There are three things that I've been told over time that can guarantee the start of a good argument: sex, politics or religion.
Let's go to church on this one.
As someone who attends a Lutheran church on Sundays, I love being reminded each week of my Catholic upbringing. The similarities are all over the place. The one thing that is not: confession.
Though they are 11 years old, my twin sons cannot comprehend what it is when I tell them about going to confession once a week while I was in elementary school at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. My 16- and 19-year-old daughters are more intrigued, but yet, they still can't fathom that kind of world.
If I talk to Catholics who are my age, they will tell you about not being able to go to communion until you go to confession. As I got older, things changed. It was every week in elementary school, then once a month when I got to high school, once a month when I got to college and whenever I remembered after that.
In the Lutheran, as well as the Episcopal church, which I also once attended, there is no confession. There is a prayer during the Mass where you ask for God's forgiveness, and if you are truly sorry, you are forgiven. Like that ... you're done.
There is no going into a confessional - behind a screen or face-to-face - and telling your sins. You pray. You mean it. You're forgiven. Exit stage left.
I have said this before, and I will always believe it: Had I grown up a Lutheran or something else, I think I would have sinned a lot earlier in life - and a lot more.
I can remember one time going to see one of my favorite priests of all-time at Mount Carmel when I was in my early 20s. I told him a sin, and his initial response: "You don't sound sorry, Scotty."
My reaction: "Oh God! He knows."
His thoughts were you can't just go out and sin every week and then come in here and tell it and then go out and do it again.
My response: "Father, I thought that was pretty much how this system works." I sin. They forgive. It's in the manual, isn't it?
He didn't laugh, and you folks know me, the confessional was my stage at that moment. I kind of was going for a laugh there.
A good friend of mine, Jimmy Garlena, told me his priest at St. Rose of Lima once said this to him: "If you come to confession, come in confessing, don't come in bragging." You see, that's good stuff. That is the stuff that sitcom episodes are built on. I would have loved to have said that or been told that.
My brothers used to tease my mother every now and then about me not being Catholic anymore.
They tell her stuff like my tongue will burn if I ever go to communion again. Such nice boys.
I think she is worried that when we all get to Heaven someday - and those are my plans - she'll have to hang out with all the Catholics, and I will be with the Lutherans. I just tell her to follow the laughter, and I'm sure she'll be able to find me.
Scott Franco is a member of the Altoona Mirror sports staff, a husband and a father of four. Reach him at 946-7528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.