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.