Jul 10, 2008

Bless me Father . . .

I was raised as a Catholic. When a Catholic child reaches the age of 7 they receive the Sacrament of Penance and First Holy Communion. Penance precedes Communion. You must be free from sin to receive communion.

The little booklet above belongs to my sister who never threw anything away. Mine is hanging around under a church pew, beneath the kneeler in the Crying Room of, St. Holy Mother of God What Were You Thinking Church.

This booklet gave tips and hints as to how to make a good confession. It listed questions to help me think of my sins. As if I needed help. The book suggested that when I found a sin that I did, I should see if I could tell it in just a few words and say how many times I did it.

I figured the Priest was hearing so many confessions from my second grade classmates that I would make it easy on him. I made a list before I got to the confessional. I folded it into a paper airplane and put it in my uniform shirt pocket. When it was my turn, I cracked opened the door to the room where the Priest sat and threw my paper airplane full of sins inside. The Priest came out rubbing his poked eye, holding the crumpled plane in his hand. Thirty little hands pointed at me. The Priest pointed at the confessional door and told me to go inside.

No one told me that entering the confessional was like walking into a dark cave. I was afraid of the dark . I was afraid of forgetting a sin. I was afraid of being the only kid at the altar for hours saying the longest penance in the history of confessions. I got on my hands and knees and crawled around the tiny room looking for the kneeler. I found it and positioned myself with folded hands while Father, I Don't Like Children opened the little window. Light filtered through and I looked around in the confessional to make sure I was alone, and that nothing was behind me waiting to get me. Father, Children are the Devil blessed me and waited for me to begin. I began with the usual, "Bless me Father for I have sinned, I am sorry for these sins, and the sins of my whole life, especially for, (this is where I said) . . . "the ones I can't tell you."

Father, I Wish Children Were Invisible coughed and sputtered and told me that I must tell him all my sins to be forgiven. I told him that I had written them on the airplane if he wanted to take a look. I heard the crackle of paper and saw him put on his glasses through the filtered screen. "I see," he said. "I'm glad," I said. There was a long silence followed by my penance and The Act of Contrition. Father, I Think It's Time To Retire closed the panel between us and I was left in the dark again. I stood up and felt my way along the walls to the door. If I wasn't so afraid of the dark I would have stayed in there, but I was, so I opened the door to the confessional and made my way to the altar where other children were kneeling and praying.

I knelt down, pulled out my rosary and began my prayers. Kids came and went and I was still up there praying, 100 Our Father's, 5000 Rosaries, 16 Million Hail Mary's, and countless Glory Be's. Sr. Knuckle Rapper came up and told me it was time to go back to class. I tried to stand and my legs cramped up. I duck walked out of church still saying prayers in my head with my rosary wrapped around my fingers.

I'm still saying them to this day.


Kendrawolf said...

I don't have any memories like that. My mom took me and my siblings to church on and off as kids (sometimes Baptist, sometimes Methodist) . I didn't become a Christian until just a few years ago. My little sister is Catholic though.

Teri said...

I must say, I'm glad we never had confessional. I'm afraid I would be featured on the inside cover of a tell-all manual written by a wayward priest. Just my luck.

Kat said...

I was a late bloomer. I got baptized, had my first confession and first communion all in the fourth grade. While I was attending Catholic School. I was so not on board for the first confession. And we didn't have the dark partitioned boxes. With the screens. I might have done better with that. Instead I had to sit in a chair opposite Father about to be sent to Arizona for liking the altar boys a tad too much. And confess my sins. So, I told him I didn't have any.

He didn't believe me. So, he made some up and asked me if those were my sins. I denied it. All of it. It's a good thing that we are now Lutheran. No private confessions. I'd probably be doing hail Mary's for the rest of my life for lying to a priest. In the confessional.

Kat said...

Oh...and I forgot to tell you. I left a comment yesterday. But blogger ate it. Not that I recall what I said. Except happy anniversary. And I am sure that thre were other nuggets of brilliance that were soon forgotten.

Judy Haley said...

Wow - great story. I was raised baptist and went a christian school as well. I was always getting in trouble for saying things like "If God commanded genocide does that make God bad or genocide good?" I ended up layering two pairs of tights over four pairs of panties every day because I was getting a spanking every day.

Kath said...

Our school made us go to confession every week. I said the same confession verbatim for 7 years...surprised the priest didn't just give me my penance as I walked in the door.

Romi said...

Thanks for sharing all of your memories ladies. It makes me feel so good to know that there are others out there who had the same thoughts I did and questioned what they were being told was right.

Too Funny! How come I never thought about wearing extra clothes?

Kat and Kath, I guess I'll see you in the place little kids who go to confession and don't tell their sins the right way go:-) We're going to have so much fun together!

I'm sure it would be a best seller too:-)

I must say you are very lucky not to have been raised Catholic. The guilt is overwhelming:-)

Candid Carrie said...

Romi, if we would have been in the same church we would have both been kicked out. Did you ever store a communion wafer in the roof of your mouth to see if it looked like the Body Of Christ after you sucked on it for awhile? No, just me?

What about telling a lie about your sins because you didn't think your real sins were bad enough to bother God? No, just me?

Do you think that confession should be like a drive-thru at McD's and you drive up and say, "I committed a two and a four," then drive ahead two windows to get your penance? No, just me?

Romi said...

Candid Carrie,

I'm pretty sure you are my long lost twin that I never knew I had from another mother and father.

I've got a whole communion wafer post just waiting to happen. It has something to do with Necco Wafers candy and my sister, the influencer of all things holy and blasphemous.

I was a fornicator and adulterer at the age of 7 who coveted thy neighbors wife. I must have gotten a hold of the wrong "confession book of helpful sins if you forgot yours" that day.I made up so much stuff.

I used to tell the priest that there wasn't enough time to hear me out so he might as well give me the stiffest sentence he had, then I would pull out my knee pads from volleyball practice and get to work kneeling on the marble pew in front of the altar, repenting and making promises that essentially I couldn't keep - I created more sin for myself. Oh, the vicous cycle of sin and being a Catholic.

No, it's not just you!

I fluff up this blog so as not to frighten away the innocent:-)

Romi said...

vicious - not vicous . . . :-)