A FEW YEARS EARLIER:
“Yes my dear,”
“Before my confession what is it that I should say?” I stammered.
“In the name of the Father…,”he started and I rushed to catch up with him in perhaps the most powerful signing in the world of faith.
“How long has it been since your last confession?”
“6 -maybe 7 months. I’m not sure” I answered.
“And have you sinned since then?”
“Of course I have Father,” I shot back. Isn’t everyone a sinner? “Venial and mortal sins alike. Some of which I can’t even remember definitely because of the lifestyle I’ve been leading.”
There was a moment of awkward silence.
“Oh. Am I not allowed to say that?” I asked, afraid that I had broken protocol and probably I’d have to restart the whole procedure in order to be forgiven.
“No! Not at all my son. Surely, everyone has committed sin. Here you can say anything and everything.” Father Bastille assured me. His deep voice calmed my tense nerves. The screen did an amazing job hiding his face because maybe I wouldn’t have the courage to lay my shameful life bare before a fellow human being.
“I’ve sinned against the Lord by my thoughts, words and habitual actions,” I began. “As His child, I have strayed away from His glorious light slowly but surely, step by step”
For the next twenty six minutes, I spat out every wrong thing that came to mind. The deals I had made at my workplace to get a few favors. The witches I had let into my life. The corrupt government officials I had welcomed to my bed. The drug addicts I shared a spot at the table with. The lies, the stealing, gossip, broken promises, the sexual lusts, the negligence, the despair, the unfaithfulness, the lack of faith, the dishonesty in my tithing and the slowly creeping doubt in the Word of God. I felt a heavy load lifted off my shoulders. I was closer to freedom from that past. That was the old John. The new John had been set free by the truth.
“Dear Lord, I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life,” I concluded.
I heard Father Bastille clear his throat from the other side of the screen. Had I shocked him beyond words? Did he also blame me for Mike’s death the way I did? Was I beyond help?
He broke the silence, giving me a small list of acts of penance to do.
“Say these words, meaning them with your whole heart.”
So I began. Slowly. Keenly. Physically feeling freer with every new word.
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.”
He began again, “In the name of the Father,” and I followed suit. The words of absolution were like solid rocks. I could feel them crushing all my wicked desires into nothingness. Void.
“John, you are forgiven by our God. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good”
“For His mercies endure forever.” I said.
I stood and stepped out of the chambers. The air was fresher. The sun was warmer. I had been forgiven by One whose mercies were renewed each morning.
Unfortunately for the Father today, his fate was entirely in the hands of one whose mercies never renewed. My hatred and spite for the man lying on his desk before me rekindled with every passing minute.
“Father, it’s your confession I’m waiting for. Cut out your tongue? Forgot the words? Huh!?”
“John we don’t have to do this.”
“Say, forgive me John for I have sinned! I have never freaking confessed my whole damn fake life! Say that Father. Say it!”
“John. I’m sorry. We all make mistakes. It was a slip of judgement and before I realized, it was too late to right my wrongs. I’m sorry John.”
“What did you do?”
“One day, after the normal Friday PPI and right before meditation, your daughter came into my office. She sat and introduced herself and told me she wanted help with some trouble she was facing. As I always did, I sat back and listened. She complained of having many sexual dreams with the boys of her class and at that time she was feeling tempted by the devil to engage in fornication. She was not the first case I was handling. I assumed it was just a phase and it would pass. She was just blooming and we expect such behavior at their age.”
“I told her to at least pray the Rosary each day and ask God to deal with those evil temptations. She left and I never heard from her in a month. Till one day… uhmm… until one day…”
“One day what!?”
“I was supposed to be off duty at the Chapel but Father Christophe had not yet arrived, so I filled in for him at the confession booth. While there, your daughter came to confess. She confessed to colluding with one of my altar boys to have sex. I listened carefully and in her penances to do, I asked her to report to my office every Friday for accountability.”
Father Bastille paused, and suddenly tears started gushing from his eyes. For a moment, I was taken aback. He sat up and looked at me dead in the eye. He said, “I did not mean for this to happen. The devil had a grip on me.” I didn’t understand.
“One Friday, Jake, was dusting my office when Yvonne walked in. I had both of them together in my office. I got overwhelmed by curiosity and desire and for a moment, I craved a clear picture of what fornication looked like. After all, they did it in their secret places. So the devil in his cunning way whispered scripture into my ear, ‘All works of darkness should be brought to the light’.”
“Jake and Yvonne, you keep falling back to sin because you commit in darkness. You all know that light cannot mix with darkness. The angels who report sins to God after our confessions cannot attest to acts that were committed in the dark because they couldn’t see them. Jake, lock the door. Today we will have a secret form of confession. It’s a deep secret among priests, and I know I can trust you both to keep it between us. Right guys?” Bastille said this, his heart pumping with unimaginable desire. He could taste lust in his throat. His innocent victims nodded, but a whiff of tension filled the room. It was the Father. He wouldn’t hurt us- or so they tried to believe.
Jake took his shirt off first and unbuckled his belt. Yvonne folded up her skirt and let down her baby pink knickers. She looked nervously at Jake and approached him, trembling like a tremor. All they were asked of, is to pretend nobody else was present. Jake’s hands slid under her school blouse and did their scouting until they finally touched gold. Their eyes locked and suddenly, they were unafraid anymore. They entangled in a tight embrace. Their lips touched, and it was downhill from there. And Jake the innocent Altar boy gave it to Yvonne the only way he knew how; slowly and silently.
The man of the cloth experienced something new, something sweeter than communion wine. Sweetness that could only be likened to the juice of the forbidden fruit.