“... because they offend Thee, oh Lord, Who art all good, and deserving of all my love..."   What can I say? It helps. I’ve been uttering what Catholics call the “Act of Contrition” for days, and every so often my pain (no fooling) subsides. I don’t know why. Whenever it happens I try to repeat the prayer exactly: same cadence, same intonation, same sincerity, same everything. But I seldom succeed. 'The Ugliness' is always waiting; that's what I've begun calling this insane torment. If I could honestly say it was better, I would, but it's not, except for the all-too-brief respites—which almost make matters worse by reminding me of painlessness, by taunting me with a promise that's never kept, by refusing to let me sink (as I would prefer) into a numbskull's oblivion.
    Yayuk once told me that prayer accumulated grace. “Then you have something when dead,” she explained. “Like life insurance?” I quipped, smug in my contention that reiterating phrases—be they Muslim, Jewish, or Christian—was as likely to win salvation as reiterating ads: “Crest has been shown to be an effective decay preventive dentifrice that can of significant value... ” blah, blah, saved!
    Bullshit. Besides, I tried all those, dredged up every label, commercial, and jingle from my earliest recollection, and not a one provided the least relief. Only that prayer—an imprint from early childhood. Yes, a Roman Catholic upbringing; Sebastian Arnold Lazarus stands debunked. Not that it took. I was indoctrinated, First Holy Communion through Confirmation, programmed, as it were, before things made sense—at which point 'Arnie' Lazarus and the Church parted company.
    Imagine my confusion at the fix I’m in now.
    “...  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more... ” WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! "... and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.”


Yayuk tucked...