Not Yet in Line

Long before I became a Catholic, my Jesuit-educated husband, born into and faithful to the church, told me that if I ever entered it, I wouldn’t be eligible for confession. He explained that I was scrupulous—I imagined that I had sinned when I had not—and that therefore pastoral counseling was the thing for me. For the almost thirty years of my marriage, I’ve been a Catholic fellow-traveler, but it was only this past Easter that I was baptized. I was confirmed then, too, and received Communion. I continue to receive Communion (and give it; I’m a eucharistic minister), and I was married in a Catholic ceremony, so I’ve got four sacraments down. Holy orders are out as far as I’m concerned, and so far I haven’t needed the sacrament of the sick.

That leaves confession. I haven’t been.

Though I’m much older and calmer than I was when my husband made his serious joke about pastoral counseling, part of the reason I haven’t confessed is connected with his analysis. I don’t know what I’d say, exactly; sometimes I find it hard to separate the psychological from the spiritual. "Keep us free from all anxiety," prays the priest in the embolism of the Our Father. That phrase strikes me every time. Anxiety, it seems, is part of the human condition. Is worrying a sin? Perhaps: it certainly doesn’t bring me closer to God. But is it the worrying itself that’s separating me, or some wrong I’ve done in the...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Madeline Marget, a frequent contributor, is the author of Life’s Blood (Simon & Schuster).