Sunday, December 27, 2009

Not Everybody's Memory Of Confession is a Good One

Here's What Joshua Remembers

Every priest is a sinner just like us, but as children, we relied on them to be Men of God, though we, in some sense at least, reserved for ourselves the opportunity to define what that meant. We did have a right to believe that we would not be abused, either emotionally or physically, and that right was not always minded. The scars left on young children that have continued to adulthood are sad, but there is redemption for us and for those who sinned against us. That is in fact, the Good News. Here is Joshua's vivid memory of a turning point event in his life, that has taken him away from something that he valued.
I was 10 years old the last time I went to confession as a Catholic. I, too, found myself adrift in the "sin" category. I wasn't a perfect child, but I was extremely well raised and disciplined by a loving grandmother. As such, and with Good Friday approaching, I sat down and "came up with" a few sins to confess - just for good form, you understand.

His name was Father Lalonde. I commenced my confession with the usual protocol: "Bless me Father for I have sinned. it has been X months since my last confession..."

I went on to describe my little invented sins: I disobeyed my parents a few times; I said "bad words" on occasion; I had been mean to my little baby brother a number of time.

Father Lalonde stopped me. "How MANY times?" he asked.

"I don't keep a list, Father," I explained. "My gran always says to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative."

"You should keep such a list," replied Father Lalonde. "Little boys like you are EVIL by nature, don't you see that? Jesus knows you are evil. That's why you must confess monthly, and KNOW exactly how often you have sinned, and what kind of sins you committed. If you don't, you will remain an evil boy and you will burn in Hell for all eternity."

I SO wish I was kidding. I am not. I left the confessional that day, never to return.

But I do - to this day - confess my sins directly to Jehovah on an "as needed" basis. And I receive absolution directly from my Lord and Saviour.

I have regretted for many years the "mistake" who was Father Lalonde. He single handedly drove a 10 year old GOOD LAD from the Romam Catholic Church.

Michael, I would completely understand if you were not to post this because it makes you uncomfortable. As I have explained to you personally, I would genuinely appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue with a Catholic priest in the "here and now". But as it is, Father Lalonde remains the "priest" that I think of whenever i think of "Roman Catholic priest". It IS a pity, I know. Bu

I suppose that is what happens when a good Catholic is subjected to spiritual abuse by a priestly troglodyte.
As adults, we are free to come to the Lord, but we are often not really free, as we have to live with the impact of old traumatic memories on our way of viewing things. There is healing for memories, and I have seen it used as part of a spiritual exercise, within charismatic circles, and believe in its efficacy. Our memories are of more import to our day to day living than we normally give them credit for.

For all the Joshua's of this world, who have been hurt by someone in the Catholic Church, I ask you to forgive all of us who claim to be Catholic, for our corporate responsibility in your pain. I join my own prayers with you for the healing of your memories, and for a new clarity to seek and find the truth of the situations that have troubled you all these years. The Body of Christ in incomplete as long as one of us is not in full communion with it. We shall not see the total communion of the Body of Christ in our own life times likely, but we can yearn for and work for

I also join you in praying for forgiveness for the Father Lalonde's of this world, and all those who have abused the authority given to them by the Church, for without forgiveness, we cannot be forgiven ourselves, as it says in the Our Father.

May God Bless Us all and bring us to unity in Him.

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