|The Confessional (standard:Suspense, 691 words)|
|Author: hayfoot||Added: May 21 2011||Views/Reads: 2164/0||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|At the entrance to a church, an older priest encounters a well-dressed man of indeterminate age. The priest, who is about to hold confessions, invites the well-dressed man to a confessional. What was said between the two is kept from the reader by the sea|
It is late afternoon on a spring day. Daylight is beginning to show signs of fatigue as an old priest makes his way to his church. Like him, the church is getting on in years but neither is ready for the ease of retirement or a lengthy restoration. Such a restoration, of course, would likely change the character of the cozy old church. The priest enters the church, as he has so many times, with awe and reverence but also with the knowledge that he is at the house of an old friend. The priest quickly makes his way to a confessional and as he does, he feels a presence. A young, well dress man has just entered the church and stands at the nave. Too well dressed, the old priest muses for these parts. The well-dressed visitor's eyes seem to take in every nook and cranny of the church but he doesn't take a step beyond the nave and stands off to the side of a holy water font. These eyes that seem to photograph are not the eyes of a young person, the old priest thinks to himself. Perhaps the “young man,” the priest observes, is not so young after all. However, he has no time for further reverie, it is time to hear confessions and that well-dressed man is the first that afternoon. He waves to him and invites him to a confessional. It is only after this invitation that the young-old man – the visitor – takes a step forward beyond the nave. Once in the confessional, the priest opens the small panel between the confessor and him. The “young man” speaks with a voice of command and pride – “I have committed many sins”. The priest hears “father” at the end of that statement – something not said by the “young man.” In a friendly tone, the priest tells the “young man” that the best way to begin is, well, to begin. “Tell me your sins, start with the first one.” “I had angels casted out from heaven.” “I caused the fall of man,” the young man says. I set off brother against brother; Abel's blood stains the ground because of me. Then there is that betrayal – all for 30 pieces of silver... The blood drains from the old priest's face. He has the Devil in his confessional! However, the priest is undaunted – he's made of sterner stuff – and faith. He challenges the Devil in his pride: “You were casted out of Heaven for your pride.” A rightful sentence for dishonoring the God who made you and once allowed you to be close to His Presence.” “You only tempted Adam and Eve, their sin was their own.” What looks like a flash of anger crosses the young man's face. The priest continues: Cain knew from right from wrong, he took his brother's life in anger but knowing fully that he was sinning. (And he repented, thought the priest, and fulfilled a harsh penance.) The story of Cain's repentance, his sorrow for having transgressed God's law, inspires the priest to offer something he thought would not be possible – offer the Devil the chance to confess his sins. The priest prays silently for guidance. He studies the young man's face. It is an ageless face with no sign of any softness or kindness but the prideful smirk he had when he boasted of his sins, was gone. The priest takes a breath and says, “Are you truly sorry for all your sins and for offending God? All my sins, the young man asks? All of them? Including my first? His face appears to show – it can't be – hope? The priest insists – “all”. With that the ray of hope turns into sadness which just a quickly fades. The Devil rushes out of the confessional, ashamed, perhaps, that he the First Sinner, came close to acknowledging that sin and many others as well. We will never know if the “young man” would have taken the steps that all us take we when are truly sorry for our transgressions – acknowledging our sins, feeling genuine remorse, resolving to sin no more, and asking for God's forgiveness. Tweet
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