Monday, November 03, 2008

Cheating at Confession

"This was my mother, when she was growing up, her experience of confession.

Small town Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania has lots of small towns - and she was born in the 20s, so this was probably in the 30s - the 1930s - and at that time people went to communion and confession once a year; they went during Great Lent.

So in that little town that had lots of kids of Russian immigrants, had a church - the Russian church, that was called so anyway. Those kids got out of school early that Friday afternoon because they were all going to communion the next day, on Saturday. So that Friday afternoon, they were dismissed early, they all went up to the church and got in line for confession. Problem was, the priest was not English-speaking and the kids didn't know how to speak Russian because at home they spoke a dialect, like from the Ukraine and Poland and so on. So you have a communication problem.

So they put one of the older girls first, who understood Russian - who really understood Russian - and they would listen to her answers. So the priest would say, did you this, did you do this, did you do this, and they were listening.

"Da, da, nyet, da, da, nyet."

So they eavesdropped and they go back and send it to each person in the line, "2 das and a nyet. 2 das and a nyet!"

So everybody memorised the answers to confession."

Mother Christophora, abbess of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, speaking at the Orthodox Christian Women’s conference in Montreal in March 2008.

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