I know I'm on a bit of a Catholic kick this week. As I explained yesterday, that's because my daughter is preparing for FHC (First Holy Communion.) And, as someone who is completely new to the church, I am watching all this with awe.
Today is the day she makes her first penance. Of course, as a writer and reader, the first thing that came to my mind was the Irish short story First Confession, by Frank O'Connor. O'Connor describes a little boy who confesses the crime of wanting to kill his grandmother because she drinks porter and takes snuff "and goes around in her bare feet."
I find myself wondering what the terrible sins will be that are confessed today. I've imagined a few of them:
"I stole Timmy's gum."
"I laughed when the teacher tripped over the trashcan in class."
"My mom punished me and I called her an Old Poop Head."
I can only think that the priest in our church is rubbing his hands right now, looking forward to some fair measure of entertainment. I have to admire him for NOT bursting out laughing in that confession box. How will he accomplish it?
In O'Connor's story, it's obvious that the priest is "kilt" with laughter. At the end of the terrible deeds, he gives the little boy a bag of "bullseyes," or peppermints. This enrages the sister, who had foretold dire punishments for her brother. She concludes at the end, "'Tis no advantage to anybody trying to be good. I might just as well be a sinner like you."
I'll never know what the Father gets to hear today. But I can imagine it, and get a chuckle too.