Penance on a Dare


Brad entered the cathedral late Wednesday afternoon on a dare. He was undergoing the same programmed scepticism of University which many a Bible-raised youth encountered in the halls of academia and sophisticated doubt. His fraternity buddies knew that he had been raised Baptist. They had made it a part of his hazing that he should enter the largest Catholic church in the downtown and undergo confession, and then report.

Once inside he was struck by the colour and beauty of the stained glass, the subdued lighting, the respectful quiet, the smiles from complete strangers. He saw them sitting in the first two pews and disappearing at intervals through the three oak doors.

People on either side of Brad were kneeling in silence with faces directed forward and down. In ten minutes Brad's turn came and he tried to remember the dialogue which one of his frat buddies had related:

"Father forgive me, for I have sinned. It has been ten months since my last confession."

"Yes, my son, what is it that you would like to tell me?"

"For the past three successive Friday evenings I have had sex at parties with the same girl from my Philosophy class."

"And what has been her reaction?"

"She continuously appears happy to see me, but then her eyes become distant and the talk strained. She frequently looks around to see if others are watching us. I conclude that she is not happy about what has happened."

"Would you like to continue to see her?"

"I think so, but this has to be cleared up."

"Are you prepared to apologize to her?"

"Yes, I am meeting her off-campus for lunch on Friday."

"My son remember that the scriptures tell us that the Lord was tempted in all points as we are during his earth walk but without sin. This means that he felt the pull of lust, ill temper, boasting, retaliation, conformity and other shortcomings. But He knew that a much more victorious, enduring life awaited His obedience. And he chose to obey. You can do that now... say seven Hail Mary's, apologize as discussed, and mean it, and you are absolved of your sin."

Brad left the peaceful sanctuary in semi-shock. All that he had chosen to tell the priest was true (except that he was not Catholic). His family would be stunned at the development. Imagine, asking a man for absolution. Speaking to a celibate about matters of sex. Darkening the door of "the great harlot Mother Church". Doing it all on the prompting of some godless college chums.

But the confession and the teaching had helped. Did he really need this fraternity connection, anyway?

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