It had been six years since I had stopped attending Catholic church.
I started off with the right intentions, did my share of studying religious options. Took pieces of each major sect that I found fitting.
Then went off on my own.
I made some good moves and bad ones. One particular bad choice sent me five years into the wrong direction. I became the bad guy, out of necessity. I eventually lucked out though, being part of the 1% that survives hard drug addiction relatively unscathed.
I've since removed that problem, but not the cause of it. So I began searching for a purpose. Some proof, some adjustment, something or someone to open my eyes.
I felt I was a good person on the inside, and I always treated people around me well. I'm known as a nice guy. Described as that person that makes you laugh and feel good, even the one to ask for advice.
I also sin casually. I sin regularly and knowingly. And so far, I'm still alive and well despite doing it. I've become the entertainer wherever I go. I use coarse language happily. I'm blunt, sarcastic, aloof and constantly finding inappropriate humor in things. I'll even ponder funny scenes in my head... during a funeral.
But now it's time to get serious. I'm getting to the age where finding a wife and building my own family is the next step. If I want to find the One, I need to be the One to find as well.
So to get started on fixing Andrew Centrella-
I figured I'd choose the strictest, most guilt-ridden and staunch religion there was to investigate over again.
Enter Leila Miller. Imagine the sweetest lady you've ever met, and you have some idea of Leila. She's got a huge pile of kids, and they're all adorable angels. Along with her husband, there isn't a family closer to the idealized perfection you'd see on 1950s television.
Leila fearlessly sticks her chin out with a very, very Catholic set of morals. She even posts her guts online, inviting an onslaught. Leila regularly jumps face first into touchy subjects- some of them challenging my own core beliefs. I admired that. Who is this crazy woman?
So I read up on her. This lady sticks to her guns- Jesus in the right hand, and Virtue in the other.
Normally I'm the distant critic, never fully attached to any one idea. Leila's the exact opposite, her steadfast resolve impressed me.
But instead of praising her, I attacked her. She represented what I wanted to be, but couldn't be. All the mental back and forth I had developed over my ugly lifetime, I flung at her, hoping to either learn something or cause damage.
Even if I secretly agreed with her position on some things, I'd still poke and prod at her with commentary. Where previous opposition would admit defeat, Leila would come right back with a hard jab of Convincing, and a right hook of Documentation. Despite me being some online faceless punk, she fought me with all the patience and love of a good mother.
Her goal wasn't to beat me, but to save me.
Fast forward some time, and she eventually gets the crazy idea to invite me to her Catholic mass.
Her Catholic bubble.
Brave move on her part. Sure you can get to know someone a bit through online chatter, but I'm no saint. In fact, at that point I fully admitted to her I was complete scum, yet she welcomed me without hesitation.
I've been to mass hundreds of times, but I was rusty. The crowd would recite their routine responses and prayers. I remembered most of them, but didn't speak a word.
So Leila is bowing her head respectfully, the priest is talking, and I'm trying to listen.
Then I look up at the ceiling and imagine Jesus bursting in, shooting some Conversion Lasers, beating me up in action hero fashion, blessing everyone else then backflipping his way out the door.
Dammit concentrate. This is your salvation, you jerk.
Father John, a jolly rotund fellow in a green dress, begins the Eucharist.
He lifts up the Body of Christ and says what he should.
Despite how lousy I know that cracker tastes. I'm starving.
Oh man, I could eat a whole bowl of that. Actually, screw that cracker. Jesus should taste more like a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, medium rare. Oh and with sauteed mushrooms and onions.
Now the priest is lifting up the Blood of Christ and taking a sip.
Is that a house cabernet? I'd like a glass or three.
People are filing out of their pews now. My turn's coming up! I'm so ready to eat some Jesus. Then I look at Leila, who appears proud that I haven't run out yet, and remember that I CAN'T accept the Eucharist without first going into Confession.
And before I can go into Confession, I have to list out every bad thing I've done according to an Examination of Conscience. After taking this exam, I scored a "You are the Devil"
Leila's still encouraging, helping me set an appointment for a Confession. When the lady from St. Thomas calls me to schedule, poor thing will have to clear out the whole day. Figure I'll bring Father John lunch for the first half, and dinner for the second.
I'll update as this evolves.
Oh, and so this blog's headline isn't a complete disappointment... Leila won the fight.