PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

Hot Burning Fire

 

Back A.D. 1973 or thereabouts, when the movie The Exorcist came out and the kids in my Catholic school started to freak out about Satan, I came to own my very own scapular and wore it all the time. For the uninitiated, scapulars are postage stamp-sized cloth flaps, connected by string, that you wear over the shoulders such that one flap lays against your back and one against your chest.

The first time I encountered a scapular was when I was playing with this kid from down the street and saw one peeking out from under his shirt collar.  He explained the concept: if you suddenly got creamed by a car (which kids my age were known for doing back then) while wearing a scapular, there was no way you could go to hell. It was, like, physically impossible. Look, it was printed right on the scapular: “Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” That's totally awesome! Also implausible, but what he hell, might as well wear one just in case.

There was a catch, however: you could still end up in purgatory, which is quite like hell in several respects – fire and agony and so forth – but falls a little shy of eternity.

Don’t know what became of my scapular, but I know where I can snag a new one: The Catholic Company (“Because Faith Matters”).

Recluse
The Aleman Cometh
 

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Sunday, 26 September 2021

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