Today's gospel passage (Lk 5:17-26) got me to thinking about the physical consequences of sin, but let me back up a ways first and make some other connections. Over the past several months I have been undertaking some studies in the area of counselling and psychology. One important thing I learned, which most people do not know, is that untreated mental illness can have the effect of shortening one's life expectancy. As I said, most people would probably not expect that to be the case, we could all make the connection between physical illness and a shorter life span, but mental illness? I don't have all the details on what the effects are, but I would suspect that untreated mental illness at the very least contributes to a heightened level of stress on the rest of the body, and thus leads to a shorter life. I would like to suggest that something similar might be true of sin. I'm sure for those with a strong interior life, a strong prayer life, it becomes noticeable when sins begin to accumulate, and when confession is becoming over due. I certainly have had that experience in prayer, but I've noticed physical signs in myself as well. I suffer from a neck injury I sustained in a car accident back in high school. Most of the time it's fine, but I know that when stress is building around something the stiffness sets in. There are times when I have nothing to be stressed about, but realize that it's been a while since I've been to confession, because my neck gives me the same signal. Many times too, I have heard the confession of someone with a "big" sin to confess, or someone who has been away from confession for a long time. At the end of the confession, you can see a physical difference, as though a weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Theologically we know that death entered the world as a consequence of sin, but perhaps (and I have no theological or scientific evidence for this other than my own observations) leaving our sins untended and unconfessed can have an effect on our physical well-being as well. This Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, it's a good time to make a confession if we haven't been in a while. As so many people are focusing on their health I suggest the following simple rules: have a good diet, get a good night's sleep, get good exercise, and make a good confession. You just might feel better, in more ways than one.