Laurie gets ecclesiastical in this edition of “Her Erzats Journal”, so throw another blog on the fire and join me, won’t you, for one of life’s more interesting primers.
Today, we focus on confession. Say it with me…..kun-FESH-shun. Very good!! .
What is it you ask? Well, for all you non-Catholics, it’s not unlike what one would do when one finds oneself in the custody of the Detroit P.D.
But with this particular kind of confession, you confess your sins to a priest…NOT with you sitting in a hard, metal chair for 16 hours, surrounded by four large, loud, angry white detectives, sweatin’ under a hot lamp, with a recorder running and six Taser guns all aimed at your crotch!!
The classic confessional is a small room–a series of three tiny rooms actually and they’re usually located in the back of the church. The priest sits in the middle room and the two on the outside each have kneelers that face the middle room–those are strictly for the confessees (?)
Biblical scholars, thumpers and zealots would know what I’m talking about by this allusion to James 5:16.
A typical Catholic confessional booth looks a lot like this:
In Roman Catholic teachings, the sacrament of Penance is what we’re talking about today. Any Catholic- –guy, chick, trans-gendered may confess his or her or it’s sins committed and then be absolved by God through a priest, or so says Catholicism.
In order to get away from the criminal aspect of spewing forth guilt, today’s hip, progressive Catholic (is there such a beast??) more commonly refers to it as “reconciliation“.
OK..confession: in a nutshell, here’s how it works: You enter the confessional, kneel down and cross yourself. The priest opens a little window that’s at face level…both of your speak through a thin, opaque screen (for anonymity’s sake). You give the priest a particular schpiel–how long it’s been since your last confession and then you confess your sins.
After listening to your heinous debauchery from the previous weekend, the priest then announces your Penance–what you must do for absolution. How does he know what that is? Which sins require which Penance??? I don’t know, but as a kid, I was always amazed that there was a penance for EVERY sin –not matter what it was; no matter how simple or outlandish, the priest knew the Penance instantaneously. It was as if he had some big Vatican approved diagram or flow chart on the wall that he could use as reference.
I always imagined it as some guy walks into the confessional, kneels down and because of the nature of his sin, he stutters through the process. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I was late for work because I….uh….I..uh….I blew a mongoose, Father!”.
The priest then, without missing a beat, conveniently turns toward the wall and and looks up the sin on the flow chart, while repeating “blew a mongoose….blew a mongoose” to himself a few times, as his two fingers, move simultaneously…one down , the other to the left until they meet in at the appropriate box, indicating the perfect Penance for said infraction.
In reality though, I think the priest just makes it up as he goes along.
And as for Penance? It includes a litany of particular Catholic prayers that you must say immediately. For example, it could be three Hail Mary’s; four Acts of Contrition and five Our Father’s—all designed to grant any and all Catholics total and immediate absolution.
If you’ve never been to confession or know nothing about it, I’d like for you to experience it yourself. This is an excerpt of the recent confessional between young Christopher LaPaglia, a long time altar boy at Our Lady of 138th Street and Lennox and his priest, Father Mike.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been three weeks since my last confession and these are my sins. Father, I have been with a loose girl. I touched her inappropriately and she touched me, too”.
The priest hears the voice, recognizes it and asks, “Is that you, little Chris LaPaglia?”
“Yes, Father, it is.”
“Oh Chris, my son—the sins of the flesh can tempt a man of all ages. Tell me, Laddie…who was the girl you were with?”
“I can’t tell you, Father. I don’t want to ruin her reputation. She’s a good Catholic girl.”
“Fine, Chris. I’m sure to find out her name sooner or later, so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Mejoretti?”
“Father, I cannot say!”
“Was it Theresa O’Shanahan?”
“Father once again, I will not say!”
“Was it Rosie O’ Malley?”
“I’m sorry, but I cannot and will not name her.”
“OK, what about that slutty little Cathy Imperioli?”
“Father for the last time–my lips are sealed. I’m naming no one.”
The priest sighs in frustration. “You’re a very loyal friend through and through, Christopher LaPaglia and I must admit that I admire that a great deal…as does the Lord. But nevertheless, you have sinned and you must atone. Go say ten Hail Mary’s and four Our Father’s and I must forbid you from being an altar boy and participating in the Mass for the next four Sundays. I know how much this hurts you. But I can’t have a sinful altar boy assisting me in the Eucharist. Now you go! Say your penance..be contrite about it and for the love of Pete young man, BEHAVE YOURSELF”.
Chris leaves the confessional and walks to a pew where his friend is kneeling. Frankie slides over and whispers to him— as Catholic school children are want to do after Confession— “So, what’d you get?”
Chris responds “A month off and four really hot leads…High five!!”
And we’ll end today’s ecclesiastical offering with this photo of a real, honest to God church marquis in a town, no doubt destined for the fiery depths of Hell!!!! Minus the conjugal visits.