Influence of Roman Catholic Church in Frank McCourt’s Life
In the coming-of-age autobiographical novel Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt reveals that the Roman Catholic Church plays an extremely central role in his young life. The religious atmosphere in which he is raised acts as a huge part in his point of view, and even his name is reflective of his family’s beliefs. “Not until late December did they take Male to St. Paul’s Church to be baptized and named after Francis…the lovely saint of Assisi (17).” Since this time, the Church has been both his salvation and his condemnation, and it’s not until he is sixteen that he comes to realize its true meaning to his existence.
Whenever young Frank had a guilty conscience about his human nature, his first instinct was to run into the protective arms of the Church. Most of the priests he has known since his arrival to Ireland are kind men, who set his mind at ease that God forgives him. He was typically reassured with religious words such as: “God forgives all who repent. He sent his only beloved Son to die for us (342).” Such words are very comforting to a young boy who is guilty about such trivial sins as pleasuring himself and petty theft. Raised in poverty, one of his favorite subjects of prayer was the thought of moving to America, where he could make his fortune. He continues to take great comfort in the church well into his teenage years.
The church is not always such a safe haven for young Frank. Three times in his life he is denied access to his sanctuary, and this has a profound effect on his well-being. When his father takes him to be an altar boy, he is turned away due to the poverty of his family. This is disturbing to young Frank, and begins thoughts of discontent in his mind. Also, when he goes to look into enrolling in secondary school with his mother at his side, the Christian Brother there slams the door in his face due to his street appearance. Regardless of his high intelligence, he is denied a higher education by the Church based on his economic status. The night before his 16th birthday Frank drinks his first pint and strikes his mother; on attempting to confess to a Jesuit priest, the door is again closed to him: “He says, Go away. You’re drunk. Child...