After a thorough examination of her conscience, an endless internal debate, Sara finally found herself kneeling in a small booth, facing her priest. They looked at each other through the screen.
Her church had been assigned a new priest who was recently out of seminary. It had been an adjustment for the congregation, but Sara liked that she could almost relate to her priest on a more personal level since he was only in his 30’s. It was this relatability that gave her the courage to confess her youthful indiscretions.
“I’ll admit it,” she said after the formalities were done. “I’m a church girl. I love singing in the choir. I try avoiding temptations. But I’m also a sinner.”
“How have you sinned?” he asked calmly, a slight note of sternness mixed with understanding.
Sara collected her thoughts and felt herself blushing. For the past few days, she had thought long and hard about this. She knew it would be humiliating telling her intimate secrets to a man of religious authority. Yet, it was something she felt compelled to do for the sake of her own morality.
“I’ve sinned sexually,” she breathed, her voice little more than a whisper.
“Go on,” the priest encouraged. “I understand. This is a difficult subject for most people, please, take your time and know that you are not alone in your struggles.”
“I bet you hear this a lot,” she sighed.
“I can’t discuss other parishioners. Though I can assure you, lust is the most common sin.”
Sara nodded, gathering strength. “In spite of all the things I do, I’m also human and I try hard to balance my hormones and curiosity. It isn’t easy.”
The words were ready to tumble out of her. The need to relieve her heart and soul of the burden was strong. She desperately craved forgiveness and absolution.
Sara gave the man an incredulous look. Here she was, revealing her innermost sins to this man, and all he could say was, ‘Go on.’ To make matters worse, the look on his face was now passive too, his eyes cast down at the door as if he had something better going on.
It dawned on Sara that this man, young when compared to other priests, must be accustomed to hearing intimate details of a person’s lust and desires.
So she continued, this time with more confidence behind her words.
“I have sinned,” Sara bluntly admitted. “Not in my heart, but with my flesh.”
This was enough to capture the man’s attention, luring him out of his passive state to look at Sara through the thin screen.
“Have you?” he asked rhetorically.
Sara forced it out. “With my English professor. It stopped at the end of last semester. That doesn’t change the fact that it happened. I’m still technically a virgin. But we did other things…”
Her voice had trailed off.
“Go on,” he said again.
The lack of empathy was surprising to Sara. She at least expected to be told that this was normal, that she wasn’t a sinner, that she was still a good person. But she got none of the responses she came for. Instead, she saw the priest’s stone expression staring back at her through the screen. She considered ending this and sparing herself further humiliation, but she yearned to free herself of the burden.
“To my dying day, I’ll never fully understand how it all began,” she tried explaining the best she could. “I wanted to remain pure for my wedding night. I don’t blame my professor. I can only blame myself.”
“Nothing just happens. We are born with free will and we make our own choices in life. You chose it. Your professor chose it, too.”
Sara was taken aback by an onslaught of emotions. Had this priest officially condemned her? Was he trying to say that she committed a mortal sin? Was he being supportive of her or not? One part of Sara wanted to burst into tears, the other part wanted to storm out of the booth and run home, but she remained on her knees and resisted fleeing.