Once upon a time back in the olden days, getting a diary for Christmas or a birthday was such a thrill. We filled it with all our secret thoughts and petty grievances or those cute boys we had a crush on. Then someone close to us would find it and expose our secret life to the world! Or worse, our moms would demand to know the boys’ names. We never heard of dads reading our diaries.
Fast forward to today and we willingly expose everything on FaceBook. No need to write in those diaries anymore we have journals now. One of us has no couth whatsoever and writes about her life and posts it on a website called My-third life.. mea culpa. Maybe it was better in the ‘olden days’ but no less boring I’m sure.
I had a girlfriend that kept a diary and it was coded so every time she washed her hair, it was code for sinning with her boyfriend. We were Catholics and she had the cleanest shiniest hair but also the blackest soul full of sins. I envied her a lot.
As for myself, I got bored with the diary after the first couple of weeks because I wouldn’t dare put down my real thoughts and desires! I had six siblings and no privacy, are you kidding me? Besides, I had all those sinful thoughts too.. just saying.
We used to skip mass which was also a sin, but we would pick up the (missive). Essentially this was a newsletter about everything happening in the church. These were kept at the entrance so it was easy enough to get a copy without actually attending the service. This was our proof, then we would escape to the corner confectionery store and drink cokes in the back booth while visiting with our fellow conspirators.
If we ran into someone that had been at mass, that was a bonus, because then we could quiz them on the sermon. See, it’s this way, you could get caught if the adults were suspicious at all. They would say “ok what did father Bob talk about in the sermon today?” you could stutter your way through something but essentially you were caught. The church I attended had about five masses every Sunday.
All these sins needed to be confessed at some point so we could clear the slate and start over again. Now you think this would be the easy part but it was the toughest for me. The priest could be the same one I had last time. I needed to get increasingly creative without him suspecting me of making up the same ones over and over.
I have to say, I had the most boring sins ever and if I had it to do over again I would love to make his ears bleed! We also had to recite prayers as penance for our sins and that was torturous as well. I would sing my favorite songs along with a few ‘hail Marys’ under my breath, then make a clean getaway. But not before looking around to see if anyone was watching me. I didn’t want to be caught cheating. I was a good catholic girl and afraid of the nuns and priests and maybe even God, who could see right into my heart, covered in menial and mortal sins I also had an innate fear of hospitals, if they opened up my chest, they would see all those black sins covering my heart. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. I was a product of my Catholic upbringing.
Those days are long gone. I quit going to church when I quit high school and have never really been back. Don’t get me wrong, in the catholic schools I attended I had the highest marks in religion class. I knew I was going to burn in hell, but nobody else suspected! Organized religion has since held no power over me and I have come to my own understanding of spirituality.
Without our experiences in our life journey here, how are we to know what is right and what is wrong? I certainly don’t believe in sins and confessions anymore, well not totally, mea culpa, again. I think when I was on my knees supposedly saying the rosary as my penance, some of that spirituality may have seeped in, or perhaps it was there all along.
I went back to a Catholic church a few years ago on an entirely different mission. Sharing this story during Holy week is making me feel a little sacrilegious, but why should that stop me? hmmmm So anyway, there I was kneeling in the back pew of this huge beautiful church. I picked the back row in case I needed a quick getaway. To my utter surprise, the whole mass was in English not Latin. The kneeling and standing up and sitting and kneeling parts were also non-existent. It was all bearable but the worst was about to happen and expose me to everyone as a sinner/imposter!
It was time for communion, walking to the front of the church to receive the sacred host (a thin circular white wafer the symbolic body of Christ) into our mouth and soul. Back in my day, you couldn’t do this if you hadn’t been to confession to cleanse your soul first to make it ready for Christ. So seeing as it was over well fifty years since I had confessed my sins, you know I wasn’t making that walk. To my utter horror, I was the only one left not partaking of the sacred host. Jesus kill me now..
My saving grace was that I didn’t know one person there, so my sinful ways were safe, whew close call though. A month or so later I ran into a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in forever and after exchanging hugs and hellos she went on the say “you know I coulda swore I saw you at mass awhile back and I even said to my friend isn’t that Cherylle? We weren’t sure and when we looked again, you were gone”. Well, she got that last part right, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Oh.. and my mission for going back to church was to check out the older singles scene. I know, more sins in the making, mea maximum culpa.
My only wish this Easter is for everyone to find their own spirituality and to believe in themselves.
Copyright April 3, 2021