My First (and Second) Confession

Photo by Emilio Labrador

There was a glitch somewhere along the way to my Confirmation, but I wasn’t about to let it keep me from finishing catechism if I could help it.

As a young Catholic who usually only attended church on Christmas Eve, I hadn’t noticed that half my grade had completed their First Confession one year, the other half had done it the next, and I had somehow been left behind. Who knows? I probably had forgotten to return a form.

The years went by, and my catechism class began training for our Confirmation. I hated Saturday morning catechism and wanted out. Confirmation was the way to make that happen.

Our priest mentioned that we needed to go to confession the night before the ceremony to be pure for Confirmation (assuming we wouldn’t sin during the night, I guess). I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t had my First Confession, and I was afraid I would have to stay back and repeat a year of catechism if I fessed up. I kept my mouth shut.

My older brother, who was my sponsor, drove me to the church for confession. When I told him what was going on, he insisted I had to tell the priest the truth.

I lined up for the confessional and whispered with a friend from school who lined up behind me.

“So, what do I say again when we go in there?” I asked nonchalantly. He filled me in on the secret rites.

Into the booth I went, feeling scared. The priest slid back the little door, and I jumped, startled.

“Tell me your sins, my child.”

“Uh, bless me Father, for I have sinned…. It has been, uh, three months since my last confession, and these are my sins….” I owned up to a few lies and a few dishonorings of my mother and father.

I wasn’t being cavalier. I was riddled with Catholic guilt. (I still am, and I’m not even Catholic anymore.) I was just scared about telling the truth. Well, that, and the thing about not wanting to repeat a year of catechism.

The priest gave me a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys for penance. I knelt and said them and met my brother by the car.

“So, what did he say?” my brother asked.


“The priest.”

“What d’ya mean?”

“The priest! What did he say about it being your First Confession?”

“Uh, nothing really….”

I may have been able to lie to a priest behind a screen, but I couldn’t pull off lying to my brother to his face.

“You didn’t tell him!” He made me go back in.

Now I was really scared. I got in the back of the line, Jesus staring down at me from the cross. My friend came out and knelt for his penance and gave me a questioning look about what I was doing back in line. I shrugged, like I had no idea what was going on.

The screen slid back, louder this time. I jumped, higher this time.

“Tell me your sins, my child.”

“Uh, bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been … about five minutes since my last confession, and, well, I lied the last time I came in here.” I told it all.

He didn’t even seem that shocked.

After a few more Our Fathers and Hail Marys, I was pure at last.


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About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
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38 Responses to My First (and Second) Confession

  1. How funny! *I* probably would have found a way to sin during the night.

    Don’t remember much of church growing up, except at Christmas we had a mitten tree. All the children were to bring in mittens that were hung on the tree and later removed to give to “needy children.” (In retrospect, they probably needed a hell of a lot more than mittens, but…) Anyway, the tree was always HUGE, a good 30-40 feet tall, and since kids don’t grow that tall, only the bottom 3-4 feet had anything on it. Offended my aesthetics. I remember once making my dad put me on his shoulders so I could put MY mittens higher up.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted..I Could Care Less and Other Things That Literally Bug MeMy Profile

  2. I tried to add the memoir button above to a post in my blog….but it wouldn’t work.
    I enjoyed the post. I am not Catholic but I am a teacher.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I LOVE this memory. Two first confessions, that’s awesome. I think it’s great that you made your way back for the second one minutes later and admire your brother for getting you there. I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a memory… this is a tough one! In addition, my mother reads my blog! I have no idea what to write yet, but I’ll have it by the end of the weekend. I love these prompts (and your blog)!
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  4. Ammie says:

    I can totally see this playing out! You did the right thing!
    Ammie recently posted..Our Thanksgiving FeastMy Profile

  5. Rahmath says:

    Hi Marcy,
    Loved the post.I can see an younger version of you in your brother’s car.Its written so well. 🙂
    I have added a link, but i have no idea whether i did it right as this is the first time i am doing it.I have back linked to this page but i did not understand what you meant about ‘grabbing a button’. Could you hep me out please?????

    • Marcy says:

      You did it right–no need to grab the button. (It meant to copy and paste the picture that says “Scene from a Memoir” and link it to my post. There should be an easier way, but I couldn’t get the code to work.) Your text link is working fine, though.

      I loved your post! I left you a message on your site, but I wanted to thank you here for linking up.

  6. Rahmath says:

    BTW, the “It has been … about five minutes since my last confession, and, well, I lied the last time I came in here.” was hysterical.I am amazed the priest did not say anything.
    Rahmath recently posted..The Begining of the JourneyMy Profile

  7. Man, as a Catholic myself, I am familiar with that kind of fear. I went to confession in college to assuage my guilt about cheating on my boyfriend, and when I went in, there was no screen! We had to talk face to face!! Oh, man. That was one of the most stressful five minutes of my life–he asked for all the details!! Hallelujah, glad that is over 😉

    Great post, made me laugh remembering. Sounds like a great link up! And thanks for sharing this with us at Rub Some Dirt On It!
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  8. sammy says:

    Marcy you really do have a way with words – this made me laugh out loud! Can’t wait to read more of your memoirs!
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  9. Liz says:

    Thanks for submitting this to the Carnival of Creativity. It’s posted at Thanks, and submit again!
    Liz recently posted..NaNoWriMoMy Profile

  10. Shannon says:

    OK, I laughed out loud at this. I was raised Catholic myself (and I’m no longer practicing either), so this was SO familiar. I don’t think I ever, EVER told the truth in a confessional. I simply said a few innocuous things, finished up with “I lied numerous times” (which I figured covered the lies by omission), and left all holy. The only difference is none of my siblings would have made me go back in and ‘fes up. They would have told me how to beat the system. 😉
    Shannon recently posted..CHRISTMAS CHARITY CRAFTINGMy Profile

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  12. “And uh I lied” That priest had to be holding his breath not to laugh behind the screen.
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  13. May says:

    I am so impressed with your brother insisting you do the right thing though it wasn’t the easy thing.
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  15. Patty says:

    Having been raised a Catholic and educated in a strict parochial school environment, I recall those Friday afternoons when we were marched into church for weekly Confessions. We were children, most not guilty of any major sinning but we had to confess..something. I mean, we never missed Sunday mass, attendance was mandatory each week at 9 a.m. and no excuse was ever tolerated.

    So, what to confess?

    We made things up, lies mostly and never realized that we were sinning to justify a confession.

    “It’s been one week since my last confession and I, uh, stole an eraser from someone.”
    “I said a bad word.”
    “I forgot and ate meat on Friday”…THAT one would result in both a lecture and a list of Hail Marys if not the entire Rosary.

    Thinking back, there was a great deal of stress back then, trying to stay both pure and holy. And, to a young child, that Confessional booth itself was a formidable place.
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    • Marcy says:

      I remember feeling good after my confessions and thinking it was because my wrongdoing was forgiven, and that was part of it I’m sure, but now I mainly think the good feeling was relief at the stressful confession being over.

  16. I laughed my way through this. I’m not sure if I should have, though. I feel kind of guilty…You are a wonderful story teller:)
    Jennifer Worrell recently posted..Cocky Eighth Grader Gets Taken Down a Notch by a Horse Named “Peaches”My Profile

  17. Masala Chica says:

    I would have done exactly the same thing as a kid. Love that your priest didn’t raise a brow and just let you be the innocent child that you were, with a few more penances 😉

  18. Marcy, this is my first visit. I headed over from She Writes. This is hysterical. As a “recovering” Catholic, I can soooooooooooo relate. After leaving Catholic school in the third grade, and hating Saturday morning catechism like you, my mother finally gave up trying to push me there and I was never confirmed. But that Catholic guilt never goes away. So glad I’ve made your acquaintance. I’ll be back.

  19. Azara says:

    I love that second confession. I was such an earnest child that I would have been in that confessional for hours every week, confessing to every minute thing I could think of! Good thing I was raised Mennonite rather than Catholic.

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  21. Haha, I relate to that, even though I’m not Catholic. When I was a kid I would tell a lot of lies without even knowing why. I like to think I was creative, but mostly I was afraid of adults and displeasing them.
    Natalie – The Cat Lady Sings recently posted..Fiction: Roses for EliseMy Profile

  22. Aisha says:

    LOL I might not be muslim today if I wasn’t raised catholic! Your story reminds me of my first confession, too – the dark closet, the little window, the fear… wonderfully evocative story!
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  23. Shailaja V says:

    I kind of get what you mean when you say you moved away from it. I am not Catholic, I am a Hindu, by the way. And as the years evolved, I grew more spiritual and philosophic and less religious. The idea of fear tying you to faith is not something I could come to terms with, once I was old enough.

    Popping over from Moonshine Grid
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