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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 13, 2005 9:46 PM. The previous post in this blog was Sky high. The next post in this blog is Last call for Santa's monorail. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Off the hook

It's been a while since I blogged about Catholic confession. This is an amazing process whereby you tell your sins to a priest, express true remorse for them, ask God's mercy, and then receive absolution. As in, clean slate.

I got mine tonight.

It's a sacrament at which cynics understandably roll their eyes, particularly in these trying times for the church. And most members of the faithful have for many years skipped the whole thing entirely. I think most Catholics loathe the thought of putting it all out there to the priest. But it's actually an uplifting experience, if you do it right. And most of the men who perform the service are very kind and gracious about it.

What it's mostly about for me is thinking about my conduct over the extended period since I last did it -- in this case, nearly two years ago. What have I done that I could have done better? What have I left out that should have been attended to?

And then there's the why. What's driving my frailties? How can I improve? Where can I go to get help in doing so?

I'm one of those who actually believe that something mystical happens at the end of the interview, when the priest says the magic words. But even if I'm wrong about that, it's a healthy moment from a spiritual standpoint, just for the reflection and resolution that come with the process.

I'm glad we got this one drilled into us in high school. For 28 years the habit lay dormant, but it's made a comeback for me over the last seven or so, and it paid another dividend tonight.

Comments (13)

I miss confession. Even though I'm Episcopalian now, I do get the urge to head over to the booth--although I haven't done so in nearly fifteen years. Still, it's nice to know it's there...

Confession at my church was a Saturday afternoon thing, and up until high school my buddies and I would go as a group. (Well, except for my Jewish friends.) I remember there being status to how long you had to stay and say prayers...if one of us stayed a longer time we'd wonder what you did to have to say twenty Hail Marys and ten Our Fathers. Then again, I remember confessing beyond the usual "lied to my parents" to stuff like "copping a feel from Arlene Sorenson" which was more fantasy than anything. Always wondered if confessing to the priest for things you'd only wished you'd done was a sin.

I can only hope you entered a confessional plea of GUILTY to the "making fun of the crucifixion" post. When I get to the Pearly Gates, I don't want any confusion about who the pagan Bogdanski is.
Every year around the Holidays, the Pope goes to his balcony and gives a blanket absolution to anyone watching this Papal scene. If you get this absolution on a VHS tape, you can pop thar baby on your TV all year long, and beat the wheel on a lot of sins.

For those who haven't been to confession in 20 or 30 years - it has changed - for the better. No more dark box on your knees. It is a visit with a spiritual advisor.

I had the privilege recently of being part of a group of women putting on a retreat for other women in our parish. Part of the weekend included preparation for and participating in confession. We had a post-confession symbolic "cleaning" with a washing of hands in a small chapel-like area lit with candles. I saw many tears and much joy.

I agree with Jack. Try it (the real thing, not a tv or a video), you'll like it.

What a load of hoooey!

Then again, I remember confessing beyond the usual "lied to my parents" to stuff like "copping a feel from Arlene Sorenson" which was more fantasy than anything. Always wondered if confessing to the priest for things you'd only wished you'd done was a sin.

Wishing you'd done it is also a sin, I believe (what they call a "lesser included offense"). But lying in confession as to whether you did it or just wanted to do it? I think that may blow the whole deal, and the absolution may not count. You'd beter get back in there, Frank!

Episcopal general confession is a great deal. We all admit we're sinners, but don't have to delve into the gory details.

Episcopalians? Aren't they the ones who replaced the ten commandments with the Three Suggestions?

You'd better get back in there, Frank!

God, and confess to the times I took a dime or two OUT of the collection plate...to play games next door at Nunley's Happyland?

That's got to be worth a lot of Hail Mary's.

Allan,
You are right. There's an old joke about Episcopalians having to pray when they go to heaven while everyone else is having fun. What would you expect from a religion that got started because Henry VIII wanted another divorce?

I always had a hard time with confession. I usually lied to the priest anyway..."Bless my Father, for I have sinned...I lied to my mother five times. I lied to my father three times. (I never actually kept a list!) And I lied to my teacher twice." I figured that would cover it all.
My biggest question was always..."Who did the priest go to for confession?"
I stopped going though. After my coming-of-age encounter with Dan, the seminarian, at summer camp, I had a hard time believing that peiests were as holy as we held them up to be. Yeah, I know that all priests arn't that way, it's still hard to over look, especially now-a-days when our elders will realize that we were NOT lying about it all!
Like I mentioned before, who did they go to for confession...and did they confess THAT?

Jim K:

Your "coming-of-age encounter with Dan, the Seminarian" sounds consensual from your brief reference to it.

While this may be an inappropriate venue to ask for any details, it does make me wonder how many claimants before the Archdiocese of Portland might echo your apparent willingness to forgive Dan, were it not for their profit motive.

I am not condoning rape, or suggesting that criminal activity should not be prosecuted (it should be). For all it's failings, the Catholic Church seems an integral part of our community, and pushing it into bankrupcty does little to benefit the victims, or punish the actual perps.

I find it difficult to believe that money lessens the pain of victimization all that much. Admittedly, I have not walked a mile in those shoes.

W. Bruce...
Thanks for the shiver down my back. I wonder what word I used to give the "consensual" impression. I was trying to be considerate of people's feelings regarding the subjects and language used here. Guess I should have been more graphic, but I find I still can't do it, so I'll just let it be.


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