A trustworthy horse: why I remain Catholic

I don’t recall being asked but herewith I tell my story – proffered on end of a long stick (as Flannery O’Connor once said) so I can snatch some back if anger is provoked.

I was born during WWII and educated at Catholic Schools (1948-1960).

Our family practiced its faith even if it didn’t really value a personal relationship with Jesus – that was something for folk like Methodists – we Catholics had the Pope and the Catechism. Yes, there were a lot of rules, but there was also Our Lady and the Rosary.

In my teenage years, circumstance found me spending much time on horseback moving beef cattle in a remote area hemmed by swift rivers which had to be forded.

From half kneeling on the saddle with heels tucked up behind to keep feet dry and praying your horse didn’t stumble, all the time trying to look tough and nonchalant – I learned about security – you can trust a good horse – you have to – and I was only fourteen years old.

The large family I stayed with back then knelt to pray the rosary every evening after mealtime. Back in town popular films like Shane also helped – good and evil opposed in plain view – and they had horses in them as well.

After high school I did compulsory military service and still practiced my faith even though many I went through school with were jettisoning theirs – this was the 1960s – enough said.

I sought reasons to abandon the Catholic faith and its ‘irksome’ rules but the vision always came to me of dismounting from a horse in mid river without having another to mount beside me – yes if I was going to chuck over my faith I needed another to take its place. Continue reading

  • Stephen Sparrow writes from New Zealand. He is semi-retired and reads (and writes) for enjoyment. His secondary school education was undertaken by Society of Mary priests at St. Bede’s College and after leaving school in 1960, he joined a family wood-working business, retiring from it in 2001.
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