Do your sins bug you?

Been to confession lately?

Preachers often reach for analogies to help people understand spiritual realities.

Here is a good one, picked up from Ironic Catholic.

If you are squeamish, read this anyway whether it is fiction or not.

New York, NY: [There has been a resurgence of Cimex lectularius in the Big Apple.] Fr. Amos Hardy didn’t realize he was about to have the most successful advent reconciliation service on record.

But this past Sunday afternoon, St. Albert the Great Church had 100% participation in the prayer service, with everyone stampeding to the individual confessional lines. The secret? Bedbugs.

“The first Sunday of advent, I typically take the occasion to remind people that we are called to repentance during advent, a chance allow God to purify us, ready us for the coming of the Son of God. Spiritual warfare is a reality in our fallen world, and I thought this year the best way to describe that was through comparing evil spirits to bedbugs. It seemed to have struck a nerve,” explained Fr. Hardy.

Dcn. Thomas Wetterman had more dramatic words for the effect the homily had on the congregation. “When Father mentioned that satanic spirits roamed through our lives just like bedbugs, there was this collective shudder in the whole Church. Then kids began screaming, and half the adults began compulsively scratching,” he said. “The communion line twitched like a hoard of people with poison ivy doing the conga.” [Before or after they went to confession?]

bedbugsFr. Hardy extended the metaphor in ways described as “horrifying” by long time parishioners Leonard and Sandy Bianci. Sandy reported, “First he said that once we’ve fallen, we crawl into bed with Satan every night. Then we get bit and bit and bit, and carry the evil spirits around town. You think you can rely on your own hot water washing machine to take care of the bugs, but NO! They find a way back. The only one who can protect you from the Satanic bedbugs is Jesus, the Great Exterminator, in the sacrament of penance. Then you can sleep in clean sheets of peace. Or something like that.” [I have thought of the Lord in terms of Liberator, but never Exterminator.]

However unusual the theology, it apparently brought people in the door. The afternoon’s scheduled advent prayer and reconciliation opportunity, which usually has 30% participation, had 100% of the parish present. More, in fact, since parishioners invited in fallen away Catholics from the street. Afterward, Fr. Hardy was in conversation with 40 unnerved people who were not Catholic but wanted the protection of penance immediately.

When asked what inspired him to use this analogy, Fr. Hardy smiled. “Oh, it was easy. People are actually worried about bedbugs.”


People don’t think about how the Enemy can give a purchase, a lever, on your life once you are not in the state of grace.

Of course the Sacrament of Penance both forgives your post-baptismal sins, but also strengthens you against sinning.

Been to confession lately?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Just Too Cool, New Evangelization and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Wow. Who’d have thought that such a simple analogy could have such a profound effect? The need for a Redeemer is something that lies deep within man’s heart, and I guess sometimes takes an odd nudge to bring it to the surface. However they were motivated to go to confession, Deo gratias!

  2. Konichiwa says:

    Father Hardy’s message must have reached me from afar somehow without me ever hearing of it. This morning around 3 or 4, I woke up with a crazy random thought. Did my wife wash the sheets?! I must wash the sheets today when I get home from work. There must be lots of bed bugs and mites on the sheets! Strange thoughts, but further I’ve never been bitten or have a single bug bite on my body. I best get me self to confession.

  3. danphunter1 says:

    I just read these two true statements on the pastors page from “St Bernadette Catholic Church” parish in Scottsdale AZ:
    “How little Love of God you have when you yield without a fight because it is not a grave sin!”

    “Venial sins do great harm to the soul. — Therefore God says in the Song of Songs: ‘Catch the little foxes that make havoc of the vineyards’.”

  4. Jordanes says:

    Just to be clear, this item is tagged by The Ironic Catholic as “fake news” and “satire.”

    It might be fun to find out what would happen if a priest really did deploy the bed bugs analogy, though.

  5. TrueLiturgy says:

    Father, would you please get the homily and upload it for us to give to our Pastors? :-) Thanks!

  6. A. J. D. S. says:

    Dan Hunter: Those are both reflections from St. Josemaría Escrivá’s The Way, #328 and #329, respectively.

  7. priests wife says:

    OK Father- time for confession…I love the sacrament, but we are usually at our mission when the surrounding Roman-rite parishes are offering confession

  8. danphunter1 says:

    Thank you for that wonderful information!
    Saint JoseMaria Escriva Ora Pro Nobis.
    What an unbelievable gift confession is!

  9. Melody says:

    *scratches* I’ve experienced bedbugs, that’s a very wise analogy. Bedbugs are actually quite traumatic. Remember how people used to perform group penance to beg freedom from pestilence? This is it in the modern era.

  10. kap says:

    This one was soooo good! Thank you for posting it Fr. Z. I shared it with family and friends. A ‘grace filled’ moment. I hope you have a blessed Advent.

  11. benedictgal says:

    Although I have not had bedbugs, I did write something about the need to go to confession on my blog:

    God sometimes chooses the most graphic things to drive home a point.

  12. Shadow says:

    I love it! Excellent! I’m passing it along.

  13. AnnaTrad51 says:

    I love it, love it love it. I’m going to e-mail it to our Priest. Not that he is short on sermons about confession, he is very good as the long lines show but this will take it up to a new level.

  14. Girgadis says:

    I went to confession today, as a matter of fact. Even if I don’t feel anything “bugging me”, I try not to let more than 2 or 3 weeks go by without the sacrament. Sometimes, I feel the need to go more often than that. If Carmelite nuns can find something to confess once a week, surely I can too.

  15. Time to get back in the box!

Comments are closed.