“If I am sorry for my sins, must I confess in the presence of a priest?” The answer is yes, if you are seeking both spiritual growth and healing and a true reconciliation with God.
Confession is one of the Seven Holy Sacraments* of the Church. In confession, the priest represents Christ.
Christ told His Apostles, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). He clearly endows His Apostles with the power of absolution, which has been passed down to their successors, priests. This is a great gift to people and a grave responsibility for priests. Though they are sinners like us, the grace they receive in Holy Orders, enables them to offer words of spiritual healing and forgiveness.
The roots of oral confession are found throughout the Bible beginning with the story of Adam and Eve. After they ate the forbidden fruit, God asked them what happened. Though He was aware of their misdeed, God knew it was necessary for them to express their sin aloud in order to be fully aware of its destructive effect on their relationship with God and each other.
Holy Confession consists of:
1. An examination of conscience, coupled with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recall the sins committed since your last confession and reveal to you the attitudes which are the cause of your sinfulness. Our Church teaches that all sins are damaging to our relationships
and to our spiritual health. Serious (mortal) sins should be confessed as soon as possible, and the less serious ones should not be ignored, as their accumulated effects can be just as damaging.
2. Repentance, contrition.
3. Confession, absolution.
A good confession results in inexpressible joy. Just as tune-ups keep your car running well, Holy Confession, your “spiritual tune-up,” helps maintain a healthy soul by providing an opportunity for introspection and restoration of Divine forgiveness.
Tips for a Good Confession
Why Go to Confession?
Confession of Sin to a Priest
Guide to Confession: Introduction and Examination of Conscience (Found at the Entrance of the Church)
Children’s Guide to Confession: Instruction and Preparation (Found at the Entrance of the Church)
Confession: Doorway to Forgiveness, by Jim Forest