Behind Enemy Lines

“Stay away from Catholic boys,” my father told me. I was about thirteen, sitting in the kitchen while he was making pancakes. We were Presbyterian, but the words struck me as some sort of family code. He said it was not too early to think about these things, and that I would be unhappy if I married a Catholic. “More than likely, you’ll have to convert,” he said, “or at least sign over your children, and they’ll come home from Catholic school spouting all that gibberish.” I knew he was referring to the prayers my Catholic friends recited, the Hail Marys and the Our Fathers. 

But I found Catholic boys attractive. I remember seeing them dashing for the bus in their dark slacks and white shirts, different from the boys I went to school with, in Levis and khakis. As a thirteen-year-old, watching high-school kids on a local TV dance show, I was enamored of the boys from Purcell or Roger Bacon. I liked the way they wore their sweaters backwards under their jackets so the ribbing cut high across their shirt collars, giving them, oddly enough, a clerical look.

My mother, who grew up Southern Baptist, was also distrustful of Catholics. “Why, they put Mary right up there with Jesus,” she said, “and that’s wrong.” So was naming new saints. Just who did they think they were, creating new saints? No one but the original apostles should be called a saint. And showing Jesus hanging on the cross: didn’t...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Sandra Dutton’s most recent book is <i>Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth</i>. She lives in the foothills of the Catskills, where she writes, paints, and illustrates.