Monday, May 11, 2009


I was visiting California again, but this time I was alone. I had been there for about a week or so, and I thought that I should go to confession. I found the closest Catholic church, and was amazed at it's external beauty. When I went inside, I saw one of the most intricately beautiful and ornate interiors of a church that I've ever seen, and I was really surprised that the modern day American Catholics would let such a work of art dedicated to God remain standing. After gawking for a few minutes, I found the confessionals, and it so happened that I walked into the church while confessions were being heard. The older priest sat in a glass box so that he could see the line, while the penitent was in the confessional box, completely hidden from the rest of the church. However, they had a window with a curtain that they could open and close that faced the priest. You could only tell that there was a penitent in the confessional, because the priest would lean in to hear the confession, and the hands of the penitent were folded prayerfully and sitting on top of the windowsill.

I managed to get a look at the pastor -- I'd seen the face before somewhere, but I couldn't recall. He was a large man (stocky, not really fat) with white hair and a look that said he's fed up with the tolerance of today's people towards sin.

The other priest was without a confessional, but instead had a chair and a kneeler next to him, without a screen. He was much younger, and his hair was kind of shaggy and unkempt. He looked almost like a guy who had spent the first 25 years of his life being a roadie.

So I joined the line, and as both priests were occupied, I was mentally preparing myself. I was hoping to get the pastor, but the younger priest's penitent walked away first and there was no one behind me in line to wave ahead, so I went to the younger priest.

I knelt down and went through the usual process: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." And he cut me off.

He said, "Is that it? The only reason you came to confession?" I looked at him, being somewhat shocked, and he said, "Everyone makes mistakes. Is this your only mistake?"

I stammered back, "But, Father, I haven't even begun to tell you my sins -- I hadn't even told you how long it's been."

He said, "That's not necessary. You've told your sins to God. I don't need to hear them."

My jaw almost hit the floor. He couldn't be serious.

He was. He then got up and started walking around me, talking about the love of God, the power of confession to forgive sins, how only God has the power to forgive sins, and how God has bestowed upon His clergy the ability to forgive sins, and that this was just as good of a confession as him actually hearing all your sins.

Then he did something completely unexpected.

He asked me if I'd like to hear his latest song that he wrote. Somewhere out of the blue, he produced an old guitar, and began playing what sounded like an indie-acoustic song with mild Christian overtones. I don't know the words.

Then he did something almost-completely unexpected.

He started to dance.

I'm still kneeling on the kneeler.

He's dancing and singing.

I'm having a hard time choking down my laughter at the hippie around me singing and dancing.

He's still singing and dancing.

I look around the church to see if anyone else is as weirded out by this as I am. Aside from the old pastor who is still with his penitent, I'm the only other penitent in the church.

At this point, I woke up to find my alarm clock going off. It's an electric guitar playing music from the Metroid video games.