CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR
10 July 2002
Every Friday afternoon, when I was in grammar school, the nuns would line us up, single
file, and march us over to church, where we then had to line up to go to confession. I
hated those afternoons.
Invariably I would have to go to the bathroom.
This was a huge Gothic church, with tall marble columns, and wooden pews that were
polished to a high gloss by the ladies of the Altar Society. As you entered, the smell of
burning wax greeted you, from the banks of candles standing in front of the various
statues. Even without being told you couldn't speak out loud in church, the whole
atmosphere made you want to whisper.
There were side altars where priests would say Mass on week days. There was a choir
loft where, in my later grammar school years, I would sing in the choir. There was a
beautiful pipe organ which would fill the rafters with beautiful music. There were
beautiful stained glass windows, through which the sun would shine in the afternoon,
casting mosaic patterns of color on the marble floors.
There were no bathrooms.
There might have been bathrooms for the use of the priests, or perhaps even for the use
of the people who kept the church gleaming. But there were no bathrooms for little girls
with bladders which reacted to "confession" by going into spasm.
It's hard to look nonchalant when there is pee running down your leg. It's hard to act
innocent when you are standing in a puddle and your socks are wet.
Eventually it was my turn to enter that little black box. I would kneel down, Father
would slide the little window open and I would begin my weekly litany: "Bless me,
Father, for I have sinned...it's been one week since my last confession..." Then I
had to list my sins. In all the years of Friday confessions, they were always the same: I
disobeyed my mother and father, told three lies and fought with my sister. The priest
would give me a penance--generally 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Maries. I would go out into
the church, kneel in one of those highly polished pews, say my prayers, and go home, my
soul cleansed of the terrible sins that only a 3rd grader can commit.
It was always a relief to know that if I were to die at that moment, it would be a
straight shot into heaven.
I grew older and sins got more interesting. I also stopped wetting my pants while
waiting to enter the little black box. But I always had that sense of great relief when I
left, knowing that I'd left my sinful past behind and could move forward and do better the
With all the changes in the church, they also changed confession. Gone was the
anonymous black box. Now you were supposed to sit in a lighted room, face to face with the
priest and discuss your sins. I never went. If I was going to confess my sins and get
absolution, I wanted it to be anonymously, in the little black box where nobody could see
I felt like I was stepping into the black box again yesterday when I talked about the
problems I had with food over the weekend. I confessed to all of you and you've been so
very generous in your response, both in the guest book and by e-mail.
Today I got back on track again. I went to WeightWatchers and, not surprisingly,
discovered I'd gained 1.2 lbs. Coulda been worse. It was a wake up call, and today I've
been religiously journaling my food intake, and eating only what I should.
I feel like I'm sitting in one of those highly polished wooden pews heaving a sigh of
relief and saying my penance, determined that I will never sin again.
Best of all, I didn't pee in my pants.
(If I wanted a good incentive to get back to eating right and back to the club, my
cholesterol results arrived right on time....Remember that in the first months of this
diet, I went from 215 to 166? The result of my last cholesterol, drawn a couple of
weeks ago, arrived in the mail today and was 145!!!)