“Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent.” — Winston Churchill
There comes a time, however, when one must remain silent no more. The need for confession is frequently stressed in the Bible, and is important in Christianity. Nevertheless, the quote “confession is good for the soul” is believed to have come to us from the Scots as a proverb sometime in the 1800s, and not from the Bible.
This story began shortly after Father Michael Holloran transferred to the St. Columbkille Parish in Wilmington from Dayton.
On most weekdays Daily Mass is held at 9 a.m. at the local church, and I have long been a believer that offering the first part of our day at Mass is a good thing to do. It starts the day off right.
Shortly after Father Mike’s arrival, he determined, and everyone agreed, that the church’s loudspeaker system that stammered and crackled was in dire need of upgrading and modernizing.
Father Mike, being the prudent man he is, determined the best method to attain the finest speaker system for the church was to first try out a variety of models. During the trial period Father Mike would often ask me, since I normally sat in the back of the church under one of the speakers, how well the system sounded “back there.”
I would give my opinion, telling him when his voice came through loud, clear or fuzzy and over-modulated. After several trial runs of different models, Father Mike decided a Bose speaker system best suited the acoustics of the church.
One Sunday morning not long after the installation of the new amplifiers, I was sitting in my normal seat under the speaker near the back of the church.
As many parishioners often do, I silenced my iPhone and placed it on vibrate as I entered the church.
As time for the sermon came, my eyelids began to feel heavy. I always strive to achieve middle ground – remain awake, but mellow enough to enjoy the sermon. Some Sundays are better than others.
Midway through the homily, Father Mike quoted St. Matthew, “So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics and paralytics, and he healed them.”
When Father Mike said “Syria”’ my iPhone mistakenly thought he had said, “SIRI.”
I took in a quick breath as my cellphone deep inside my pocket loudly announced, “Sorry. Can you say that again?” With the acoustics of the historic church the announcement reverberated throughout the place of worship.
Needless to say, everyone in church, some with flashing eyes, turned around and glared toward the back. As any good Catholic boy would do, I turned around, too, as if seeking the offender, and then quickly bowed my head and continued praying.
The pants I was wearing that morning were light-colored, making it easy to see the phone flashing inside my right front pocket. Thinking quickly and perhaps self-servingly, I placed my prayer book over my pocket until the heads of the parishioners had turned back around toward the altar.
I was recently reminded of this incident when Father Mike gave the invocation and benediction at a function at the fairgrounds.
Should I approach and confess to him the wayward iPhone on that fateful Sunday morning had been mine, or should I just let bygones be bygones?
A couple of nights ago Brenda and I were watching a movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Tim Blake Nelson was playing the part of Delmar O’ Donnell, a not-too-bright individual with ginger hair, who had just found salvation.
Delmar said, “Well that’s it, boys. I’ve been redeemed. The preacher’s done washed away all my sins and transgressions. The preacher says all my sins are forgiven, including that Piggly Wiggly I knocked over in Yazoo.”
Another character, Ulysses Everett McGill, said, “I thought you said you were innocent of those charges?”
Delmar O’Donnell replied, “Well, I was lyin.’ And the preacher says that that sin’s been washed away, too. Neither God nor man’s got nothin’ on me now.”
“C’mon in boys, the water’s fine!” Delmar added.
When the movie was over, I stood up and asked SIRI about redemption. She replied, “Confession is good for the soul.”
With that I quietly turned off my phone and went to bed.
After all, tomorrow is another day.
Pat Haley is former Clinton County commissioner and former Clinton County sheriff.