Sin: The act of violating God’s will. Can also be viewed as anything that violates the ideal relationship between an individual and God; or as any diversion from the perceived ideal order for human living. To sin has been defined as “to miss the mark”. – Wikipedia.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – Roman 3:23

He is my last caller for the day, and my trained ear makes him out to be a teenager.

“Bless me Father, it is my first time.

His voice shakes as he speaks, mirroring his internal turmoil. Over time I’ve noticed it is usually harder for first timers, so I try to make it as easy as possible for them. I encourage and empathize, but never judge.

“Talk to the Lord son, cast it all on him and He shall set you free. There is no shame before Him, He is Lord remember, and has seen it all.”

The friendly tone is for his benefit, to put him at ease. There is a slight pause, during which I imagine him debating with himself how best to verbalize whatever debauchery he has been involved in. On some days I try to guess what exactly the sin is before they say it themselves. Today is not one of those days, and I patiently wait for him to find his voice again.

“I accuse myself of lust and masturbation. For these and all the sins of my past life, especially for my sin of lust, I am truly sorry. I looked upon the naked body of my elder sister while she slept and was tempted to pleasure myself… ”

His voice trails off.

“I understand, and He does too. Perform penance my son, so that the good Lord may look on you with pity and take the burden away from your heart forever.”

He is barely audible as he replies.

“I am ready Father, teach me what to do.”

I push a rolled up piece of paper on which a prayer for penance has been typed through the grille of the confession booth.

“Here son, read that aloud and the Lord will take away all your sins. He will pardon your indiscretions and make you whole again.”

He snatches it from my grasp impatiently, and immediately starts to read. His voice is stronger now with new life, and hope.

“O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, and I detest all my sins, because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend thee my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.”

“Amen my son. He has heard your supplication, and your plea for mercy. I pray the peace of God be with you as you go now and sin no more.”

“Thank you Father, thank you for everything.”

Relief oozes from him as the burden of guilt lifts off his soul like an aircraft seeking the sky. My job is done, and I listen as he gets up to open the door of the booth and walk away. He leaves the door open, and the sounds of his shoes on the stone floor progressively become fainter as he goes further down the hall.

Finally all is quiet.

I sit back and smile to myself because I know he will soon be back, a victim of his own humanity. The open door he leaves behind is not a mistake, but a subconscious and symbolic admission of his helplessness. Sin is an alluring mistress, and once you drink from her sweetened cup, it takes grace not to return for another gulp. Very few men have that grace. That I know, because I am a man.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

The big wall clock signals the coming of midnight from its perch high above the bookshelf.

It is time and I am dressed and set for work, as my rubber soled shoes and dark tight clothing will testify.

My gloved hand bumps against steel as I rummage inside the backpack for a piece of paper, a modified copy of the prayer sheet I gave to the boy earlier in the evening. I soon find it and bring it out, the light from the lone low wattage bulb above providing just enough illumination for me to read the fine type.

“O my God, I am heartily sorry that I’m about to offend thee…”

He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone!


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