I croaked along merrily with a soft ballad describing "white on white, lace on satin, blue velvet ribbons on purple cake..." I even went so far as to discuss this unusual lyric with a friend.
"Doesn't that sound like the ugliest wedding cake ever?!," I tsk-tsked, never questioning the validity of my perceptions. Either my friend had the same hearing problem as I, or she was too kind to correct me. But we seemed to both envision a towering cake of dark purple, ringed round with turquoise bows. I'm ashamed to admit how old I was before I found out the truth about this, but let's just say that it was my husband who told me. And we were already married. "...it's 'blue velvet ribbons ON HER BOUQUET'," he clarified.
It seems my hearing lapses were not limited to lyrics. I learned the Act of Contrition in first grade, and recited it in Confession at least bi-weekly. I was in fourth grade when the priest on the other side of the dark shadowy veil stopped me just after I'd begun with my usual: "O my God, I am partly sorry for having offended Thee, and I..."
He broke right in.
"Are you only partly sorry?", he asked. I knelt there in panic. Well... well, of course!, said I. That's what the prayer says, that's how I learned it, yes Father I'm sure I must be partly sorry, I'm at least partly sorry and that's a good thing isn't it Father? (am I passing this test?).
Father was kind in his correction. And I've been heartily sorry ever since. Although...
There are times when I think about Father's gentle question. It's not a bad one for an examination of conscience. I mean - how many times do I confess sins and faults for which I'm only partly sorry? If I'm really honest with myself, how much thought do I give to what I have done, to the pain it might have caused someone? To the pain it might bring to Our Lord?
Yes, perhaps I have before me a good point for reflection. If I said the Act of Contrition right here, right now, and if I were really honest with myself... what kind of sorry would I be?
"If we are truly humble our sins will infinitely displease us, because God is offended by them" (St. Francis de Sales)
(Jean Etienne Liotard painting in US public domain)