Friday, September 28, 2012

To Forgive, Divine

I think any frequent readers of my blog could guess that I am not exactly a shining  example of Catholicism. I have broken multiple commandments . I consider it my duty to dishonor my father and mother, I take the Lord's name in vain often and creatively, and when my kid asked, I told her Jesus was married. I was a fallen Catholic (which sounds epic and dark, but really just means you don't take communion during mass), moved on to being a lapsed Catholic, and now am what my mom calls a cafeteria Catholic, meaning I pick and choose what I believe. The church and I disagree on gay rights, women as priests and allowing priests to marry, abortion, conversion missions, and a few other odds and ends. I refuse to use the new responses in the missal, sticking with "And also with you" instead of "And with your spirit" (which is clunky as hell and makes me think my patronus is going to come out to shake hands) and I think whomever decided "consubstantial" was a good word for a group response has a really wicked sense of humor.

So obviously, I am going to have a few problems with helping my daughter work her way toward receiving two holy sacraments this year: penance and communion. Last night was our first meeting to explain how it all works. This year, they have changed the system and the entire family gets to go to confession (not together, thank the Lord and all his ponies), but back-to-back. I'll be honest, I don't think I have entered the confessional since pre-Cana [mandatory marriage counseling in order to get married Catholic]. That's almost 12 years of sins, all piled up waiting to be confessed. Father is going to need a bigger booth.

Luckily, the lovely woman running the religious education program talked about this very subject, aka, how to confess your sins without embarrassing yourself or the priest. She started by first explaining the difference between mortal and venial sins (which can be summed up as the difference between death and vanity.) What I found worrisome, however, was that she seemed truly concerned that some of us might have actually murdered someone. Lady, this ain't North Jersey and we are not on The Sopranos. Of course, this has prompted an entire group of second grade moms to ask each other where the bodies are buried and to try to get each other to 'fess up to homicide every time we greet each other. Then she moved on to giving examples of issues we may find awkward to confess. Now, I personally would have gone for the small potatoes, coveting thy neighbor's Coach bags or using the Sabbath to run errands. Nope, this soft-spoken, almost baby doll-voiced women went straight to abortion and porn. (Not just regular porn either, but a porn addiction.) Jesus! I think even the priest popped an eyebrow at that and this was the guy who had already admitted that our confessions go in one ear and out the other. I think he is going to start paying more attention when she enters the booth, don't you?

Plus, who in their right mind is confessing that level of sin on family penance day?. You certainly don't risk talking about that with your husband, kids, and a dozen other families from the parish sitting outside in the pews waiting their turn. Sure, you may go for the out-of-town priest brought in for the day to handle overflow to ensure the parish priest doesn't recognizing your voice, but even then you are taking a risk. If you really feel like that is the day you need to make your soul glossy and clean with the Lord, then by all means, but I am going to stick to the day-to-day sins, thanks so much. While in theory, no one is supposed to be listening, in practice, the booths aren't soundproof, the church is really quiet, and some people have no concept of inside voices.

Luckily, I have a few months to relearn the Act of Contrition and get my sins in order. I am trying to decide if now is the time to commit the big ones, since I'll be forgiven for all, or just stick to perfecting my ability to commit the little ones. Either way, I am going to try to go last in my family. It's bad enough that I worry lightning will strike every time I step into the vestibule, but I certainly don't want to be responsible for giving the priest a heart attack. Somehow, I don't think the other priests will be quite so forgiving about that.

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