Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bless me, Father...

Matthew will make his First Communion this year. For non-Catholics out there, this means that, following a ceremony in the Spring, he will be able to take the communion wafer and drink the communion wine.

I did not make the Parent Meeting about this important event, though I had intended to. I can't remember why, but for brevity's sake, I'll blame Mark.

Thankfully, I have a very good friend called Janet who is a MUCH better Catholic than I am (read: she attends Mass more than six times a year) and who has been feeding me information via Facebook.

Today, she informed me that there will be a special ceremony next month, involving baptismal candles (which I cannot find) and school photos (which I know are around here somewhere...) and a first visit to the Confessional Box for our children, which is meant to be preceded by MY visit to the Confessional Box.


To prepare myself, I googled "How to Confess Properly" and found a neat  little website which lists important questions to ask myself whilst holed up in a darkened box, listening to someone else waiting to pass judgement on my...well, life.

This is how I imagine things will go, assuming Fr. W. calls me back following the guilt-ridden, apologetic, rambling message I just left on his voice mail:

Photo courtesy of "Catholic Home and Garden"

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been approximately 30 years since my last confession.

When was my last good Confession?

Alright fine, it was 32 years ago. It's been so long, I lost count. Happy now? It's even worse than previously thought.

 Did I receive Communion or other sacraments in the state of mortal sin?
Nope. God will have noticed that I didn't take communion for many, many years. He knows why. I'm good with keeping that between me and Him, if it's all the same to you.
Did I intentionally fail to confess some mortal sin in my previous Confession?
Nope. My last confession was around the age of 9. Pretty sure the worst of my sins were wishing my brother harm and thinking grouchy things about having to do chores. Ah, simple, magical times.

Did I seriously doubt my faith or put myself in danger of losing my faith through readings hostile to Catholic teachings or involvement in non-Catholic sects?
Absolutely. In fact, during a clearly troubled period, I converted to another religion, which I swiftly decided was a cult, but who am I to judge? I steered clear of the church for so long, my parents despaired. And then my first child was born and when I held him for the first time, I knew that I was touching God. Since that moment, I have been on a long, slow journey back to the church of my childhood and to a quiet, but strengthening faith.
(Except for when my brother died. Then I pretty much raged against everything and everyone, especially God. He waited me out. We're good now.)
Did I engage in superstitious practices: palm-reading, fortune telling, etc.?

Yes. And while I'm here, I may as well confess that I really, really, really want to visit a local shaman. I've heard wonderful things about her and am looking for all the help I can get, letting go of old stuff and embracing challenges yet to come. I feel sort of compelled to see her, actually. I'm pretty sure God knows that. I'm pretty sure He'd steer me away, if He felt threatened or that she might do me harm. I mean, she's His child too, right?

Did I take the name of God in vain?
Is this even a real question? Oh my GOD, yes. I know. I suck. I'm working on it, I swear to G...never mind.
Did I curse, or take a false oath? 
EFF. Please see previous response.
Did I miss Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation through my own fault, without any serious reason?
Yes. Sometimes for no reason at all. Mostly laziness. Followed by guilt. And then guilt about the lazy and then guilt about the's never-ending, this guilt. Can we talk about that sometime?
Did I keep fast and abstinence on the prescribed days?
Clearly not. Have you SEEN the size of my bum?

Did I disobey my parents and lawful superiors in important matters?
Yes. But my parents, much like our Father, are loving and forgiving. They forgive me because they love me and they know that I am working hard to become a better person, even when I fail miserably. Does speeding on the 401 or rolling through stop signs count? 'Cause if so, I think you oughta know that I'll do it all again, so confessing is sort of...wrong. Right?

Did I hate or quarrel with anyone, or desire revenge?
 Yes. I still do.
 Did I refuse to forgive?
Yes. Mostly myself.
Did I hurt or cause to kill someone?
God, I hope not. I'll pay more attention at stop signs, though.
Did I get drunk? 
Yes. There were shooters, you see. And I like shooters. Especially the ones called Butter Shooters...
Did I take illicit drugs?
No. That's weird, right? You can thank my dad for that. When I was a teenager, I promised him four things:
1. I wouldn't smoke.
2. I wouldn't do drugs.
3. I wouldn't drink alcohol before the legal age.
4. I wouldn't have sex before I got married.
I had to keep at least ONE of those promises. By default, it was #2.
Did I consent to, recommend, advise or actively take part in an abortion?
Yes. I'm pro-choice. God knows it. I know it. I will always support a woman's right to choose, yes, even now that I am a mother. ESPECIALLY since I've become a mother. My feelings about this topic have not changed.  Is this where things are gonna get awkward?

Did I willfully look at indecent pictures or watch immoral movies?
Does Magic Mike count? I haven't seen it. But I've seen lots of shots of Channing Tatum  half-naked and will admit to thinking that he is one of God's finest creations. Ditto Angelina Jolie when she was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
And God said, "Let there be perfection..."
 Did I read immoral books or magazines?
50 Shades of Grey. I read all three books in the series, hoping it got better. It didn't. Frankly, I think reading that drivel was punishment enough. Um, also...I read "Flowers in the Attic" in 7th grade. Please don't tell my mum.
Did I engage in impure jokes or conversations?
Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or feelings?
Yes. I only feel guilty about that sometimes. Can I get half a Hail Mary for half-confessing? As cheeky as that might sound, it's kind of a serious question. What happens when only someone/thing else believes that what you're doing/thinking is wrong, but YOU don't? Confessing to it would be lying. Sort of. Can we talk about this sometime, too?
Did I commit impure acts, alone or with others?
Yes. Some of my favourite memories involve impure acts. Some of my favourite memories involve some of my favourite people. I kind of don't want to forget those people or those memories. Remembering's OK, right? I mean, it's not like I'm gonna do those impure things with those people again or anything. Outside of my head, I mean...
Did I take contraceptive or abortifacient pills or use other artificial means in order to prevent contraception?
Take, no. Use presently, yes. I have Matthew, Mark and Luke. I'm gonna name my dog John. I should get bonus points.

Did I steal or damage another's property?
I stole my Across-the-Road Neighbour's fur-lined hat last night. Mostly, is was due to the Butter Shooter consumption, but she's going to a warm country for a few months and won't be needing it. I'm pretty sure she's OK with that.
How much?
It's fur-lined. Probably $50? I'll have to ask...
Have I made reparation for the damages done?
No. I have no intention of giving it back. I DID give her a bottle of wine, though. That's  PRE-reparation. Sort of.
Have I been honest in my business relations?
 Mostly. There may have been some creative number-crunching on my tax form from 1997, but I'm also hopeless at math so it's hard to know for sure.

Did I tell lies?
Yes. Hell, yes. I can say that, right?
Did I sin by calumny, or detraction telling the unknown grave faults of others without necessity, even if they are true? 
 Do you mean "did I gossip?" Yes. Have you met me? Sometimes, a LOT of the time, my mouth engages before my brain does. That said, I am MUCH better at keeping secrets since I spilled one of my Dolphin's and there was that weird, dreadful silence at the table. That sucked, even though, technically, I didn't KNOW it was a secret...wait, what was the question, again? 
Did I judge others rashly in serious matters?
Before I became a mother? You bet. Before Karma handed me my own shit back, you mean? You bet. Now? I try not to. And frankly, I am pretty clear about my own shit, Father. I know when I've been mean or spiteful or wrong. I don't LIKE to admit it when I am, but I do. Mostly, I do so on my blog. Or on Facebook. Some people might refer to it as "oversharing." but others might see it as "unofficially" confessing. I'm just saying.
Surely the fact that I am here, in this box, this moment, this LIFE - imperfect, hopeful but a little bit afraid - should mean something. Something good, I mean. 'Cause the thing is, Father, even though I'm terrible at attending Mass and I holler at my kids FAR too often and I curse my husband to Hell...God has forgiven me for everything. He loves me.
This is how I know:
Me: Matthew, I love you. Thank you for choosing me to be your mummy.
Matthew: I love you, too, Mummy. And I didn't choose you all by myself, you know.
Me: What do you mean?
Matthew: God helped me choose you.



  1. How I love this. And you! My husband is Catholic, my kids are in Catholic school.

    I practically clobbered WIlliam at his first communion ceremony. I grounded him for a week after. He was such a little shit.

    Still laughing at this!

    1. Ha! What happened? Do tell! And then tell me, how do you, as a non-Catholic, perceive the church/its teachings?

      I love the ritual of Mass and the sense of peace that steals into my heart when I DO attend Mass. I love the hymns and belonging to something bigger than me.

      But the rules....ack, I struggle with all the rules: who to love, how to love, how to pray, how much to tithe, that women cannot lead us in prayer and worship, that others cannot make a difficult choice without being chastised....

  2. Ha! I love this! I love you, Lizzie!


  3. Liz, you are so humble. You are human. But you are gooder than 96.2% of the people out there. So proud of your Matthew. What a beautiful post.

    The rules? I'd say you abide by the biggies. Love and protect your family; treat others as you'd like to be treated. You have the soul of an angel in the body of a mortal. Truly.

    1. Aw. You're so kind....and you've been hoodwinked. Sometimes, I am a shrieking, impatient shrew.

      I do try to live by the Golden Rule, that's true. The others - the semantics and sometimes smallness of them -drive me batty.

      But I'm no angel. I'm just blessed to know a few! xo

  4. I find the Catholic faith mystifying. Karen and the kids are Catholic and I shake my head and do my best to be very quiet lest I get yelled at. So I will leave my comments at "very entertaining blog post" and not rag on the church at all :)


    1. Ha! Travis, I admire and appreciate your restraint. Mark also, wisely, keeps mum on issues such as these. He's an atheist (or so he claims...) and so he REALLY doesn't get this stuff.

      Thanks for reading, my friend!

  5. That'll cost you three Our Fathers, two Hail Marys and a bottle of Baileys. Next! ;)

    1. Ha! Love it! Thanks for popping over, Larry...and CHEERS!

  6. Awesome. I kind of want to reserve the booth on the other side while you're confessing, and breath real shallow so I can try and hear it.

    My confession would be so short and sweet, for there's nothing to report *ducks and looks for lightning*

  7. Ha! Several of my friends have indicated that they would find it funny to do the same. I dunno. My priest is a and brimstoney...I don't think he's gonna be happy with me....

    On the other hand, it might be funny to RECORD myself at confession.....


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  9. Liz, what a great post! I'm so glad you shared this.

    Around four years ago I had what I call an "accidental Confession." I will explain..

    I went to the Church office to speak to a priest about some issues that were plaguing me at the time. The priest told me to stand up, and that he was going to give me a clean slate Confession. I hadn't asked for that, and started stressing out about all of my faults and weaknesses and the fact that I hadn't been to Confession in something like 50,000 years. I think he sensed my nervousness because there was a twinkle in his eye and a soft laugh in his voice. I think he was trying to put me at ease.

    I said nothing. He said everything: In the name of the Father..... I absolve you from your sins, every sin you've ever committed in your life, even the ones you never confessed..... Your sins are forgiven, go now in peace...

    I left the Church that day wondering what had just happened. The Confession that lasted only seconds, and that didn't even involve my speaking, somehow wiped out all the sins of my whole lifetime. Really? But how could that be?! I felt like a weight had been lifted and that I'd turned a corner. And well, I guess I had.

    1. Margo, this is beautiful. Stunning, actually. And this is how confession should be, really. Thank you for sharing it here and for the hopefulness of your words and your experience.