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It was warm that day in Miss Gardner’s classroom. In an effort to save some time Father Boyle gathered all three of our 2nd grade classes into one room and we sat there, pressed together and listening. I was near the back, hiding in the corner but positioned so that I could see and hear Father Boyle. I took note of how bulbous and red his nose appeared. When he was on a roll with his speech about the Stations of the Cross his cheeks would flush and voice would soar. He was our pastor and our favorite priest. The rousing 60 something Irishman was an old Navy man and he would begin announcements in the mornings with “Now hear this! Now hear this!” and we would all giggle. No one could resist Father Boyle.

That afternoon he spoke of the night that Christ died. He spoke of the Creed we’d say each Wednesday morning at Mass, that He “suffered, died and was buried…” This was our lesson for the day. He used the words he’d repeat during the liturgy, “a death He freely accepted…” and I began to cry.

Even now as I think on it I remember that girl in the back of the room hearing that Christ “freely accepted” his death. Father Boyle spared no details on that death; bones crushed as nails were pounded into his already tortured and beaten body. He told us that Christ died most likely from asphyxiation, that his lungs would not have been able to function and that the air would be forced from him and not returned with every labored breath. He told us of the words shouted from Christ, “It is finished!” and I got light headed. I put my head against the yellow painted cinderblock wall, my cheek pressed against the cold dusty surface and I broke into a sweat, “a death he freely accepted” I heard in my ears and in my head I told myself  “ and a death He did not deserve” and the room was spinning. I closed my eyes and leaned into the wall.

When I opened my eyes what seems like hours later everyone was starting to stand up. The boy next to me said I had fallen asleep. I was shaking a little and dizzy. It was the first time I fainted and no one knew.