- We are confessing in a way that Jesus wants us to confess. In the Gospel of John, the first thing he did when he met his disciples after his resurrection was say, "Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you." He then breathed on the disciples filling them with the Holy Spirit. He then told them, "whose sin's you forgive are forgiven them. And whose sins you retain are retained." Jesus gave his disciples the ability to forgive or not forgive people for their sins. In order to decide whether to forgive or not to forgive, the disciples had to have to listen to them or have the person confess their sins to them. This ability to forgive sins has been passed down to the priests of today through the laying on of hands in ordained priests through Holy Orders.
- We are getting guilt and worries lifted off our shoulders. When we go to confession, we are actually able to say our sins out loud. There is something releasing about speaking something out loud. We do this when we are frustrated about something don't we? Don't we find someone to vent to? It's the same way with our sins. By saying them out loud and bringing them to light we are freed of them.
- It is a ministry that Jesus has given our priests and a gift for us. In the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Paul says that old things have passed away and new things have come. He continues and says that this is all from God who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and "given us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:18) The priests are able to heal us from our sins which will kill us just as a sword will--if not more.
- Our sins are cast away as a rock to the bottom of the ocean. We are forgiven from God and do not have to worry about those sins any more. It's not as if the priest can tell anyone. He is bound by the seal of the confessional and cannot tell a soul or else he will suffer the pains of excommunication. You can confess murder, stealing, adultery and he cannot tell anyone.
- Spiritual Guidance. The priest is able to talk to you about your sins or about your spiritual life. He is able to offer guidance or advice on how to avoid sin or the near occasion of sin in the future.
- We are confessing in a way that Jesus wants us to confess! In James, we are asked if any among us is ill. If there are, the leaders of the church should be called and the ill will be prayed over and anointed with oil. Any sins they have will be forgiven. He then says that we are to confess our sins so that we might be healed. (Jas 5:14-16)
- An examination of conscience. Any person, or even any organization, that wants to get better needs to look at himself honestly. They need to figure out what they are doing right but more importantly they need to figure out what they are doing wrong. Prior to going to confession, we are to do an examination of conscience to discover or recall our sins. Otherwise, we may go through life and not realize our fault and therefore not correct them. Through an examination of conscience, we may realize we have a problem with pride for example and do what we need to correct it.
- It's humbling. Nothing helps us out more in our spiritual life than a little humble pie. St Josemaria says in The Way "Humility is another good way to arrive at interior peace. He has said so: ‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart: and you will find rest for your souls.'" (607) Through humility we recall that we are nothing if it were not for God and the gifts that He has given us.
- Hearing those words of forgiveness. One of the most powerful phrases uttered by man, "God the Father of mercies has reconciled the world to Himself through the death and resurrection of His Son, and has poured forth the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. May He grant you pardon and peace through the ministry of the Church. And I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Hearing those words will knock you on your butt. They'll bring a grown man to tears. There is no doubt left in your mind that you are forgiven.
- You ARE confessing directly to God--in the way that Jesus wants you to. In the scripture verses provided (Especially John 20) we have shown that Jesus have given his priests the facilities to forgive us for our sins. When we confess to a priest, we ARE confession to God. The priest is in persona Christi or in the person of Christ. Through the priest, we are able to confess directly to God and hear directly from God that we are absolved for our sins.
Hand coloured photographs of 19th-century Japan
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