Where did the Sacrament of Confession come from anyway?
Jesus. On Pentecost He said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:21-23). Those weren’t just idle words. At that very moment, He gave His power to forgive sins to the apostles and their successors. He made the Church His instrument of forgiveness on earth. It’s a reality that hasn’t changed in over 2000 years.
Why do I need to go if I didn’t hurt anyone?
There is no such thing as a “private sin.” Every sin, however small, wounds the Body of Christ. When one person sins, everyone is affected and is weighed down because we are all connected.
Why should I go more than once a year?
Just as we work hard to keep our bodies healthy, so too it is important that we are attentive to the state of our soul. Sin leaves our soul weak and sick. Through the power of Confession, however, we are freed from the burden of sin and reconciled with God. Our soul is made pure. And we are given strength to overcome temptation in the future.
Why can’t I go directly to God?
Why not baptize ourselves? Because we know that Jesus instituted the Sacraments and works through the mediation of His ordained ministers. Just as Jesus acts in and through the priest during Mass to bring us the Eucharist, He is really present in the person of the priest in the Sacra- ment of Reconcilliation. Here we truly encounter Jesus’ merciful Heart.
What virtue does it foster?
Humility. It helps us to look honestly at our faults and to be truly sorry for our sins. A priest can help us to be more objective and he can give us a concrete plan of action to avoid falling in the future.
Why am I putting it off?
We can spend years weighed down by nagging guilt from regrettable choices we’ve made. We can convince ourselves that it no longer matters to God or that He’s long since forgotten our sins. But the truth is, deep down we really don’t believe that, and we feel uneasy that we don’t have resolution. We keep our distance from God — just in case He’s still angry. The reality is that God is looking upon each of us with deep tenderness. He longs for us to be healed. There is no replacement, no substitute, for the powerful, healing grace of Confession. We need to hear: “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Why do we fear Confession?
No sin is bigger than Jesus. But let’s just put it out there – walking into a confessional can be an intimidating thing. Sweaty palms, knocking knees, sudden overheating – the whole lot. Maybe we haven’t been to Confession in years, or we’re scared of what the priest might think, or we’re not exactly sure what to say when. Or maybe it’s just that admitting our own sins out loud is a big deal.
The struggle is real, but His grace is more real. We’re not meant to live in bondage. When it comes down to it, sin is the ultimate self-limiting behavior, because we become less of who we really are and more captive to the sin we choose. Sin is its own punishment. It’s a burden that nags at us, takes away our peace. No sin can beat the power of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus longs to pour His Mercy into each one of our hearts. He desires to take the burden of our sins from us, to heal us, and to set us free.
In every Confession, Jesus descends into those places of darkness within our own hearts and raises up new life. He is the Divine Physician. He re- stores our souls: His divine life heals us and fills us with new grace. In the book of Isaiah, God says to each of us: “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow” (Is 1:18). Jesus gives us the hope we need to get up after a fall and run trustingly into the arms of our Father.
It may have been a long time since we have gone to Confession, but we don’t have to be afraid! The Lord welcomes us back home with open arms and a look of infinite tenderness.
Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Spring 2015.