“I don’t want to shock you, Kieth, but I can’t tell you how – how inconvenient being a Catholic is. It really doesn’t seem to apply any more. As far as morals go, some of the wildest boys I know are Catholics. And the brightest boys – I mean the ones who think and read a lot, don’t seem to believe in much of anything any more.”
“Tell me about it. The bus won’t be here for another half–hour.”
They sat down on a bench by the path.
“For instance, Gerald Carter, he’s published a novel. He absolutely roars when people mention immortality. And then Howa—well, another man I’ve known well, lately, who was Phi Beta Kappa at Hazard says that no intelligent person can believe in Supernatural Christianity. He says Christ was a great socialist, though. Am I shocking you?”
She broke off suddenly.
“You can’t shock a monk. He’s a professional shock–absorber.”
“Well,” she continued, “that’s about all. It seems so – so narrow. Church schools, for instance. There’s more freedom about things that Catholic people can’t see—like birth control.”
Kieth winced, almost imperceptibly, but Lois saw it.
“Oh,” she said quickly, “everybody talks about everything now.”
“It’s probably better that way.”
“Oh, yes, much better. Well, that’s all, Kieth. I just wanted to tell you why I’m a little – luke-warm, at present.”
“I’m not shocked, Lois. I understand better than you think. We all go through those times. But I know it’ll come out all right, child. There’s that gift of faith that we have, you and I, that’ll carry us past the bad spots.”
He rose as he spoke and they started again down the path.
“I want you to pray for me sometimes, Lois. I think your prayers would be about what I need. Because we’ve come very close in these few hours, I think.”
Her eyes were suddenly shining.
“Oh we have, we have!” she cried. “I feel closer to you now than to any one in the world.”
He stopped suddenly and indicated the side of the path.
“We might – just a minute –”
It was a pietà, a life–size statue of the Blessed Virgin set within a semicircle of rocks.
Feeling a little self–conscious she dropped on her knees beside him and made an unsuccessful attempt at prayer.
She was only half through when he rose. He took her arm again.
“I wanted to thank Her for letting as have this day together,” he said simply.
Lois felt a sudden lump in her throat and she wanted to say something that would tell him how much it had meant to her, too. But she found no words.
– from Fitzgerald’s short story, “Benediction” (1920) [Note: F. Scott Fitzgerald is buried in the cemetery at Old Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockville, MD]