I was born a Catholic. Generations of both parents were Catholic — some devout I’d imagine, some not so much. My Grandmother McGauley was devout as were both my mom and dad. Naturally, I went through all the sacraments including marriage (later annulled by the Catholic Church) and before cancer surgery I had my last rites.
Growing up it was Mass every Sunday, and when of age, Holy Communion every Sunday. I feared what my mother would say if I didn’t receive it. I was an altar boy for years and went to Catholic School.
When I went off to college there was some slippage. But when I came home on vacation it was off to the confessional so that I could be ‘pure of heart and soul’ for Sunday. To be honest, for most of my adult life I was a practicing Catholic without any serious thought or commitment. I read Scripture at Mass for a few years but when we got new priests I didn’t volunteer. I support the church financially but I do not tithe. I have gone on retreats and joined a prayer group for a few years.
Priests have made quite a difference in my life and the lives of most Catholics. Two of the priests I was closest to and got to know the best were on the list of 47 who were on the list of ‘sexual abusers’ in the Diocese of Duluth. When I retired in 2000, I began going to daily mass. About ten years ago I had an opportunity to spend much of the winter in Naples, Florida. My daily mass routine continued. There were some priests that really inspired and some who weren’t that impressive. Sometimes the priest was more of the attraction than the message he delivered.
When I started writing my seventh novel I created a priest named Father Mickey Moran. In my story and subsequent stories, I had a priest of my own creation. I continued with Mickey for six more novels that were sequential and set in the year they were written. Now I am working on a seventh story but am doing so in the first person which I have never done before. In a literary sense, I am a priest.
I have been asked many times: “Where do you get your story ideas?” I usually answer that it just comes if I don’t try to force it. Often I surprise myself. But there is a truth that I don’t readily share. I pray before I write. More specifically, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me as I go along. I believe, therefore, that I have been given a gift. I try not to make any story what might be considered Catholic theology. Mickey could well have been a Protestant minister. Go too heavy on religion and lose your readership.
I have missed going to church mass during the COVID pandemic. So, early every morning before writing, I watch the daily mass on the Catholic TV Network. It’s good but not the same by any stretch. I look forward to returning to Blessed Sacrament Mass in the very near future — perhaps this coming Sunday?