Dear Father Flanagan

Forgive Me Father, For I have sinned, and this is my confession.

I go to the same mass weekly, and I must say, I give a cheer of gratitude to God now when I see you there, as I know I understand your accent, you speak with a non-monotone tempo, you smell good, and we’re about the same age, although I’ve probably got you by 10 years.  I’m often hopeful that the group of priests is going to relate the homily to something that I can apply in my life, instead of a dissertation published in a catholic journal by a priest more out of touch with contemporary issues than the Ronald Reagan era appointed Supreme Court justices.  Honestly, mass and homilies at Holy Spirit are becoming painful.  Father Ricardo got it.  I would sprinkle myself with holy water, say the sign of the cross, and say, “Thank God” when he was there.  Things got really exciting the week we all thought he was holding a gun under his vestment, but instead it was a Burger King crown, or the time he told us that he had received a death threat from someone and he reminded us that he was from the “South Side”.  I was hooked and shouting “Amen!”

Your homily on Sunday really struck a chord with me and I was optimistic that your insight might indeed provide some relevance to my life.  I still feel like I’m listening to my little brother tell me what to do, but I believe you may have “lived a little”.  I hope your Homily meant to imply that we should go to confession more often rather than seeking out medical treatment, especially in light of the economy.  And that, my friend, was met with an “AMEN”.

As for the “proper” confession, I’m not into the face to face thing these days, unless it means I get to rest on my back on a couch and get prescription drugs afterwards, just as you referenced on Sunday.  The bad news/good news though is that I have a disease called Ménière’s disease which causes me to get dizzy frequently, sometimes when I am driving my kids around in my 2002 minivan reaching speeds of 80 mph!  Initially we feared it was a brain tumor, but I’ll get to live my life out fully with this incurable diagnosis.  Fully dizzy.  So, the symptoms are controlled through a low sodium diet and medication.  One of the drugs they prescribe for Ménière’s is Valium, another is a diuretic, and another is Meclizine.  I no longer retain water (some could say I’m a skinny bitch), I don’t get sea sick, and I used to be mellow.  I didn’t enjoy the effects of Valium (I had no emotion and combining it with post-partum depression didn’t work to fulfill my wifely obligations), so I got my internist/nannynapper (long story) to prescribe Alprazolam (aka Xanax) about six months ago and it’s done wonders for me, and my anxiety, and my marriage.  I take it before going to bed, my ears no longer ring constantly, when I take it regularly, I don’t feel like I am about to jump out of my skin, and I can sleep peacefully “sometimes”; last night wasn’t one of those nights.  Oh, did I mention, our “new” health insurance since starting my husband’s company three years ago doesn’t cover treatment for Ménière’s disease, so I have to sweet talk the gynecologist, neighborhood ER physician, and nanny napper into writing the prescriptions for me.  That has been stressful in itself, but for the time, I’ve got my disease under control.

So, for the time being, I’ve got the prescriptions covered; now I just have to continue to save my soul.    Personally, I can’t really cost justify seeing a psychiatrist for my worries. Our health insurance is a high deductible, and if I ever wanted to get different coverage, the new insurer might raise our rates, or worse, not cover us at all because I saw a shrink.   I know I’m going to get even crazier as the years progress.  Not to mention I can’t seem to get a regular mammogram to fit into my schedule.  I’m not one that keeps it all inside.  I have a very good communicative and supportive relationship with my husband about all things on my mind, besides sometimes him, of course.  And while I am the highly educated chauffeur, driving my children around while they are living their lives, and the pause button is on my own life and my own ambitions beyond my current deck of cards, I have a very introspective dialogue with God.  I’m very honest with myself the world around me.

I need feedback, if that is what your homily was suggesting that you could provide.  What really is a sin in my world of motherhood and wife dumb besides the random hangover which causes me to miss Mass?  Frankly, I’ve got enough “issues” that would probably cause the fellow behind me to become, let’s say, a little impatient and me, pressured.   I don’t know if “issues” are “sins”.   What do you want to hear about?  Putting it down in a “I got mad at my husband” categorical statement wouldn’t really illustrate what part of that was a sin, and seems a bit disingenuine and too “let’s check a box” Catholicism to me.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned, and because the confessional schedule, my children’s schedule, my husband’s schedule and my list of too many things to do between now and when I forget my sins, I’ve decided to just write to you instead of show up behind the booth on Saturday.  Besides, how can I be sure that I get to confess to you?  I mean, last year I was mustering up the courage to go to Father Ricardo, (we’re new to the area, from Florida – long story), because he was “with it”, and I felt like he could relate to me.  Just when I was getting comfortable with Father Ricardo, just when I was about to reveal my conscience, Promotion!  My oldest son gets his first confession from him, but not me!  I was at home with my two youngest children, one of whom had an ear infection.  However, my husband gets to absolve his sins – of course he does!  I leave for the summer, Father Ricardo leaves the parish, and I’m back to square one, praying not to be finally judged between then and when I get ready to feel comfortable with a new substitute.

You explained in your Homily the meaning of confess, and you said something about “getting it out”.  I’ve been doing that, by writing how I feel, and interpreting my own emotions, religious beliefs, and relationship with God my entire life.  I thank God every day, but I also get pissed off at God too.  I haven’t been to real confession in YEARS (I was a regular back in 2nd -12th grade with Father Joe in Virginia when Billy Joel was writing songs about me).  My last confession was a few years ago to a priest I believe was listening to the Florida game on his walkman, but I can assure you, it was pretty standard, and received a few Hail Mary’s and an Our Father as my penance.  After scoping out the confessional setup at Holy Spirit, well, if we’re not doing it in a sound proof booth, how can I feel comfortable feeling like someone can’t hear what we’re talking about?  To be completely honest, I think I’d start motioning for Father Paul to speak faster and use fewer adjectives.   It……would……..take…….forever……., Monsignor Ed smokes, and most likely I wouldn’t understand the penance from Father Pra.  So You, Father Flanagan….congratulations!

I don’t really think I’m a sinner and really have to dig deep inside my psyche to find some good ones.  Unless you include the misfortune of missing Mass on Sunday because one of my kids has a fever, we’re travelling, or very rarely, I’m suffering from a rabid headache from the night before, listening to the woes of a friend going through a horrible time or a job loss, or really just enjoying the time with my husband and some good New Orleans jazz.  I also know I’m sinning while the wine is being consumed as a therapeutic aide because I use the expression “No F***ing way” a lot while listening and think to myself, “what in God’s name where you thinking?”  Is judging someone a sin?  Probably using God’s name is a sin, right?  How about the F bomb?

I have an old friend, a lifelong single guy that has been dumped so many times by women, he’s now 38 and was rumored to be considering going into the priesthood.  It is probably a sin that I was hoping that he would do it so that I could confess to him, but also hoping that he wouldn’t go into the priesthood because just in case my marriage doesn’t work out, he’s pretty eligible.  He’s shorter than me, but isn’t everyone?  You remind me of him.  I’m sure there are a few women shaking their heads about you too.  He’s my friend on Facebook, and it’s beautiful.  Whenever I have a very lack of faith ridden post, Joe (not Father Joe) is there to provide some faith-based guidance.  Yeah, he probably should be a priest.  My roommate in New Orleans once had the unrequited love of her life declare himself to the priesthood in the midst of her pursuit, and I swear it’s caused her to be nuts fifteen years later.  Okay, it’s probably a sin that I hope most eligible single men in my life don’t get married “just in case”.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am completely committed to my marriage.  It’s not my side of the equation that I worry about.  Probably doubt is a sin here, right?

I’m very solutions oriented, so I know after years of listening to friends problems exactly what I would do if that same thing happened to me, and I’m known to be very decisive, but I know that I must be sinning in some form or fashion just being a party to it, or being disgusted by it.

The most recent drama is that my best friend and her husband have somehow managed to cause the housing crisis and financial meltdown because she never listened to Dave Ramsey or knew her pin number for the bank account until now, and has a shoe closet whose value exceeds the second mortgage on their first home.  I’ve been counseling them both for a year in the “save your marriage” “better or worse” line that I practice myself.  Initially he believed she was being unfaithful, so I suggested “His Needs, Her Needs” and “Forgiveness”, but time reveals the truth (now that she’s talking about it), and he’s mortgaged all three of their homes above their value instead of getting a JOB.  So, their business has probably caused me to fall under the “I’ve sinned” category because I am 100% on the side of the fence of divorce is necessary, and supporting my friend in her decision to proceed, and pray that one day she’ll meet a guy that’s not deceitful and a deadbeat.  So, you did well on Sunday.  Well enough that I pinched my husband while you were speaking and said, “That’s what I’ve been talking about!”  So, Congratulations, Father Flanagan, I’ve picked you as my Priest.  And with that award inherits me anonymously and all my sins as they arise.  I hope you don’t mind, but writing seems to work for me too, since I find myself up late at night ridden with anxiety and it would probably be rude for me to wake up Monsignor Ed, or the other priests all sleeping peacefully there in the house, dreaming in their respective languages and intonation, so that we could talk.  Plus, chances are, once we really get going, and I really need saving, you’ll get promoted and move on.  This way, we can still email.  I can’t see calling in my sins either, my children seem to interrupt me whenever I’m on the phone, and I really want to make an effort to confess, when I need confessing.

So, I hope emailing my confession to you works in the updated Vatican II doctrine is considered acceptable, and is considered polite.  I’ve been blogging to God for years.  Holy Spirit has a very updated and technologically savvy website, so I’m feeling that this might work for both of us.  You can think about it, and get back to me on your schedule too.

Sincerely,
SM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *