Pope Francis’ changes to the Lord’s Prayer irks aunt

The other day, my aunt who was once a Catholic but now attends a Presbyterian church, was irked that Pope Francis changed the language of The Lord’s Prayer. The Pope replaced “lead us not into temptation” with “do not let us fall into temptation.”

She defended the “old” language, saying that “It came from God and the Pope can’t change it,” and I defended the “new” language contending that the old couldn’t have come from God because it blamed him, or her, for leading us, or more to the point me, into temptation.

And, of course, being a lapsed Catholic and not anything else, I accused my aunt of heresy, what with her quitting the church of Bloody Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and eventual queen of England who enjoyed nothing more than having heretics burned at the stake. I warned my aunt that if there is an afterlife, she’d better hope she doesn’t bump into Mary Tudor but if she does, don’t go near any piles of wood containing large stakes.

I didn’t have the Pope’s full explanation at the time to throw at her, but here is what he said: First, the change was made, according to the U.S. Catholic’s website, “following 16 years of research by experts who found a mistake in the current translation ‘from a theological, pastoral, and stylistic viewpoint’.”

And the site quoted the Pope as saying, “A father does not lead into temptation, a father helps you to get up immediately. It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation. The one who leads you into temptation is Satan. That’s Satan’s role.”

The logic is clear, I would think, but not to my aunt who pretty much based her argument upon her beef with the Pope, to wit, sexual abuse by priests which colors her entire opinion of Catholicism. The logic is probably clear to her, too, but she’s not cutting the Pope any slack on anything.

Which brings me to the story of my uncle, Bird, whose real name was Bob but nobody called him that except his mother, and what he did in church when he was very young, according to family legend which I choose to believe because it really sounds like Bird:

Once he was in church with his mother and probably one or two of his sisters and they were passing around the collection plates and when it got to Bird’s row, he reached in and took out some cash and, legend has it, told the guy collecting:

“You have too much money anyway.”

If this happened, it was probably during the Depression and compared to Bird’s family, the church – even local Mount Carmel in Tenafly, N.J. – had more money than they. His protest was based upon need. And logic.

And that brings me to the story of my mother’s relationship with God: According to her, he was always available to punish me.

Let us say that I was snotty to my mother when I was a child and seconds after this episode of snottiness, I started to walk up the stairs and caught my foot and fell. My mother was wont to say:

“God punished you.”

I didn’t wonder then why God had time to be punishing me what with a war in Korea and racial injustice in the U.S., but looking back, I wonder about that now. If my mother had been right and God heard me be snotty and made me trip on the stairs in support of my mother, He or She obviously spent most of His/Her time watching my mother and ignoring everyone else or he had a minion, possibly and angel or some snitch like Vikund Quisling, the Norwegian traitor whom God would have had to let into Heaven on the condition that he spy for Him, watching my mom and reporting back instantly.

“God? V.Q. here. Got a snotty kid needs a stair trip stat.”

That, of course, is assuming God is a male. I don’t think a woman would trip a kid on the stairs just for a snotty episode, do you? Wouldn’t a woman be more understanding? Well, maybe not Athena. She got pretty irked at Paris and really messed around with Troy but …

And this brings me to our cat, Mandy, and the issue is her apparent pact with Satan. She now howls – not meows, howls; it’s frightening – at around 4:15 every morning which is fine for me because I like to leave for Hampshire Hills around 4:30 but the howling from downstairs is so loud she sometimes wakes Kathy which is not good for anybody.

And now, suddenly, I’m wondering if Satan is punishing me, through Mandy, for being snotty to my mother or maybe for arguing with my aunt who, after all, is my elder thus requiring respect as, of course, did my mother and when I was snotty, that was disrespectful and …

I think I would feel better knowing that it was Satan punishing me although there are those who know me who would say that Satan and I should be pals.

I do kind of dig the cloven hooves.