any legitimate right whatsoever to complain when my comeuppance finally catches up with me. That’s why I always try to keep my nose as clean as possible. I tend to get very anxious in general anyway and especially in the face of impending trouble. Knowing that I’m guilty of something only makes things a real nightmare. That’s good though because it keeps me from ever presuming to push my luck. Fear of punishment isn’t the best incentive for being good but at least it’s a really effective start.
Fortunately I’ve never been involved with anyone I shouldn’t have been mixed up with. I can understand how taxing that kind of relationship can be. Imagine all the incessant arguing because of such a total lack of compatibility. Such an experience must be quite a nightmare. Whether it’s for reasons of either a religious or political nature, or for some other kind of circumstances, that’s bound to lead to some seriously nasty consequences, especially in today’s era of victim status where so many self-pitying, self-aggrandizing creeps are encouraged to demand all kinds of entirely blind sycophantic obedience. At least I’ve been spared, however obnoxious my life has been, such a horrendous ordeal.
As far as I can remember, I don’t think I’ve ever caught anyone in a big significant lie. It might, if it ever happens, turn out to be quite a very bad idea to confront the evil doer with his misdeed. Logically and objectively it’s exactly the right thing to do. The problem with that, though, is that there would be a risk of quite a nasty reaction. I’m not exactly looking forward to all the fights that would inevitably ensue from being a whistle blower. At Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, about ten years ago, there was a priest who found out about certain other priests who were involved with the big scandals that were going on back then. He spoke out against them and got into a lot of trouble for it. Although he did exactly the right thing, he was put through quite a very hard time. People tried to destroy his reputation because he rocked a very significant boat. That’s why I don’t like to be bothered with taking any kind of a significant stand about anything. The best thing about my life is that nothing very significant ever seems to happen. Most of the lies I deal with are only about a bunch of minor little things and I’m quite happy with that.
Conveniently I’ve never stooped to any significant kind of inappropriate behavior, or at least not anywhere near significant enough to make it unavoidably necessary to keep constantly covering it up with a lie. That must be quite a rotten feeling, complete with frustration, fear, anxiety and all sorts of other problems. Life is hard enough for each of us without his having to keep incessantly perpetuating a fabricated story in order to bluff his way out of trouble. In that sense I’ve always been quite a boring inconspicuous sort of a fellow. As I’ve said before, all those detective stories and murder mysteries make quite a legitimate point. Sooner or later the truth will always sneak up on the culprit, and he will, in one way or another, be forcibly confronted with his just deserts. Each day there’s a new revelation in the media about someone who, after having hid something away for quite a significant length of time, even decades, is forced to face up to his comeuppance. The bad news is that my life tends to be confusing and annoying. The good news, though, is that I rarely have to be bothered with facing up to any exceptionally big trouble. If I tell any lies they’re always just the stupid little ones.
Never having been involved in a scandal of any significant magnitude I can’t really say, by way of experience, exactly what would be involved in a cover up, but I can most certainly imagine that have to involve quite a lot of stress and frustration. Over the years I’ve seen very many episodes of shows like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “The Twilight Zone”, “The Outer Limits” and Boris Karloff’s “Thriller”. In those shows, as in life, the bad guy inevitably ends up getting caught sooner or later anyway. One way or another, by way of either some forgotten detail, a slip of the tongue, or a nasty twist of fate, a culprit will virtually inevitably be forced to face up to his just deserts. Even if he manages somehow to get away with his dastardly misdeed, the tension and uncertainty will always be with him. Never knowing whom he can trust or confide in is enough to drive anyone to quite an entirely overwhelmed state of anxiety. I should never be capable of handling all that unrelenting frustration. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always minded my own business and kept out of big trouble. My nerves have always made it too difficult for me to deal with frustrating problems in general, so I know that if there’s absolutely any way whatsoever that I can possibly help it, I most certainly am not going to do anything drastically unacceptable. Since people generally tend to suspect things when something’s amiss anyway, even if no one really knows for sure, the rotten feeling that I’d get every time I saw an inexplicable smirk on someone else’s face would make me cringe with paranoia. I absolutely have no idea how anyone could possibly put up with that kind of feeling. Unfortunately the need for gain, even if ill-gotten, can be so overwhelmingly powerful in each of us that for at least a little while, under the specific set of circumstances during which someone is being tempted, he can forget all the risk that’s inevitably involved. That’s one of the really bad things about the way each of us is put together. A momentary lapse of judgment can lead to big trouble and things only show their true colors after it’s too late. A lot of significant public figures have been forced into having all their good fortunes reversed irrevocably because of unforeseen repercussions of their evil behavior. Even if he doesn’t get into any big trouble, though, the fear alone can control him quite completely.
As much as I can enjoy the work of celebrities, I long ago wised up to their true colors and stopped even trying to pretend to consider them worthy role models. Famous people all know perfectly well that very many of their fans, especially the very young and impressionable, consider them worthy of emulation. For some obscene reason, though, they presume to consider themselves entitled to brag that they feel absolutely no sense of accountability whatsoever for their antics. One day a few years ago there was something in the news about how one of the Baldwin brothers, when he got onto a plane, felt free to talk on a cell phone in spite of explicit warnings that he wasn’t allowed. Apparently he fully expected them to be so flattered to have him as a passenger that they wouldn’t so much as dare to think of presuming to expect him to be subjected to the same inconveniences as we mere mortals. Not a day goes by that either Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, or some other celebrity, woman, trendy minority, or sexual dysfunctional doesn’t presume to put forth the latest official pronouncement about some word we mere mortals must be expressly forbidden to say (the latest are “bossy” & “retard” as well as all those words the trendy minorities & sexual dysfunctionals have conveniently labeled slurs), food we must be forbidden to eat, and all sorts of other inappropriate demands upon us. Oprah Winfrey recently got into a self-pitying huff because some white saleswoman, who didn’t recognized her, presumed to ask her if she could afford something. That’s racist!? Another time Samuel L. Jackson threw an equally self-pitying hissy fit because some white anchorman had the nerve to dare to confuse him with Laurence Fishburne. That’s racist?! We now live in an extremely seriously sick world where people care more about the environment, plants and animals than they do about unborn babies, the sick and handicapped and old people. Anyone who sees how Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes, among others, have ended up shouldn’t have such a hard time figuring out that celebrities are most certainly not role models, and that they should in absolutely no way whatsoever be allowed to tell anyone else how to live his life. I feel sorry for anyone who lets famous people dictate to him the terms of how he will be expected to live his life. That can never lead to anything but trouble.
I realize that I tend to grate on people’s nerves with perhaps entirely too much complaining about liberalism but I honestly think it’s the source of all of mankind’s troubles precisely because its roots are all in phony pride. I once knew a monsignor, in the Scranton Diocese, who frequently said that after his having been to several meetings for people who were afflicted with compulsions or addictions, he could never help noticing that everyone looked down his nose at other people for their problems. The alcoholics bragged that at least they weren’t on drugs, the violent people expected to be congratulated because they weren’t compulsive shoppers. Each of us has an innate tendency to assume that someone else’s vices are worse than his. At his very worst, when phony pride is really out of control, each of us tends to fancy himself as a toppler of the supposed high and mighty. Exactly when was the last time anyone managed to get through an entire day without an entirely bottomless pit of references to someone’s supposed hypocrisy. Proponents of leftist ideology always claim to be supposedly trying to make the world a better place. One thing I’ve noticed about anyone who claims to be acting in everyone’s supposed best interest, whether he strives for the perfect family, workplace or any other aberration of the common good, is that someone like that always ends up objectifying specific individuals, and treating each person as if he’s nothing more than a mere means to a desired ultimate end. It’s like when Father Zosima, in Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”, admitted that the more dearly he loved mankind in general, the more disgusted he was at his neighbor’s each and every flaw. Anytime someone claims to be striving for some supposed Great Society, instead of trying to be a better individual, he always does it by way of deciding upon how much others must change. Besides that, he invariably considers himself about the rules and immune to all negative criticism. That’s why I don’t like to get entirely too enthused about a collective identity. If someone wants to be good to his family, people at work, or any other group, that’s entirely commendable. Western culture has always placed a great emphasis on the common good. The problem, though, is that so many of us, under those circumstances, tend to strive for the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and for a reputation for being good, rather than the reality of goodness. It’s precisely that mentality that leads to an enjoyment of someone else’s being exposed as a hypocrite. Scandal always comes from phony pride. Since the third chapter of the book of Genesis, each of us has always been forced to fight a never ending battle against the need to expose the real and imagined flaws of others while simultaneously demanding the right to a good reputation. Each of us should wise up and try to change himself instead of pretending to make the world a better place.
The scandals I truly wish I had never heard of are the ones about the Catholic priests and sexual abuse of minors. Having always been quite favorably impressed by the Church I’ve most certainly never wanted to see Her reputation tarnished. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that Catholic priests and Religious are no more prone toward sexually abusing minors than either ministers or rabbis, or any other demographic group. This has been undeniably proven by many studies. The reason people only want to go after the Catholic clergymen who are involved in this misconduct, while giving others a free pass, is because of our antinomian culture’s bitterly anti-Catholic prejudice. Liberals resent manhood, fatherhood, and family life. The Church is the only institution that resists the left’s insatiable determination to take absolute charge over people’s entire lives. Proponents of the culture of death literally have arrogated to themselves the authority to decide what is good and what is evil. They feel free to decide who lives and who dies. All power must be vested, according to them, in the almighty state. That’s the entire point of artificial contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and everything else they advocate. People tend to overlook the fact that the priests who are involved in the scandals are always accused of inappropriate conduct with post-pubescent boys, and that this conduct, with regard to age range, is classified as ephebophilia, not pedophilia. Another problem is that too many people are now determined to deny the evil nature of homosexuality. Liberals feel free to pick and to choose, so they only condemn the things they don’t like while simultaneously refusing to admit that there’s anything wrong with what they like. Throughout the entire history of mankind’s existence, liberalism, in its various forms, has echoed Satan’s line: “Ego non serviam”. The priesthood, therefore, is the perfect symbol of what the left most bitterly resents. Although each priest who is guilty of any type of sexual misconduct whatsoever should be bitterly ashamed of himself, and should be punished quite harshly, precisely because his vocation is ontologically so far superior to any other, he should always be assumed innocent until proven guilty.