Masks of Morality

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Chapter 20

While Bryan and Charlotte were getting settled after their visit with Bryan’s parents and grasp their vast change in fortunes, Caryssa was busy trying to figure out her next career steps.

She felt blessed to be surrounded by such progressive people. A recent coffee date with some of her mom friends who had left high-powered careers to raise their kids and were now finding ways to earn money working for a better future had deepened her resolve to find a way to shift into a career where she was making a difference.

She had written her next article for publication in the online magazine, Serenity Media Inc. It was titled “Responsible Investing: Share Price Not Only ‘Value’ that Counts.”

Her message was that if we all made a conscious effort to divest in stocks not conducive to developing a positive society, and switch to clean energy, organic foods, constructive areas regardless of any short-sighted immediate returns now, we could help change the world for the better.

This morning as the sun streamed through her bedroom window she sat reading the paper over coffee in bed. She had one glorious hour to relax and read before getting ready for Sunday Mass, then taking Tyler to his weekly religious education classes.

He was scheduled to make his First Holy Communion in the spring, and the CCD classes were getting George, Caryssa, and Tyler off to church every Sunday. It was an especially spiritual journey to be taking during all this political upheaval—the Occupy movement had started and was making waves through every sector of global society.

As she sat there, her mind wandered from her article to her spiritual life. Was she closer to God now than when she had been caught up in her career and forgetting to pray or go to church? She thinks not…

The morality of God’s true words seems half missing in the Church. A lack of social heart. Church-based spirituality seems, more and more to her, a Christian-themed performance on stage. Sensationalized dusty words. Someday, she may seek out a love-filled faith rather than the fire-and-brimstone of the Catholic rantings. She supposed they were going through the Holy Communion ritual more out of family tradition, than anything.

The sun was rising over the bay. She took a moment to appreciate the awe of the morning’s beauty as it manifested out her window. And it got even more beautiful when her son walked into the room, with his stuffed pals, pillow, and blanket, to snuggle with Mommy.

It seemed almost a sacrilege to be reading about politically inspired financial upheaval with her little sweet pea snuggled up with her, so she put the paper aside and hugged Tyler, kissing his cheek ever so gently.

“Did you have a good breakfast sweetie? Did daddy make pancakes? Yummy!” she whispered into his hair.

“Yup! With my favorite, Vermont maple syrup on top! Now I want some of your turkey bacon he’s cooking for you!” Tyler said.

“Oh no! Is the turkey bacon monster stealing my breakfast again? I better watch out! Do I hear a magic word with that request?”

Tyler yelled “Daddy, may I pleeeze have some more turkey bacon?”

“What?! You already had your turkey bacon!” George called from the kitchen.

“Can I pleeeze be the turkey bacon monster and have Mommy’s turkey bacon!” Tyler yelled back.

Caryssa told Tyler to hop out of her bed and go to the kitchen table for his … her… turkey bacon.

Tyler happily skipped out to the kitchen, hugging his stuffed Puffles to his chest, dragging his blanket and pillow behind him. He always carried nearly his entire bedroom around the house for comfort.

Caryssa smiled and picked up the Sunday paper again. She wanted to see how the Occupy movement was being covered. She knew how highly manipulated the mainstream media was, so she would also be researching for herself whatever was reported there. As she scanned the paper, she reflected on how frightening it was that so many believed the paper and the TV news, not even suspect of the media moguls seducing audiences and warping their views. The good news was, however the media twisted it, this movement was happening.

In over one thousand cities in eighty-five countries, people were protesting against corruption, big banks, and corporate greed. Hundreds of thousands were protesting against the Wall Street acts of fraudulently foreclosing on millions of homes, robbing college kids of more than double what they had borrowed to get through school, stealing from the middle class to fatten those corrupt coffers.

Caryssa realized she needed to get herself and Tyler ready for church. She put the paper down, called to him, and started scurrying to get him dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed.

The sermon that morning resonated well for Caryssa. It was about spiritual penitence versus mere physical needs. How we are not merely flesh and blood, but souls. The priest took his microphone to each child in Tyler’s CCD class and asked: “If you knew you were to die soon, how might you want to change your attitude or behaviors?”

The kid’s answers were so simple and sweet!

Caryssa couldn’t help thinking that these innocent young children could not possibly have really sinned. Children mirror adult behavior, they learn sin through what they see. Caryssa remembered as a young child trying to make up any sins she could tell the priest. She had always been so nervous about not having enough sins to confess.

Even the prayers these young kids were forced to memorize and get tested on, such as the Penitential Act “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,” while the children strike their chests twice to emphasize their “fault.” It was emotional abuse when you thought about it. Why put so much guilt onto their innocent souls?

Caryssa realized she was not alone in this thought when she heard a woman sitting in the pew behind her say to her husband “The church should put our political leaders on the bench…in front of all the people, and have them confess their sins, not these innocent children.”

Caryssa could not help but turn and smile at the woman: how true!

“Well, I’d listen to my mom and dad more, well, I might play baseball rather than computer games, oh, and I’d do really good in school. I wouldn’t cry or whine as much.”

Who told this precious child crying or “whining” is a sin?

Even so, the church and CCD classes every Sunday for the past nine months had been a spiritual rejuvenation for Caryssa. She was raised a ‘good Catholic girl’. What she wanted Tyler to get out of all this was a sense of right from wrong. And a spiritual connection. Not to any religion, but to a spiritual being, to God.

This morning as they left the church hand in hand, Tyler looked at Caryssa and asked: “Mommy, if people all had God in the middle, would there be wars?”

“No sweetie,” she replied. “If everybody had God in the middle, there would be no wars. Remember the Lord’s commandment? ‘You shall not kill’? People would have that in their hearts. People would have God’s love in their hearts. War wouldn’t be possible. Right now, people have religion too much in the middle, not God. But you have God in your middle, son. Keep God in there. And don’t pay any attention to religion. You just keep God in your middle and you’ll be fine.”

“But my CCD class is religion, isn’t it, Mommy? It’s called Religious Education.”

Tyler pronounced the words very carefully, as if he knew how important they were. “Re-lig-ious. Ed-u-cation. See, it says so right on my paper here.” He pointed to the flyer he brought home from Sunday school each week. “See Mommy? It says ‘You shall not lie.’ That’s religion, right?”

Caryssa glanced at the cover page and read the first question for the children to answer. “You don’t have your homework finished. You A. Say, ‘The dog ate my homework.’ B. Say ‘I didn’t do my homework, I’m sorry.’”

“Yes, Tyler,” she said. “You’re right. It’s Religious Education—based on Catholic teachings. But Mommy and Daddy will talk to you more about what we believe to be the truth in the eyes of God, and what we believe is not.”

“Like what, Mommy?” Tyler asked.

“Well, the church claims that we need to confess our sins to a priest in order for God to forgive them. Your daddy and I believe that God will forgive our sins if we silently pray to him directly. We believe He knows if we really want to repent. The Lord knows more than a human priest could if we are truly sorry for our sins. Priests are human. They sin too, Tyler. Some of them are even very bad, and will not make it into heaven.”

“Like, how bad?” Tyler asked.

“Do you remember the video you all had to watch during CCD class about what that soccer coach was doing to that young boy?” Caryssa cringed even bringing it up, but the church had made the kids watch, and now seemed the best time to talk about it with her little boy. And although the words “sexual abuse” or “molestation” were never mentioned, they were implied. And the handouts given to the parents spelled it out.

Tyler’s eyes grew huge. “The soccer coach touched him in…well in…where he shouldn’t have.”

“Yes, he did…and some priests who are horrible sinners are doing that to kids, Tyler. So don’t always trust what authority figures may say or do. Always question and always talk to Mom and Dad about anything that doesn’t seem right to you.”

“Okay, Mommy. I will,” Tyler said, squeezing her hand.

“Good!” Caryssa said. “Now where’s Daddy? Where’s the car? We need to get home, change, and go out to the park to play!”

“Yeah!!!” Tyler laughed, skipping ahead. “Where’s Daddy?!”

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