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by Rick McGrath
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A Short Story
Written by Dr. Rick McGrath, Ph.D.

When it comes to religion there is always some debate. Seems like no matter what church you go to, it’s the wrong one. At least that’s what I have found. Listening to everyone else, if you aren’t what they are you are probably going to hell! What’s a person to do anyway? We are all born into this world and most of us follow the way of our parents at least for awhile. Some venture off as they develop or are called by the Spirit of God.

As for me, I was born and raised Catholic. From the very onset I felt some kind of other worldly call. My fist several elementary school years I went to Catholic School. I remember being nine years old and living in the Projects in Culver City, California. My dad got laid off and that is all he could afford. Besides, what’s a nine year old going to think. I have a place to sleep, lots of kids my age and tons of buildings to run around.

Going to a Catholic School back in those days, the teachers were Nuns, Priests, and Brothers. I was in awe and thought, “when I grow up I am going to be a priest.” Yep, that’s what I thought I was going to do. I had a strong feeling early on and I believed then that there was some kind of urging coming from within. While other kids played outside all kinds of sports and ran around until dark, I would read my little catechism book and get inspired. I remember on several occasions, I would go outside gather up six or seven boys and take them upstairs in my room and tell them the story of Jesus and Mary. They sat on the floor and I would sit on top of my five foot dresser. Oh the glory of being a preacher!

As I grew older I soon realized I didn’t want to be a priest anymore. I think I realized there were girls in the world and they were calling my name. God, still with his hand on my life lead me to a wonderful woman who for the past forty-one years has brought me happiness and love. Having lots of children also brought happiness but also challenges. One of those challenges was to afford tuition for Catholic schooling. They had a help program that allowed lower income families come work once per month to help with the tuition.

Remembering back, one Saturday morning a work detail was formed with a dozen or so dads to paint all the school doors. It was an elementary school with grades Kindergarten through Sixth grade, plus several bathroom doors and janitorial closet doors.

During recent years I had started to develop a more charismatic approach to the Catholic upbringing that I had. I read the bible everyday, praised and worshiped listening to praise songs and believed what the bible said. As we gathered early that Saturday morning, we all meet at one of the janitor closets used to keep paint. There were several buckets of assorted colors. The doors were an orange color and that was the color that the Principal, Sister Shirley wanted to keep them. As she dug through all the paint cans, there was only one can available. I remember her saying, “ Oh no guys, we only have one can left and it won’t be enough.” Many of the other men, even two of them who were professional painters agreed. So Sister Shirley said, “ Well looks like we have to cancel today. I don’t have enough paint and there isn’t enough money left in our budget right now to go buy more. Go ahead and go home and thanks for coming. Maybe next month we can try again.”

I had been reading my bible recently and it said God wasn’t a respecter of persons. I took that to mean whatever the bible said it wasn’t just for those who lived during those times but it was also for me. Otherwise, Jesus dying on the cross only covered those back then. So, believing as I believed when the inspired written word told of how Jesus said, “you will do these things and even greater things than me,” well that’s all I needed to know. I figured if he could turn water into wine and the prophet could make the cooking oil and flour runneth over why not me?

I said to Sister Shirley who was a new Principal and didn’t really know me all that well, “Give me the can of paint and I will paint all of your doors.”

She said back to me, “perhaps you didn’t hear me tell everyone that I only had one can!”

“ Oh I heard you,” I said. “There is plenty of paint here and it’s no problem,” I restated.

“ No there isn’t. Two of our dads are professional painters and they also agreed we do not have enough,” she argued back.

“Look Sister Shirley, amuse me if you will. What’s the worse that can happen? Maybe I make a fool out of myself? I believe that there is enough paint. Let me ask you a question. Do you read the bible and do you have faith in what it says?”

“Of course I do. I’m a Nun” she countered.

“Great! Give me the can and you can come back in awhile and check on me,” I commanded. Giving me my way she gave me the can and a paint roller and went back to her office.

I began my painting singing and praising the Lord. I asked the Lord to do his thing and give me enough paint to paint all the doors. About an hour later and maybe one third of the doors painted and looking good, Sister Shirley appeared with that Mother Superior look in her eye and said, “Well how’s the paint holding out? You’re probably almost out?”

“It’s going ok,” I said. “Look for yourself.”

She did as I advised and to her surprise the can was only about one third empty. She made some kind of funny sound and walked off. Another hour passed and I had finished about two thirds of the doors, when she appeared again.

“Well I see you got a lot done. It’s too bad you won’t be able to finish. I know you are probably at the bottom of the can. I told you we didn’t have enough paint,’ she said and sneered at me.

“ I understand, but before you write me off, check the can if you will?” I said in a loving voice back to her. As I requested she did and she staggered backwards.

“Hey how are you making this happen?” she demanded.

“I’m not. I just pour and paint and the can just does what it does,”

“Unbelievable!” she exclaimed.

Merrily I continued to paint as I did for the past two hours. This time Sister Shirley stayed and didn’t leave. I think she was thinking I had another can of paint hiding in the bushes. No other can, no bushes. Not today! I finished up just short of three hours of painting. As I got to the last door, I emptied the can with just enough paint to finish.

When Sister Shirley saw what just happened, she couldn’t believe her eyes. I reminded her that if we could believe something as far fetched as a man dying on the cross could save us and give us eternal life, believing and having faith for the simple was easy. From that point on, every time we saw each other, we would wink and know something wonderful happened that day. A lesson for us both.

Though today I attend a Non Denominational church, I believe God doesn’t care where you go to church as long as you believe in Jesus and have a relationship with him and you make him your Lord and Savior. I have seen a great many things as an attending Catholic as well as practicing my faith elsewhere. There is no power greater than faith and believing. Mix the two together and something special is sure to happen.

Truly I tell you this, the one that believes in me will also
do what I am doing, and even greater things…
John 14:12

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sunny Loomis  25 Jun 2012
Good story. Thank you.
Cynthia Buhain-Baello 25 Jun 2012
I would like to know if you still attend a Catholic Church after you learned that eternal life comes only with believing in Jesus Christ alone as LORD and Savior because Catholic teachings contradict that and add Mary as Co-Redeemer. Catholics also believe that one gets to heaven by doing good works of charity and giving alms to the poor, contradicting Ephesians 2:8-9. Aside from praying to Mary and the saints, it also practices idol worship which is contrary to Isaiah 44 and the 2nd of the 10 Commandments.


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