Back in the day when I was in Catholic school, it was mandatory to attend confession once a week. Every Friday without fail, Sister Mary Hitler would give us the fifteen minute warning to tidy ourselves up, have our confession letters ready, and line up against the chalk board for inspection. From there, she would walk the line back and forth three times while tapping each one of us on the head like in the game, “duck, duck goose” to see if everyone passed inspection. If anyone got “goosed” by Sister, they had to sit out confession and that was considered a cardinal sin in Sister Mary Hitler’s eyes. At that point, she made it her quest to make your life a living hell because her life was about to become a living hell because now, she had to answer to one of the “higher power” Sisters as to why all her kids didn’t make confession quota for the week. Yes, this was the slow death torture that filled our lives with, shame, lies and guilt which was also known as, the “Catholic way.”
Yes, I will be the first to admit that I was terrified to go to confession and talk to the “middle man priest” who told everything to Jesus. The best way to describe the way I felt going to confession was like Dorothy, when she went to go see the “Great Oz” in the movie The Wizard of Oz. Every week I would say to myself, “why can’t I talk to Jesus myself by cutting out the middle man? Why does this have to be so scary? And why do we have to follow these so called ‘proper etiquette’ rules just to go to confession?” This was something I never understood. Half the time that I attended confession, I made things up just to meet my “sin” quota for the week. Yup- liar, liar pants on fire; that’s all I ever thought to myself each time I left the confession booth and returned to my seat to repent my “fake sins” by saying two “Our Fathers” and three “Hail Mary’s”, that by the way never worked. I could remember one time sitting back in my seat and saying, “Dear Jesus this is bullshit, there’s gotta be a better way than this. If I don’t have anything to confess, why can’t we just have conversation?” But we weren’t taught to have conversations with Jesus, we were taught to wear the “Got Guilt?” shirt and wear it proud because guilt was the only way to Jesus. So for the most part, we all just did what we had to do to make it through. But some kids just couldn’t handle the heat. To some, this torturous task of weekly confession was like having electric shock therapy. And to be honest, I don’t know what was worse: confession or watching the way some of these poor kids suffered from the side effects that confession cursed them with. So as a kid I made a promise to Jesus and said, “Dear Jesus, some day it’s gonna be different, once I get the hell out of here.”
Well, after many years of wearing my “Got Guilt?” shirt, I decided that it’s time for a more realistic, “natural” type approach, which was just sitting down, pouring myself a glass of Jesus juice, and talking about my “true” feelings with Jesus. But before I began, I promised myself that I wasn’t going use the words, “God forgive me” and I refused to allow any of the poisonous statements that were told to me back in the day such as, “you can’t say that to Jesus” or “you should be ashamed of yourself for thinking that way” to my all time favorite which was, “you’re gonna go to hell for saying that” put a damper on my “sit downs.” Let me tell you, if I had a dollar for all the times I heard someone tell me I was gonna go to hell for saying how I sincerely felt, I would be a mult -millionaire. Once again, it was just another one of the “Got Guilt?” scare tactics that made me think that I was a bad person. Yup- I’m so done with the “Got Guilt?” thing.
The day I decided to live by my rule of, “no confession, just conversation” was the last day I ever confessed anything ever again. As I began to let out everything that was on my mind by using the “raw truth” as to how I felt, I began to feel better about everything in my life. And my conversations with Jesus were truly what they were, “happy hour.”
Today, I’m happy to say that ever since I have been doing happy hour with Jesus I burned the “Got Guilt?” shirt that I have been wearing since I was a little Catholic school girl who told lies in the confession booth and began to celebrate life guilt free. The days of playing “duck, duck goose” with Sister Mary Hitler and confessing my so called sins to the “middle man priest” are nothing more than one of my comical Catholic school stories that make great conversation pieces for happy hour.
“Got Guilt?” Well…it’s nothing that a little wine and conversation can’t cure. Cheers!