I’ll never forget the day of my Confirmation, which, according to Catholic mythology, was the day I was ‘made’ as a soldier of Christ. I had my parents agree to having Vincent as my godfather, which disappointed my Dad who would have chosen Jimmy Maher (as I should’ve) instead. I was hoping it would have brought our families closer, but as a stupid kid, I had no way of knowing better. At any rate, we all headed over to St. Paul’s Church for the big day, and when it was my turn to stand before the Bishop, I nearly swooned and had to be held up by Vincent for the tap on the cheek.
What happened that day would not make sense until nearly three decades later when I rededicated myself as a soldier of Christ. I had never swooned or went faint in my life before or since. I would come to realize that, on that day, I was slain in the Spirit. In layman’s terms, it is when the Holy Ghost knocks you off your feet. You see it mostly in Pentecostal churches when a Spirit-filled pastor lays hands on members of the congregation. I’ve taken what I call ‘courtesy bumps’ from time to time, going down in tribute to the pastor’s ministry out of respect. On my confirmation day, that was the only time I was ever truly staggered by the Holy Ghost.
This clearly proved that the Holy Ghost is not exclusive to any particular sect, denomination or non-denomination. After I left the Catholic Church, I was steeped in literature (particularly with the Jehovah’s Witnesses) alleging that the Roman Church is the Babylon of apocalyptic prophecy. Whether or not that is true of the entire organization, I’m not going to discuss here. What I will say is, first of all, I took my only hit from the Holy Ghost in St. Paul’s, and that can’t be denied. Secondly, the Scripture clearly says that to be saved, one must believe in Jesus as Savior and that He died for their sins. Faith, rather than the sect one belongs to, is the bottom line, brethren.
It was during this time that I refined my leadership qualities, my altruistic characteristics as well as the more Machiavellian sort. Kenny was a big chunky kid, and Mom’s theory was that the only reason he couldn’t kick Georgie’s butt was out of fear of retribution from his parents. Georgie was always described by Mom as the wiry type, and he always found a way to subdue Kenny. Needless to say, I was no match for either of them, so my alternative was mind games. I would play one of them against the other most of the time, then regret it when they spent the rest of the evening trying to outwrestle each other. When they broke out of my spell a couple of years later they made formidable enemies, but at that time it was all for one and one for all.
Most of the trouble we got into was over Belen’s jealousy over my friendship with Kenny and Georgie. I had hung around with her sons Jimmy and Johnny for quite a while before Kenny and Georgie came along, and afterwards (as what happened with Mark and Joe) there was no room for anyone else. To make matters worse, Jesus caught onto the fact that Johnny was a sissy, and that turned the poor kid into a laughing stock. Kenny and Georgie went to great lengths to torment him, and they got shellacked by Vincent for it quite a few times. He even ordered them to quit hanging around with me now and again, especially after I talked them into a failed attempt to run away from home.
Vincent’s strictness seemed to be more of a way for him to get back at Lydia than discipline the boys, and I suffered as much as they did when he ruled against me. As the Lord would have it, I made new friends who, once again, would bring some new and major changes in my life.
(To be continued...)