Sins of the Father


Caroline felt very alone as she watched her parents’ car disappear into the distance the day she was dropped off at St. Ursula’s, but being an only child and an introverted one at that, she was used to feeling alone. The sprawling Victorian boarding school was an entirely female institution, the only exceptions being the priests who officiated at Mass, confession, etc. and an elderly groundskeeper who mostly kept to himself. Four hundred girls ranging in age from eleven to eighteen were educated within the cloistered security of its massive stone walls. Caroline was fifteen when she entered St. Ursula’s, but she had been brought up in various Catholic girls’ schools all her life and was well acquainted with their manifold rules, both written and unwritten. Her first year at Patientia (the school’s founder had named each of the houses after a Virtue) was fairly uneventful. Naturally there were bullies, both among the girls themselves and the nuns who taught them. Caroline gravitated toward the ones who were kind and did her best to keep her head down and make herself invisible to the ones who had it in for her. She was not a bad girl by any means, and her reverent love for God and the Church was unparalleled.When she returned for her second year she found herself in another wing of the school, at the so-called Humilitas House, with an entirely new group of girls. She soon learned that she had been skipped a grade and would this year be sharing a class with the seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds. The bullying amongst the older girls was not as constant as it had been the previous year, but in some ways it was much worse. Her beauty attracted unwanted attention from two of the older girls in particular, and very early on their harassment had escalated into sexual assaults in the showers, the toilets and in her bed after lights out. One day the Mother Superior walked in on those two girls while they were pinning her down on the floor of the chapel and forcing themselves on her. The nun scolded the perpetrators severely and ordered them to their rooms. Caroline had never felt so grateful to anyone in her life, and when she learned she was to be transferred to a class in another wing of the school — the house aptly christened Caritas — she thanked God and her guardian angel for rescuing her. Among the positive changes that followed at Caritas, there were also disadvantages. She now found herself having to acclimatize to a whole new group of classmates and teachers. And, of course, there was her new confessor—Father Haas. She had only just laid eyes on him the previous morning at Mass, and her initial impression was that he seemed to be like every other priest she had encountered: middle-aged, neither attractive nor unattractive, and with the typical air of inscrutability that men of God tend to emit. She was very nervous when her turn came to confess to him for the first time. Nothing he said conveyed the slightest interest in her situation or who she was. After he heard her confession he doled out the usual penance in a perfunctory manner, blessed her and sent her on her way. She left the confessional and went to one of the pews near the back of the dim chapel, where she knelt and reflected while the rest of the girls gave their confessions. Against her better nature she found herself mildly disappointed in Father Haas, whom she deemed the sort priest who had grown Bahçelievler escort weary of his calling and was simply going through the motions. Though she had not made many friends in the other houses, she had always had a good relationship with the priests there and this had always been a great source of comfort to her. Now, it seemed, she would be stuck with an indifferent priest for the rest of the school year and the thought made her feel the reality of her loneliness all the more acutely. As a girl in the blossom of her youth, Caroline’s thoughts frequently turned to the mysteries of the opposite sex. The other girls would often talk about the taboo subject in exhaustive detail when they were out of hearing distance of the nuns, and a few of them even boasted of having been with boys. Since there were no boys for her to fall in love with at St. Ursula’s, all of Caroline’s teenage adoration fell upon the school’s priests. That small, elite group of chosen men represented to her the very highest ideal of mankind, and her pure love for them sometimes spilled over into the romantic, and at times even the erotic, which made her feel very guilty. As night fell and all the girls knelt in prayer before bed, Caroline offered up a special prayer to the Blessed Virgin for protection against impure thoughts. As always she said a prayer for the good priests and nuns of Patientia and Humilitas who she missed very much. She also asked God to bless Father Haas, whom she did not yet know but was certain she had judged too hastily. ~ Caroline went to confession the following Sunday determined to welcome Father Haas into her heart as she had done with all the other fine clergymen at her school. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” she said with sincerity as she knelt in the dark little confessional. “It has been one week since my last confession.” She then gave an honest and thorough account of her trespasses as she always did, this time including the impure thoughts she had entertained before falling asleep. “How often do these thoughts plague you, my child?” the priest asked, his voice conveying patience and understanding. Taken aback by the unexpected sympathy in his tone, her barriers began to crumble and before she knew it she was baring her soul to him. “Almost every day, Father. At night in bed is when it’s the worst. I have tried to direct my thoughts toward purer things, and I have prayed for strength, but the sinful thoughts… they always return.” After an appropriate pause the priest replied, “God knows of your struggles and He loves you all the more for trying to overcome them.” Caroline had been told this many times before, but never had the words touched her as deeply as they did in that moment. “Oftentimes, when we resist something,” he went on to say, “we give it power over us which it may not otherwise have had. Go easier on yourself, my child. When the thoughts come to you, do not look upon them as something forbidden. Let them in. You may just find, after a while, that they have lost their appeal.” This idea had never occurred to Caroline, and she thought it very sound advice, albeit unexpected coming from a priest. She thanked Father Haas for his guidance and said she would give it a try. After another little pause, he inquired how she was settling in, how she liked her new teachers and whether the girls Bahçeşehir escort bayan were being nice to her. Tears began to well up in her eyes and with an appreciative smile she replied that everyone had been very kind to her and that she was sure she was going to like being at Caritas very much. ~ From that day forward Caroline would sit at the front of the chapel, her eyes glued to Father Haas as he performed the holy rituals she so cherished, his every movement executed with fastidious care and reverence. The sound of his voice elevated her soul and the love with which he performed each one of his priestly duties filled her with awe. When she visited him in the confessional he was always warm and personable, and he never failed to offer an encouraging word or a piece of advice which she found helpful in her daily life at St. Ursula’s. There were moments when she was convinced that God truly was speaking to her through him, and she blessed the events that had brought her to Caritas House and to Father Haas. Pinpointing the precise moment that she fell in love with him would have been impossible, for it was such a gradual and seamless process that, looking back, she could hardly conceive there had ever been a time when she had not loved him. At first she dismissed her feelings as a harmless crush, which would fizzle out as such things always do. But when she caught herself fantasizing about him sexually in the middle of Mass one Sunday, she realized just how deeply profane and inappropriate her feelings for him were, and knew that something had to be done. Throughout the rest of that day she prayed to the Blessed Virgin to take her feelings for Father Haas away from her. Little did she know how soon her prayer was about to be answered. ~ Caroline was surprised the first time Father Haas asked her in some detail about her sexual fantasies and whether she had acted on them, but she did not really find it so very odd given the Church’s view of these things, and so she answered every question he put to her. Her answers concerning the men (or rather the man) in her fantasies were intentionally vague, but thankfully he never pressed her for more information about that particular aspect. Admittedly, when the same question came up again and again in subsequent confessions, she did rather suspect that his interest in the subject was somewhat greater than it ought to have been. But then again, priests were imperfect beings just like all of God’s children. After all, everyone knew the priest at her former diocese had a fondness for whisky but it did not alter the fact that he was one of God’s chosen servants, not to mention the glue that held their little town together. Confession with Father Haas always ran along the same lines. All he really wanted to hear was how frequently and in what manner Caroline had masturbated that week. As always she replied that she did not do that sort of thing and no more was said about it. One morning when she failed to tell him what he wanted to hear he accused her of lying. The accusation stung terribly, especially coming from him. ‘All young people touch themselves,’ he stated matter-of-factly, and the authority in his tone told her that there could be no further discussion on the matter. A special penance would be in order, he said, and she could expect to be summoned to his office later Escort Bakırköy that day. Caroline was speechless. Why was he so distrustful of her all of a sudden? What reason had she given him to suspect her of dishonesty? She had always been open with him, always been so careful not to let her pride or vanity mar the sacrament of reconciliation or the sanctity of her relationship with her favourite priest, both of which she held in the highest regard. Only that’s not entirely true, is it? her inner critic chimed in, stopping her in her tracks. You have been withholding information from him, now, haven’t you? Why not tell him all about the special fantasies you’ve been having lately? And while you’re at it, why not share the juicy dream you had about him three nights ago? The one that made your knickers all wet? Too scared of the consequences, hmm? Worried he might see that you’re not so perfect after all? Caroline balled her fists and shook her head defiantly to shut out the awful voice in her head and the even more awful thought of what would happen if she were to actually do such a foolish thing. Telling anyone was out of the question, especially Father Haas. With a heavy heart she left the chapel and went about the rest of her day. That afternoon during outdoor activities one of the nuns took her aside and told her she was to report to Father Haas up in the rectory. She ought to have been more nervous than she was as she climbed the stairs that led to the priests’ private quarters for the first time. ‘We are only going to have a talk, that is all,’ she told herself. The worst that could happen was that she would be made to confess to him again face to face, or perhaps the customary punishment (four lashes across the knuckles, wasn’t it?) would be doled out and that would be the end of it. She had repeated these assurances to herself so many times that she actually believed them by the time she reached the top of the staircase. Father Haas’ door was open and he was sat at his desk perusing an open volume. Without looking up he summoned her inside and ordered her to take a seat. He spoke more tersely than she was accustomed to, but his manner was not as unfriendly as it had been earlier. He put a few preliminary questions to her about her academic achievements that term, as well as some seemingly benign inquiries about her family, her home life and her plans for the future. He then asked whether she had ever considered becoming a nun, and Caroline happily answered in the affirmative, humbly adding that she doubted whether she would ever be worthy of such a noble calling. After expressing his approval of her answer, the priest’s demeanour then grew more serious and he leaned forward in his chair as he broached the subject of Caroline’s confession earlier that morning. What would her mother and father think were they to learn of her disgraceful actions? Caroline thought she would sooner run away forever than have to face her parents’ shame and disappointment, for who would take her word over that of a clergyman? She had walked into that room determined to maintain her innocence, but now all the fight had gone out of her. Although she was blameless in this matter, the esteemed Father Haas had managed to make her feel like the most wicked girl in the entire world. He stood up and pulled his chair out from behind his desk to move it closer to Caroline’s. It was the first time she had properly looked into his eyes and the power they exuded at such close range made her throat go dry. He said that he had been watching her closely during the few short months she had been at Caritas, and that he had very high hopes for her. His kind words were unexpected and Caroline began to brighten up.

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