Umber (27.5 — Father Hoolihan’s Confession)

June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

The real reason I married Vera and Leroy was not because I thought he would lead her into sin.  Vera is a woman of the highest moral character.  In the months preceding her wedding, I got to know Vera well enough to know that she would not be led anywhere against her will.  I believe she married Leroy simply because she wanted a good Catholic husband and, in her naïveté, she though Leroy would do nicely.  Oh, I suppose there was some element of physical attraction as well.

But the real reason I performed that ceremony, though it was against my better judgement, was–this is very difficult to put into words–was because I wanted to eliminate the temptation from my own life.  I was–I still am–enormously attracted to Vera Birdsall, God forgive me.  I used to watch her sitting in the very last pew in the church, cuddling her little nephew, contemplating the artwork inside the church.  I remember how nervous she looked when I told her her head should be covered.  She always wore a scarf after that.  And, later, her earnest and unusual questions about Catholicism revealed a bright and searching spirit.  She made me think about things I’d never considered before.  I  married her to that man who doesn’t deserve her to stop myself from leaving the priesthood and running off with her myself.

If I thought they had a happy marriage, I would feel that at least it had been for the best.  But that’s not what has happened.  Vera continued to receive the sacraments faithfully, but, after a few months, I never saw her husband again.


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