I think one of the great difficulties of being a Catholic and having to go to Confession is that your local priest, who no doubt knows you from your voice, will eventually build up a picture in his mind of the type of person you are.
I mean ... can you imagine me going to my usual church, where we only have one priest, so there's no chance of spreading my sins around, and telling the same guy every time what I have done ... again!
Let's face it; how can I actually tell him that I fall asleep during his sermons?
(I don't really ... just an example to demonstrate a Catholic dilemma. Although I'll admit to noticing other people asleep, or pretending to be thinking, whilst the sermon is on. In my case, falling asleep is quickly followed by a sharp elbow in the ribs).
No ... my sin is somewhat worse than falling asleep during a sermon. I just could not bring myself to tell our priest about it. He would not see me in the same light ever again.
In order to get round this technical difficulty I decided to do something else. Now I am not sure whether this is allowed in the Catechism or not. I haven't checked.
When I was in London recently on a business trip I decided to go to a church and confess there. The priest doesn't know me ... simple. Tell him my secret sin and go away.
I told the priest in Confession that I find it difficult to be a Christian because I simply do not like people. I am not prejudiced you see. I don't like people in general
Now before you take offence at this, let me quickly explain.
I don't like certain people mostly ... most of the time ... most of them. I like some people, of course, but not all of them.
I don't like my boss for instance because he is always in a bad mood and thinks of nothing else other than of profits and productivity.
I don't like most of my colleagues because I have nothing or little in common with them. I don't talk football with them, cricket, rugby or any other sport because I don't like sport. I don't talk politics because I know I am right and they are always wrong. I don't talk about anything else with them because none of them likes the arts, opera, ballet, the theatre or anything else I like.
I don't like the newsagent where I get my papers because he is pompous and pretends to know everything. But I have to go there because he is near where I live.
I don't like the barman in our pub because ... I don't know ... I just don't like him.
I don't like the mother-in-law because of ... many reasons. In fact I like her from afar. The further away she lives, and stays there, the more I like her.
So you see why I could not confess this sin to my priest. He'd think I don't like him either.
Anyway, I told this in Confession to an unknown priest in London. He told me I should try harder to like everybody because God commanded us to love one another. Jesus loved everyone He met. He loved them so much that He forgave them when hanging on the Cross.
I told the priest that Jesus loved everyone because He was God. God is love. Jesus was/is Divine. There is no way we can love as Jesus does because we are not gods. We are humans with human failings.
He thought I was making excuses and told me to try harder to like everyone.
I told him, surely there are some people he most probably does not like. The Bishop for instance. Or a fellow priest. Or some parishioners. Especially the pompous snooty ones that most churches seem to have.
He thought about this and confessed, perhaps unwisely, he did not like it when the Bishop addressed him by his surname. Or when one of his fellow priests has too short sermons. Or the parishioner who believes she is an expert at flower arranging. Or the choir leader who thinks she is a prima donna at the opera.
It was a long Confession. And we agreed we cannot be like Jesus, but we should try.
I wonder who he will confess his sins to? Maybe he'll visit my church and confess to my priest.
NOW FOR THE SERIOUS BIT: Christ asked us to love one another as He has loved us. But is this humanly possible? He is/was God. We are not. How can we possibly express that love required of us if we don’t like certain people? Have you tried to do so? Share your experiences and opinions here.