Bless me father for I have sinned…bless me father for I have sinned… bless me father for I have sinned… bless me father for I have sinned… bless me father for I have sinned.
What comes next? Oh my God! I can’t remember it. It was suppose to verbally flow out of me. I had practiced over and over. I slightly dropped my hands from the stiff prayer like position, just enough to look toward my feet. Like if some how it was written on the floor and if I looked hard enough it would magically come to me.
The line of children in front of me progressed forward a step, all in unison, such good kids, holy, on their way to a divine heaven, no doubt. I on the other hand held back, reluctant to take that deafening step toward my own inner hell, which in this moment, was the catholic confessional. How close was I getting? Leaning to the right ever so slightly, enabled me myself to see the deep purple colored curtain that partially covered a hole in the wall. That’s where sinners went…into the deep dark purple realms of hell. And if you confessed all of your horrible deeds in a proper manner, the man perched on the other side of that hole, the great, wise, and replica of Jesus Christ himself, Father George Bertals, would then forgive you and grant you supreme permission to continue with your little, pathetic life.
Panic swept over me like a deep winter chill as a nudge from behind forced me to take a step forward. I watched as the curtain swung to the side allowing Hell to spit out a young girl. I watched her walk to a nearby pew and kneel obediently and begin saying her penance. Searching her face intently, I saw no signs of fowl play. Instead of comforting me however, this seemed to only add to my anxiety. With deep apprehension I again looked down at the floor. What was wrong with me? I shook my head dismissing that question and snapping myself back to my most current dilemma. When that little “peek-a-boo” door opens I have to say to Father Bertals, “bless me father for I have sinned,”… Still nothing!
A woman came through the vestibule door. It was my teacher Betty Perrion. She walked stiffly and deliberately, as with great purpose, toward where the line of children formed along the narrow side isle of the church. Her plaid pleated skirt swayed from side to side as her shoes made a clippity clop noise upon the hard tiled floor of the church. The noise echoed against the hard plastered walls of the somber church and intensified with each approaching step. I studied her face, watching for signs of hate. She in turn scanned each child, looking for obedience and solidarity perhaps. We must be perfect children of God, perfect like He is. This “forced” confession was an important ritual to her. She believed that a great privilege and secret had just been bestowed upon us children. Now that we had this knowledge some how the great pearly gates of heaven would open up right in front of us. Even if we sinned, us Catholics’...