It was Saturday afternoon and the old priest sat in the confessional, humming and examining his fingernails as he waited for the penitent to arrive. Usually the most devout went to confession every week, sometimes more than that. Most of the confessions were harmless while others could curl your hair.
Just as the priest was about to nod off, a middle-aged woman entered the confessional and said “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I committed adultery twice this week.” The priest was understandably upset but forgave her, told her to say six Hail Marys and advised her not to let it happen again.
During the week eight more people confessed the same sin. The priest forgave them all but by the end of the month over fifty people confessed to committing adultery and he was ready to scream. He was so disappointed by the behavior of his parishioners that the following Sunday he greeted the congregation with the following announcement: “From now on if any of you needs to confess to committing adultery, don’t say that word. Instead say you tripped in a pothole and fell down – something along those lines. I don’t want to hear that distasteful word ever again.” The people were embarrassed and ashamed to look at the priest but they honored his request and did as he asked.
Months went by and the number of people who tripped in potholes or fell down was mind-boggling. Even people from other churches began coming to confess their sins to the kindly old priest. After all, saying “I tripped in a pothole” was much more palatable than admitting to committing adultery. The penitent parishioners certainly were creative and the priest heard every euphemism for “adultery” under the sun!
Suddenly the old priest passed away and was replaced by young priest fresh from the seminary and anxious to do God’s work. The new priest knew nothing about the “adultery arrangement”. One day a young woman came to confession and admitted to tripping in a pothole and twisting her ankle on a cobblestone … twice. The priest was rather perplexed but simply replied “That’s alright, my child. Just watch your step next time.” This happened so often that the young priest felt compelled to take the issue of the potholes up with the mayor and city council.
The priest telephoned the mayor and they planned to meet the next day. “Mr. Mayor”, the priest said. “Something needs to be done about the deplorable conditions of the roads in this town. People keep tripping in potholes or falling off broken curbs every day.”
“Oh, that” he answered and everyone began laughing hysterically when they realized the priest had no idea about the secret of the potholes.
The priest was taken aback and angered by the mayor and city council’s cavalier attitude.
“This is no laughing matter, Mr. Mayor! I can’t understand why you think it’s so funny. Why, your own wife tripped and fell in potholes six times last week!”
NAR © 2019