“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession, and I shall confess to the sins of lying once, anger against my coworkers, pride, and jealousy. I am sorry for these and all my sins.”
I was always happy to hear Angelica’s confessions. She was concise, direct, and I got the sense that she always made a thorough examination of conscious.
“Thank god for the gift of an honest confession.” I told her. “I advise you to examine your sins, and to select one to work on the most. Say three Hail Mary’s, and you may now make an act of contrition.”
“My god, I am heartily sorry for all my sins. In choosing to do wrong and in failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend with your help to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in his name, my god, have mercy, amen.” Angelica was well named. The humility in her voice was angelic. Hearing each and every syllable brought me joy, as if I was hearing them directly from an angel. I gladly grant her an absolution.
“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Go in peace my child.”
“Thank you father.” She says, and departs.
“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession.” Angelica says. Even though there is a screen between us I can tell it’s her. I could pick her voice out of a crowd even if there were a hundred voices all chanting the same thing.
I listen to her confession, she is brief and to the point as ever, and it heartens me to hear a confession such as hers. As I give her a variation on my usual advice I reflect that it would be good to spend time with someone as devout as she.
I assign her a penance, and she begins the act of contrition. As she outpours her sorrow there is a telltale flicker in my chest. It’s just a flicker, but I was not always a priest, and recognize that flicker.
I am suddenly glad for the screen between us as my eyes are no doubt widening in shock. I try and dismiss it. She finishes her act of contrition, and I begin my absolution. I focus on the words, using the repetition to block out thought and emotion.
“Thank you father.” She says. I do not feel particularly fatherly at the moment.
“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession.” It’s her again. As soon as I hear her voice the flicker comes back. Only it has progressed to a solid thumping in my chest. As she lists her sins I perceive each one as a reason for my affection for her to increase.
I stumble through my brief words of advice to her. I hardly heard what she said to me, so I hope it’s still relevant. As she begins her act of contrition I mourn that holy orders do not remove such emotions from me. I can feel myself falling ever farther for her.
Then I begin my act of contrition. I am reminded that as a priest I speak for another man. A man who experienced great suffering. I am reminded that the current emotion is but another burden to carry. The knowledge does not less the emotion. Indeed I find myself feeling an even greater attraction to her, but I am reminded that duty comes first.
I even begin to feel ashamed for reacting so strongly to this emotion. Do not husbands still feel for other women after marriage? Do employers not occasionally feel attraction for their employees. Unwanted infatuation is nothing special. I’m not some hormone driven teenager. I’m an adult, and I can control myself.
Edit: to any who are wondering, this is how confessions go down in real life. Minus the love bit.