Last night, in the midst of all the shopping and wrapping and baking, my fiancé and I decided to go to our parish penance service. If you’re not familiar with Catholic penance services, they do a few readings from the bible, have a short homily, and then everyone lines up to receive the Sacrament of Confession. Several priests from other parishes were there to hear confessions, including one from my beloved old parish, St. Mary of the Mills.
Going to confession is one of those things that provokes a lot of uncertainty from people, whether they are Catholic or not. Plenty of people argue that there’s no need for it. Why tell the priest your sins when you can tell God yourself?
The official answer is that through the Sacrament of Confession, God forgives us of our sins and grants us the grace to be stronger in the future. This is a textbook answer that works for some. It’s not compelling enough for everyone.
There’s no answer that would satisfy everyone, but the reason I go is pretty simple. It’s wonderful to be able to tell someone all of your problems, and have that person listen, give you a thoughtful answer, and tell you not to worry about it anymore. That’s basically what confession is. Most priests will listen as if they’re your best friend. They’ll give you advice you never thought of. They’ll tell you that God forgives you. When you’re really troubled, it makes a huge difference to hear someone actually say, “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The best part of it all is that there is someone who will listen. They’ll listen, and they’ll never tell a single soul. It’s sacred. Confession is an opportunity to talk to someone in total secrecy and know that they have your best interest at heart. With everything that goes on in life, how could you not want to take advantage of that?