The Blush Of Truth



     There are two women for whom we ought to pray daily, the Brahmin woman, who, deceived by her priests, burns herself on the corpse of her husband to appease the wrath of her wooden gods; and the Roman catholic woman, who, not less deceived by her priest, suffers a torture far more cruel and ignominious in the auricular confessional box, to appease the wrath of her wafer-god.

     Many of them prefer to throw themselves into the hands of their merciful God, and die before submitting to the defiling ordeal, rather than receive their pardon from a man, who as they feel, would surely have been scandalized by such a recital. 

     How many times have I wept like a child when some noble-hearted and intelligent young girl, or some respectable married woman, told me of their invincible repugnance, their horror of such questions and answers, and they have asked me to have pity on them.  But alas!  I had to silence the voice of my conscience, which was telling me, “is it not a shame for you, an unmarried man, to dare to speak on these matters with a woman?  Do you not blush to put such questions to a young girl?  Where is your self-respect?  Where is your fear of God?  Do you not promote the ruin of that girl by forcing her to speak on these matters?”

     How many times my God has spoken to me as he speaks to all the priests of Rome, and said with a thundering voice: “What would that young man, that father, or brother do, could he hear the questions you put to his wife, his daughter, or sister?  Would he not blow out your brains?”  I was compelled by all the popes, the moral theologians, and the councils of Rome, to believe that this warning voice of my merciful God was the voice of Satan.

     In the beginning of my priesthood in Quebec, I was not a little surprised and embarrassed to see a very accomplished and beautiful young lady, whom I used to meet almost every week at her father’s house, entering the box of my confessional.  She usually confessed to another young priest of my acquaintance, and she was always looked upon as one of the most pious girls of the city.  Though she had disguised herself as much as possible, in order that I might not know her, I felt I was not mistaken.

     Not being absolutely certain who she was, I did not disclose that I thought I knew her.  At the beginning she could hardly speak; her voice was suffocated by her sobs.  After much effort: she said: “Dear Father, I hope you do not know me, and that you will never try to know me.  I am a desperately greatly sinner. Oh!  I fear that I am lost!  But if there is still hope for me to be saved, for God’s sake do not rebuke me.

     “Before I begin my confession, allow me to ask you not to pollute my ears by questions which our confessors are in the habit of putting to their female penitents; I have already been destroyed by those questions.  Before I was seventeen years old, God knows that His angels are not more pure than I was; but the chaplain of the nunnery where my parents had sent me for my education, though approaching old age, put to me, in the confessional, a question, which, at first, I did not understand, but was later explained to me by one of my young classmates.

     “This first unchaste conversation of my life plunged my thoughts into a sea of iniquity till then absolutely unknown to me.  Temptations of the most humiliating character assailed me for a week, day and night; after which, sins which I would blot out with my blood, if it were possible, overwhelmed my soul as with a deluge.  But the joys of the sinners are short.  Struck with terror at the thoughts of the judgments of God, after a few weeks of the most deplorable life, I determined to give up my sins and reconcile myself to God.

     “Covered with shame, and trembling from head to foot, I went to confess to my old confessor, whom I respected as a saint and cherished as a father.  It seems to me that, with sincere tears of repentance, I confessed to him the greatest part of my sins, though I concealed one of them, through shame and respect for my spiritual guide.  But I did not conceal from him that the strange questions he had put to me at my last confession, were, with the natural corruption of my heart, the principal cause of my destruction.

    “He spoke to me very kindly, encouraged me to fight against my bad inclinations, and at first gave me very kind and good advice.  But when I thought he had finished speaking, and as I was preparing to leave the confessional box, he put to me two new questions of such a polluting character that I fear that neither the blood of Christ nor all the fires of hell will ever be able to blot them out from my memory.  These questions have achieved my ruin; they have stuck in my mind like two deadly arrows; they are day and night before my imagination; they fill my very arteries and veins with a deadly poison.

     “It is true, that at first, they filled me with horror and disgust; but, alas!  I soon got so accustomed to them that they seemed to be incorporated with me, and as if becoming a second nature.  Those thoughts have become a new source of innumerable criminal, thoughts, desires, and actions.

     “A month later, we were obliged by the rules of our convent to go and confess; but by this time I was so completely lost that I no longer blushed at the idea of confessing my shameful sins to a man.  I had a real, diabolical pleasure in the thought that I should have a long conversation with my confessor on these matters, and that he would ask me more of these strange questions.  In fact, when I told him everything without a blush, he began to interrogate me, and God knows what corrupting things fell from his lips into my poor criminal heart!  Every one of his questions was thrilling my nerves and filling me with the most shameful sensations!  After an hour of this criminal tete-a tete with my old confessor, I perceived that he was as depraved as I was myself.  With some half-covered words he made a criminal proposition, which I accepted with covered words also; and during more than a year we have lived together in the most sinful intimacy.  Though he was much older than I, I loved him in the most foolish way.  When the course of my convent instruction was finished, my parents called me back to their home.  I was really glad of that change of residence, for I was beginning to be tired of my criminal life.  My hope was that, under the direction of a better confessor, I should reconcile myself to God and begin a Christian life.

     Unfortunately for me, my new confessor, who was very young, began also his interrogations.  He soon fell in love with me, and I loved him in a most criminal way.  I have done with him things which I hope you will never request me to reveal to you, for they are too monstrous to be repeated, even in the confessional, by a woman to a man.

     “I do not say these things to take away the responsibility of my iniquities with this young confessor, for I think I have been more criminal than he was.  I believe that he was a good and holy priest before he knew me, but the questions he put to me, and the answers I had to give him, melted his heart just as boiling lead would melt the ice on which it flows.

     “I know this is not a detailed confession as our holy church requires me to make, but I have thought it necessary for me to give you this short history of the life of the greatest and most miserable sinner who ever asked you to help her to come out of the tomb of her iniquities.  This is the way I have lived these last few years.  But last Sabbath, God, in His infinite mercy, looked down upon me.  He inspired you to give us the Prodigal Son as a model of true conversion, and as the most marvelous proof of the infinite compassion of the dear Saviour for the sinner.  I have wept day and night since that happy day, when I threw myself into the arms of my loving, merciful Father.  Even now I can hardly speak, because my regret of my past iniquities, and the joy that I am allowed to bathe the feet of the Saviour with tears, are so great that my voice is as choked.

     “You understand that I have forever given up my last confessor.  I come to ask you to do the favor to receive me among your penitents.  Oh! do not reject nor rebuke me, for the dear Saviour’s sake!  Be not afraid to have at your side such a monster of iniquity!  But before going any further, I have two favors to ask from you.

     “The first is, that you will never do anything to ascertain my name; the second is, that you will never put to me any of those questions by which so many penitents are lost and so many priests destroyed.  Twice I have been lost by those questions.  Oh!  dear father, let me become your penitent, that you may help me go and weep with Magdalene at the Saviour’s feet.  Do respect me, as He respected that true model of all the sinful, but repenting women!  Did our Saviour put to her any questions?  Did he extort from her the history of things, which a sinful woman cannot say without forgetting the respect she owes to herself and to God.  No! You told us not long ago, that the only thing our Saviour did was to look at her tears and her love.  Well, please do that, and you will save me!”

     I was then a very young priest, and never had any words so sublime come to my ears in the confessional box.  Her tears and her sobs, mingled with the frank declaration of the most humiliating actions, had made such a profound impression upon me that I was for some time, unable to speak.  It had come to my mind also that I might be mistaken about her identity, and that perhaps she was not the young lady that I had imagined.  I could, then, easily grant her first request, which was to do nothing by which I could know her.  The second part of her prayer was more embarrassing; for the theologians are very positive in ordering the confessors to question their penitents, particularly of the female sex.

     I encouraged her in the best way I could to persevere in her good resolutions by invoking the blessed Virgin Mary and St. Philomene.  I told her that I would pray and think over the subject of her second request; and I asked her to come back in a week for my answer.

     The very same day I went to my own confessor, the Rev. Mr. Baillargeon.  I told him the singular and unusual request she had made and I did not conceal from him that I was much inclined to grant her that favor; for I repeated what I have already several times told him, that I was supremely disgusted with the infamous and polluting questions which the theologians forded us to put to our female penitents.  I told him frankly that several old and young priests had already come to confess to me; and that, with the exception of two, they had told me that they could not put those questions and hear the answers they elicited without falling into the most damnable sins.

     My confessor seemed to be much perplexed and asked me to come the next day, that he might review some theological books in the interval.  The next day I took down in writing his answer:

     Such cases of the destruction of female virtue by the questions of the confessors, is an unavoidable evil.  It cannot be helped; for such questions are absolutely necessary in the greater part of the cases in which we have to deal.  Men generally confess their sins with so much sincerity that there is seldom any need for questioning them, except when they are very ignorant.  But St. Liguori as well as our personal observation, tells us that the greatest part of girls and women, through a false and criminal shame, very seldom confess the sins they commit against purity.  It requires the utmost charity in the confessors to prevent these unfortunate slaves of their secret passions from making sacrilegious confessions and communions.  With the greatest prudence and zeal he must question them on these matters, beginning with the smallest sins, and going little by little, as much as possible by imperceptible degrees, to the most criminal actions.  As it seems evident that the penitent referred to in your questions of yesterday is unwilling to make a full and detailed confession of all her iniquities, you cannot promise to absolve her without assuring yourself by wise and prudent questions that she had confessed everything.

     “You must not be discouraged when, through the confessional or any other way you learn of the fall of priests into the common frailties of human nature with their penitentse hh hhhhHhhhh

.  Our Saviour knew very well that the occasions and the temptations we have to encounter in the confessions of girls and women, are so numerous and sometimes irresistible, that many would fall.  But He has given them the Holy Virgin Mary, who constantly asks and obtains their pardon; He has given them the sacrament of penance, where they can receive their pardon as often as they ask for it.  The vow of perfect chastity is a great honor and privilege; but we cannot conceal from ourselves that it puts on our shoulders a burden, which many cannot carry forever.  St. Liguori says that we must not rebuke the penitent priest who falls only once a month; and some other trustworthy theologians are still more charitable.”

     This answer far from satisfied me.  It seemed to me composed of soft soap principles.  I went back with a heavy heart and an anxious mind; and God knows that I made many fervent prayers that this girl should never come again to give me her sad history.  I was then hardly twenty-six years old, full of youth and life.  It seemed to me that the stings of a thousand wasps to my ears could not   do me so much harm, as the words of that dear, beautiful, accomplished, but lost girl.

     I do not mean to say that the revelations, which she made, had, in any way, diminished my esteem and respect for her.  It was just the contrary.  Her tears and her sobs at my feet; her agonizing expressions of shame and regret; her noble words of protest against the disgusting and polluting interrogations of the confessors had raised her very high in my mind.  My sincere hope was that she would have a place in the kingdom of Christ, with the Samaritan woman, Mary Magdalene, and all the sinners who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.

     At the appointed day, I was in my confessional listening to the confession of a young man, when, though incognito, I recognized Miss Mary entering the vestry, coming directly to my confessional box, where she knelt by me.

     Oh! I would have given every drop of my blood in that solemn hour, that I might have been free to deal with her just as she had so eloquently requested me to do.

     But, there, in that confessional box, I was not the servant of Christ. I was the slave of the pope!  I was not there to save, but to destroy; for under the pretext of purifying, the real mission of the confessor, often, if not always, in spite of himself, is to scandalize and damn the souls.

     Without noise, I turned myself towards her, and said, through the little aperture, “Are you ready to begin your confession?”

     But she did not answer me.  All that I could hear was: “Oh, My Jesus, have mercy upon me!  I come to wash my souls in Thy blood; wilt Thou rebuke me?”  During several minutes she raised her hands and eye to heaven, and wept and prayed.  My tears were flowing with her tears, and my ardent prayers were going to the feet of Jesus with her prayers.  I would not have interrupted her for any consideration, in this, her sublime communion with her merciful Saviour.

     But after a pretty long time I made a little noise with my hand, and putting my lips near the opening of the partition, which was between us, I said in a low voice,  “Dear sister, are you ready to begin your confession?”

     She turned her face a little towards me, and said, with trembling voice, “Yes, dear father, I am ready.  My dear father, do you remember the prayers which I made to you the other day?  Can you allow me to confess my sins without forcing me to forget the respect that I owe to myself, to you and to God, who hears us?  And can you promise that you will not put to me any of those questions that have already done me such irreparable injury?  I frankly declare to you there are sins in me that I cannot reveal to anyone, except to Christ, because He is my God and that He already knows them all.  Let me weep and cry at His feet; can you not forgive me without adding to my iniquities by forcing me to say things that the tongue of a Christian woman can not reveal to a man?”

     “My dear sister,” I answered, “were I free to follow the voice of my own feelings I would be only to happy to grant your request; but I am here only as the minister of our holy church, and bound to obey the laws.  Through her most holy popes and theologians she tells me that I cannot forgive your sins if you do not confess them all, just as you have committed them.  The church tells me also that you must give the details, which may add to the malice or change the nature of your sins.  I am sorry to tell you that our most holy theologians make it a duty of the confessor to question the penitent on the sins which he has good reason to suspect have been voluntarily omitted.”

     “With a piercing cry she exclaimed, “Then, O my God, I am lost—forever lost!”

     This cry fell upon me like a thunderbolt; but I was still more terror-stricken when, looking through the aperture, I saw she was fainting.  I heard the noise of her body falling upon the floor, and of her head striking against the sides of the confessional box.

     Quick as lightning I ran to help her, took her in my arms, and called a couple of men, who were at a little distance, to assist me in laying her on a bench.  I washed her face with some cold water and vinegar.  She was as pale as death, but her lips were moving, and she was saying something which nobody but I could understand: “I am lost forever!”

     We took her home to her disconsolate family, where for a month she lingered between life and death.  Her two first confessors came to visit her; but having asked everyone to go out of the room, she politely, but firmly, requested them to go away, and never come again.  She asked me to visit her every day.  “For,” she said, “I have only a few more days to live.  Help me to prepare myself for that solemn hour which will open to me the gates of eternity!”

     Every day I visited her, and I prayed and I wept with her.  Many times, when alone, with tears I requested her to finish her confession; but, with a firmness, which then seemed to be mysterious and inexplicable, she politely rebuked me.

     One day, when alone with her, I was kneeling by the side of her bed to pray.  I was unable to articulate a single word, because of the inexpressible anguish of my soul on her account, she asked me “Dear Father, why do you weep?”

     I answered, “How can you put such a question to your murderer! I weep because I have killed you, my friend.”

     This answer seemed to trouble her exceedingly.  She was very weak that day.  After she had wept and prayed in silence, she said, “Do not weep for me, but weep for so many priests who have destroyed their penitents in the confessional.  I believe in the holiness of the sacrament of penance, since our holy church has established it.  But there is, somewhere, something exceedingly wrong in the confessional.  Twice I have been destroyed, and I know many girls who have also been destroyed by the confessional.  I pity the poor priests the day that our fathers will know what becomes of the purity of their daughters in the hands of their confessors.  Father would surely kill my last two confessors, if he could only know they have destroyed his poor child.

     I could not answer except by weeping.  We remained silent for a long time, then she said,  “It is true that I was not prepared for the rebuke you have given me the other day in the confessional; but you acted conscientiously as a good and honest priest.  I know you must be bound by certain laws.”

     She then pressed my hand with her cold hand and said, weep not, dear father, because that sudden storm has wrecked my too fragile bark.  This storm was to take me out from the bottomless sea of my iniquities to the shore where Jesus was waiting to receive and pardon me.  The night after you brought me, half dead, here to my father’s house, I had a dream. Oh no! it was not a dream, it was a reality.  My Jesus came to me, He was bleeding, His crown of thorns was on His head, the heavy cross was bruising His shoulders.  He said to me, with a voice so sweet that no human tongue can imitate it, ‘I have seen thy tears, I have heard thy cries, and I know thy love for me, thy sins are forgiven; take courage, in a few days thou shalt be with me!”

     She had hardly finished her last words, when she fainted.  I called her family, who rushed into the room.  The doctor was sent for.  He found her so weak that he thought it proper to allow only one or two persons to remain in the room with me.  He requested us not to speak at all, “For,” said he,  “the least emotion may kill her instantly: her disease is, in all probability, an aneurism of the aorta, the big vein which brings blood to the heart: when it breaks, she will go as quick as lightning.”

     It was nearly ten at night when I left the house to go and take some rest.  But it was a sleepless night.  My dear Mary was there, pale, dying from the deadly blow which I had given her in the confessional.  She was there, on her bed of death, her heart pierced with the dagger, which my church had put into my hands! And instead of rebuking and cursing me for my savage, merciless fanaticism, she was blessing me.  She was dying of a broken heart! And I was not allowed by my church to give her a single word of consolation and hope, for had she not made her confession?  I had mercilessly bruised that tender plant, and there was nothing in my hands to heal the wounds I had made!

     It was very probable that she would die the next day, and I was forbidden to show her the crown of glory, which Jesus has prepared in His kingdom for the repenting sinner.

     Before the dawn of day, I rose to read my theologians and see if I could not find someone who would allow me to forgive the sins of that dear child, without forcing her to tell me anything she had done.  But they seemed to me more than ever, unanimously inexorable, and I put them back on the shelves of my library with a broken heart.

     At nine a.m. the next day, I was at Mary’s bedside.  I cannot sufficiently tell the joy I felt. When the doctor and the whole family said to me, “She is much better; the rest of last night has wrought a marvelous change, indeed.”

     With a really angelic smile she extended her hand towards me, and said, “I thought, last evening, that the dear Saviour would take me to Him, but he wants me, dear father, to give you a little more trouble, however, be patient, it cannot be long before the solemn hour of the appeal will strike.  Will you please read me the history of the suffering and death of the beloved Saviour, which you read me the other day?  It does me so much good to see how He has loved me, such a miserable sinner.”

     There was a calm and solemnity in her words, which struck me singularly, as well as all those who were there.

     After I had finished reading, she exclaimed, “He has loved me so much that He died for my sins!”  And she shut her eyes as if to meditate in silence, but there was a stream of big tears rolling down her cheeks.

     I knelt down by her bed, with her family, to pray, but I could not utter a single word.  The idea that this dear child was there, dying from cruel fanaticism of my theologians and my own cowardice in obeying them, was as a millstone to my neck.  It was killing me.

     After we had silently prayed and wept by her bedside, she requested her mother to leave her alone with me.

     When I saw myself alone, under the irresistible impression that this was her last day, I fell on my knees again and with tears of the most sincere compassion for her soul, I requested her to shake off her shame and to obey our holy church, which requires everyone to confess their sins if they want to be forgiven.

     She calmly, but with an air of dignity which no human words can express, said, “Is it true that, after the sins of Adam and Eve, God Himself made coats of skins and clothed them, that they might not see each other’s nakedness?”

     “Yes,” I said, this is what the Holy Scriptures tell us.”

     “Well, then, how is it possible that our confessors dare to take away from us the holy, divine coat of modesty and self-respect?  Has not Almighty God Himself made, with His own hands, that coat of womanly modesty and self-respect that we might not be to you and to ourselves a cause of shame and sin?”

    I was really stunned by the beauty, simplicity and sublimity of that comparison.  I remained absolutely mute and confounded.  Though it was demolishing all the traditions and doctrines of my church, and pulverizing all my holy doctors and theologians, that noble answer found such an echo to my soul, that it seemed to me a sacrilege to try to touch it with my finger.

     After a short time of silence she continued, “Twice I have been destroyed by priests in the confessional.  They took away from me that divine coat of modesty and self-respect which God gives to every human being who comes into this world, and twice I have become for those very priests a deep pit of perdition into which they have fallen, and where I fear they are forever lost!  My merciful heavenly Father has given me back that coat of skins, that nuptial robe of modesty, and self-respect, and holiness which had been taken away from me.  He cannot allow you or any other man to tear and spoil that vestment which is the work of His hands.”

     These words had exhausted her; it was evident to me that she wanted some rest.  I left her alone, but I was absolutely beside myself.  Filled with admiration for the sublime lessons, which I had received from the lips of that regenerated daughter of Eve, who, it was evident, was soon to fly away from us.  I felt a supreme disgust for myself, my theologians—shall I say it?  Yes, I felt in that solemn hour, a supreme disgust for my church, which was cruelly defiling me and all her priests, in the confessional box.  I felt, in that hour, a supreme horror for that auricular confession, which is so often a pit of perdition and supreme misery for the confessor and the penitent.

     At 4:00 p.m. I returned to the house.  When alone with her, I again fell on my knees, and, amidst torrent of tears, I said, “Dear sister, it is my desire to give you the holy viaticum and the extreme unction: but tell me, how I can do a thing so solemn against all the prohibitions of our holy church?  How can I give you the holy communion without first giving you the absolution? And how can I give you absolution when you earnestly persist in telling me that you have so many sins which you will never declare to me or any other confessor?

     “You know that I cherish and respect you as if you were an angel sent to me from heaven.  I bless every hour we have passed together in looking to the wounds of our beloved, dying Saviour.  I bless you for having forgiven me your death! for I know it, and I confess it in the presence of God, I have killed you, dear sister.  But now I prefer a thousand times to die than to say to you a word which would pain you in any way, or trouble the peace of your soul.  Please, my dear sister, tell me what I can and must do for you in this solemn hour.”

     Calmly, and with a smile of joy such as I have never seen before, nor since, she said, “I thank and bless you, dear father, for the parable of the Prodigal Son, on which you preached a month ago.  You have brought me to the feet of the dear Saviour; there I have found a peace and a joy surpassing anything that human heart can feel; I have thrown myself into the arms of my Heavenly Father, and I know that He has mercifully accepted and forgiven His poor prodigal child.  Oh, I see the angels with their golden harps around the throne of the Lamb!  Do you not hear the celestial harmony of their songs?  I go—I go to join them in my Father’s house.  I      SHALL NOT BE LOST!

     Her hands were crossed on her breast and there was on her face an expression of really super human joy; her beautiful eyes were fixed as if they were looking on some grand and sublime spectacle; it seemed to me at first, that she was praying.  But I was mistaken. The redeemed soul had gone, on the golden wings of love, to join the multitude of  those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, to sing the eternal Alleluia.

     The revelation of the unmentionable corruptions directly and unavoidably engendered by auricular confession, had come to me from the lips of that young lady, as the first rays of the sun which were to hurl back the dark clouds of night by which Rome had wrapped my intelligence on that subject.

     She was brought there by the merciful hand of God, to right my course.  Her words filled with superhuman wisdom, and her burning tears, came to me, by the marvelous Providence of God as the first beams of the Sun of Righteousness, to teach me that auricular confession was a Satanic invention. 

     Had she been the only one I might still have held some doubt about the diabolical origin of that institution.  But thousands and thousands, before and after her, have been sent by my merciful God to tell me the same tale, till after twenty-five years of experience it became certain to me that that modern invention of Rome must, sooner or later, with very few exceptions, drag both the confessor and his female penitents into a common and irreparable ruin.

     Those who would like to know all about the abominations of auricular confessions should have my volume “The Priest, the Woman and the Confessional.”

Charles Chiniquy

Man's State in Death

     “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

 Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.   

     The theory of the immortality of the soul was one of those false doctrines that Rome, borrowing from paganism, incorporated into the religion of Christendom. Martin Luther classed it with the "monstrous fables that form part of the Roman dunghill of decretals." Commenting on the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, that the dead know not anything, the Reformer says: " . . . Solomon judgeth that the dead are asleep, and feel nothing at all. For the dead lie there, accounting neither days nor years, but when they are awakened, they shall seem to have slept scarce one minute."    

     The martyr Tyndale, referring to the state of the dead, declared: "I confess openly, that I am not persuaded that they be already in the full glory that Christ is in, or the elect angels of God are in. Neither is it any article of my faith; for if it were so, I see not but then the preaching of the resurrection of the flesh were a thing in vain."      

     According to the popular belief, the redeemed in heaven are acquainted with all that takes place on the earth, and especially with the lives of the friends whom they have left behind. But how could it be a source of happiness to the dead to know the troubles of the living, . . . to see them enduring all the sorrows, disappointments, and anguish of life? . . . And how utterly revolting is the belief that as soon as the breath leaves the body, the soul of the impenitent is consigned to the flames of hell! To what depths of anguish must those be plunged who see their friends passing to the grave unprepared, to enter upon an eternity of woe and sin!    

     Christ represents death as a sleep to His believing children. Their life is hid with Christ in God, and until the last trump shall sound those who die will sleep in Him. FLB 175