As a child, I grew up with my brothers attending a Catholic school and Church. Back in the late 1950s, we made our First Holy Communion, at about the age of seven. Second grade. That’s pretty young, as I think back, and as I think about kids today. Just before the big day, we experienced the other Sacrament that goes hand in hand with it; our First Confession. Wow.
Confession is where you go to the priest, back then it was in the confessional, where you didn’t see the priest, and confess your sins and the number of times we committed the omission. At the time, the Catechism graphics that accompanied the sin was milk bottles. Just like we had our little morning milk break from little glass bottles. They were pictured with a few splotches on them, indicating venial sin. Those weren’t terrible, a white lie, talking back to your parents, talking smack about someone, those kind of minor offenses that marred our characters. A black milk bottle indicated a mortal sin.
I cannot imagine the horror Monsignor Aughney felt when a seven year old confessed a mortal sin. Mortal sins were the game changers, the show stoppers, the back the truck up, let me get absolution kind of sins. Adultery. Murder. Sinful Thoughts. Those were always such hot beds, the nuns mentioned adultery, but never explained it. Murder was easy, easily explained. Sinful thoughts might have been sexual in nature, I cannot see a seven year old sinning that way. At least, not one that has been raised in a household like we were raised.
Our folks were really good people, they worked hard, they sacrificed for us, they taught us about God. They did a good job. We all grew up ok, the usual bumps along the road. The old nuns would call kids out in the classroom sometimes, “Michael M., you need to go to confession!” It was always a boy, being chastised in class. Maybe a stockade would have been less embarrassing. I wonder if the nuns confessed when they beat the snot out of Michael M. for jacking around and talking during class. Any Sister Mary’s out there? Please comment below, just curious.
I no longer attend Mass or use confession as a way to cleanse my soul. I believe the term is “fallen away.” It’s ok, I know God loves me and Jesus saved me, and the Holy Spirit inspires me. I no longer think I need to be killed by the Communists in order to get to heaven. Martyrdom never appealed to me, but as a kid, we were taught about it early. In between offering up little inconveniences and collecting pennies and nickels for the Pagan Baby Fund.
That said, it doesn’t hurt me to “examine my conscience” once in awhile, and tell God I’m sorry for this or that. You can check yourself without having to leave the house. The Catholics still believe in the need for Confession and telling your sins to the priest. I give them straight to Jesus, who to me is the go-to guy for giving it to God. Or I can go direct. Either way, God forgives my indiscretions, whatever they may be. I still haven’t hit adultery or murder, so I’m relieved about that. I have no desire to do either, trust me.
As I got older, gossipping and assassination of character qualified as “murder of another’s character.” A stretch? Maybe, but it makes you think. Even now, being discourteous, being rude, cutting in line, screaming in a policeman’s face at a “rally,” these are all things we do that are not right or helpful to us or society in any way. Practicing discrimination is wrong. I don’t know what sin it is, I just know it’s wrong. Don’t do it. Say you’re sorry. Intolerance of anyone because of race, color, or creed isn’t just illegal in the United States, it’s a sin against humanity. We need to stop and ask forgiveness.
Disrespect for older people or anyone in authority falls under “Honoring they Father and Mother.” If you disrespect Mom and Dad, you will disrespect your elders and police officers. It’s all wrong. I still find myself thinking, “I respect my mother as my mother, so I’m not starting an argument with her over her negativity.” I choose instead to remove myself from the negativity. Problem solved, and I’ve been kindly quiet about it.
A long time ago, while the Babe and I attended Countryside Community Church, in Omaha, Reverend J. Keith Cook gave a sermon about the Ten Commandments. In my whole life, no one ever mentioned the Ten Commandments serve as the basis for all of our laws today. When you think about it, it’s true. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Honor your parents. Don’t want what your neighbor wants. Honor God, keeping his Day Holy. As a society, we haven’t done that in decades!
I’m going to switch gears here and work on my book homework for awhile, before Gavin gets here. Pizza’s on the menu for lunch, I’m going to let him make them if he wants. This Grandma loves that kid, to the moon and back. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful. Wash your hands! Wear a mask! Help me out, can’t meet my grandson in Colorado until we’re safer from the Coronavirus. Thanks for reading today. Think about how we can all be better citizens and souls. I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Be careful out there.