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Lost sheep, scandals, and returning to the Church

I was talking to my neighbor Frank a few evenings back when the subject of religion came up. Though I suspected Frank was Catholic, we’d never talked about religion. I think we were both a bit reluctant. You take a risk these days that any conversation might turn political and go sideways—even among Catholics talking about religion.

Frank is elderly, well into his eighties, and suffers from a debilitating back condition. He is a widower. His family, apart from his widower brother-in-law, live outside the state. Frank was scheduled for back surgery in California before COVID. When the pandemic hit, the surgery kept getting pushed back. Potent painkillers were prescribed, and Frank ended up spending a lot of time indoors and alone. He still does.

While I am early to bed and rise before sunrise, Frank goes to bed in the wee hours and gets up later in the day. We don’t see each other often. He knows I’m a writer, and I know he’s a retired silversmith/jewelry maker. He’s Hispanic. I’m of Scots Irish descent. I sometimes haul five-gallon bottles of water from Frank’s car into his kitchen. I’ve heard EWTN playing on his television. Yet I never asked him about religion. General pleasantries aside, we remain strangers.

I can’t recall how religion came up. After the subject was broached, I told Frank I had returned to the Faith after spending a good many years wandering through a spiritual haze and courting the abyss.

“Why’d you go back?” asked Frank.

“At the end of the day, it was the only thing that made sense,” I answered.

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