Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
This weekend I went to confession at a parish near my son's soccer game. I am weird that way, I seek out parishes away from home for my confession obligations.
Anyway, I went to a parish. Nice enough looking Church with the standalone wood confessionals.
I picked a pew a few rows up from the confessional at the back of the Church to prepare and wait my turn.
A lady came into the Church and stood right near me but closer to the confessional, clearly not intuiting that I was waiting my turn.
So she is standing maybe 8 feet from me when her cell phone rings. Of course, she answers it. As loud as can be, she says...
"HI! WHAT? NO NOT YET? WHAT? NO. I WILL LATER."
An older man that had already gone to confession and praying his penance on the other side of the Church turned around and stared in disbelief. For my part, I sat there thinking thoughts that I would need to add to my confession.
"HEY!! I AM AT CHURCH RIGHT NOW. LISTEN, I WILL CALL YOU BACK LATER. OK. TALK TO YOU LATER. BYE-BYE!!"
I got up and stood along the wall next to the lady so that everyone else would know I was waiting. Soon after, a woman exited the confessional and stared in disbelief at the lady for how loud she was.
Cell-phone lady entered the confessional just as another woman lined up behind me. At this point, I am probably twenty-five feet from the confessional when I hear...
"BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED, IT HAS BEEN ONE MONTH SINCE MY LAST CONFESSION!!!!"
I mean as loud as a jackhammer. The old man across the Church turned around again in disbelief. This time, getting to his feet and quickly scurrying out of the Church.
The lady behind me on line just stared at me as I stared back at her. Her eyes had a look of slight panic as if they were saying "What do we do?"
I move another 15 feet along the wall further away from the confessional and she followed me. But it made no difference. This lady was so loud it seemed she rejected the idea of the priest acting in persona Christi and was determined that heaven should hear her confession directly.
As she began to go through her sins, I did what any third grader would have done in this situation. I pressed my fingers to my ears and began to hum. The lady behind me also put her fingers to her ears although I can't say for sure whether she was humming because my humming of the "Meet the Mets" made discerning her chosen tune, if any, impossible.
Fortunately, for as loud as the lady was, she must not have been very bad as her confession over quickly. I mean I give her the benefit of the doubt that she wasn't very bad even though her ability at self-evaluation and introspection were clearly in doubt. Either way, her confession was over.
I entered the confessional and in the most sotto voce ever said 'Bless me father, for I have sinned..."