I left the hotel hurriedly in a taxi on my way to the airport. It was then that I realized that I had sinned deeply and severely the night before.
This was in no doubt a mortal sin. I had succumbed to temptation and been led astray by the devil. The horror of the situation filled me with dread and a cold sweat started trickling on my forehead. What if the worst were to happen and I was suddenly face to face with my Maker, my Creator, and my ultimate Judge?
The taxi drew past a church and I asked the driver to stop suddenly. I paid him off and rushed into the building. Suddenly, missing the plane didn’t seem to matter any more. It was Saturday and the chances are there would be Confessions in progress.
I was fortunate. A dozen or so people were waiting their turn to enter the old fashioned Confessional.
I waited with them and could only think of one sin. My mortal sin of the night before! The dark blot on my soul leading me to eternal damnation unless it is wiped clean once again.
How could I succumb to such sin once more? The shame and humiliation of it all played over in my mind time and again. I could see myself sinning vividly at Satan’s feet. And now I had to tell the priest all about it.
Eventually my turn came and I knelt down by the thick curtain hiding my Confessor.
I confessed my hideous sin leaving no detail unsaid. I told him exactly what had happened and how I succumbed to temptation and how I needed absolution.
When I finished, somewhat relieved off the heavy weight on my soul, the voice behind the curtain said, “Yo no hablo Ingles!”
In my hurry to confess my mortal sin I had forgotten that I was on a business trip to Spain.
This was a Spanish church with a Spanish priest, and he does not speak English, and he has not understood a word I said, how can he possibly forgive me my sin?
How could I mime my sin from behind the curtain? And would he understand me if he saw me re-enact it? Are some sins so international to be easily understood in any language?
I did what most English people do when abroad and not understood. I repeated every word again slowly and very loudly. Somehow, there’s a tradition amongst us British that if we speak slowly and loudly we would be understood universally by everyone.
Eventually, the Spanish priest repeated in an equally loud voice, “Yo te perdono! Yo te perdono!”
I said, “Muchas Gracias” and left the church before waiting for absolution and penance.
Not satisfied with a half-hearted Spanish Confession, as soon as I arrived back home I thought I’d make doubly sure and get a proper absolution from an English speaking priest; albeit our priest has a Scottish accent, but I forgive him that.
I told him about my Spanish mortal sin. I explained that the night before I left Spain, whilst in my hotel room, I was so tempted that I succumbed to temptation itself.
I took a chocolate from the little ice box they have in some hotels. I really enjoyed that chocolate.
The following morning, when asked by the receptionist whether I had used the ice box, I had forgotten about the chocolate bar and I said “No!”
It wasn’t until I was in the taxi heading for the airport that I realized I had technically stolen from the hotel and committed a mortal sin.
The Scottish priest laughed at my face and did not give me absolution. Luckily, I had a Spanish absolution instead. I think!