Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing


Day 8 — Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.

Great…like I want to relive THAT crap.

So I won’t! I’m playing the I’m pregnant with a miserable cold. Sniffle, sneeze, HOOOONNNNKKKK. Okay this is just getting annoying, living in this nose whiping, head full of snot echo chamber.

But I do have something for you.  A while ago I wrote a post about a villain. I wasn’t in a place to create one.  BTW, do you get like that? Feel like you’re too afraid to delve into your imagination to create evil?  I avoid it at all costs. And exposing my soft side? Scarier than I’ll ever admit. But sometimes these hormones do funny things to a woman, you know? (Oh god, where will this blog go after this last child is born?….Note to self, milk the hormones for all they’re worth!)

Anyway…here was the post that I wrote.  And it’s actually a true story, happened to me…which I didn’t admit at when I posted this last time.  No embellishments.

This week’s prompt from The Red Dress Club suggested we write a character sketch of  a villain.  I have been afraid to write this.  I do tend to prefer to write of lighter things.

His name was Father Jim. Yes, “Father” as in white collar, black uniform, “forgive me Father for I have sinned.” Yeah, one of those.

He was devilishly handsome, inspiring the name Father What a Waste, and he knew it.  I think he took pride in his rather thick head of hair.  And there was something not quite right about how much pleasure he derived from driving around his vintage rag top Mustang.

Father Jim was active in the youth community, acting as attending pastor to youth retreats, celebrating the Mass at the Newman center on campus and was often sought out when a chaperon  was required for a  social event. These were all roles he seemingly adored.

Father What a Waste was all American Boy next Door meets Catholic mother’s dream come true.

I certainly was taken with him. That is until we actually came face to face as penitent and priest.

The Catholic tradition of the Sacrament of Penance requires that after an examination of conscience, the penitent must confess his or her sins. The intent is to restore the relationship between man and God. To return to a place of grace. It is the role of the priest to administer Christ’s mercy.

MERCY!  ”Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender; compassion, pity, or benevolence”

It was a weekend retreat for young adults designed around the concept of the reliving the Passion of the Cross and the Celebration of the Resurrection.  The first day is quite dramatic in its austerity.  No shouts of hallelujah, no celebration of community. Rather it is a somber day spent reflecting on one’s personal relationship with God and recognizing the walls one has constructed between themselves and their Savior, or in other words, sin.

The day wouldn’t be complete or Catholic without the sacrament of Penance.

I was exceptionally nervous.  Never before had I confessed my sins to priest face to face.  Never before had I had sins serious enough to cause me shame. And never before had I confessed to a man who could also arouse sin in my heart.

When my time came, I already was feeling a sense of relief. I was going to finally confess my sin of adultery.

Wait, a young adult (to be clear, a 16 year old) commit adultery? Here comes more catechism lessons:  The Church teaches a doctrine of chastity, which is a moral virtue and a gift from God. Offenses against chastity include lust (GUILTY), masturbation (GUILTY) and fornication (GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY.)

“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  I have had lust in my heart and have acted on this lust with more than one man.  For this I am heartily sorry.”

I knew what was to come next.  I would be told that sins hurt and offended God and that my penance would be….

But that wasn’t what happened.  Father Jim saw this as an opportunity to minister to me.  Did I know that my behavior was shameful ? That I had abandoned my faith in God and removed myself from his grace through my actions.  My acts of lust and fornication were grave and mortal sins.  They were an offense to my own dignity and the dignity of the person with whom I engaged in this behavior.


This man of the cloth, a man who had been ordained, to serve the people, to act as a minister of mercy JUST RIPPED ME A NEW ONE!

This was not an act of compassion. His faint words of absolution felt forced. These were not the words I heard:

“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

No, the grace of God was not restored in my heart.  Peace was not granted to me that day.

My own actions had wounded my soul but my confessor, rather than act as a salve, poured salt in this now open wound.

Several years later, I once again met Father Jim.  Still cruising around in his convertible, sporting the full ‘do.  I was told that Father Jim had turned over a new leaf.  He had acknowledged an addiction to alcohol and was now actively involved in a twelve step program.

I only saw the man who shamed me and through his complete insensitive judgement soured me not only on the sacrament of penance but opened the door for me to leave the Church.

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9 comments to Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

  • tulpen

    I went to high school with nuns. They creeped me out.

    To college with priests. They creeped me out too.


  • Coffeypot

    I remember this post. Unfortunately priest and nuns have fucked up the psyche of more women (as young girls and young women) than a state full of child molesters. But now life is better. You don’t need a Priest. If you ever need the release of confession, come and sit on my lap and tell your Uncle Coffeypot all about it (with pictures and videos if you have‘em.)


  • Cold As Heaven

    The sins in which you were guilty are quite common. If God sends us to Hell for that (I don’t believe in God so I just imagine), then Hell will be a very crowded and entertaining place to be >:D


  • Jessica

    I spent ten years in Catholic school. I know exactly what you’re talking about.


  • magnolia

    the sins that are carried out in jesus’s name. it’s unbelievable.


  • CDG

    I read this when you wrote, but I didn’t know you at all back then… rereading now, knowing it was personal (which I think I assumed before), makes it all the more powerful.

    Brave, you.


  • Jackie

    I read this the first time you posted it and it still bothers me! I can’t believe that a priest would act that way. It’s wrong on so many levels.


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  • John

    I really remember where I read it, but it was a post, somewhere, from a born-again Christian who posted about her love of anal (e.g., boom-boom) sex. It made me smile on so many levels, but first & foremost, it was that a Christian was enjoying sex, in such a way where it guarantees non-conception. “The church’s” stance about most things sexual is why I’ll never really consider myself a Christian.

    I’m still coming to grips with the title of “father,” myself (albeit in a very different context), and I don’t consider myself a member of a church (although I go to church every week, far more than most who “claim the higher ground” in moral arguments because they “go to church”). Shame is a powerful emotion – and can be a powerful tool in getting through to somebody. When someone expresses to want to reach a defined goal, and then repeatedly performs acts which sabotage their reaching of said goal? Well, shame might be the tool to use. When your actions, intentionally, hurt someone else? Shame could be called for (and here is where I have no idea how I’ll effectively father…and, I’m sure some could argue that “your actions hurt God,” but, the church is quick to teach that “God is in all of us,” so your actions are between you & you alone…this coming from a man who has NEVER EVER contemplated feeling guilty over a serial-masturbation habit).

    That someone would chose to evoke that emotion in the way that Father Jim did is both destructive & cowardly.


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