Friday, June 16, 2017
The Radio Flyer was a red metal wagon. I had one when I was a boy. I loved my Radio Flyer, but there was a sibling issue. I liked to sit in the flyer when I was little and have someone pull me along. Who had time for such pulling? My big Sister Maureen. But Maureen neither liked me or my wagon. The wagon was kept in the basement of our apartment building with other big toys. The basement was dark and had monsters when I was little. They went away when I got older. Maureen did not like the basement. She was not afraid of monsters. They were her kind of people. But she did not like spiders. Spiders, me and the Radio Flyer were on her avoidance list. I would go get the wagon and bring it outside. "Maureen, would you please pull me along in the wagon?" I asked nicely. "NO!" she replied not so nicely. I appealed to a higher authority, our mother. I was spoiled and Maureen knew it. I became a priest so that mothers would spoil me. But I digress. Mom said to Maureen, "If you pull your little brother in his wagon you get days off from purgatory." What was that? "I already have Terry. I am going straight to heaven," she retorted. I learned later in life that purgatory appeals are the Irish Catholic way of "Offering it up." We expect suffering and some of us even encourage it, so purgatory makes it all useful. So Maureen pulled the wagon, but her heart was not in it. That is why she had to go to purgatory anyway. It is really tough to be a Catholic. You have to accept, even embrace suffering, and do it with a joyous heart. Even now, being still somewhat self-centered, I find it is easy to get pious Catholics, in the post-modern world, to do stuff to make me feel better. I tell them what my Mom told Maureen. "You will get days off from purgatory." Why won't I go to purgatory? I grew up with a monster big sister. God knew I would be bad, so God gave me Maureen, to pay now and not later. Thank you Maureen for the free ride, in my Radio Flyer, to heaven.