Saturday, March 2, 2013

Good Catholic Girls: Part 1


Forgive me father for I have sinned.

I can’t really describe what the ritual of going to church brought into my life.  It made me a part of something bigger than myself.  As a kid I’d kneel in pew and hold my hands together in prayer.  I’d bury my eyes in my palms and I’d start to see pretty patterns and stars.  It was my own personal kaleidoscope behind my eyes. 
I was baptized as a baby.  In second grade I got my first communion, which was preceded by my first confession.  This is when the guilt started I think.  I started at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in sixth grade.  While my friends had six classes a day, I was stuck in a single classroom with the same students all day.  As a sixth grader I wore a button up blouse, green plaid pleated skirt, and a Girl Scout style green tie.  This was very similar to fifth grade with the only exceptions being the uniform and religion studies.  I went to years of Sunday school and now I had to learn about religion for an hour a day. 
Irredeemable sinner
            One day my teacher was out sick and the school wasn't able to find anyone to substitute our class.  The principal opted to substitute for our teacher, she had taught sixth grade for years before being promoted to principal.  That days lesson was supposed to cover the importance of confession and the effect that sin has on the soul.  The principal drew a large blob on the blackboard and said, “this is your soul.”  She shaded in a small portion of the blob and said, “This is what happens when you sin.  Sin is like a mark or stain on your soul.”  Then she erased the shaded portion leaving the untainted blob and said, “When you go to confession and you’re forgiven, you’re sins are erased from your soul and you’re clean.”  A student raised their hand and said, “But what happens if you don’t go to confession, what happens to your soul then?”  The principal shaded a portion again, and then another portion, then another until about a third of the blob was dirtied with chalk.  “This is your soul when you don’t go to confession.  The sins keep piling up dirtying a new part of your soul.”  The principal erased the dirtied portion of the blob and a piece of the blob with it.  “When you sin repeatedly and you don’t go to confession you’re soul keeps getting dirty until eventually you lose a portion of your soul.  And if you still don’t go to confession your soul will continue to dirty with each sin and eventually you won’t have a soul.” 
            So there I was at 11 years old, without a soul.