Lots of questions have been asked on why Catholics confess their sins to a priest. Before that, we have to get to the reason why we all need Confession.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” – 1 Cor 12:26
Why we need confession:
It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Otherwise, we can not go back to God. During Jesus public ministry, He preached about the forgiveness of sins: remember the parables of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11ff) or the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1ff), and His teaching that “there will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent” (Luke 15:7).
Why do we need this Sacrament?
“Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”” – John 20 19-23
Just as the Father had sent Jesus, the Apostles were also sent with the authority to forgive sins. This authority is passed down to the Church through St. Peter. In that case, how could they know which sins to forgive and which to retain, if the sins were not confessed? This is why the book of James says this:
“confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
In this context of this verse, a person is told to “summon the presbyters of the church” (James 5:14). Presbyter is the Greek word for priest (or elder).
Why confession is Important
- God commanded we confess our sins to one another in the Bible. (James 5:16)
- It is the ordinary way to have our sins forgiven.
- We receive grace to resist sin through the Sacrament, as well as forgiveness.
- We learn humility by having to confess to another person.
- There is built-in accountability.
- Our relationship with the rest of the Church is healed.
- We receive counsel from the priest.
- We can be comforted hearing the words of absolution.
- All are sins are wiped away.
- Helps give you the strength to forgive others.
- It doesn’t cost anything.
- We may not be positive that we have “perfect” contrition without it.
- Helps us go deep within and think about how we can improve.
- It feels good emotionally.
- When we realize (again) we are sinners, it is easier to be patient with others.
- Always confidential – what is said in the confessional stays in the confessional.
- No more guilt.
- We are better prepared to receive the Eucharist.
- Forgiveness is a necessary part of growing in holiness.
- Our consciences can be better formed.
- If we have mortally sinned, then Confession brings us back into the family of God – The Church as well as restores sanctifying grace in our souls!