Fanning My Bright Red Sin

My latest column at The Catholic Answer is showing up about now, and as we’re in Holy Week, it’s a timely reminder that confession is good for the soul:

The memory still stings: there I was, age 7, the veteran of a splendidly moving and memorable first holy Communion and graced with an oddball love of the Sacrament of Confession in all of its velvet-curtained-sliding-screen ambiance, planning to steal a toy “ladies fan” from a candy store, simply to see if I could.

The fan was red, and I had always been — and still am — a sucker for all things red. It was airy, lacy and flamboyant, and I had the 10 cents the thing cost in my pocket.

But the toy display was on the other side of the cashier, and the devil was on my shoulder: “Take it,” he whispered. “I bet you could slip it into your pocket and no one would know.”

Petty theft, which I had never before aspired to, became suddenly a tantalizing challenge. And the fan was red. I took it. I cleverly slipped the thing into my sleeve and casually walked out the door. It was so easy. And so completely unsatisfying.

By the time I’d walked home, fanning myself all the way in a manner I was sure duplicated the graceful lines of a señorita, I had begun to feel a peculiar emptiness that was new, and throughout the day that feeling grew, until it threatened to become a black hole into which I could disappear. By eventide, I had thrown the fan away from me in disgust. It wasn’t mine; it was ill-gotten booty. I had sinned, and it was not good.

You can read the rest, here

And don’t forget to go to confession!

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Gayle Miller

    When I was 7, I went to the dime store (Kresge’s) with a girlfriend and, on a dare, stole an Esther Williams coloring book. On the way home I was feeling awful and my friend Lois (the one who dared me to steal it) told me it wouldn’t be a sin if I gave it to her. And naif that I was – I did just that!

    We all have those peculiar lapses in our pasts. It’s part of the human condition. When I went to confession and elaborated my sin, I can swear I heard the priest chuckling behind his screen. That was my first clue that I had been had!

  • Kris, in New England

    I think I was 12 and my theft was a Chunky Candy Bar – a whole whopping 35 cents back then. And I stole it from the local pharmacy that my family used for just about everything. I never ate it – by the time I got home I felt so horrible for what I’d done that I was determined to make it up to the pharmacy.
    The next time I was in there, I left 50 cents on the counter when no one was looking and then hid around a corner to make sure the cashier picked it up and put it in the register.
    She did – which made me feel worse because she was more honest than I had been.

  • Michelle

    I stole a candy bar from the small country store when I was 4. My dad wouldn’t let me have it so I took it and ran out to the car. My mom made me take it back in, give it to the cashier, and tell her I stole it. I was so ashamed! And I sure didn’t want the candy bar any more.