I've been checking the schedule of Advent penance services in my area and trying to decide when would be the best time for me to go. Along the way, I've been trying to figure out when was my last confession. I hate to admit it, but it probably was sometime last Lent.

One of the occupational hazards of writing about religious matters and working for the institutional Church is that sometimes the institution can get in the way of the sacraments. We spend so much time trying to explain the important of, say, reconciliation and getting the penance service schedules arranged, we forget that we are supposed to be participating in these events ourselves. So this Advent I challenge you to set aside some time for yourself to go to Confession.

But don't go just to cross it off your Advent preparation list. Go with the full intent of examining your life and looking for areas where you have failed to live up to your highest good and to God's best will for your life, particularly in the area of work.

For instance, some areas you might consider:

How have I treated the people I work with this past year? In what ways might I be more Christ-like in the future?

Have I looked at my job as a job or as a calling to spread the message of God's love?

Have I expressed gratitude that I have a job?

How can I give more in my job (not DO more, but give more value)?

How can I make my colleagues' jobs easier?

Am I cheerful and cooperative even when things aren't going my way?

One thing I've been doing as I prepare for an Advent confession is to ask God to reveal to me the areas where I've failed to be the best version of myself that I could be, even if that failure isn't exactly "sin." For instance, while I don't think it's a "sin" per se to spend time fiddling with Facebook or tweeting, I realize that I could probably have made some better choices of how to while away an evening.

When it comes time for Confession, I'm not going to confess the "sin" of being on Facebook, but I will probably admit to sometimes not utilizing my time in ways that help enrich my soul or glorify God. The point here is not to try to find more things to be guilty about, but instead to help focus my head and heart on the path and mission of Jesus Christ.