Red Writing Hood: A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Sorry for yesterday’s melodrama.  This song sort of sums it all up:

Do you have the time
To listen to me whine
About nothing and everything
All at once
I am one of those
Melodramatic fools
Neurotic to the bone
No doubt about it

Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I’m cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Am I just stoned?

Can you name that tune?   Hint:  thank you Billie Joe!


This week’s prompt from The Red Dress Club   (of which I am still not a member, AHEM!) 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.

I realize that instead of just describing this wolf in sheep’s clothing, I told a story that portrayed his betrayal of his chosen mission.  Please, I welcome constructive feedback!

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17 comments to Red Writing Hood: A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

  • Nichole

    I took part in a similar Catholic retreat when I was a young adult.
    I found it to be restorative and peaceful until another woman in the group came back from confession and was visibly broken. She confided in me that she had confessed to having had an abortion more than ten years prior. The priest told her that there was so penance he could give her and absolution wasn’t possible. She was destroyed. It was honestly one of the saddest things that I’ve ever witnessed.

    You did a wonderful job of helping me to see him…his hair, his car, his ego. Your use of the proper terminology and phrasing added to your story beautifully.

    Just a style suggestion…I would put your intro in italics instead of your piece. I was a little distracted by it, but that’s just me and truly, it’s just a preference. :)


  • ksluiter

    First of all, Green Day.

    Second of all this was sad. I was so emotionally involved with the girl and her slap in the face by the priest, that I was disappointed that the “sketch” ended. I want more about this priest. I want to know what he says to others. Where is his “line” for being “compassionate” and “lecturey”? Does he do this to everyone or does he have a double-standard for guys?


  • dirt clustit

    Definitely a wolf writing in little red’s little dress. You like your writing, this one may hit a nerve with many listeners because this story may even be a little mild for the norm in non-fiction.

    Talk about horrible, not only effing with peoples heads with the whole guilt and shame but then behaving often times with far worse behaviors. Worse than that, making people feel there is something wrong for being themselves (which there is nothing wrong with).

    excellent post, wolves serve a purpose in this world too! :)


  • Natalie

    I wanted to know more about the priest, too…more about how he handled others. How is he with the congregation on Sunday mornings? More please!

    Oh, and Green Day…


  • Coffeypot

    Well that is what you get for putting all your faith in a human being. Child molesting aside, they are still humans with a holier-than-though attitude that people keep feeding by thinking they are special. Peace and forgiveness for the wrong you think you have done comes from within – not by some man saying you are forgiven and do some pagan murmurings and sayings. I believe in prayer, which is a way of bringing the thing you are concerned about out in the open and you can deal with it as you please. I had rather read about you going into his side of the confessional and…well, it’s your story. However, my opinions about religion aside, I did enjoy your story and the fact that it wasn’t the usual ‘screw the priest in the confessional’ thing.


  • The Drama Mama

    I was thoroughly involved in this story, and I felt the slap the self-absorbed priest gave you on the cheek there.


  • Kim

    Yeah more details about what you’d heard that he’d done to others. A complicated villain he is and that he came out with an addiction just makes you want to know what else he’s hiding.


  • 'BOTB

    What. A. Tool.

    I enjoyed reading this. I think you have developed a character that may (hopefully) show his well coiffed arrogance around these parts some day…


  • Jackie

    Very well written! I think you have a great villain in which to build more stories upon!


  • Cheryl @ Mommypants

    i totally thought this was going to be the priest wanting sex. What a sad thing, for someone who should know better to be so cruel to a young person. You portrayed it very well.


  • Symdaddy

    There you go! More proof that priests are human after all!

    ‘Rubbing salt into the wound’ was definitely the act of an envious, jealous person who prob’ly prefers boys anyway.

    ‘ol Coffeypot was right about their ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. That, along with their liking for boys, was no doubt ‘installed’ during during their training.

    They come over as being so ‘high and mighty’ sometimes that it is worthwhile remembering, if and when you have occasion to talk to one, that they dump and fart too!

    Don’t mind me. I was just passing through.

    By the way, don’t drink the punch if she offers you some, ok!


  • cristina

    Great piece… it completely sucked me in since I have as a kid “known” that priest… except my priest was NOT handsome, just a jerk.


  • ash

    I loved it. Nothing better than a complicated villain, because don’t we all have a little bit of villain inside us?

    Confession scares the pants off of me. Good thing I’m Episcopalian ; -)

    P.S. I’m with Nichole, but I would even say no italics needed.


  • Kristy

    First off, love that song. I sometimes lose my happy as well. I truly liked the story. It wasn’t too outrageous, just enough, to put a sour taste in the mouth about human error vs. ministry and The Church.


  • Jessica Anne

    What a jerk. Great depiction of him, I could picture him and know the type. I think the best villains are the ones who should be the heroes.


  • Stacey @ Entropified

    In some ways it might be difficult to see him as a real literary villain because he wasn’t trying to kill someone or be especially cruel, etc. However, he’s the kind of villain that’s everyday-real and the pain he was able to cause is very understandable.

    Well done.


  • Ratz

    OH poor girl… that man is a pervert! but he is a real villain, i would say so.. such people exist for sure


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