Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Sinned: Confessions of a Sinaholic

confessionOne of the unexpected benefits of being a Catholic boy in love with a Jewish girl is the occasional silly conversation that we’ll have about the differences in our religions.  Last night, after we’d both had some wine, The Girl Who Goes To Temple surprised me with the following question: “So what’s the deal with going to confession?”.

Thankfully, there was still some wine left, so I was able to make sure my glass was half full (one always wants to remain positive!) before tackling this one.  Since the question had come seemingly out of the blue, I figured it would be best to get some background on why she was asking it before I launched into my complicated, In Vino Veritas, reply.

She told me that she had been watching an episode of Mad Men, and one of the characters had gone to confession.  Since she’d never partaken in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, she wanted some Catholic insight.

DraperI told her that her first rule of thumb should be to NEVER judge a religion based upon the behaviors of Don Draper and his cronies.  Big mistake.  They’re from the 60s and that was a much different time.  Coffee makers hadn’t yet been installed in the workplace, but every executive had a fully stocked bar in his office, as well as a couch large enough to double as a bed, and a secretary willing to test out the springs in that couch with him.

Let me make it clear that I’m not some sort of staunch Catholic (PLEASE don’t let the nuns read this post!).  I haven’t been to church since I started NYU, but I did go to Catholic school for 12 years.  I was also raised by an Evil Stepmother, who took her religion very seriously and thought her stepchildren should as well.

So I talked The Girl Who Celebrates Chanukah through confession, explaining how it was one of the Sacraments (she then tested my knowledge by asking me to name all of them…I’ll take Catholicism for $500 please, Alex) and that it was just part of Religion class in fourth grade.  The school prepped us for big day, booked the church and the band, and put on a big show of moving us one rung further up the ladder to sainthood.

My Sweetie immediately had to ask, “So what does a fourth grader have to confess?”.  In the spirit of the moment, I decided to confess to her.  I don’t think I ever really “came clean” inside the confessional.  I mean, come on!  Who’s stupid enough to tell all his wrong doings to a priest who sees him every day at school, knows my name, my voice, and worst of all…my parents?  I told her that I just always gave a stock answer: I lied, I was mean to my sister, I disobeyed my parents, and that was about it.  It was safe.  It wouldn’t raise any red flags.  Best of all, it got me in and out of that dark, scary box very quickly.

We talked some more, and she was adamant to know what gave a priest the right to think that he could just wipe away my sins.  I had to explain that the Catholic Church, The Pope, and God gave him that power.  Then I told her that it was all really a big joke.  If the church was willing to wipe my slate clean every time I went into the confessional, what was to stop me from committing more sins, or really becoming a full fledged Sinaholic?

jailThe church was providing me with both a 12 step program and a get out of jail free card, so why not take advantage of it?

Needless to say, I haven’t gone to confession in ages.  Were I to go now, I’m not sure I would tell the priest a tale any different from the one I told as a fourth grader.  At least I wouldn’t really come clean unless I had my lawyer there with me.  The movies and television have taught me that much!

So what about you, Modern Philosophers?  Have you got any thoughts on going to confession?  Has watching Mad Men brought up any questions about the Catholic faith that you’ve been just dying to ask a stranger in a toga?  If so, I’m here for you…

In honor of The Girl Who Warms My Catholic Heart, I thought I’d post this video.  I know the Catholic and Jewish roles are reversed in the song, but I do love to serenade her with this one whenever it comes on the radio.  Mind you, she never lets me get too far into the song without snapping off the radio, but I must confess, it’s the thought that counts…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Sinned: Confessions of a Sinaholic

  1. stephrogers says:

    As a Catholic myself, who went to Catholic school I wholeheartedly concur with your confession experience. On another note I’ve stopped going to mass because it’s gone all evangelical, we now say “peace be with you”, “and with your spirit”, I mean really? WTF?

    • I was forced into going to church and all that, so I’m sure I hold a grudge. I still say my prayers now and must believe in something, but I don’t feel it necessary to go to a big, cold building and recite words along with other people to feel religious or spiritual…

  2. Phoenix says:

    I’m aaaalll too familiar with the Catholic thing, being Italian and all 😉 I’m a part time Catholic, my hun is straight up atheist, so we have pretty rigorous religious debates. I wear a green connemarra Celtic cross, which I’ve had blessed. I find religion fascinating. Although the last time I went to confession was probably a few years ago; I’ve attended mass in England (more so Protestant, obviously) but it was just wasn’t the same vibrancy as my old parish in California.

    Do you find yourself still having conversations with God now and then? I know I do. 🙂

  3. Maryanne says:

    I’m Christian (my husband is Catholic) so I confess directly to Jesus Christ, not via a priest. I love and respect all religions though and belong to a church where the pastor gets involved with other faiths. On Martin Luther King Day there was a service where the pastor, a priest and a rabbi all spoke. I think it’s so cool that your love is Jewish. It’s all good and religious differences should be embraced not a vehicle to separate.

  4. Let me just say that I think I am now in love with the woman who warms your heart for asking these questions, especially “what does a 4th grader have to confess?” NOTHING is the answer. About 3 years ago I started to attend Quaker Meeting and couldn’t be happier.

  5. Gardengirl says:

    That’s a great post! So inspiring…and kind of a relief…to know that Catholics and Jewish people can get along. I was born and raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school and it didn’t occur to me that people could be anything other than Catholic until about 7th grade when we got a new kid. He was Lutheran. My best friend at my Catholic high school was Jewish! That still cracks me up. Anyway, about confession…I don’t feel the need to go for every little thing, but somehow I feel better confessing if I’ve done something really bad. The last time I went to confession was a few years ago and I had to wait until we had a priest from out of town. I told him that I had put off confessing this one thing for 20 years. After I told him what it was he was speechless. I didn’t even have to do a penance! I don’t know if he forgot or just couldn’t think of anything to make up for it! I think we have confession just to scare us. You know, we probably won’t do anything too bad if we know that we actually have to tell someone, especially someone we know.

    • Well I’m glad The Girl and I help you to realize that people of different religions can fall in love. I just wouldn’t feel right telling a priest all I’d done wrong, and I’d be too worried about how he would use it against me… 🙂

  6. My Catholic ex-husband and I had (and still have) many conversations just like this. Just tonight, actually, we were talking about tefillin (on the Jewish side, obviously) and what the heck those are. Interfaith communication is a good thing!

  7. I went to Catholic school for 8 years.
    Confession and communion came down upon me in the same year. I was 7 years old. My teacher (a nun, of course) started taking my class to confession 3 times a week, so we could get the hang of it….and also so our souls would be squeaky clean by First Holy Communion day.
    Well, a 7 year old really doesn’t do that much wrong (at least I didn’t), and trying to think up things to confess to the priest 3 times a week—was a little too much for me. By Friday, I had run out of ideas. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to make anything up because that would be a lie—which I would then have to come back and confess later. An endless cycle.
    So that day, when I went in to the confessional box (coffin) I said, “Forgive me father for I have….I haven’t done anything wrong.”
    AND THEN, I heard uncontrollable laughter coming from the priest on the other side of the mesh that separated us. With a very Irish accent, the voice said (loudly), “Ooooh me goodness! I’m so happy. I never thought in all me life….that I would get to meet a real saint. I am blessed in your presence.”
    The priest couldn’t stop laughing. I thought he was going to choke because of me. So I got up and walked out. Everyone in my class had heard what he said, which made the rest of my day hell. I didn’t ever want to go back to church again….which, of course, would have been a mortal sin…which is the sin that leaves a gaping hole in the middle of your sould for all eternity. Sigh. Certainly, a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” situation.

  8. Monica says:

    I love discussions like this! Good for you and your sweetie – it bodes well for whatever the future holds.

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