Why is it important to go to confession? Doesn’t God already know I’m sorry for my sins?
Certainly God knows when we are sorry for our sins. And since God’s only relationship with us is one of unconditional love, whenever we turn to God with a sincere sorrow for sin and a desire to make a new beginning, God is there to meet us with forgiveness. Even with this in mind, there are still three main reasons for going to confession.
- Through this sacrament we experience a palpable form of God’s love for us. The priest is present in the confessional NOT to punish or get angry at the person confessing but ONLY to be a concrete, tangible sign of God’s forgiveness and love. He is also there to help us become better by sharing some advice or simply offering to walk with us during our suffering.
- There are often times in our lives, when we freely and deliberately chose to separate ourselves from God’s love by committing an act that is seriously evil. In such cases, we definitely cut ourselves off from God and from the church. Our sins not only affect God, but also others, the community. This is why it isn’t sufficient to simply confess our sins directly to God. Through the ministry of the priest, we ask God for forgiveness and reestablish our bond with the community.
- Finally, we are obliged to go to confession because participation in the Eucharist is our greatest joy and privilege, as well as a duty (at least once a year, preferably during the Easter season, but that’s just the bare minimum). To participate worthily in the Sacrament of the Eucharist we must be free of mortal sin. Confession is a gift, a means of grace, a way to God, and a way back to God.
Individual confession and celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation can be of great value even when we have not committed a serious sin. It is a way of taking an honest look at our own lives and “taking inventory” of our relationship with God. “Naming” the tendencies or habits that cause us to drift from that relationship may be the beginning of a process of our recentering our thoughts and actions on God.
The sacrament of Reconciliation should be first and beyond all else a joyful celebration of God’s forgiving and merciful love for us.