Have you started on your Christmas shopping yet?
I know, I'm supposed to say 'holiday' shopping in the interests of inclusion and that's very much what I mean, but I revert to what I called it when I was a kid and we called it Christmas shopping.
In trying to explain to our two now adult children where their old man grew up, I realized some time ago that until I went to prep school for high school I didn't actually know anybody who wasn't a Roman Catholic. I'm pretty sure that wasn't by design. It's just everybody I grew up with were the same people I went to Mass with.
I always smile when I think of Monsignor Harding, whose first name I never knew (I may have been a full grown-up before realizing he undoubtedly had a first name. I just never heard it spoken aloud by anyone, that's for sure.) as he heard Confessions every Friday morning in the basement of St Peter Church which is where Sister Mary Jean marched all of us from Class 8-A on a weekly basis.
For the life of me, I couldn't understand what this woman thought we did all week that we had to confess every Friday. Sometimes, I actually made stuff up because I wasn't sure I had enough sins. Yes, I know now that lying about sin is, in itself, a sin, but I was thirteen and working on mysteries without a clue. I grasped the sanctity of the confessional and was scared silly at how dark it was 'in the booth' when I closed the door. For a moment, it was just me and God.
I could always sort of hear, but very muffled, Monsignor talking to the miscreant at the other partition and when I heard that window slide shut, I knew the drill: Monsignor was pivoting on his chair to my side, and was sliding open the door. Release the hounds....
Sign of the Cross and Bless me Father for I have sinned.
It has been one week since my last confession.
What would I say to him now? It's been decades, Monsignor; funny how time slips away, right? Hilarious.
Monsignor would always assure us eighth-graders that when he exited the Confessional, he could remember NONE of what had gone on inside and yet......on more than one occasion, when I'd offer 'I fought with my sister' or 'I was mean to my little brother', I could hear him sigh as he'd then say, 'Billy, you did that last week! Will you never learn?' And I'd straighten up on the kneeler and near-whisper, 'you said you don't remember this stuff outside the box!' 'Well, I don't,' he'd say.'Then how didja know it was me, then, Monsignor?'
He may still be working on an answer for that one, I guess because I don't ever remember hearing it.Perhaps another Christmas miracle? I meant holiday miracle.