Wednesday is grocery shopping day around here. That's because we've clipped and filed the Sunday paper's coupons and matched them to the store's sales, which start on Wednesday. So today, in what little spare time we have, Sister St. Aloysuis and I went through the coupon file to throw out expired coupons and make sure we use the ones that are about to expire. The ones, as she puts it, that are on 'death row.'
I always feel a little bad when I throw out a coupon that I've clipped and never used. As though I'm somehow throwing away seventy cents ( if I throw out a thirty five cent coupon...because our store doubles). When I said this out loud, Sister St. Aloysius remarked, "Catholic guilt."
You might well imagine my queasy feeling when I hear this phrase, in no small part because on more than one occassion some grizzled middle-aged man or woman has approached me out of the blue, poking their gnarly fingers in my face and exclaiming, "You're responsible for my Catholic guilt!" I realized they don't mean me, personally. At least I think they don't. I think they mean some nun or nuns they had in grade school that I manifest to them. I think that because I've also had grizzled middle-aged people say to me, "You look like every nun I every had!"
Anyhow, it started me thinking...what IS Catholic guilt exactly. I googled it and came up with this: Catholic Guilt.
My first thought is the psychological effect the Cathechism has on youngsters when they discover that every thing they do is a sin.
Now I realize this isn't literally true, but look at it this way. When you go to public school (pathetic spiritually deprived) and you talk to your neighbor (the kid sitting next to you, for the spiritually deprived), you may get in trouble (or not, considering the state of things) but you were simply talking to your neighbor when you should be paying attention.
But in the Catholic school you are sinning against the fourth commandment. Not only do you know you're sinning, you even know which commandment you're breaking.
AND....if your neighbor is listening to you and giggling with you, you've sinned twice! Because you are responsible for the sins you've caused in others.
AND....if you're just waiting until Sister turns her back to talk to your neighbor but she never does turn around (because, believe me, she knows better than to turn her back on the likes of you!) you've sinned anyhow, because you fully intended to sin against the fourth commandment on the first opportunity you got.
That's one heaping pile of guilt.
I think there is more to it than that, however, once you become an adult.
But first I would like to hear your thoughts on how you would define Catholic guilt.
Please respond by Wednesday since I won't have time to read anything on store day. It's going to be quite a trip this week because we've decided to take Sister Mary Fiacre with us. We feel guiltly leaving her home.