Confession Behind a Screen

image from Early Bedtime Punishments
image from Early Bedtime Punishments

I was raised Catholic, and I remember spending a whole year of classes preparing for my first confession- or reconciliation as they insisted on calling it. We were told there were two options for how this would happen. We would either be seated in front of the priest (presented as the modern method that we were all meant to choose) or kneeling behind a screen (presented as the old-fashioned, outdated method kept on only for the sake of tradition and a few of the elderly faithful stuck in the old ways).

I never really had a choice- there were so many of us to process that day that they set up several temporary confessionals where  face-to-face was the only option. It was a powerful and positive experience, but not what I would have chosen given the chance.

Don’t get me wrong- I understand the power of eye contact. When discussing sensitive maters, there is a lot to be said for being able to read body language, and a lot of comfort to be had with someone to hold your hand and provide reassurance.

But there is also comfort in anonymity, in whispering secrets behind a screen to another anonymous someone who will hear and understand (even if on some level you know exactly who that someone is). Whether metal, cloth, or LED, screens provide a sense of security while allowing for the free flow of emotion.

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