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Thursday, May 27, 2010

S is For Sins

At the orphanage, we were required to go to confession every week for all Catholic children. We had to write down our sins on a piece of paper, and read them off to the priest when it was our turn.

If we didn't commit any sins, we made up some just so we had something to tell the priest! This part of our weekly chore was always very stressful for all of us because our sins remained the same from week to week. We couldn't make up more than:

  • I call so-so names
  • I am being mean to my friends
  • I didn't listen to adults
  • I didn't finish my homework
  • I cheat on my homework
  • I didn't brush my teeth as I was told
  • I had bad thoughts about so-so
  • I argue with my friends
  • I didn't help so-so
  • I laugh at so-so
  • I talk back to an adult

I believed everything we did, or didn't do, were sins! We made a note to write it down on our sin list so that by Friday, we would have at least 10 things to check off. Sad, but true! If our list was short, that only meant we were good children, which were not true in our caregivers' eyes, and who were we to challenge their roles or their demands.

We often copied each other's note. In other words, we copied each other's sins. We didn't know what the real sins were and what were not. We just did our part to come up with 10 sins each Friday, to stay clear of trouble this way.

Now, as a grown-up, I know killing, having an affair while married, and stealing are sins, but for all the small stuffs such as arguing, getting mad, calling names on occasion, are not considered sins. They can't be, can they?

I do not make my children going to confession for I am having trouble going myself. I tried, and each time I went, I found myself "going down the list" as I was taught long ago. I found myself making up sins to fill the time with my pastor, and they all felt so wrong to me.

I do take my children to go to communal ones twice a year just so we could be ready in our souls to celebrate Easter and Christmas.

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(Read my Childhood Series here!) Registered & Protected


  1. We're human. We sin continually, all day long, in thought, word, and/or deed.

    My thoughts really top the list.

    Don't be too hard on yourself. You're in great company....several hundred billion at my last count.

  2. I didn't grow up Catholic so reconciliation is a difficult thing for me as well. I find that going to a priest I trust and respect for spiritual direction is far better as it always ends with reconciliation.

    God bless you!

  3. This made me smile, because growing up I did the same thing. Made up things to confess. Which as an adult, strikes me as sublimely ridiculous. Committing a sin (lying) to make sure that you had something for the confessional! Crazy, huh? Kathy

  4. Every time I read one of your posts about the orphanage, I am astounded at how cruel the so called carers were to you all. Another thought provoking post.

  5. i'm not catholic so i don't quite get it but i do love that you copied each others sins :D

  6. We're all sinners, Mumsy, every last one of us. God's love is forgiving and healing and cleansing. Your story touched my heart. You sure have had to overcome a lot in your life, from what I've read so far. I'm cheering for you!

  7. We all sin all the time. Jesus was/is the only perfect being. I'm just thankful I have him to confess my sins to and ask for forgiveness!

  8. Totally agree with previous comment about cruelty of those so-called carers. Such a reflective post makes the reader look deeply into him/herself too.


  9. I didn't know what to say when I was little either. As an adult I have a better understanding of sin and realize I do it every day. I am thankful that now I realize I can confess directly to God.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I'm so proud of you for opening up about such raw childhood memories. I, too, was raised Catholic and I will NEVER go to confession again in my adult life. I look back on regimented thinking and being taught a fear of the Lord when I should have been taught a love of the Lord. God bless you for coming from the orphanage that was so bent on fear.

  11. Everyone sins in one way or another - big sins or small sins, but I genuinely believe that God loves to forgive and to be our friend.

    Thanks for visiting Little Sealed Packages :)

  12. This was such an interesting post, Mumsy. We all sin, and we all have different ways to deal with it. I did have to smile at the thought of "borrowing" other kids' sins so you would have a full enough list. (And I can see why you gave up on that idea...)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights.


  13. Well since none of us are perfect and we all sin, we are all in the same boat. I am not catholic but I do ask for forgiveness when i feel it is necessary. But all our sins were forgiven the day Christ for us.

  14. I don't confess either, I think just talking about things is much better than having to confess something that might not be sinful at all

    thanks for your visit

  15. I used to make up sins too and how many times I did them. I would always make sure I put I lied at the end so I could count confession. I think every kid does that. Luckily, though we weren't told we had to have a particular number.

  16. I grew up with the old ways too. It still haunts me.

    I could really relate to the shame and the guilt this post invokes still for you.

    You are not alone.

  17. Who hasn't sinned? I'd like to write the list for the nuns, but then I am not being Christ like in casting stones. Children should not be carrying around such heavy burdens of sin at such an early life. What do they (children) know of sin? Isn't that lessening the importance of the crucifixion? Let children be children. When you put all these thoughts of sin in their heads you are depriving them of their youthful innocence. Sorry, I do ramble.

    Love your picture art.

  18. It's amazing how they wanted you in a 'box' regardless of whether it was good or bad. Here you had to be worse than you probably were to fit their role for you. Just icky.

    Rise above it all, it seems like you have. Keep rising.

  19. Well, thanks again for sharing your very real feelings of sin and confession. We all struggle with our human failings. I do believe that our Savior came to give us the forgiveness that we need. We don't need a priest to get that. We can go straight to the throne of grace and confess our sins. I think the difference between conviction of sin and condemnation either from the devil or from ourselves (or others) is that conviction from God is a still small voice that we want to listen to and that we really want to obey. It is cleansing and it changes our hearts. It is loving like what a father should be, guiding us to his side and showing us through his grace which things need to be laid at the cross. Condemnation is never from God. That is is how I tell the least for me....most days. Some days, I just list things I think might be sins...haha. See....even writing what I think....I am struggling with it.

  20. I am not a Cathoric peopele. But I know we sometimes make up sins.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  21. Always interesting to read about your experience.
    Hope you have a nice weekend, Mumsy.

  22. I was told I am living in sins. I guess it will just have to be ok, because I don't feel bad about it, I am not going to dissect it. My glass is full the way I see things, and no need to fill in anything else.

  23. Hi Mumsy. I can relate to this post very much. Having attended Catholic school for some years when I was small I came to dread confession. Finding that perfect balance between in trouble for not behing honest and being in trouble for being bad was always difficult.

    Depending on the priest, too few sins resulted in a long lecture and a longer penance and too many had the same result.

    Years after I left the Catholic church I tried to reconcile myself with it...part of that was attending confession. I could not do it.

    I sat in the confessional in a total and absolute panic attic and stumbled out of the coffin-like room crying and stumbling.

    It seems so wrong to make children focus on all the things they are doing wrong...and not rejoicing in them as young people of thought and purpose.

    Thank for this compelling post, Mumsy. It brought back a lot of memories for me.


  24. Such a provocative post...sinning from first breath it seems...dogma, shmogma...we transgress in life...little and big...if the powers that be wanted it some other way, we would be born perfect...well, really we are and we stay that way...we are perfectly human, following our path to perfection...Namaste

  25. I am not Catholic so it was difficult for me to understand this S post. It sounds to me like you were treated cruelly in the orphanage despite what their intentions were. As a teacher, I strive to build my students' self esteem up instead of tearing it down. No wonder confession is difficult for you as an adult. Great post. Come visit mine if you get a chance.

  26. Your childhood series has been a highlight of my last several weeks. I am so glad you are sharing this.

  27. That's so true. Going to confession was torture for me. First I was scared in there. It was dark and then the mysterious little door would slowly slide and there would be an old man listening to me telling my sins of the week. I was 6 years old...That was so wrong! I always used the same one: I did not brush my teeth. Thanks for posting about SINS.


  28. I am in the minority but I am Catholic and always have been. I am very grateful for the sacrament of confession. It is not always easy to go, but I always love coming out. How you were treated was definitely NOT Christian or Catholic and an abomination, those in charge will be answering to God for eternity for their sins.
    God Bless you all!

  29. What a fantastic post. I think we all make mistakes, but we are mostly good people. We are human after all.

  30. I don't really believe in sins, just limited animals trying to gain an advantage. You and the other children were trying to gain an advantage by saying what you were expected to say, and avoid punishment.

  31. Dear Mumsy,

    So sorry about what happened in that orphanage - for you and all the others. I cannot imagine having to make up sins!

  32. I agree with Tina, that we are all sinners, and that it is God's love alone that can cleanse us and cover us.


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