I wish I could say that was the end of my delving in religious matters, but I had to give it one more shot. My future husband, a year older than me, and now serving in the Navy somewhere in Texas, got it in his head that we needed to become Catholics before we got married. To this day, I do not know where that came from, as he also had no religious affiliation. Peer pressure, I suppose. At any rate, Tom stated in a letter that he was taking Catechism classes and that I should do the same so that we could get married in the Catholic Church. It was my senior year of high school and all my friends were having a great time flirting with boys, going out on dates and to parties, cruising Marysville and Yuba City, while I sat at home pining and lonely, feeling sorry for myself. Well, why not become a Catholic? So, I signed up for classes at Saint Joseph’s and began to attend Sunday Mass, though I had no idea what was going on.
I don’t remember the priest’s name at my catechism class, but I do recall the subject matter of that first lesson—venial versus mortal sins. The seven deadly mortal sins were spelled out: PRIDE; ENVY; LUST; ANGER; GLUTTONY; GREED; and SLOTH. The term “mortal sins” sent tremors of fear through me. As the priest lectured I started thinking about how many mortal sins I might have committed. Hadn’t I just eaten five donuts in succession last week before my younger brothers and sister could get a chance at them? GLUTTONY. Didn’t I love to sometimes lie around and do nothing but read and daydream? SLOTH. And what about LUST? I lusted all the time. Those were sins that could send you straight to hell if you didn’t confess. The possibilities for sinning were infinite, and the guilt that followed could be mind-boggling. Venial sins, I learned, are not so bad. You aren’t required to go to confession, but it would help lessen your time in purgatory if you did.
Rituals were confusing—the holy calisthenics for example. Stand up, sit down, kneel, bow your head, make the sign of the cross, and repeat these words in unison. . . . I began thinking then and there that Catholicism would not work for me, and about the same time, thankfully, my future husband came to the same conclusion.