Friday, May 20, 2016

Write a Confession #My500Words #226

Day 21 of the Jeff Goins 500 Word Challenge asks me to get "honest and vulnerable" and to "write a confession". Unfortunately I don't have anything interesting like an embarrassing fact, an awkward truth, or something I wish didn't happen but did. Just last month I posted about Making Mistakes in Class (and learning from them) - I'll not bore my readers with rehashing this.

So for today's post, instead of writing a confession I will write about Confession, and delve into the 1960s when I was a boy once again.

Eugene's First Confession.

In preparation for First Holy Communion, us Catholic kids had to make our First Confession in order to be prepared for the big day. This is of course a holy sacrament, but it was more like an ordeal for a 7 year old boy. It was early 1966 and I was in 2nd class in Carnew National School in Co Wicklow - I can't remember who my teacher was. I was useless at Catechism. I couldn't remember the lines "Bless me Father..." and I was terrified of the Confession Box. I was sure to be damned for all eternity in Hell.

I made it through Confession!
First Holy Communion, May 1966.
All the talk among the boys in my class before the big day was what type of sins we would confess - did anyone have a mortal sin to confess? I recall a bit of competition between us as to who had the most sins and which sins were the best or the worst. We were also in competition to see who would get the most or least Hail Mary's as penance. None of us really knew what a sin was, even though at age 7 we were supposed to have reached the "age of reason". What we did know was that we were sinners and had to confess our sins inside a box to an old man in a church. I don't recall who the priest was at that time - no doubt he would be bored to tears listening to small children and their trivial misdemeanors.

It so happened at that time that I raided my Mum's handbag and nicked a thruppenny bit to buy sweets. When found out not only did I do penance at home, but I also had to confess to the priest. The good thing was that I now had a real "sin" and could tell this in Confession to the priest. And be forgiven! Trouble was that nobody told me that you only had to confess each sin once, so the next time I gave the same sin again, and the next, and another. It was only when I told my Mum this that she put me right - I told you I was useless at Catechism!

As I got older the frequency of going to Confession decreased dramatically. In secondary school I confessed my "sins" (probably mostly cursing), but the priest asked me if I had "passed the seed of life". Nuff said!

1986 was the last time I was in a Confession Box. It was the year that I was getting married and I had to get "Letters of Freedom" from various places I had lived, including Gardiner Street Church. I had to wait until Mass was over and I noticed that I was sitting beside the Confession Box. In I went and had a chat with one of the most enlightened priests (a Jesuit) that I have ever met. There was no talk of sins and damnation - more of a chat about life and my upcoming marriage. Despite this positive experience I have not now been to Confession for over 30 years (is that a confession?), and am in no hurry to go again. 

Will I ever go to Confession again? Ask me on my death bed!

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