Tonight we had the privilege of attending Landon's 1st Reconciliation. (First Confession for those non-Catholics.) It reminded me of the tremendous gift the Sacrament of confession is for us. I often hear... "Well, if I want to confess my sins to God, I can go straight to him... I don't need a priest." or "How can a man have control over my sins... how can a priest absolve me when he himself is in sin?" What those people fail to understand is that God does not need me to go to confession to forgive my sins. He forgave me when he died on the cross. My sins were forgiven before I even committed them. The forgiveness part is for me. It is my healing, my reconciliation with God. It changes me... it doesn't change God. Yes, I can (and do) ask God directly to forgive me of my transgressions. But it is the act of preparing for, traveling to and verbally OWNING what I have done to a member of my community (priest) that helps in that healing and reconciliation process. The priest represents my community whom I have injured by my sin. Confession is not like the "The Godfather" movies. Sometimes your penance might be 2 Hail Mary's and 1 Our Father... but most of the time the priest will ask me to do something that will aid in changing the behavior I.e. Apologize to someone I've hurt, spend more time in prayer, pray for others who have offended me, etc.
Don't misunderstand what I am trying to say here. Confessing my sins is not on the top 10 list of ways I'd like to spend my day. It is very uncomfortable. It is awkward and embarrassing... as well it should be. That's the deterrent from committing the same sin over and over again. My point is that the benefits ALWAYS outweigh the risk. The feeling of absolution is so profound that it makes all of the effort worthwhile.