What is confession?
Jesus’ gospel message to all of us is clear: “The time has come. The kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent, and believe in the gospel!” (Mark 1:15)
The sacrament of reconciliation was established by Jesus Christ to help us repent humbly and well, and to offer the gift of mercy and healing to all who sin. It is a divinely shaped path of return to the goodness of God.
the sacrament of healing and freedom
Many times we are hurt by others. That is the tragedy and consequence of living in a fallen world where people choose to do wrong: our relationship to one another breaks God’s law of love and becomes broken, resulting in pain rather than love. But we can forget how much our sins hurt ourselves as well. The sacrament of reconciliation, popularly called confession, is a visible sign of God’s grace poured out on all of us who sin and repent. We wound ourselves as well as others through our sin. Often we don’t know how wounded we are until we receive the healing grace only the Lord can give.
Perhaps you think the sacrament of reconciliation is about a checklist, confessing wrongdoing to God through his priest. And certainly that is a necessary part of it. But the reason we repent of wrongdoing through confession is to restore our friendship with God. It is about relationship, and not just any relationship, but the relationship that changes your life in ways you cannot imagine for the better. God the Father’s plans are always better than our plans. He wants nothing less than to embrace you as a son or daughter of the King of the Universe.
A popular book about confession says the one thing all sins have in common is that the sinner chooses to turn his or her face away from God. It is only right that we are given a sacrament to help us concretely turn our face toward God again in repentance. When you confess, you are turning your face back to the Lord, and your spoken words are to God.
But God will not force us to accept this gift of mercy. Human beings have free will, which means we need to choose to repent and ask for his mercy. The gift of confession is that we can speak the truth of our sinfulness aloud and in confidence to God’s priest, and hear the words of absolution that God has forgiven us of our sins. It is a concrete decision and act for God, and a genuine encounter with his Son, Jesus Christ. You can use your freedom to choose to go to confession, and in return, receive the gift of even deeper freedom from your sins. There are few greater feelings than walking out of confession hearing those amazing words of forgiveness. They sink from your ears to your heart. They can help you change your life.
Explore the pages in this website. Be encouraged that people are praying this month that you will choose to return to this great sacrament. Look up when you can go to receive the sacrament near you. And decide when you are going to go, be brave, and do it. You will not regret your decision, and all of heaven rejoices!
for more information
The Catechism of the Catholic Church offer many theological details about the sacrament of reconciliation here.
There is a website run by Catholics Come Home called Good Confession, which has a lot more detail on how the sacrament is part of God’s good plan for our lives and how it facilitates our spiritual growth.