You can learn a lot about sin from a paper shredder. At least I did. Stay with me. It’ll make sense eventually.
With apologies to my local letter carrier, most of what arrives in my mailbox falls into the dreaded category of junk mail. It would be quick and easy to toss all that unwanted material directly into the recycle bin. But much of it has a name, address or other personal information on it or in it. So I’d rather shred everything before getting rid of it.
In our household we have a dedicated shred box in the kitchen. It sounds simple enough. Just toss in the junk mail and any other document that needs to be shredded. We have a small shredder in the kitchen too. But somehow I managed to make that process more difficult than necessary. While I was good at putting things into the shred box, I wasn’t very good at actually going back later and shredding it. As a result, our shred pile was frequently unwieldy and overflowing.
Then every few weeks – or more likely months – I would turn on the paper shredder and try to tackle the unmanageable mountain of paperwork. But stuffing paper into a shredder becomes rather burdensome after a while. By waiting so long in between shred sessions, it became harder and harder each time to get it all done in one sitting. The task was downright tedious.
Finally I came up with a better idea. Why should I even bring the junk mail into the house in the first place? I moved our paper shredder into the garage right next to our big recycle bin. Now when I get home from work every day I spend just a few moments in front of the paper shredder eliminating the day’s allotment of junk mail.
Keeping up with the shredding regularly turned out to be much easier than putting if off for months at a time and having to tackle a huge pile all at once. Does that remind you of anything? Confession!
Just like paperwork that needs to be shredded, letting your sins pile up over a long period of time makes it that much harder when you finally seek the sacrament of reconciliation. I would rather walk into the confession booth frequently with a smaller list of sins than waiting a long time in between confessions and carrying the burden of many more sins in with me.
I have been Catholic for ten years. My frequency of visiting the confessional has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. In the beginning I would be lucky if I confessed more than a couple of times a year. And it was a lot like having to shred that onerous pile of paper that I never wanted to do.
Now the sacrament of reconciliation has become a monthly routine. It is almost as quick and easy as (but far more rewarding and powerful than) my daily visit to the shredder in the garage when I get home from work.
What works for me may not work for you. I know some people wish they could go to confession a few times per week. I can even envision one person who would probably want to leave the confession booth and get right back in line!
The confessional, and the Lord’s forgiveness therein, is indeed a lot like a paper shredder. Once a piece of paper is shredded, it’s gone forever. And so are your past sins once you receive absolution through a priest.
But as humans, we will sin again. And the letter carrier will keep bringing me junk mail.