I would like to preface this story and acknowledge my wife, who without her this story could not be possible. About 32 years ago I married a great Catholic Lady, I was a Southern Baptist. Aside from a few times my mother took me to church I really had neither spiritual life nor guidance other than what I heard here and there. From the time I was 15 until I married at the age of 25 I basically lived in a spiritual wasteland. So I credit this great lady who is my wife as saving my life and returning me to God. Who says women have no place in the Church, what greater gift could there be than to lead a lost soul back to God.
So on to the story of the “Rattle Snake”….
About three years after I was married I converted to Catholicism. I was in the Navy stationed in Sicily with my wife when I converted. After we returned to the US I announced to my family of my new found faith. Being from middle Georgia at the time and knowing the usual falsehoods that we were taught regarding the Catholic faith; I invited my mother to Mass with us one Sunday.
We entered the Church and she wanted to sit in the back (for a quick getaway) and would not put her purse down and had to sit at the end of the pew. I told her that it was OK, that her skin would not burst into flames or that someone was not going to convert her in any way. She relaxed a little but her guard was full up for any signs of foul play and looking around the entire Church for any threats every few minutes.
We got through the Liturgy of the Word and on to the collection. The users started at the front with baskets on the end of poles. This is when I noticed my mother starting to squirm a bit. At about 1/3 of the way back my mother asked me what they were doing and it went something like this……
Mom - Son what are those guys with the baskets on poles doing?
Son - Testing their faith
Mom – What do you mean testing their faith?
Son – That’s how Catholics test their faith, they put their hands in the basket
At this point mom is squirming more and has gathered up her purse into her lap, checking to make sure the way was clear for a fast getaway.
Mom- How does putting your hand in the basket test your faith?
Son – There is a “Rattle Snake” in the baskets and all Catholics have to pet the head of the “Rattle Snake”
Now I can see all the color drain from my mother’s face and I am just waiting for her to make her break for the door.
Mom – Son what if the “Rattle Snake” bites them?
Son – Then they were not good Catholics and need to be bit so that we can get them out of the Church.
Then a quizzical look came over my mother as she realized that folks were putting money in the baskets and said
Mom – Son why are they putting money in the baskets!!!
Son – Mom they are bribing the “Rattle Snake” so that it won’t bite them
It is only now that my mother is mad because she has just realized that they were taking up the collection and her son just had a little bit of fun with her.
Mom – Son they are taking up a collection, there is no “Rattle Snake” in that basket
Son - This is true, but the fact is you believed the Catholic Church would do something like this. So what else would you like to know about Catholicism?
In the end my mother was accepting of my new found faith and was glad that I was getting to Church on a regular basis.