This is for all of you caffeinated Catholics out there who still go to Confes … er, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Warning: This is only for those who are reckless enough to make suggestions to a priest while stuck inside a dark closet with the Powers of Righteousness presiding like a judge on the other side of a tiny window.
If you only have the usual dumb sins to confess (like telling a small lie, blurting out the name of Jesus as a cuss word, passing on some spicy gossip, etc.), you will probably be given something like “Say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys” as a penance. (I don’t know what you would get if you confessed that you had just murdered five relatives, buried them in your rose garden and collected the insurance money. It would take a lot of prayer books to cover that one.) Anyway, I propose that the time has come for us everyday Catholics to take a stand and start developing our own suggested penances. Down with the boring stuff! A penance should be good for you but hurt a little, like going on a juice diet for two days.
Take, as an example, a penitent who is also a persnickety coffee gourmet. The following would be more than sufficient to cause them to always tell the truth, clean up their filthy mouths and never talk about anyone ever again in their lives:
“For your penance …
… go an entire day without drinking any coffee or cola. When the caffeine fit comes on you, find the most irritating person you know and stay close to him all day, smiling and being sweet as Tiramisù.”
… (leave the chocolate covered coffee beans alone; they count, too.)”
… drink nothing but store brand instant coffee for three and one-half days.”
… go to next Sunday’s Communion breakfast and drink the watery mess that the elderly church ladies make in that good old urn.”
… for at least half a day, do not discuss, mention or even think about the merits or failings of whole coffee beans, Sumatra, Ethiopian, Jamaican or Vietnamese coffee, French presses or mocha cappuccino vs. caramel macchiato.”
That should do it.
It’s important to call it what the Church calls it, even if you are old enough to know better.
I should have written this a few weeks ago, when we were still in the Lenten season, but I didn’t think about it until five minutes ago. So shoot me.
But the priest wouldn’t be able to turn you in to the police on account of the Seal of Confession. He can’t rat on the guy who used the name of Jesus in vain, either. Those are the rules.