Satan doesn’t want us doing it, so he makes us feel uncomfortable. Not with our sins, but with the thought of admitting to them out loud. To a person. He persuades us to postpone our visit to the priest again and again, until finally we’re convinced we don’t need to go at all.
Thus the devil wins. We lose God’s precious friendship, and if we've committed a mortal sin we put our souls in eternal danger. We ignore His call to come back, no matter how grave the sin we’ve committed. We miss out on His Divine Mercy, which is only available before we die. After that comes judgement.
It takes real courage to fight against the Evil One and step into that confessional.
Our disposition when speaking to God should always be one of total humility, in recognition of His Goodness and our fallen nature, and of Him as Our Creator.
People tell me that they can talk to God directly and don’t need the mediation of a flawed human being. This reasoning allows them to side-step the uncomfortableness of a physical meeting, thereby avoiding the humility that Confession entails.
Is it easier to confess aloud to a living human being or privately to God? It takes a great deal more humility to do so person-to-person than to have a conversation in one’s head. And how often does a person really confess their sins without a nudge from Holy Church to do so?
During Confession, I am talking to God. The priest is acting in persona Christi, like the Apostles, the first priests. “If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23).” See also Matthew 16:19 and 18:18.
Many think that Confession gives Catholics a clean slate to sin again. But the opposite is true: the more often we go to Confession, the less likely we are to sin. Confessing to a priest takes great humility, and that humbling experience is a very strong deterrent against sinning in the first place.
You can’t say that of those who don’t frequent the confessional.
Proud beings that we are, we worry about scandalizing the priests with our sins and are afraid they’ll look at us differently once we’ve confessed them. But our sins are not original: the priest has heard them all before. None of us is that special.
And, as an appointed minister of Christ, the priest’s job is not to keep a running tab on our misbehavior. He forgets it as soon as confession is over, just as Christ does (remember, the priest is in persona Christi).
Although each of us is important in God’s eyes, we need to remember that we are also part of God’s plan for salvation and fulfill our role by following His Will not ours.
But God is not looking to crush our freedom and make us feel bad. What He wants is for us to live the fullest life possible. This means ridding ourselves of our sins, and Confession is the sacrament He gave us for doing it.
The Amazing Takeaway
There is a deep peace that comes from admitting one’s imperfections to Someone higher than us, Who understands us better than we understand ourselves.
Christ said of the woman who anointed His feet: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little" (Luke 7:47).
The worse our sins are and the more we appreciate our unworthiness before God, the greater will be our love for Him because of His incredible forgiveness. Some of the greatest saints started out as the greatest sinners. God’s Mercy is unfathomable, but it is there for all of us, if we reach out to Him with repentance in Confession.
It is impossible to describe the sheer joy of receiving absolution in the confessional. I feel an overwhelming sense of Christ’s love when I come away from my encounter with Him. I am once more in friendship with Him and often cry from the sheer happiness of it. Many of my friends have the same reaction. As a forgiven person, I want to try my best not to sin anymore and ‘to avoid the near occasions of sin.’
The worst feeling in the world for me - as a Catholic who was away from the Church for over twenty years - is to lose my sense of being in friendship with Christ. If I sin grievously, I instantly lose that precious gift and need to repair it as fast as I can. Thankfully my local church takes confession before every weekday Mass, and I am able to quickly restore my relationship with God and receive the Eucharist.
As Father Phil Bloom writes in his great article on Confession:
“Some people have considered confession to be a kind of "psychiatry for the masses." Carl Jung … speculated that the confession of sins accomplishes much of what psychiatry does. …..(But) the sacrament of penance is not about feeling better, it is about receiving the Holy Spirit.”
And only the promptings of Holy Spirit give us the courage to go through with it.
What Is the Sacrament of Confession?
Confession of Sins