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Putting Our Souls on the Scale

July 28, 2011

Putting Our Souls on the Scale

None of you will be surprised to hear me admit that I have a problem with my weight.

I actually have a Ph.D. in dieting. On and off for the last 40 years I’ve tried and tried. It’s not about looking better, since I’m never going to be on the cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly. It’s about taking good care of the life, the health, the body God gave me. It’s about using food the way God wants us to, by not abusing it. It’s actually about the biblical virtue of stewardship, taking good care of the gifts that the Lord has given us—in this case, my body and my health—so as better to serve Him and others.

The only two times I’ve ever been successful in dropping pounds, and thus improving my health, is when I’ve both asked God’s help, and the assistance of a professional dietician.

The dietician is so, so, helpful. So, each week I check-in: we review the food I’ve eaten—since part of the regimen is to keep track of it—she provides me with some enlightening instruction on nutrition, she offers some gentle correction on where I may have wandered, and, then, of course, I step on the scale. When I’ve lost a pound or so the last week, she offers encouragement. When—as happened last week, after my return from some vacation splurging!—I’ve put on a few, she offers encouragement, reminding me that this is really a lifelong journey, a healthy way of life, and that, thus, there will be ups and downs.

It works! I admit I can’t do it without God’s grace and without a consistent check-in with my dietician.

This week’s article is not about weight loss, folks.

Believe it or not, it’s about confession!

Because, see, what the regular visit to the dietician does for my physical health, a regular visit to the sacrament of penance does for my spiritual well-being.

So, regularly, I see my confessor. I’ve kept track of my sins, through an examination of conscience each night at my end-of-the-day prayers, and a more thorough one in preparation for the sacrament.

I report in, humbly confessing where I’ve gone astray. Sometimes, thanks to the grace and mercy of Jesus so strong in this sacrament, I can even report progress in some areas.

My confessor listens patiently, offers some enlightenment, and, especially keeps me from getting discouraged by my weakness, as he gently reminds me that more important than any fall is getting back up.

Actually, in the sacrament of reconciliation, I put my soul on the scale. And the sacrament reminds me that the life of discipleship is a lifelong journey, with valleys and peaks.

Here’s the mistake: in the past, when, with divine assistance and the skills of the dietician, I’ve been successful in losing the weight and reaching a healthy level where I can fit back into my clothes, I get independent! I figure that I don’t need the dietician anymore! I know what to do now! She’s taught me all I need to know. I can do it on my own now... and I stop going.

Guess what? Without that consistent accountability, without that regular check-in, weigh-in, encouragement, and enlightenment, I’m soon back into the XXL clothes.

And so it is with the sacrament of penance! I’m tempted at times to think, I don’t need that! I know my sins! I realize what I have to work on! I’ll just take care of it myself, and tell God “I’m sorry” on my own...

Big mistake. Doesn’t work. I learn the hard way.

You feel spiritually heavy? You feel bloated by sin or just plain blah? You wonder why your soul feels so lifeless?

Go see a spiritual dietician. Do it regularly. Get back to confession!