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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diary of a Papist Convert: Forgive Me All My Sins. Again. And Again. And Again. And...

Recently a friend told me of a conversation he had with a priest friend of his. Concerning confession, my friend asked the priest how he managed hearing the litanies of transgressions from all those people over all those years without becoming jaded or worse. The priest replied that he actually rather enjoyed it but that two things struck him: one, how so many people confess to the same sins over and over again; and two, how deeply unhappy most people are.

I can't think of a better testament to our fallen nature. Still, what strikes me, a convert, about confession is how restoring it is to the soul and making us, at the least, less unhappy. Kneeling and reciting sotto voce one's sins (yes, it's usually the same ones over and over again for me, too), getting them off my shoulders and onto the Lord's, serves to rasa the tabula, as it were, rather like a spiritual rebooting. It clears the detritus out of the system.

My preferred place of penance is the Confession Mill (as I like to call it) run by the good friars at the Church and Friary of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street in Manhattan. Nearly all the day long on any weekday one can duck into the basement, pop into one of the comfortable little rooms there, confess, be absolved and on your way in a matter of minutes. It's a popular spot so the friars, mindful of long lines, move things along smartly.

I confess (if you will) one of sticking points for me deciding whether or not to swim the Tiber was this business of confession. While I had been told and had read it was not a painful procedure, deep down in me was the fear I was an entirely differently case and when spilling the beans would be hear a great roar from the priest: "You did WHAT??????? Out, you damned and filthy sinner!!! Never darken my doorway again!!!"

To my great relief that was not the way it turned out.


OwenW said...

This could fall into the category of "None of my business", if so please excuse the questioning, but don't Anglo-Catholic type churches in ECUSA practice auricular confession? I thought you came from an Anglo-Catholic background?

Owen W.

The Bovina Bloviator said...

Owen, that's a perfectly good question. The Anglo-Catholic byword, as I recall it, regarding auricular confession is, "all may, some should, none must." I'm afraid I always found "none must" best suited my purposes. The Catholic Church, by stating "all must," forced me, of course, to reassess what best suited my purposes!