Confession is the most dreaded sacrament, yet the most powerful sacrament.
Why do I say it's the most powerful?
Among the seven sacraments, confession and the Holy Eucharist are the only lifetime sacraments. As you know too well, Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, and Holy Matrimony only happen once in the life of every Catholic. So, if you desire to live long and prosper, never ignore confession.
Confession and receiving the Holy Eucharist are repetitive.
Now, for God to ask you to do something over and over again, He knows you need it to survive.
Confession precedes receiving the Holy Communion.
To receive the Holy Communion in purity, you cannot ignore confession. Receiving the Holy Eucharist in a state of sin keeps the sin intact. You never grow. Instead, the vice matures in you and makes you worse.
But if you confess regularly, and receive the Holy Eucharist often, the sin gradually fades away. If for instance, you are a pro in holding grudges, the bitterness dies off. Evil cannot persevere in the presence of purity.
Now, here is the thorny question.
"Why should I confess to a priest? Is he not a human being like me? How will I face him after the confession? Won't he discuss my sins with other people? I cannot bear the shame!
After all, God promised to forgive! I will simply seek forgiveness directly from God."
Hey, a moment, please!
Did you just say God will forgive you even if you ignore the priest?
Look at these pointers towards a confession. Once you get the point, you will never ignore this vital sacrament.
Reasons for Confession in the Catholic Church
Confession is one of the Seven Sacraments in the Catholic Church. It is the divulgence of sin committed by a Catholic faithful, who receives the Holy Eucharist, to a priest. With priestly authority, the priest exonerates the confessor from the said sins.
Did you just say 'Jesus is the only one who has the authority to hear my sins?'
I bet understanding the relationship between God and papacy will help you partake in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation without undermining the priestly authority.
Let's, first of all, know where this dreaded activity came from.
Roots of confession
The Old Testament and the New Testament are the two segments of the Bible. Both of them have pointed out Confession in equal measure as a vital sacrament. We cannot afford to separate the two.
Penance in The Old Testament
In the Old Testament, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were siblings. They all devoted themselves to God. When Aaron and Miriam spoke ill of Moses, God did not take it lightly. Moses was God’s favorite, considering the responsibility God vested in him.
God punished Miriam for her cheap slander of Moses with Aaron. Aaron pleaded with Moses to intercede to God to reinstate Miriam’s health.
From the way God spoke (Numbers 12), Moses was above Aaron and Miriam in terms of Spiritual hierarchy. In Aaron’s wisdom, he respected that order and reached out to God through Moses. Moses was a prophet. Aaron was a powerful priest, but still sought the intercession of Moses.
The second occasion of priestly authority in the Old Testament is when Abimelech tried to take Sarah (Abraham’s wife) (Genesis 20: 1-16). God punished every woman in Abimelech’s palace with barrenness. In normal circumstances, anyone would be furious at Abraham.
God told Abimelech He would only forgive him if Abraham interceded for him. Abimelech lay low and sought the intercession of Abraham.
Can you imagine God sending you back to the same person who tricked you? He goes ahead to tell you if you don't comply, He will not help you!
As much as Abraham was a king, Abimelech was also a king in his camp!
But what did Abimelech do?
He forgot about the 'king' hat he wore, lay low before Abraham, and got absolution for his sin.
Now, when you say you cannot confess to a priest, is it not pride? One of the seven deadly sins? How then will God liberate you yet He has an Abraham (priest) in place to speak on your behalf?
Think about it as we tie confession to the New Testament too.
If we don't do this, you're likely to say confession is an Old Testament thing and, therefore, invalid.
The New Testament Confession
Jesus healed a paralyzed man in Capernaum. Some teachers of the law seemed not to agree with Jesus. Jesus expedited His priestly authority through His words, “get up your sins are forgiven.” Jesus was a man (priest) with permission to stand in the gap.
Do you realize every priest holds the position of Jesus today?
The same confession replicates in James 5:16. “So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.
Take note of this:
'The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.'
What does that tell you?
You can seek forgiveness directly. However, with the priestly powers, you are better off when he intercedes for you!
Okay, look at this one.
After the resurrection of Jesus. These were His exact sentiments. "Peace be with you," He said. After saying this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you." Then He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people's sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20: 19-23).
This is the mother of them all.
Jesus showed them His hands and side to prove He was the crucified Jesus. He also officially handed over His earthly job to the disciples who are the present priests.
Jesus received the power to forgive sins from God. He handed the power over to the disciples and even breathed the Holy Spirit into them. In other words, the priest forgives your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Is the priest not complete?
Now, are you still saying you cannot confess to a priest? A committed Catholic would find it difficult to utter such words.
Let's go ahead and see how you receive forgiveness.
What Happens During Confession?
Officially it's only you and the priest. Of course, you cannot see God but He is present.
Spiritually, you are four. Remember, Jesus was a man. He represents God (supernatural), and man (priest). He is the link between the priest and God. Both God and Jesus are, therefore, inside the priest.
The priest too represents the Lord, himself (as a priest) doing his work, and everyone else you sinned against. He is three in one (Jesus, Priest, and the people you have wronged). He is complete with all the powers to absolve you from your sins.
Remember the above verse concerning confessing to one another? United in one body of Christ, your confession becomes complete.
Every event in the Bible happened in the full glare of the Lord’s eyes. The Holy Book is alive and active. God is still on His throne. Going through His chosen servants to reach Him is a silent command. Confession is, therefore, a sacrament we need to partake in as much as possible. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins that prevent Catholics from honoring the sacrament.
I have personally found confession to keep me on my toes. The thought of confessing the same sin again dreads. What about you? Do you confess or don’t you? Why? What do you get from this article? Let's hear what you have to say in the comments.