Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned

Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned

A Story by J.P. Paradise
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Boys will be boys, eh?

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The rain poured from the heavens upon on small village in County Kildare, relentless and unforgiving. It pounded against the church roof, sending torrents cascading down the limestone tiles and out through the mouths of weathered gargoyles. It thrashed down mercilessly upon the gravestones, beating sad-looking lilies into submission. Blackbirds sought shelter and chattered loudly from yew trees that stood sullenly in the churchyard.

The youth huddled in the porch, collar turned up to keep out the rain, though in truth it served more as a gutter, channelling large drips directly down his neck. He tried to fill his time waiting by smoking a cigarette. Large holes in the porch roof meant that he had barely managed to inhale a lungful before the roll-up went out with a hiss and fell apart. He stamped his feet, partly in frustration and partly to bring some life back into them. He heard the lychgate click and turned to see the priest hurrying up the path, cassock flapping beneath an umbrella turned inside-out by the wind.

“Foul weather we’re having, Father,” the youth greeted the priest as he reached the porch.

“Aye, though the Lord has his reasons for it no doubt,” the priest replied, trying to wrestle the umbrella shut and failing. He shook off the worst of the water and propped it in a corner, where it drained over the patterned floor tiles. “Have you been waiting long?” he asked.

“Not at all, Father,” the youth lied, despite being so obviously soaked through. “I couldn’t get in; the door seemed to be jammed.”

“It’s locked.”

“Locked you say, Father?”

“I’m afraid so,” the priest said in a weary tone, rummaging in many folds of his cassock for the heavy key, “in light of recent events.” He unlocked the door, pushed it open with a rusty creak, and ducked inside. The lad followed.

The weather lent a gloomy atmosphere that pervaded the building. Stained glass windows that normally glowed in the morning sun now appeared lifeless and flat.

“What events would they be then, Father?” asked the lad. There was no reply. The priest disappeared into the vestry and was gone for a few minutes. The youth thought it rude to follow or shout so he waited patiently, dripping on the time-polished flagstones. The priest returned, clutching a small, black bible and a rosary. He strode down the aisle, heading towards the confessional. The youth hurried after him. “What events would those be?” he said again.

The priest stopped. “Sorry; what events are what, son?”

“Why have you taken to locking the door?”

“Ah, yes, of course. A thousand apologies. But surely you will have heard by now. Someone came into the church last Saturday evening and took the altar wine.”

“Stole the wine, Father?”

“Aye. Stole the wine. Can you believe it now? Is nothing sacred? I mean, stealing wine from a church; it’s pretty low.” The priest leaned against the end of a pew. “The fear of God is no fear at all these days. Whoever it was forced open a locked cupboard in the vestry and took several bottles. Can you imagine how desperate and despicable someone must be to do such a thing? I’m just thankful it was only the wine and they didn’t try ripping the collection box out of the wall.” He shook his head, as though still trying comprehend what had taken place. “I’m sorry to go on like so, but I do tire of this common criminality. Now, how may I help you, my son?”

“Oh,” said the lad, “I’m here for confession.”

“Come on then,” said the priest and nodded towards the confessional. The youth hurried over and slipped behind the curtain of the penitent’s booth. He heard the creaking of the chair as the priest sat down on the other side of the grille. The lad knelt and waited. There was a rustling of fabric for a few long seconds as the priest made himself comfortable, a whispered prayer, and then through the grille he said, “Go ahead my son.”

“This won’t go beyond here, right?” the boy asked in a panicky voice.

“You know that your confession is completely confidential,” the priest answered, speaking softly and calmly.

“Are you sure now?”

“Of course I’m sure. How long have you been coming to confession now? This is between yourself and God.”

“That’s alright then, Father.”

“Good, so… go ahead.”

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession.”

“And what is the nature of your sin?”

“I did not come to Mass on Sunday, Father.”

“I noticed you were not there. And why did you not come to Mass?”

“I was ill, Father.”

“My son, being ill is not a sin. God does not expect the sick and the lame to come all the way to church. You can still pray from your bed and God will…”

“I didn’t pray because I was ill, Father,” the youth interrupted, “because I was hung-over. That’s why I didn’t come to Mass.”

There was a sharp intake of breath from behind the grille. “I see. So you confess to the sin of drunkenness and intemperance?”

“And the stealing, Father.”

“You have been stealing? The sin of theft? That is a grave matter indeed. Unburden yourself before God and explain the nature of your theft.”

“I got badly drunk on wine at a party at Ruirí’s last Saturday. I was on my way to the do but didn’t have no money for drink, an’ as I was passing the church I remembered the wine at Mass and where you kept it. So I nicked it. An’ I’m sorry an’ won’t never do it again.” The lad spoke rapidly, as though trying to off-load his guilt as quickly as possible. He fell silent and waited. He could hear  the clacking of the rosary and the priest muttering softly, presumably offering prayers up to God.

After a few moments the priest spoke in a harsh and measured voice. “You stole the wine from your own church? What were you thinking? Did you think no-one would find out? In a community as small as ours? What kind of fool are you?”

The boy began to reply but then thought better of it. He played with the toggle on the bottom of his jacket.

“Are you here to seek forgiveness or are you here to mock me?” the priest snapped. “Do you genuinely repent for what you have done?”

“I confessed, Father. It was only a couple of bottles of wine.”

“For the love of God! Have you no shame? How can I not say anything to your mother?”

“You said nothing would go beyond here,” the youth shouted.

“How dare you?” the priest hissed. “How dare you put me in this situation?”

“Me? Me?” the lad sneered. “You put yourself in this situation, Dad, so don’t judge me.”

And with that final outburst the youth rushed from the confessional and, pinching the umbrella from the porch on his way, stormed out of the church.

© 2021 J.P. Paradise


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Featured Review

The way this is written is so wonderfully detailed and the dialogue is chalk full of what these characters are like. I also really like getting my characters across in dialogue, it’s much more effective than just telling the reader what they’re like. I could see it playing out and the rainy day, not to mention that anger and anxiety in it was intensely palpable. Brilliantly written, I can’t wait to see more of your work!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

The way this is written is so wonderfully detailed and the dialogue is chalk full of what these characters are like. I also really like getting my characters across in dialogue, it’s much more effective than just telling the reader what they’re like. I could see it playing out and the rainy day, not to mention that anger and anxiety in it was intensely palpable. Brilliantly written, I can’t wait to see more of your work!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was wonderfully written and the details precise and defined visually. I literally felt I was watching a movie play out before me in words. Being a former alterboy I picked up on all the images and they really hit home to me. You really put in a lot of work into this writing because to me it appeared flawless and had perfect flow in the conversation between characters. It is a wonderful morality piece with biting wit and humor. Excellent job J.P. Continued success in your writing journey and again excellent job.

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

J.P. Paradise

1 Week Ago

Thanks for your kind words Carlos, they mean a great deal.
I do enjoy writing dialogue becaus.. read more

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Added on July 22, 2021
Last Updated on July 22, 2021

Author

J.P. Paradise
J.P. Paradise

Wiltshire, United Kingdom



About
Occasional writer, serial procrastinator.I write tales that are sometimes comedic, often tragic, and nearly always very dark. Bad things happen to good people, even worse things happen to bad people.. more..

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