The other day I noticed my hair was getting a little, well, scraggly. “When did I have my last trim?” I pondered out loud. Hmmm, before vacation. That would make it about two months ago. Yup, time for a trim.

Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t been to Confession in that long either. Right before we went on our annual family vacation, we had made arrangements for the priest to stay after Friday’s daily Mass, to hear all our Confessions. It was wonderful and cleansing and we felt as shiny as our car (which we had also washed and had inspected before vacation). We felt prepared for our long journey.

Why do I not notice that my soul is in need of attention as quickly as I notice my hair needs a trim? I guess the obvious answer is that I see my hair every time I look in the mirror, but I am able to push aside the times my own behavior reflects my need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

These days people are eager to go up for the Eucharist, but the lines at Confession are much smaller. Do we sin less? Are we more worthy than we used to be to receive Communion? I know for myself, the answer is no.

As catechists, it is important to understand why people avoid this gift of the church. Only then can we properly instruct our students regarding the beauty of this sacrament.

Some people do not go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation out of fear. It’s hard to tell another person our shortcomings and even harder to anticipate their reactions. When I discuss this issue with my priest friends, they always express a genuine admiration for the parishioners who share their deepest conflicts in the privacy of the confessional. They not only don’t judge those people, they are inspired by them. The priests also say that there is nothing they haven’t heard, and little that would surprise them.

Others do not go because of the effort it takes. We are all so busy - soccer games, football practice, homework, violin recitals, these all seem more important than going to Confession on Saturday. When we think about this though, all these things pale in the scope of eternity. What could be more important for ourselves and our families than getting to heaven? Nothing.

Maybe we could build in reminders for Confession:

• We could schedule Reconciliation when we get a haircut (every 6-8 weeks).

• We could make it a habit to go on the first Saturday of every month.

• We could have a standing appointment with our parish priest once a month or even every other week to receive this wonderful sacrament.

Remember, the grace that this particular sacrament affords is both actual (helping us to make better choices) and sanctifying (bringing us closer to God). It cannot be replaced by anything like it. We should value it and receive it as often as possible. We should encourage our students to do the same. God bless.