Thursday, August 18, 2011

How a Drinking Bet Led to Repentance

Several drinking buddies were together one evening. The conversation turned upon how long it had been since any of them had gone to confession. One of them made a bet that for a case of beer he would go to confession the very next morning.

His buddies accepted the bet. That morning, the drinking buddies went to church early to see if their friend kept his word. He showed up, and entered the confessional.

Upon kneeling down, he said to the priest, “Father, I have not come to confess my sins, but for the purpose of winning a case of beer for a bet. As you can tell, my friends are here to
see that I have done my part.”

The priest was appalled. He solemnly warned him not to make a joke of the sacraments, and bidding him to remember that there was a just God who would not permit iniquity. The man answered, “I care nothing about that.”

The priest then spoke to him of death and hell, but the priest received the same answer, “I care nothing about that.” Then the priest spoke to him with great solemnity, “You’ve done everything to win your bet. I cannot give you absolution, but I can lay a penance upon you. For a whole month, every morning and night, you will repeat these words: ‘There is a just God, but I care nothing for Him. I must die some day, but I care nothing about that. There is a hell for the ungodly, but I care nothing for it either.’”

As soon as the man left the confessional, he told his friends what happened. They agreed he must perform his penance before he could collect his bet. He promised to do that. He had barely repeated the prescribed words for a week before he began thinking about God, death and hell.

Such were his thoughts that in two weeks’ time he went back to confession in good faith, and acknowledged his past transgressions with sincere contrition.

Needless to say, he did not mention the bet again to his former drinking buddies.

Adapted from Father Francis Spirago’s Anecdotes and Examples
Illustrating the Catholic Catechism (New York: Benziger
Brothers,1904), 219–220.

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