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Growing Up Catholic in the Twentieth Century. S. P. Perone

Excerpt: Growing Up Catholic in the Twentieth Century. (2021)

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been half-an-hour since my last confession.”
“Excuse me. Did you say half-an-hour?” Father asked.
“Um … yes, Father,” I replied, not volunteering any more, hoping he would move on.
But that was not to be.

“Why do you feel the need to return to confession after only half-an-hour?” he asked curiously.
Sweat trickled down my back as I struggled to respond. “Father, I … I’ve had impure thoughts.”
List the sins. Don’t embellish, I told myself.
Father McConnell was mellow. I thought he would be okay.
I was so wrong!

“How did this happen, my son? What was it that brought on these impure thoughts?”
Oh shit! I thought. Father wants the whole story.
“It was … um … because of this girl I know, Father.”
“What do you mean? Was she here? In church? Or were you just thinking about her?”
“She was here, in church, Father." Please don’t ask any more!
No such luck.
“Did she do something to distract you? Or excite you?”
“No, Father.” I was sweating profusely now. My undershirt was soaked.
He paused, waiting for more….

I had never gotten a whole rosary for penance before … He had probably never heard someone do two confessions within half-an-hour.
I’m lucky he didn’t tell me to spend the next week on my knees in church.

Back at my pew, I knelt and … looked up at the statues of Mary and Saint Joseph, pointedly displayed on opposite sides of the church. How did he do it? I thought. How did Joseph lead a chaste life while married to the beautiful Virgin Mary?
It was a mystery that my muddled fifteen-year-old mind could not understand.

I was no Joseph.

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