As a child, nuns and priests fascinated me. I loved their clothes and the fact they didn’t marry. And when you saw one on the street and grinned, they almost always smiled back.
Last month, all these thoughts came to mind after I read about a homily delivered by Pope Francis. In it he said, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!”
Later in the same lesson, he would continue to espouse the belief in a common goodness among people of all faiths, even those without religion. I loved this lesson and wanted to hear more.
In retrospect, I never really was exposed to the Pope or his teachings growing up. Southern Baptist girls rarely heard very much about Catholicism, at least not in my family. That was, unless a relative married someone of the Roman faith. Then, in low voices fit for a confessional, our lady kinfolk would gossip about the tragedy of the situation and the likelihood the union was headed toward destruction, or at the very least, a lifetime of hell.
Those people pray to Mary, you know.
But the thing was, I didn’t know. Ignorance breeds ignorance. Small towns at the time didn’t necessarily have the greatest record of interfaith dialogue. And my Catholic friends never really discussed the sacraments of their faith. Scratch-n-sniff stickers and new Michael Jackson albums clearly took precedence over saints during those early years.
If you had asked me, the Catholic faith couldn’t have been so bad. Heck, girls even got to wear those pretty white veils on special occasions. Photos like these began to appear on mantel tops of my elementary school friends. The kids resembled little brides, their patent leather shoes reflecting the smiles on their faces. Money and cake were their rewards for drinking some grape juice.