A Question: Why is the line for COVID testing longer than the line for Confession?
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While speaking with a fellow Catholic today, we discussed how words and practice tend to differ. I illustrated the point with a rhetorical question. Why is the line for COVID testing longer than the line for Confession?
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Why is the line for COVID testing longer than the line for Confession?
The question is simple, yet profound, and it illustrates a problem we have as Catholics. Specifically, we all believe and act as though COVID is real, which it clearly is. Yet, we claim to believe God is real, but we do not always act as though we do.
Now, there's a list of caveats to this question. Obviously, COVID lines are longer because not all people are Catholic, and because for many of us our parishes have only recently reopened, (and in California closed again!). Nor is this article intended to be judgmental, since every person struggles with their faith and how they live. This article merely poses a question for your personal consideration, and it should not be used as a pretext to judge others. Please do not share this with that intent.
That said, the point I was trying to make in conversation is that our claim to believe is often at odds with our actions. It's a common pitfall, and I confess I find myself in that trap more often than not. But the ladder to escape that trap has been tossed down to us by none other than Jesus Himself. Yet so few of us use it. WHY?
A simple visit to confession on a regular basis will reveal the facts. It's often the same people who avail themselves of the Sacrament of Confession and always a few new faces who appear once, or perhaps twice, then no more. That's my experience at least. I must say I have visited Confession at other parishes where the line can get long by relative standards. But the lines have nothing on the queue around Chick-fil-a, or In-N'-Out, or the COVID testing lines.
Yet it seems to me that a mere simple, back of the envelope calculation is enough to suggest that even if only those Catholics who profess belief at Mass attended once per year as the Church suggests, the lines would be much longer every Saturday.
(Here's the Catechism on Confession. And we are advised to seek Confession as soon as we are aware of any mortal sin, and at a minimum, once per year.)
The fact is, COVID is real and immediate. By now most of us know someone infected, or perhaps even lost their life to the disease. And many of us have already been infected. Because of this, the fear of infection and death are real.
But what about our spiritual death? For some, we go to the doctor more than we attend Mass! I suppose it makes sense, for if we make no effort to preserve our spiritual life, then perhaps we are best served prolonging our earthly existence. But for those of us who believe, it just doesn't make sense that we should put less effort into our everlasting life than our earthly life. At the minimum, the efforts ought to match. Look at how religiously we wear our masks, but still don't pray before meals or at the start and close of our day. Wow.
I imagine one answer has to do with the possibility that we may see our death coming and we think in that window we can confess and prepare. But the terrible fact is, we do not always get a warning. We must always be prepared.
This question is as much for me as it is for each reader. If I profess to believe in God, then why do I often act as if there is no God? Why do I sometimes behave like an atheist? It's an excellent question we should always ask ourselves with humility, then we should correct ourselves.
Sin is part of our nature. But if we do not resist sin through obtaining the Sacraments which strengthen our faith, then we will become ever-more sinful. Whereas if we attend Mass regularly and obtain the benefit of the Sacraments, especially of Confession and the Eucharist, we will be strengthened in our faith. We should sin less than we would otherwise. We literally cannot fail to improve our spiritual well-being when we regularly practice our faith. It is no different than a weightlifter who can't help but get stronger for working out every other day or so.
So let this be an invitation to myself and to all, to examine our conscience, and to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. For those of us who are shut-in due to COVID, we are invited to make an act of perfect contrition and get to Confession as soon as we are able.
Yes, COVID and death are real. But so too is God and eternal life. Knowing this, let us behave so.
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