It was Saturday morning and Father Ignatius had just got out of the confessional when Benjamin hurried into the church and asked the priest “Father, would you hear my confession please?”
“Do I have to?” asked the priest.
“Hein?” muttered Benjamin, “I am sorry I am late Father …”
“It’s got nothing to do with your lateness,” answered the priest, then, looking around to see that the church was empty he sat down on one of the pews and invited Benjamin to do the same.
“The thing is,” continued Father Ignatius, “I know exactly what you are going to confess. Week in week out you come here and it is the same old sins.
“Let me guess. You’ve lost your temper with your wife … again. You’ve been impatient with your children and scolded them unnecessarily. And you gave the finger to drivers who cut you off on the road. Am I right?”
“Well …” Benjamin hesitated, “I gave the finger to only one driver. So it’s an improvement I think …”
“That is not the point,” continued the priest with a smile to show that he was not being over critical, “what I am trying to say Benjamin, is that when we come to confession we should be sorry for our sins and for hurting Our Lord, and we should resolve not to repeat our sins.
“If we come back every week with the same sins it means that we were not serious at the previous confession …”
“Or that we’re weak …” interrupted Benjamin.
“Yes …” agreed the priest, “and you’re not alone in this Benjamin. You’d be surprised how often people come confessing the same sins over and again … Sometimes I can guess the sins once I recognise the voice of the person kneeling at the confessional.
“Let me explain … do you remember when the people brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery and they wanted to stone her? When Jesus said let those with no sin throw the first stone, and when every one of them had left, He said to the woman ‘go and sin no more.’
“He did not mean do not sin any more sins ever throughout your entire life. Jesus knew that she, being human, being weak as you’ve just pointed out, will inevitably sin. We are all susceptible to sin.
“What Jesus meant is do not sin this particular sin any more because it will get you in deep trouble with the authorities and with God Himself.
“And that’s what I am saying to you. And to everyone who comes to the confessional for that matter. At the very least we should all make a serious effort not to repeat the sins we have just confessed and resolved not to sin again.”
“I understand …” mumbled Benjamin.
“And in saying so” smiled the priest, “I am not encouraging you to go out there and sin some novel new sins just to entertain me and to bring variety to the confessional!”
“Seriously though …” continued Father Ignatius, “we’re all sinners … even me as a priest would you believe. And in seeking God’s forgiveness we should at least try our hardest not to offend Him again.
“Now go in peace, you are absolved. That is unless you have some new serious sins which you want to confess!”
Benjamin went away feeling much lighter than when he came in and having learnt a real lesson at this most unusual confession.