The Catholic Corporation teaches that Sacramental Confession requires three steps: contrition (sorrow of the soul for the sins committed), disclosure of the sins (confession), and penance (doing something to make amends). Orthodox and some Protestant Christian denominations as well as Islam and Judaism also have individual or communal confession rituals. Even 12 Step Programs include a similar ritual: “Step 5:Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
At this point it’s very important to separate the benefit of having unburdened one’s self of these secrets (for truly we are “only as sick as our secrets,“) from wallowing in any guilt, shame and low esteem that arises. Things too often reinforced by institutions and people happy to use such feelings against us. There may be genuine positive results from accepting and processing guilt or shame from our actions; but not always.
One of the primary similarities of all houses within the realm of “Perpetual Indulgence” is our vows to “promulgate universal joy,” and “expiate stigmatic guilt,” while serving our communities. Although much of the ritual and terminology of OPI stem from the Catholic Corporation (or rather, ancient belief systems co-opted by that group) in this case ‘stigmatic guilt’ does not refer to a feeling of shame at having (or in not having) ‘stigmata’. For those who don’t know the term, it refers to bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the mythological* crucifixion wounds of Jesus, such as the hands and feet.
In the realm of OPI it refers to the guilt or shame many people have over being (or presumed to be) gay, lesbian or queer. It has also been referred to as ‘STG’ (Sexually-Transmitted Guilt). Caused by relatives, community, and religious institutions; it is often repressed. Such repression is soul-killing; often leading to self-destructive behaviour such as abuse of alcohol or other chemicals, being enmeshed in those religious institutions, or even attacking other queer folk. There are many ways to remove such guilt from ourselves and the world; from counseling with a therapist to a more direct, sisterly approach.
One approach favoured by the Toronto Order was the use of the ‘Guilt Disposal Bag‘. Under the direct supervision of a highly-skilled Sister, this device is capable of removing and destroying years of pent-up stigmatic guilt.
Upon successful removal of years of pent-up guilt, the person’s new status as Officially Guilt-Free would be formally recognized with a genuine Sisterly Certificate. The archives are without a scanner at the moment. I have re-created the certificate; fonts and layout are not exact, but it is word-for-word the same content. The original document bears a hand-stamped seal, lower-right, which is no longer in my possession.
In scientific study, a myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form; not a judgment as to the accuracy or even possibility of such events.