Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


“Confessio”

Confessio #999- This picture was the best I could do this early in the morning in the way of a pictorial representation of “confession,” and I’m sorry, Lord Christ, that You’re again having to wear that eery halo of light, thanks to the limited imagination of some Hallmark card artist. “Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.”

It’s amazing how throwing Latin at a subject can imbue it with more solemnity.  

That’s what Brian Doyle did in laying out his life’s confession in the August 22 issue of The Christian Century.  “I, Brian, a sinner,” began Doyle’s page-long catalog of all of the ways he has fallen short across a lifetime, interspersed with “Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas” (“I beg to be forgiven.”)  

In this case, the sound of “I beg to be forgiven” in Latin makes me think of a snot-nosed kid with a huge, green booger hanging from her nose asking for a Kleenex while wondering if anyone will notice if she uses her sleeve.  (“Ignoscas” has that ring, does it not?) Okay, so maybe not so “solemn” after all, but fitting for this morning’s liturgy of repentance…Because this morning I’m not sure whether Doyle’s “confessio” or my own sinner’s remorse are the biggest source of inspiration- and where Doyle took only a page to describe a whole life, I am taking a whole page to repent of only yesterday’s blunders:

I, Kristina, a sinner known to have occasional, short-lived moments of saintliness, do here confess that yesterday was largely a wash.

I wrote a smug post about a Christian leader who manages to embarrass himself repeatedly in public, and derived far too much satisfaction in pointing out his stupidity and only adding to the man’s humiliation.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas, I beg to be forgiven.

I spent more time in the mirror staring at the two red zits on my left cheek than grieving the worst violence yet in Syria or meditating that You are my Bread of Life.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

During our chaplains’ monthly conference call, when someone was sharing a serious pastoral issue and the rest of us were praying, I took the opportunity of a bad connection that sounded like nails on a chalkboard to surf the Internet and read the latest headlines.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

I lost my temper with the incompetent customer service representative from the mortgage company who was threatening to report me to the credit bureau for a missing payment that the mortgage company (not me) had in fact lost and that I was only hearing about for the first time yesterday.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

When I spoke unkindly to Violet, the sweet-sounding manager of the incompetent customer service representative who was just trying to rectify the damage done and seeking to be helpful despite an insurmountable amount of bureaucratic red tape, I probably succeeded in making Violet feel very small.  (The expression, “shrinking Violet,” may alas apply.)

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

I then snapped at three consecutive customer service representatives from Wells Fargo who, in a three-way conversation with Violet and me did not know what they were doing by introducing themselves, offering the latest line of new products and insisting on my answering the same security questions.  Alas, they still do not know what they do (which is to help customers rather than drive them into fits of angry exasperation).

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

During and shortly after two hours on the phone troubleshooting a problem I did not cause- namely, explaining how it was that a payment I made on time through my bank’s automatic bill pay service was withdrawn from my account but never reached its destination- I was in a foul mood, snapped at my kids, unloaded on my husband and felt genuinely sorry for myself and my first world problems- all this when at least I have a house and can pay my bills and live in a country where some small recourse is given to customers whose mortgage payments have gone missing.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

During Cam’s kindergarten open house, when we parents were sitting in a circle learning about the most important things in life which they teach you in kindergarten, things like being kind and considerate to other people and learning one’s A, B, C’s, I was secretly gloating about my son’s intellectual and athletic prowess.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

When in response to yesterday’s smug post on the latest gaffe by a certain embarrassing Christian leader, fellow saint and sinner Marco Naguib shared a crass, foul-mouthed news clip by The Onion (“Tampa Bay Gay Prostitutes Gear Up For The Republican National Convention“), I laughed heartily and only momentarily grieved that I was laughing at people not with them.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

There are many more things under heaven that I could here confess, only some of them truly printable here, but for those I wronged yesterday, and for whom I embodied not grace but only judgment and condemnation, I ask that Your mercy be as real for them today as it is for me- new every morning, for great is Your faithfulness.

Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.

And, thank you, Father, for the Kleenex: I needed it.

Amen.



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