The following is from The Fountain of Catholic Knowledge (copyrighted by Office of Catholic Publications, 1900)...
Two young officers, when walking one day in Paris, entered the Church of the Assumption. After having looked at the pictures, the architecture; after having thought of everything excepting God, they were going out, when they perceived a priest wearing a surplice kneeling down close to a confessional. He seemed to be waiting for someone.
"Look! Do you see that priest?" said one of the young men, laughingly, to his companion. "What is he doing there?"
"Waiting for you, perhaps," replied the other.
"Not very probable," answered the first; "but what will you bet that I go up and speak to him?"
"I bet you will not."
"And what is more, that I will confess to him?"
"I bet you will not."
"I bet that I will. Come, what do you bet?"
"A good dinner."
"Done!...Agreed!... Wait for me, and watch the manoeuvre."
And the foolish young fellow advances boldly to the priest of God. He whispers to him, and he rises immediately, enters the confessional; then the officer goes in at one of the sides and kneels down, just as is always done.
"Will he ever have the effrontery?" thought the other. And with a smile of admiration on his lips, he sat down to wait for the improvised penitent.
This went on for about seven or eight minutes, at the end of which he thought the joke had lasted a little too long. At length, after more than a quarter of an hour, the officer rose, came out of the confessional, and left after making a sign to his friend. His face was serious, and he seemed deeply moved. However, he laughed about the adventure with his companion, but would not tell him why he had remained so long. Upon the first excuse he left him and returned home.
Two days after, he again entered the Assumption, and, after having prayed for a long time, approached the same confessional where the same priest had just gone in.
This time he remained for half an hour; there were tears in his eyes when he came out...Peace and joy were written in his face...He had just received the pardon of his sins...And what was the meaning of all this? and what had happened to him two days before? It happens as follows, and I tell it in the officer's own words:
The priest to whom he addressed himself very quickly perceived, by the tone of his penitent, that he was listening to no serious confession.
"This is all in mockery, monsieur," he said gently, interrupting him. "You are doing wrong; you must not scoff at the things of God nor at His appointed ministers. But I pardon you from my heart, and I pray God to do the same."
The officer, a little disconcerted, tried to excuse himself.
"No, no," said the good priest, smiling. "You have done wrong; let us say no more about it. Still, since you have sought me out, allow me to speak to you for a minute, to ask you what you are-what is your calling?"
"Willingly, father," replied the young man; "I am an officer."
"Ah! That is a very fine calling. And what is your grade?"
"I am a sub-lieutenant."
"And after that what will you become?"
"I shall be a lieutenant."
"Afterward a captain."
"A commander; then lieutenant-colonel, then colonel, then general, then lieutenant-general, perhaps."
"And what age will you be then?"
"Well, if I have good luck, and if I go to Africa, about forty or forty-five."
"And do you not intend to marry?"
"Oh, yes, I shall marry!"
"Well, then you will become a general and married; and after that what will you become?"
"After that? Why there is nothing left but the grade of a marshal."
"And supposing that you should obtain that, what would you do afterward?"
"Upon my word, I should do nothing more. I should rest with my wife and children."
The serious tone of the priest troubled the young officer.
"Ah, well! I shall die afterward."
The young man shuddered. Of this afterward he never thought.
"You give me no answer, monsieur." said the confessor gravely. "You are ignorant perhaps, of what will come to pass afterward. You have told me only of what will happen before. But now I will tell you, in my turn, what will happen afterward. After your death, your soul will appear before Jesus Christ, and will be judged, not according to that human glory which will have vanished like a dream, but according to the good or evil it has done. If you have been virtuous, a faithful observer of the laws of God and of His Church; if you have been humble, pure, chaste, just, and merciful to others,-in a word, if you have been a good and faithful Christian, you will be saved, and will enter into the immutable happiness of eternity. If, on the contrary, you have followed the bent of your evil passions; if you have forgotten the services of God; if you have been proud, sensual, negligent, merciless, and unjust,- in a word, if you have not been a true Christian, you will be damned, understand me, monsieur.
General, marshal, though you may be, you will be judged by Him who has no respect for persons, and you will hear the thunder of the terrible sentence: 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' Now I have only one word more to say to you. It was no slight offence to come thus to mock me, face to face. I demand some satisfaction which, as a man of honor, you cannot refuse.
I demand, understand me,-I demand that during one week, very night before you sleep, you shall think of what I have just said to you, and shall pronounce these words: 'I shall die; but I laugh at it. After my death I shall be judged; but I laugh at it. After my judgment I shall be eternally damned; but I laugh at it.'
This is the reparation that I exact. Will you give me your word of honor to that you will not fail to grant it?"
His penitent, wholly entangled in the snare he had intended for another, dared not refuse. He promised upon his word of honor to do what was asked from him.
"Go, then, monsieur," said the priest; "I pardon you from my heart, and I promise to remember you before the throne of God."
From a sentiment of loyalty and honor, the young officer performed the penance thus imposed. He made no resistance, and two days after his heart changed, and, sincerely repentant, he returned in good earnest to that confessional which he had entered in jest. He has since become an excellent Christian.
If we were wise, we should reflect every day upon the shortness of life, and the unchangeable eternity which awaits us; and by means, we too, should become good and faithful Christians." [end, pg 379-382]
I highly recommend watching this excellent episode of The Download which speaks of what awaits people in hell...and a few of the sins, especially betrayal that will send a person to hell.
Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner