Nothing a Coat of Paint Won’t Fix

Every year in late winter my mother spends a weekend at our house helping me to paint a room. This little tradition started the first year after we moved into our house and so far we’ve completed the living room, the boys’ room, our daughter’s room, and now the hallways. It’s a lot of work — especially taping off all the windows and woodwork in an old ┬áhouse ┬álike ours — but it’s worth the effort for the clean, pristine walls afterward.

(Not that they stay that way with ten little hands in the house, but that’s another story.)

This year as I was rolling a fresh coat over scratches and smudge marks, I thought about how painting a wall is a lot like the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. A wall, when it is first constructed, is a plain thing, not quite white, until it receives the first coat of paint; then it is clean and unblemished. But over time the wall accumulates hand prints and dirt, gouges and pencil marks. Some are due to carelessness, some are deliberate. But in the end the wall is less attractive and in need of some care. So we break out a gallon and with a fresh coat of paint the wall is healed and made new. This process can repeat itself many times over the lifetime of a house; it takes patient care and effort to ensure that the walls are kept fresh over the years.

The wall is like our souls. The first coat of paint is our baptism, through which the stain of original sin is washed away. But we fail to take care of the wall and, through sin, it is marked and beaten. But through the sacrament we can wash away the smudges of sin and heal our souls. This process repeats itself many times over a lifetime through dedication and a deliberate intention to confess our sins and receive absolution.

So this Lent, make sure you get yourself a fresh coat of paint by revisiting the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Episode 014 – Penitential

penance-Fr.-Lawrence-Lew-OP-flickrCCHappy Ash Wednesday! To kick off the Lenten season I spoke with Lisa Mladinich — speaker, catechist, and founder of — about the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. We covered children’s examination of conscience, whether parents project their own insecurities about the sacrament onto their children, and Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s new resource, Bring Lent Home with Mother Theresa; Lisa has written a free downloadable lesson plan resource to accompany the book.

As always, leave a comment to let us know what you think about the podcast or to suggest topics for future shows!

Click to Play – 014 – Penitential

Original photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/flickrCC

Announcing: Catholic Blog Day

I’m very excited to announce a new initiative I’m launching today: Catholic Blog Day. From the announcement:

All Catholic bloggers are invited to write on a common theme on the same day. By speaking with many voices on a common aspect of the faith, we can help evangelize the digital continent and demonstrate the powerful presence of Catholics online.

The theme for February 22 is: penance. Possible points of departure for writing your blog post include the three traditional methods of penance (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving); a memorable experience in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation; or how accepting the call to repentance has made a difference in your life.

My hope is that Catholic Blog Day will occur two or three times each year; much will depend on the feedback I get from other bloggers, so if you have a comment please leave one here!

You can get more information and sign up for updates at