Have you ever gotten the feeling that God was trying to tell you something?

I received an e-mail yesterday called “Love One Another” from Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. A weekly electronic “homily,” he chose this week to share his thoughts on what people should be concentrating on during the “Season of Mercy.” His number one recommendation? Confession. Instantly my heart dropped.

Let me confess something to all of you: I haven’t been to confession in almost five years.

When it comes down to it, there really isn’t a huge reason why I’ve been avoiding it. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t this week because of school, work, family responsibilities, baby-sitting, etc … you know, all those things that I just CAN’T drop.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the sacrament of reconciliation a lot, and I think I’ve finally come up with a good analogy for it, based on my own experiences. Funny enough, it has to do with caring for your teeth.

After I enrolled in college, it seemed that just about everything had to take a backseat to my earning a degree. This not only included getting regular haircuts, keeping doctor appointments, eating on a regular basis, and washing my clothes, but also taking care of my teeth. I failed to floss, only brushed about once a day, and mouthwash? What’s that? Before I knew it, I had gone nearly three years without a dentist appointment, when suddenly, the inevitable hit: a rather throbbing pain in my lower jaw. I decided to ignore it.

Before I knew it, more of my teeth began to hurt, and I was going through nearly a bottle of aspirin a week. I was getting huge headaches, and waking nearly three times a night with flashing pain. Sensitive to hot and cold drinks, life was not fun at that time of my life.

Once I began to feel this pain, that was when I began to take care of my teeth more. I flossed, brushed about five times a day, and used mouthwash every chance I got. You know what happened? Yup, nothing.

Finally, I went to the Marquette University Dental School, where I was treated with … well, OK, I had to get three root canals before the pain would even remotely stop. Then they did a whole bunch more things on my teeth that today, I’m still embarrassed to admit. I’m also really mad at myself that all of this could have been avoided if I had actually just brushed my teeth twice a day, flossed regularly, stopped drinking so much dang soda and used mouthwash before bed. Ten minutes a day could have saved me nearly two years of dental work.

Anyone see a connection here?

When you go to confession regularly, it helps you in all aspects of life because of the graces it sends you. The more times you go, the less you have to confess, as my family priest once told me. Keeping your soul clean should be even more important than keeping your teeth healthy, because that’s the part of you that’s going to live forever.

OK, I get it now.

So this coming Saturday, plan to join me as I go for my first confession in nearly five years. I don’t expect it to be easy – far from it, actually. But I do know that it is essential to keeping my faith life healthy. There are so many ways that God helps us in our lives, so why not take advantage of them? It’s hard, I know it. Really hard, actually. But SO GOOD when it’s done.

Are you as grateful to God as I am for his second chances?  


Music playing while writing this: “A Little Time” by Jonathan Clay (because we all need just a little time to get things back on track)