“My Sin” is one of the oldest, most lasting fragrances in the world. My sin is also, as King David used to sing, “something that is ever before me.”(Psalm 51) My first great sin! We all have one, i suppose. St. Augustine, one of history’s most famous sinners, by his own humble “Confessions,” wrote of how, as a boy, he stole pears from a tree, as if it were one of the very roots of sin in his life. He gave us the very details, how he being from wealth surely did not need those pears, how he even threw it away after a couple of bites. He talks of the mighty influence of peers, which even then, around 370 A.D., and in every age for sure, can easily draw a young man into stupidity.
Only a few years before i was on a snowy mount after a good confession, swearing i had the devil beat! But soon my little heart would be stolen away by that crazy man above, Paul McCartney. i was in eighth grade at St. Helena’s, where i had been a star altarboy for many years, now a seasoned vet and “a model to the rest,” or so the Sisters called me. It was a holier day than usual, and the Pastor declared it a Day of Adoration. That means, to Catholics, that the Body of Christ, Who we believe stays with us in the Host, would be taken out of the tabernacle, placed in a shiny golden monstrance, and left on the altar all day for people to go and keep company with Him in prayer. When our Lord was in that position, we were so well instructed, the best position for you or me would be on our knees. During school hours we would be sent over, two or three at a time, to do a shift, a “holy hour” it was called. During that time the priests and nuns thought we would really get serious and turn from our wicked ways.
However, in those days the church was also one of the only places where a microphone could be found, and being such a star veteran of the sanctuary team i knew where to find it. i knew the hiding place of the keys to the sacristy and its closets. For a kid, there is hardly anything so unbearable as silence, so, although we kept breaking it with funny squeaks from our kneelers, the sheer peer temptation, a la Augustine, became just too much for us to bear.  The fact that none of the priests, nor a single one of the parishioners (and this is a giant church), nor Mother Anne Catherine herself, came in during those ten minutes is nothing short of a first-class miracle. Not only did i break in and get those keys, to get the mikes and set them up at the various stations all around the Lord Jesus, but then the particular song that we chose for the grand performance was far from any of the holy ones, which King David would sing and dance to around his Holy of Holies. We did a perfect rendition of Paul McCartney’s “I’m Down.” There was not a tune in our whole vast repertoire that had more awesome screaming than that one. If you’re gonna do it, do it big!!!
What was that Jesus up there thinking about His little Mikie now? 
Although my stupid sin has been confessed and, i believe, wiped away spiritually, it is something that i just cannot ever shake off. Maybe it is the fact that, for a miraculous reason, i did not get caught – and therefore pulverized, and it is a never-ending gratitude that keeps it forever alive to me? As i said, we did survive, i did confess it one day, and it was wiped away, as by one of these amazing “miracle erasers,” which they sell nowadays. But that song has been with me, ringing in my ears, playing in my head, and it did take on new meaning for me over the years, as a symbol of hope through mercy. Whenever “I’m down, really down, down on the ground” down, i can always rise up. Oh, my sins, like Augustine’s, would get far worse than this one. There would be days when i’d felt downright hopeless in the fight. But God laughs, as i know He was laughing at those boys in ’67, and He would have us laugh our heads off in the face of sin and death, because He really does got them beat! Sometimes i ponder what might have become of us “hoodlums?” It’s too painful to even THINK of the penalties. That is why it was PURE MIRACLE to me…or EVEN MORE THAN THAT!!!! THAT JESUS WANTED to hear his boys serenade him!!!!!!!!!!!
How Beautifully that same little song would be the great gift of Sir Paul himself to us New Yorkers, and to a grieving world, in one of its darkest nights 34 years later. Nearly 3000 innocents had been slaughtered that 9/11, and oh how down we were. “What can I do?” McCartney asked himself immediately. He knew that he had a tremendous gift to give and a direct line to the hearts of the world. He knew, too, that singing was such a proven way out of misery, as it had been for the slaves. And he knew that this one crazy screamy song was proven, like fine gold, to touch the very core of humanity, and let it release its angst. Such an interesting blend of agony and laughter, born in the heart of a young man who had lost his love…but knew there would be new loves. Now it was to take on such a higher place. Broken souls all around the planet would sing and scream it together that night, with tears streaming down their faces.  It is hard to distinguish the horror of heartbreak from the howling of hope that, when touched by true love and mercy, we can forever rise and start again. My kids will laugh, when i do “I’m Down” with Paulie in our car. But they’ll never know how much that once “sinful tune” means to me and to millions of my fellow humans who let out much angst and moved forward, suffering laughingly as they again found the face of God in each other. IMG_20160226_235210422

Author: friardad

what's it like having a wife and six kids after having been a friar for many years and being still married to St. Francis' Lady Poverty?

3 thoughts on “MY SIN”

    1. BEAUTIFUL, Henry! Great idea. Thanks.i just added the thought that considering what would become of us “hoodlums” in the hands of the Monsignor and the Nuns,it is beyond miracle….RATHER, maybe the Lord wanted a serenade from his boys?!


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