Disclaimer! This story has been given the USCCB rating A-IV by an employee of the Diocese of Ft Wayne-South Bend
(an A-IV classification designates problematic films (er events) that, while not morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard against wrong interpretations and false conclusions)
Our story begins on a bright Saturday afternoon in early October, on campus alive with spirits - of all sorts - figurative, literally, incorporeal, living and dead.
A band of friends, already infamous for their audacity and unusual sense of humor, were struck by a post-Mass-&-Brunch inspiration to collectively author a children's book. With youthful enthusiasm, they spent the rest of that day drafting "The Children's Book of Heresies and Other Bad Things." The delightful book, inspired by Belloc, Benson, and their own madness, featured a number of characters including one Gary the Gnostic.
For the next week after the students amused themselves by editing and illustrating the book.
Then, the following Friday there was a birthday party in honor of one of the friends of these students.
It was a Halloween themed party because everyone was encouraged to help carve a pumpkin!
There were a number of wonderful jack-o-lanterns carved that night.
At first the friends were unsure how they should carve their pumpkin. Then, in their usual youthful impetuosity, they landed upon one of the most frightful images they could conjure: a heretic being burned at the stake!
First they scooped out the pumpkin
They they drew the heretic on it.
Then they carefully began to carve.
And soon there appeared the most fierce jack-o-lantern of all!
It was Gary the Gnostic, Gary the Naughty Gnostic!
It burned so brightly! It pleased the friends, even though it unfortunately upset some of their gentler friends.
The friends quickly grew very attached to Gary and wanted to take him home.
And so they did.
They put Gary in a nice, warm room so that no one would smash him. They knew the warm room was not the best, but they intended on finding some way of preserving him. But, as time often passes in college, the hours quickly turned into days, they days in turn turned even more quickly in to what was nearly a week.
And Gary started to get (g)nasty!
He began to grow mold and stink - such is the way with heretics, thought the friends.
By the end of the week they knew that as much as they wished to save their dear pumpkin, Gary was only decaying further and there was the possibility that his decay could harm their health. The soul and body are not so dissimilar.
The friends knew there was only one fitting way for Gary to leave this world - FIRE
On the appointed night, the friends gathered and brought with them the images of many people and things which they believed to fit well with Gary's hairy mold.
When Gary was full, they carried the shrouded jack-o-lantern away to a body of water. They chanted as they processed.
When they reached the shore, they light the pumpkin on fire, read a fine eulogy, and sent him sailing away to the great beyond!
The next day, two of the friends returned to the shore. There they saw the remains of poor Gary, washed up upon the shore.
Alas - they thought - he did not repent! For surely if he had the water would not have spat him out upon the shore! Rather he would have been accepted and carried down to the peaceful depths! Woe to Gary the Unrepentant!
And while most of those things placed inside the pumpkin seemed to have been consumed by either Brother Fire or Sister Water, there were some that were rejected...
The friends thought that was the end of Gary. Poor Gary. But no! It was not! For the friends parted ways for Fall Break, but Gary seemed to haunt them! He seemed to be reflected in every pumpkin they saw. He seemed to have taken the form of an unusually large and bright orange moon that watched their travels. He seemed to be everywhere.
And so it would seem that as Halloween draws neigh, the ghost of Gary the Gnostic haunts their lives. He warns them, and all, that we should not simply welcome those in sin and error into our comfortable, warm places; rather, we should be mindful of most charitable fraternal correction. They must be left, uncomfortably in the cold. They must undergo the pains of salt lest they become mushy. Their sins/mold must be scraped away as soon as they appear. Only through a painful and painstaking process will they be saved...unlike poor Gary!