Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

‘We Are Here To Reveal Her Sins’

Published June 15, 2006

The room was filling quickly. I scurried in and took a seat toward the back. But I had no idea why I was there.

This seemed like a nightmare, the kind where you have a final exam for a course you can’t remember registering for. Or find yourself at work in your pajamas.

Then suddenly I saw a large, horned creature take the podium. And I cringed when he announced the agenda:

“We are here to reveal her sins.”

At the mention of sins, the entire roomful of creatures glared at me.

My face burned with shame and my hands itched for the doorknob, but just like in that old song, “The Hotel California,” there was no checking out of this room.

And then, one by one, they stood and proclaimed them. The things I had done, and the things I had failed to do.

“She has preached a pretty good sermon now and again about how frugal she is,” a voice from the front called out.

“But I am pleased to say that recently she succumbed to an on-line temptation and purchased 100 dollars worth of fancy make-up.”

Applause rippled through the room, and I was stunned. Why are they applauding my wrongdoings?

I took a look around and had my answer. There were bat-like creatures with speckled horns. Winged creatures with jagged teeth. Dragons of various sizes. And snakes.

I wondered if I had somehow wandered into a chapter of C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” because there was no way around the obvious conclusion: These were Satan’s minions, gathered to toast my wrongdoings.

A dragon took the podium now, and smoke poured from his nostrils as he thundered: “She is harboring resentment in her heart against people that she thinks wronged her.”

Big cheers all around, while I hunched down in the seat, trying to disappear.

“She has worried about nearly everything this past month. Big things like bird flu and nuclear war, but also trivial things, like whether her car would break down.”

“Worry is good,” said the dragon. “Because as long as she is worrying, she will refuse to trust and have faith.”

How true, I thought miserably. Since childhood, worry has been my middle name. It is my automatic response to nearly every situation, instead of relying on God.

I felt I should say something in my defense, so I raised my hand to say that at least I was aware of the problem.

“Sit down and shut up!” raged the dragon. “You will get your turn!”

A snake wound himself around the microphone. “According to my records, she doubted her faith three times this month. She has complained that she feels distant from…”

And here he paused.

“God,” he hissed.

“She has also admitted to anger and ill will toward those who disagree with her values. She has a real vendetta against developers, especially when they disturb her peace and quiet.”

“Here, here!” shouted someone near the front. “Three cheers for anger and ill-will!”

The room exploded with applause.

“Let’s not forget how judgmental she is. She is prone to criticize people and situations rather than show compassion,” said a horned creature with a long tail.

“And don’t forget selfish. She gets riled if people forget to call her when she has a minor ailment.”

Now I was feeling truly panic-stricken. Had I died and gone not to heaven, but … the other place? Was this the final judgment? If so, wasn’t God supposed to be here?

And what, I wondered, would my punishment be? Then I realized the truth: These demons would not punish me for my sins but rather reward me.

But their twisted notion of rewarding me, I soon discovered, was to run a PowerPoint presentation, revealing the ripple effects of my sins.

In short, my reward was to become even more miserable.

Would Hell mean an eternity spent pondering the ways I’d failed to make things better on Earth?

I saw that my failure to chat with the cashier in the grocery store had led her to berate the bag boy. He in turn had yelled at his little sister when he got home, who had gone to bed in tears.

I saw the shrunken faces of children who had gone hungry because I had failed to put money in the collection basket for the poor.

Then, suddenly, the computer crashed and the room erupted in curses. And much to my relief, I found myself in my own bed.

It really had been a dream after all!

At breakfast I pondered my to-do list for the day. “Go to confession,” was the first item.

I recalled how, the night before, I had wondered what I would say to the priest, and had even thought that my sins weren’t so bad, and perhaps I could skip confession altogether.

I dressed in haste and hurried to church. On the way, I swear I heard the sounds of booing and hissing.

In a universe far away, but as near as my own heart, the demons had been foiled again. I guess they hate it when God gives us a second chance.


Artwork by Jef Murray. Readers may e-mail Lorraine Murray at