It’s been a while; very busy year already but I trust you have been good. I thought I would share a story with you before the month of February ends (I cannot believe how quickly the year is going!). My last Bellanaija post can be found here and today my writing is titled:
THE LAST CONFESSION
It was the season of lent, a period of solemnity for Catholics. Adaobi was a staunch catholic or at least she came from such a family. Therefore, for her, this was a time to be in a ‘state of grace’ and holiness. Although she was a regular church-goer, she felt guilty for not going for confessions for over a year. The problem was not that she could not find the time to pour out her sins or a priest to absolve her from them but she did not feel comfortable revealing some of her deepest secrets to the parish priest, Father Joseph. Father Joseph was a nice and humble priest but he knew her family and thought the best of them. He also thought of Adaobi as a responsible, charitable, young woman with a strong faith in the Lord. It was his high regard for her that had made him entrust her with more responsibilities in the church including leading the Sunday morning mass readings, Bible studies on Wednesdays and counting the offering money from the congregation. She was also a member of other renowned church groups as well as the choir even though her voice was quite below mediocre. Father Joseph always sang her praises to his parishioners and even referred other young women to Adaobi whenever they seemed to be going astray from the Lord.
While one could have thought that these actions would have made Adaobi feel more at home in the parish, they almost had the opposite effect on her. She found herself pretending when she did not want to, attending church service where she was barely paying attention and receiving Holy Communion even when she did not feel worthy to do so. She only hoped that the Lord would understand and not punish her too hard for her actions. She desperately longed for a confession as she had been carrying some heavy sins in her heart for over a year but could not bring herself to tell the parish priest. It was not that she thought her sins were unforgivable but she felt that her reputation was at stake in the church. Yes, she knew that priests were not allowed to judge people making confessions or even tell another person about them but she still felt that he would not see her in the same way if he knew what she was capable of. And so she had made up her mind to never confess to Father Joseph unless she was about to die and he was the only available priest.
The week before Easter came and her prayers seemed to be answered. Father Joseph had travelled to attend to some urgent family matters and a priest from a different church was in charge of Mass that day. There had been other guest priests visiting her church parish in the past but Father Joseph had also been present always and so would still be the one doing the confessions. This day was different as he was away and this new priest, who looked quite old, announced at the end of the church service that he would wait behind for anyone who wanted to confess. He was a funny, elderly man who claimed that he was partially deaf and so would not even hear most of the confessors, which was a good incentive for them to come forward. Adaobi decided to take this long awaited opportunity and sat behind in church after the service was over.
She was the first on the queue but she decided that she would go last because she had a lot to say and assumed that the new priest would give her a long list of things to do as penance for her sins. She remembered long ago when she had heard about some priests asking people to cut grasses or do hard labour as an act of penance. She did not mind and was willing to do anything to atone for her sins. Her only prayer was that the priest would not ask her for details of anything that she was going to tell him. Her turn quickly came and she went into the confession room.
“Bless me Father for I have sinned” she started while he began his prayer.
“It is now 18 months since my last confession.” She paused, waiting for a reaction but got none and so she continued.
“Since my last confession, I have not been very trusting in the Lord. I have told several lies and I have been disobedient to my parents.” She had decided to start with the lesser sins.
“I have also fornicated, not once, or twice or thrice. Actually, I have fornicated a lot especially last year with my boyfriend.” She took a deep breath before she concluded her confession.
“For these sins I have confessed and the ones that I have not (she whispered) and the ones I cannot remember, I am truly sorry.”
“Are you still together? You and your boyfriend” The priest asked.
“No, we have broken up now.” Adaobi replied, hoping that he would ask her no more about the topic.
“It is good that you have ended your ungodly relationship and returned to God. The good Lord has forgiven you so try not to enter such relationships again in the future.” He said.
The priest then gave her some short prayers for her penance to her surprise and then she was asked to say an act of contrition which she did. Afterwards, he prayed for her sins to be absolved and permitted her to go.
Just as she was about to leave, she added in a low voice “Oh, I also had to abort his baby which I was carrying after we broke up.” She paused and she heard the priest grunt although he did not say anything. She took his silence as a permission for her to continue.
“I also stole some money from the church offering to carry out the abortion.” The priest was silent.
“I am very sorry for that too.” She said.
He remained silent.
She hoped that he was not annoyed with her for almost starting a new confession after finishing one. After a few minutes of silence, she assumed that his partial deafness had returned and he probably had not heard her. So she repeated the latter sins a bit louder but there was still no response. It was then that she looked closer at him and noticed that he was no longer breathing. The new priest had died during her confession! Adaobi was confused; she ran out into the church but no other person was left there since she had been the last one to go in for confession. She did not want to be caught in the middle of a scene in the church and so she ran away. On her way home, she wondered if her sins had given the priest a heart attack and killed him but most importantly, she wondered if all her previous sins had been forgiven because she knew that she would never confess those ones again.
Thank you for reading and as usual, please leave your comments below and kindly share with friends. Have a blessed week and follow me on: