Three sins we’d been told, three sins was the absolute minimum. Anything less was to think yourself better than others. To claim sainthood.
I was ten and it has been a busy month. With exams, homework and visiting to see Granny at the hospital, there had been no time to sin, in thought or deed.
Kneeling in the pew, waiting my turn in the confessional, I was panicking. ‘I was disobedient to my parent’ was my standby. After that I was stuck and my time was near.
Two priests were on duty that morning. Fr. O’Malley, the grumpy one, and Fr. Dowling, young and relaxed. There were three penitents in front of me. On a normal day I would get Fr. Dowling, but old Mrs Greene from the newsagents had been in with him for twenty minutes and showed no signs of emerging.
Lost in thoughts of what she could possibly be so guilty of, I suddenly found myself kneeling before Fr. O’Malley with only one sin to my name. Then inspiration struck!
‘I stole money Father,’ I lied.
‘I told lies Father,’ I said, truthfully.
My self-satisfaction was short lived. He sentenced me to three full rosaries.