Monday, September 09, 2013


Norman Rockwell - Look Ma, 1958
"your temperament's wrong for the priesthood
and teaching would suit you still less
son, be a dentist you'll be a success"
(Little Shop Of Horrors - Dentist!, 1986)
i am now home safe and sound.  of course, why would i not be?  i went to the dentist today.  back in the day i had braces for over two years!  i even had the much-loved retainer before that!  every time i went to the dentist, it meant pain!  inhumane pain.  they would tighten those braces and i couldn't eat for weeks!  and just as things got better, back to the dentist i went.  i remember Dad singing to me - brush your teeth - by Raffi!  once is ok, but more than that it adds to the pain.  our family, today, cannot talk about brushing teeth without a smirk.  not only because of the joy of that song, but also because it was slightly annoying to one and all.

so, today, things are better!  there i am sitting on the chair (pic from last time;  Doc loved it!) chit chatting away - as much as one can - and thinking about God.  the theology of dentistry!  indeed, parallels are everywhere, seeing God in all things, even in the pain and trials of cleaning teeth.  then there is always that one question that i dread:
"have you been flossing?"
ah, um, maybe?  of course, they can tell!  "Doctor, forgive me, for it has been 6 months since i last flossed."  he knows before i even utter the words!  how can they tell?  they just know!

anywho, back to the theology of dentistry.  two things.  you can understand why some people do not like going to the denstist.  they had a bad experience, which forever taints new experiences!  unfortunately, the same is true with our Faith, and some priests.  we know people who have had bad experiences in the past.  some continue to struggle today because of those very experiences.

today, i enjoy going to my dentist.  he his a joyful man, including all his staff.  he makes the experience - even of flossing - good times.  indeed, that is where dentistry is going i am sure - the joy of teeth!  i do not forget the difficulty of braces so many years ago, but i have a new way of looking at dentistry, and the people working in it.  same with our Faith, and my brother priests today.  my brother priests work hard to spread the Gospel, the joy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  we all may have had difficult experiences with our Faith, but God continues to invite us deeper in that personal relationship.

finally, they were cleaning my teeth today removing this and that stain.  they worked hard - with jackhammer + sandblaster, and all!  sometimes those stains are tough ones to get out.  isn't it the same with some of our sins?  which ones are tough to get out?  and, why is that?  bad habits, vices?  what have i done, or not done - flossing - that has left such a stain on my heart, that are obstacles to my journey of holiness?  and, what do we do now to get it out?  Crest - toothpaste - might work each and everyday, but we still need the Doctor.  prayer - relationship with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ - is important each and everyday, and He invites still deeper through Holy Mother Church, and the priests for the Sacraments, and of course, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  priests need one another as well, since i cannot hear my own confession.

i always leave the dentist office thinking i'm going to brush well, and floss everyday.  i leave the confessional, thinking i will never sin again.  the journey is upward and forward.  that is holiness.  i have another appointment with the Dentist in March.  we still need to make time for confession.  when?  that is between you and God.  if you see me, make me accountable for flossing.  if you see me, make me accountable for holiness!


ps:  two videos:  1) Raffi on brushing of one's teeth, and 2) Little Shop of Horrors and Steve Martin as the Dentist!  caution, warning!  do not watch the video, if you are scared of dentistry. :) no wonder i have bad memories, ...


  1. Fr. Johnathan! So glad to see you blogging again and what a timely topic.

    I'd never thought of the parallel between flossing and confessing one's sins before, and yet, there you are, making a clear and understandable connection between the two.

    Thank you for sharing and keep writing!
    God bless!


  2. Dear Mr. C,

    grazie for the encouragement! i always enjoyed blogging, since GeoCities back in the late '90s. glad you liked the parallel too. i will continue to be open to the Holy Spirit and share whatever images comes next.


  3. I know what you mean. Whenever I leave my Hamilton dentist I'm sure I'll brush my teeth every day, it doesn't work out that way unfortunately.