Feb 28 2014

The ‘Hard of Hearing’ Priest…

Published by at 1:53 am under News

I remember one time a priest in our parish became very sick and had to go into hospital. The parish priest asked the bishop for a temporary replacement. At that time the church was always packed of a Sunday and the confession boxes were never empty on the Saturday. So the priests back then were very much run off their feet. They had it announced off the pulpit that we’d be getting a loan of a priest for a few weeks. It was around this time that I had decided to train as an Altar Boy which didn’t last for more than two weeks. The priest told my teacher that I couldn’t keep quiet and that I was always talking and whispering during practise. Anyway in next to no time the new priest arrived on the scene. To us young boys he seemed ancient and when he was giving out the Holy Communion you could see that he had hands like Boris Karloff, all old and wrinkly. He also wore two hearing aid amplifiers under his vestments. Now at that time we didn’t know anything about hearing aids. These things were like two big boxes under his clothes and one of my pals said that the priest had breasts but we knew then that only girls got them, not priests.

So on the first Saturday that the new priest arrived in our parish myself and my pals decided to test him out in the confession box. We had spent ages making up all sorts of sins to tell him before going into the church. We rambled up the steps and in through the main door, which was always open in those days. Everything was very quiet except for the odd mumblings of one or two people kneeling down in front of the statue of Saint Anthony. We walked up to the pew and sat down for a few minutes outside of the confession box. We were trying to decide who was going in first and of course I was shoved up to the front of the queue. The next thing was we heard this great big voice coming out from behind the curtain on the confession box. ‘NEXT’!!! Well we all jumped with fright and one of my pals let out a scream all over the church and that made us even worse.

I stood up and reaching out my hand opened the door into the box. Suddenly there I was kneeling down in the pitch black darkness and shaking with fear. I couldn’t remember what lies me and my pals had decided to tell the priest. My mind was a complete blank. Well the next thing was my heart almost leapt out through my chest when the priest flung the little window open with an almighty bang. I knelt up real straight and almost had my nose up to the grill. ‘Well…’ said the priest. ‘…what have you to say to me’? Now you have to understand that my throat was bone dry like the desert and at first no sound came out when I tried to speak. ‘Would you ever speak up for God’s sake. Don’t you know I can’t hear too well’ roared the priest. I could hear myself screaming in my head ‘Oh Holy God please forgive me for trying to make a fool of the holy priest. I promise I’ll never do anything bad again, ever’. The next thing I heard was the priest blowing his nose and grunting at me again.

With great strength and effort I finally got my vocal chords to kick into action. ‘Bless me father for I have…’ ‘You what…’? roared the priest. ‘…speak up and stop your mumbling’. So with all of the strength I could muster I let out a roar. ‘BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED. IT IS A…’. ‘Will you ever stop your shouting…’ said the priest. ‘…sure the whole church can hear you’. So I started off again. ‘…I said the Confiteor outside…’. ‘Will you never mind whose outside…’ said the priest ‘…and just get on with your confession’. Now at this point the sweat is rolling off me in buckets and the confession box is like a sauna. I moved my mouth closer to the grill in the hope that the priest could hear me a bit better. Suddenly I pulled back. There was a very strong and not too strange a smell coming from the direction of the priest. The smell was very similar to what I used to get from my sister’s boyfriend after they’d been out to the pub on a Sunday night. I wasn’t too sure what it was but I knew it made the sister’s boyfriend all giddy and happy. I was half expecting the priest at any moment to break out into a song. ‘Roll out the barrels, we’re having a barrel of fun. Roll out the barrels, we’ve got the blues on the run…’ It was then that I started feeling all queer and strange. ‘I think I’m going to faint father’ I said, about two seconds before I passed out with the heat of the confession box and the smell of alcohol from his breath.

When I finally came around I was outside in the fresh air lying on the ground at the top of the church steps with all my little pals around me. ‘Now, I told you he wasn’t dead’. I heard one of them saying. ‘Well the priest did say he’d be dead the next time he saw him in confession, didn’t he’? said another. When I finally managed to get up onto my feet one of my pals said he had a great idea. Two of them held hands together and made a kind of seat of their arms for me to sit on so that they could carry me home. One of them even took the Gob-Stopper he was sucking on and put it in my mouth to try and stop me feeling sick. Now, thankfully I never did see that old priest again and I’m not even sure now if I actually got confession then or not. Afterwards I’d often wonder if I had died in confession that day would I have gone to Heaven or not. You see if I only confessed half of my sins and didn’t get the chance to confess the other half would I have to go to Hell for the sins I didn’t get to confess and then go to Heaven for the ones I did? I suppose in some way or another I should have gone back into the church and asked the old priest that question. Now I’ll probably never know.

No responses yet

Comments are closed.