Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"First Confession." Frank O'Connor

One-minute Review: Little boy, Jackie, goes to his first confession. In the darkness of the confessional, he is too short to see the priest and climbs up on the elbow rest on his knees. His worst sin? He planned to kill his grandmother, a religious fanatic. She once challenged the children for a crown to hold a finger in a candle flame for five minutes so they could experience what would happen to them in hell.

The priest turns out to be a pretty good child psychologist. When the boy falls off the elbow rest, his sister Nora cuffs him on the ear and the boy tells the priest he tried to kill Nora in addition to his grandmother, but he missed. The priest’s response? Someone will try to kill her and he won’t miss. As for killing his grandmother, “Lots of fellows I saw [hanged] killed their grandmothers too, but they all said ‘twas never worth it.”

For that list of planned murders, the boy received a penance of exactly three “Hail Mary’s.”

The boy leaves the confessional relieved and Nora is jealous that the priest accompanied him on his way and gave him some candy. Nora’s comment? “ ‘Tis no advantage to anybody trying to be good. I might just as well be a sinner like you.”

Comment: If you have been raised a Catholic, the story is even more fun to read. RayS.

Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989.

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