Confession is a beautiful opportunity to confess your sins to God and seek true forgiveness. This sacrament allows Jesus to absolve your sins and helps you lead a life following the guidance and glory of Christ. While it may seem difficult to confess your deepest fears, regrets, and sins, confession is a liberating experience that allows you to repair your relationship with our Lord.
Regularly going to confession can heal and cleanse the soul and alleviate the guilt of living life in sin having sinned against God. While confession is largely known for the forgiveness of sins, there are many other numerous benefits that you can experience as well, when you choose to go consistently. Read our guide on how to go to confession in the Catholic Church and five reasons why you should partake in this sacrament.
What Is Confession?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, commonly known as confession, in the Catholic Church offers forgiveness to sinners. One reason to go to confession is that it provides the penitent reconciliation with God, allowing them to live in His light and grace. Confession is normally held in a confessional, which is a box, stall or booth that enables you to talk to a priest directly and privately. There is often a screen divider between you and the priest.
The Catholic Church is friendly and welcoming to people from all walks of life. Even if you are not Catholic, you are still welcome to attend a Catholic Mass. There are certain areas you may not be able to partake in without being baptized, though, such as receiving the Eucharist. Confession in the Catholic Church today is also largely reserved for baptized Catholics.
However, unlike the Eucharist, while confession is usually for those who are baptized and practice Catholicism, there are some exceptions. Even if you are not Catholic, you may qualify for confession in grave circumstances. If a baptized person is in danger of death or is very ill, for example, a priest may offer confession. A non-Catholic who is longing for confession from a Catholic priest simply needs to show their faith in the Catholic sacrament.
Do I Have to Go to Confession?
Those who follow and believe in the Catholic faith need to receive penance at least once a year. It is highly recommended that Catholics receive penance at least once a year. In many cases, though, Catholics benefit from going to confession regularly. For instance, receiving the Sacrament of Penance is a critical part of receiving indulgences.
Going to confession is also directly related to how often you want to receive Holy Communion. As Catholics, we have an obligation to attend Mass weekly, if we are able. If you are conscious of any mortal sins you have committed, you should confess them before receiving the Eucharist. Otherwise, you will commit another grave sin.
It is also important to go to confession to confess venial sins, which is often why many Catholics choose to go more frequently. Although there are some requirements for confessions, the main reason why many Catholics receive this sacrament regularly is to experience the love and forgiveness of God. Confession can cleanse your soul, improve your relationship with God and allow you to live in His light.
5 Reasons to Go to Confession
There are numerous benefits of receiving this sacrament regularly. Three good reasons to go to confession include having a conversation with God, asking and receiving penance for your sins, and continuing to live in His light and grace. Confession is important because it allows you to progress in your faith and grow as a person in and out of church.
To start a confession, you will greet your priest and state: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” Then, follow this phrase by stating how long it has been since your last confession. If you do not know the exact time frame, you can offer an estimate. Letting the priest know when your last confession was can help him understand your situation better and provide more accurate advice and penance. Some of the advantages of going to confession include:
1. Cleanse Your Soul
Attending confession at church can purify your soul and allow you to seek and receive forgiveness from God. After confession, you can complete the penance the priest gives you and go back to your daily life knowing you have been forgiven. There is almost no feeling better than realizing God has heard you and forgiven you. Confession is like a way to clear your mind, take the emotional weight off your shoulders and strengthen yourself for the journey ahead.
(unintended space)This important sacrament allows you to remember God is on your side and is always there when you need Him. Confession is an important step to seeking forgiveness for your sins. It is also a beautiful opportunity to strengthen your connection with God and receive His graces through the sacraments.
Receiving God’s graces helps us to lead a more holy life. Frequently going to confession allows us to receive a greater abundance of graces. God’s grace strengthens us and helps us to avoid sin. Also, after confession, you can lead a happier and more devout life knowing God has cleansed your soul and forgiven you of your sins. Another reason to go to confession is it can humble you, helping you overcome pride or arrogance.
Because we are human, it is easy for us to think that our relationship with God makes us less of a sinner. Confession helps us realize we are sinners as much as anyone else. The important thing is we are truly sorry for our sins and seek forgiveness to lead a holier life in His divine light. Confession helps us grow emotionally and spiritually, teaching us how to accept and learn from our shortcomings.
No matter the sins you have committed, you can find mercy and forgiveness with God. The most important aspect of confession is to be truly sorry for the sins you have committed and vow to lead a better life and not commit them again. Confession should not be viewed only as a way to obtain a clean slate. Instead, confession helps you learn, talk directly to God and cleanse your soul.
2. Grow Your Relationship With the Lord
Confession allows you to strengthen your relationship with God. By continually attending this sacrament and working to avoid sin, we learn to rely on His guidance and be more open to His will for our lives. It is important to remember we will never be as close to God as we should be, meaning continually working on your relationship with God is of the utmost importance.
Although God loves us all, we cannot be as close to Him as we want because we are humans and have lingering sin in our lives. We are imperfect beings who live in sin, which acts as a barrier between God and us. Only when we are in His glory in Heaven can our relationship be the strongest it can be. Going to confession regularly allows you to lessen this barrier of sin and repair your relationship with the Lord.
It is important to note that confession is a work of progress throughout our lives. While we can confess and receive forgiveness for our sins, it does not mean we are instantly perfect people. Instead, it is a stepping stone in life to help us grow. As we make mistakes, confession can help us correct our course and seek forgiveness for our sins.
We slowly strengthen our relationship with Christ as we realize our mistakes and learn to lead a more devout life. While baptism brings us back into communion with Christ, we still sin throughout life, which wounds us as members of the Body of Christ. Confession allows us to hold ourselves accountable for these sins and seek true forgiveness. The soul needs confession to cleanse itself, allowing us to repair our relationship with Christ.
Confession grants us sacramental grace, helping to repair the bonds we break with God when we sin. A life closer to God helps us avoid grave sins and reduce the number of venial sins we commit throughout our daily lives.
3. Experience Divine Forgiveness
Confession allows us to confess our sins and experience true forgiveness from our Lord. Fortunately, there is no question ofif whether you are forgiven or not when it comes to a valid confession and to our Lord. If you confess all of your mortal sins and are truly sorry for them, your soul is cleansed when the priest recites the words of absolution. During a confession, Christ is sacramentally present in the confession via the priest’s person.
Ideally, you will want to verbally confess all of your sins to your priest during confession, especially mortal or grave ones. It is important to remember we are human, meaning we often make mistakes. Even if you forget to mention a specific sin during confession, God will still forgive you as long as you are truly sorry for this sin and your heart is pure.
If you remember a mortal sin after confession, you can always it is a good idea to mention it in your next confession. While you have already been forgiven for this sin, it can be a healing and cleansing experience to admit the sin out loud, clearing your conscience and allowing you to live in His light. Remember, though, that you will only receive forgiveness if you have genuinely forgotten to mention the sin or are, at the time, unaware of the sin.
If a person consciously and deliberately does not mention a mortal sin during confession, they will not receive forgiveness for these sins. Without confessing a mortal sin you are intentionally aware of, you will continue to live in a dangerous state of mortal sin. Lying or refusing to mention mortal sins you are aware of during a confession also means you are guilty of the sin of sacrilege.
While it may seem difficult, you must be honest with your priest during confession. Remember, the Sacrament of Penance is an open conversation with God, and you would never want to lie to Him. Being honest with your priest will ensure you are truly forgiven and living in God’s good graces. Also, it may reassure you to remember that your priest cannot share your sins with anyone, under pain of excommunication.
4. Relinquish Your Guilt
Living a life full of unforgiven sins separates us from God and can be tiresome. Sin weighs on our hearts, causing us to feel ashamed and guilty. Unfortunately, this guilt and fear of judgment prevent some people from confessing, which only worsens how a person feels over time.
Talking to God through a trusted priest allows you to experience emotional, physical and spiritual benefits:
- Openly and truthfully admitting your sins helps remove the guilt and emotional burden they caused.
- Acknowledging your guilt lets you come to terms with your sins and actions, helping you avoid these behaviors in the future.
- Hearing the words, “I absolve you from your sins” at the end of confession can offer relief.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation encourages us to explore our minds, feelings and behaviors and identify where we have made mistakes. For a confession to be as effective as possible, we must be entirely honest with ourselves and the priest. Religious confession helps us explore our deepest feelings and thoughtsto which helps us to grow spiritually and emotionally.
5. Acknowledge Your Sinful Ways
Acknowledging your past sins and behaviors is the first step to healing and renewing your relationship with Christ. Walking out from your confession, you may experience a feeling of lightness because you are free from sin and are forgiven for your previous mistakes. To achieve this experience, you first need to look at your behavior and acknowledge your sins.
Even if you may not have committed mortal or grave sins, recognizing any sinful behavior is important to grow in holiness. When we recognize our immoral actions, we can take a deep look into our souls and see how we can improve. Going to confession allows us to rid ourselves of these sins to move forward in life and live in His light.
Even the smallest sins wound our soul and separate us from God. Regularly going to confession allows us to cleanse ourselves and repair our relationship with Christ. Confession also helps you analyze your relationship with God, recognizing how you have distanced yourself from Him each time you sin.
Help Organizations That Support Catholic Teachings
Confession is a beautiful opportunity to receive forgiveness for your sins and strengthen your relationship with God. At Catholic World Mission, we support Catholic teachings and strive to share the Word of God with everyone. To truly live in His light, confession and penance are two essential aspects. With the help of our amazing donors, we can spread God’s love around the world.
It is our mission to alleviate spiritual and material poverty and empower the poor by sharing the Gospel of Christ. When you donate to Catholic World Mission, you assist us in helping others and spreading God’s love. We ensure every donation has the highest impact on communities throughout the world. We are the hands, feet and eyes of Christ to impoverished families across the globe.
Donate to Catholic World Mission today and help us spread the Word of God.
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Deacon Rick Medina is the Executive Director of Catholic World Mission and oversees the management of all of Catholic World Mission's projects in over 35 countries. He was ordained a deacon of the archdiocese of Atlanta in 2013. He currently serves at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, and is active in several ministries, including RCIA, baptism preparation, Life Teen, Altar Server group, Grief Share, and Adult Faith Formation.