About a decade ago, I went to confession for the umpteenth time for a sin I had struggled with for years: gluttony.
I had confessed it again and again, made a firm purpose of amendment — and gone right back out and fallen flat on my face. At the time, I weighed about 152 kilograms. But no matter what I did, nothing seemed to change.
This time, I was in the confessional with a good Dominican who, as it happened, is not only a wise confessor, but also a passionate zealot for a sacrament that is often badly neglected: the Anointing of the Sick.
As I mentioned this struggle yet again, he interjected, “Have you ever considered receiving the Sacrament of Anointing for this?”
I was taken aback. It had never occurred to me. Indeed, I felt that it would somehow be wrong to receive it. Clearly, the problem was that I was a lazy, greedy, gluttonous slob.
What I needed was repentance and then to pick myself up by my bootstraps, get on with the hard work of putting the grace of Confession to work, just knuckle down, and stop being a pig.
I needed discipline, shame, regret, and humiliation as the fat, gluttonous slob I was and maybe, just maybe, I would finally become halfway normal and not the hog I’d always been.
Receiving the Anointing of the Sick felt like I was somehow stealing bases, whinging about victimhood instead of taking responsibility like a man. Sick people are, after all, victims and I was not a victim. I was a sinner.