Friday, 26 February 2010

Chocolate Sin.



Father Ignatius was at the supermarket pushing his trolley slowly from one aisle to the next and reading his shopping list as he went along. He rarely visited the confectionery counters but this time he made a special detour to buy a box of chocolates for Mrs Davenport, his housekeeper, whose birthday was the following day.

Just as he entered the aisle he saw one of his parishioners there standing a few feet away. He was a successful local business man and a regular in church every Sunday and at confession every Saturday morning.

The priest was about to greet him when what he saw next made him suddenly stop in his tracks and freeze on the spot.

The business man took a chocolate bar from the shelf and put it in his pocket. He then moved away nonchalantly as if nothing happened.

Father Ignatius faced a sudden dilemma. Should he confront the man and tell him what he did is wrong. This may well cause a scene at the store as the man may well deny any wrongdoing.

Or should he inform a member of staff about what he had just witnessed and leave the matter to them.

Or should he just do nothing. Look the other way. Condone stealing through his lack of actions.

As the man casually walked out of the store Father Ignatius decided to let matters rest. He walked up the aisle and bought an identical chocolate bar as the man had just stolen.

Two days later Father Ignatius was hearing confessions as he normally does on Saturday mornings.

He sat at his confessional, which was one of those old fashioned wooden cubicles where he sat in the middle, and on either side people would kneel and speak to him through a small aperture covered by a thick curtain so that he would not see who is kneeling there.



He often smiled to himself at the intricacies of these old contraptions.

“What is the point of all this secrecy” he asked himself, “when I can usually tell who is on the other side of the curtain by their voice?”

Father Ignatius had a good memory for faces and voices and more often than not he knew who was confessing their sins to him. He had his regulars turning up Saturday after Saturday seeking absolution and listening to his wise words before leaving with a much lighter heart to pray their penance.

“Even their sins are always the same …” smiled Father Ignatius to himself as he waited for his first parishioner to kneel by his side, “sometimes I could recite their sins for them … but then, they’d think I can read minds …” he chuckled silently.

“Well at least they’re a good lot generally … not terrible sinners most of them …”

About half-an-hour later the business man he saw at the store came for his usual Saturday confession. Father Ignatius listened attentively to him and noted that he had not mentioned the incident at the store.

After the man had finished talking Father Ignatius whispered quietly through the heavy curtain, “for your penance I want you to take this …”

And he handed him the chocolate bar he’d bought from the store through the heavy curtain dividing both men.

The man took the chocolate bar and mumbled quietly, “I don’t understand.”

“It is your favorite chocolate is it not?” asked the priest.

“Er … yes it is.”

“Two days ago I saw you pocket a similar bar in the supermarket … am I right?”

“Yes … Father …” mumbled the man after a short pause.

“You see my son,” continued Father Ignatius, “I wasn’t the only one who saw you steal that chocolate bar … God saw it too … I spoke to Him about it … and He asked me to buy you a similar chocolate bar …”

The man said nothing, feeling both ashamed and totally repentant in his heart.

“For your penance I want you to enjoy this chocolate bar,” continued the priest quietly, “but I also want you to promise that you will never steal anything ever again … is that a deal?”

“Yes Father,” mumbled the man behind the curtain.

“And remember … next time you do something wrong, I may not be there to witness it … and God alone may be the one seeing your wrongdoing …”

“Yes Father!” repeated the repentant man as the priest absolved his sins and sent him in peace to fulfill his penance.

22 comments:

  1. Fantastic!!!! You know chocolate is one of my downfalls...And actually this reminds me of a story when I was younger. My brother and I were sent to the store for mother when I was about 13, he was about 7. I was in line to pay for the food and as I noticed when we got home he had a candy bar. I was so taken aback that I told him that I didn't care how we did it but we were going to return the candy...It took us two days but we were finally sent to the store again and I made him return the bar in person to the check-out lady (not just replace in in the candy box...that's what he wanted to do). I think he and I both grew up that day! We really are very good friends and we have much to be proud of. Through this experience we learned about each other and learned a little more about who we were. It was a tremendous lesson for the both of us! Thanks' for the memories! Cathy

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  2. Hello Cathy,

    What a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    It's so nice to see you here again. I hope you're keeping well.

    God bless.

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  3. Good to see Fr Ignatius back again.

    Why did you have to go and mention 'chocolate' today? Isn't Lent hard enough!! :-)

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  4. Hello Miss Ellen,

    Oh I agree ... chocolate is a real weakness for many. I like Mars Bars, and Snickers and .... thinking of Lent.

    God bless you.

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  5. Fabulous! Your Fr. Ignatius could be another Padre Pio! I love his housekeepers name- Mrs. Davenport-I can just picture her in my mind-sweet, plump, gray-hair, and always frantically worrying about something.

    Great story!

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  6. Wonderful story Victor! Your imagery was fantastic; I could see the whole thing as it transpired and I was chuckling the entire time!

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  7. Great story! I love the irony of the penance. I also loved Cathy's story. What a great big sister!

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  8. Hello Deacon Pat, Anne, Daily Grace and Sarah,

    It's so nice to see you visiting again. I'm glad you enjoyed this story. I suspect it is difficult for a priest when he sees his parishioners doing wrong.

    God bless you all and thanks for your kind comments.

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  9. Oh I think most of us can relate to this story Victor, we all have experienced a similar experience as young people.....my grandmother walked a mile in a snow storm to return money to the cashier who had given her too much change, she thought the young girl would have to make up the difference in the till and she was worried about her. My grandmother was a lovely lady as I never forgot what she did that day.......:-) Hugs

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  10. Hi Bernie,

    What a lovely story and a lovely grandmother.

    It's nice to see you here. I hope you're keeping well.

    God bless.

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  11. Our Priest is a very Holy man, and I think he would do something like Fr. Ignatious. He would confront without harming the man's dignity.

    I'm happy to see Fr. Ignatious stories again. It seems you have many new followers. We'll look forward to their comments

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  12. Chocolate. Thank you Victor. Please don't mention it again until Easter Sunday.

    Great story!

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  13. Hello Maryellen,

    It is difficult when a priest sees wrongdoings and he has to act, or not, on it. I'll continue this theme in my next story about Fr Ignatius.

    I too look forward to reading the new followers' comments.

    Hi the Mother of this lot,

    I promise not to mention X until Easter Sunday. Have you noticed the increase of adverts on TV about X. Temptation is indeed X shaped.

    God bless you both Maryellen and Mother.

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  14. Hi Victor! I've been meaning to write you a comment for ages but I just never find the time. First of all does the name 'Sally" from Malta ring a bell? I'm her eldest daughter. Your brother Will often comes to visit our family. He's such fun. I remember him giving mum your draft copy of 'Reflections'. She loved reading it so much. In fact she was the one who sent me the link to your blog.

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  15. Hi Zen,

    Yes ... Sally and I correspond by email often. She wrote saying she enjoyed reading my book "Visions". I'm so glad you joined us here on this Blog. I hope to see you here commenting often.

    God bless you and your family.

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  16. Hi again Zen,

    I should have mentioned that your Blog brings a ray of Maltese sunshine to a very cold and still wintry Britain. Well worth a visit.

    Perhaps you could tell your readers about "Visions" some time.

    God bless.

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  17. This was funny! Imagine a priest catching a parishioner red-handed and not hearing him confess it. Making him eat the chocalate bar was so great. It must have felt like eating mud. Every time I sin I feel like a kid who got caught with her hand in the cookie jar;)
    The whole priest in the confessional thing recognizing who's there cracked me up. I know my priest knows it's me because I clean the Church, too and he knows my voice. No wonder I get so nervous when I go;)

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  18. Hi Mary,

    I never quite understood the secrecy of the confessional when the priest can recognise the voice anyway. I remember a confessional without a curtain. All that separated the priest from the parishioner was a small window with a metal grill on it. So both parties could see each other through the holes in the grill anyway.

    God bless you Mary.

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  19. “What is the point of all this secrecy” he asked himself, “when I can usually tell who is on the other side of the curtain by their voice?”

    What I do is go to a different parish than my own for confession...lol. Actually it was suggested by my parish pastor in one of his Sunday homilies. He said if anyone had trouble going to confession within the parish to just go to another. Even though I don't think any of my sins are anything out of the ordinary, I really feel more comfortable with the anonimity.

    This story reminded me as a teen I once stole a candy bar out of a store. Every time I recall that I feel really embarressed. How could I have done that? Shame on me.

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    Replies
    1. I like the idea of going to another parish, Manny. It also helps get a new perspective from another priest who does not know the person confessing.

      God bless you.

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