Friday, January 27, 2017

First Reconciliation

Years ago, back when my grandfather was still living and had the majority of his faculties and my brother was still a Catholic, the Bishop came to town. Brother took BigDad to the Mass that evening. At the end, the man in the funny hat announced that if anyone wanted to make confession, there would be priests stationed around the church to receive and give penance. My grandfather, fast as lightening on that walker with tennis balls on the end made his way third in line with the Bishop before Brother could even get out of the pew. Brother, sheepishly, stood in line- perhaps ten or twelve back from BigDad. The line drew down by two and my grandfather was next.

BigDad stepped out of line, turned around, extended his skeletal arm and pointed to my brother. The wrist flipped over and that long pointer finger pointed to Brother and beckoned him forward. Brother turned around to see if BigDad might have been pointing at someone else, perhaps his equally elderly sister or, maybe the postman.

Anyone else? No? No? Oh... okay... he must mean Brother.

Brad stepped out of line, walked forward and BigDad, in his not-so-quiet whisper said, "SON! You need to go ahead of me. This is Confession and you need to be absolved of your sins."

"BigDad, I'm happy to wai--"

He stamps his walker on the marble, reverberating through the crowd. "Son. Don't argue with me on this. You're a single, young man and surely there are sins you need forgiving."

You know what Brother did? He didn't argue and stood in line before his 91 year old grandfather. You know what else? No one in line argued with him that he had allowed a twenty-something man to cut in front of ten other people.

You didn't argue with BigDad when it came to his Church or his Grandchildren.

The Bishop was receiving Confession on the main altar of the church, under the bright lights, surrounded by ironed lace and marble, three stairs above everyone else. The altar is the stage of the church and everyone could see who was giving their confession. Good lip readers might even get a hint of the scandalous behavior of fellow parishioners.

And it was Brother's turn.

It is in this moment that I was counting those little Catholic blessings that I was not in his shoes.

Brother walks up the steps and sits down next to the Bishop, stumbles through the opening prayers and acknowledges in his head that he is about to confess high school, college, and most of his twenties.

These are the sins that priests live for; the good ones. The sins they probably retell at the annual priest Christmas party while serving red wine and wafers.

The Bishop looks at Brother.
Brother looks at the Bishop.

"Son, are you ready to confess your sins?"

"I am."

"And what are your sins?"

Brother swallows. The perspiration from the heat of the lights is upon him. He speaks:

"You know... the usual."

Brother had a way of executing one liners with such perfection that you had to accept them for what they were: the truth.

The Bishop chuckles, nods, and looks back at him.

"Fair enough. Your penance is four Hail Marys."

"Bishop, you better make it five... just in case."

That's Brother.


Parochial is serious about being, well, a parochial school. Birdie made her First Reconciliation the other day. When I was a kid- this happened at school, during school, behind those screens where you can hear the priest and the priest can hear you, but there was no eye to eye contact.


Fortunately or unfortunately, things are different today. There is a little more pomp and circumstance to the affair. Mama gets to make a confession before Birdie is presented to make hers. Upon learning this, I call my fellow mother friend of a second grader and say something to the effect of "Woah woah woah... ain't NOBODY told me about this when I signed her up for Parochial three years ago. Gammit."

Time to start a list.

#1: I said Gammit on the phone while complaining about having to make my confession.

I asked Husband if he would rather go and I'll keep the kids so that he can spend quality time with Birdie before this great day.

He said he isn't Catholic yet so that doesn't make sense.


#2 I tried to get out of Confession by guilting my husband.


#3 I said "Hell"

In jest, Husband asked me if I remembered the Act of Contrition prayer. I said I did....

O My God I am heartfully sorry for what I have done and what I have failed to do...umm... something something sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin, AMEN!

It was then I learned that "heartfully" isn't a word. It is "heartily" and that those something somethings were only about 8 more words.

Homerun parenting.

Birdie didn't have homework last night because of First Reconciliation and I cheered.

#4 Laziness. Laziness in regards to my daughter's education and, let's be honest...
#5 Laziness in regards to her Catholic Sacraments

We get to church and I am not being prayerful, rather I am texting on my phone

#6 Texting in church

and Birdie is being a 7 year old girl. She gets corrected.

#7 Not being that nice to my kid

This list is getting long and I've only been counting for the past six hours.

There were 67 children and 67 adults who had to make their confession. Children were called in a random order and they were able to choose the priest that they want to see. Birdie was in the first group called and she started looking around. Kids started heading towards us and I said, "Birdie, make a decision right now or I'll make it for you. Where are we going?"

She had this deer in the headlight-saucer eyes as she looked. More people started heading towards us and we were going to have to wait... to.wait. I grab her arm and pull her to a door.

#8 forceful and demanding to we could get outta here without having to wait in line.

Winning in parenthood.

I walk in and an old man sat waiting to hear my sinful deeds from the past five years. Birdie sat on the other side of the door, with the fellow sinners- waiting for them to be excised.

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned... it has been four, no wait- five years since my last Confession."

#9 I accidentally lied to the priest... SIX years. It had been six years since my last confession.

{averaging a sin an hour on this day since I started counting and it's been six years x 18 waking hours in a day x 350 sinful days in a year = uh oh. uh. oh.}

Upon completion, he smiles, we talk and he says, "Are you ready for your Penance before I absolve you of your sins?"

"Yes sir."

"One Hail Mary. That's a good prayer for you."

Father, you better make it two. Just to be safe.

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