A few years ago, someone asked me that question, thinking that Confession and other practices no longer exist in the Catholic Church.
The truth is that we still go to confession and priests still hear confessions everywhere. But it is also true that many Catholics no longer confess. The reasons for this are many; I believe that the main reason is a misunderstanding of the true nature of confession. Some believe that confession is telling a priest what we have done wrong, but confession is a lot more than that: it is an admission within ourselves that we have done something wrong.
Sometimes we do not understand our need for confession and an experience of the mercy of God. Pope Francis has encouraged us all to go to confession and be reconciled with God. The need for confession is born of our human nature; we are not perfect, we sin and we need the help of others. We need to look to ourselves and see how we can become better persons, more faithful to our Baptism.
One of the reasons many people stopped going to confession is their understanding of conscience, and how important our conscience is related to the things we do. Our moral acts are determined by our conscience, but even then we need to remedy that which before the Lord we know is wrong.
We know that to face that side of us is not easy. But we cannot convince ourselves that we do not fail, that we do not sin, that we are perfect, and we know that we are not.
In one of the letters of Saint John, we read: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8-10). Commenting on this,Pope Francis said that we are “a liar or blind,” because we do not see ourselves acting contrary to the Gospel.
The key to confession is to understand the great mercy of God, and God’s immeasurable love, that that he gave His only Son that we may live. Through confession, we understand that we are not perfect but also that through the mercy of God we can be transformed by the Lord’s grace.
The answer to the first question is this: Yes, Confession is still on! and… “Do not be afraid of Confession!” exclaimed Pope Francis. “One who is in line to confess himself feels all these things – even shame – but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves free, great, beautiful, forgiven, […] happy. And this is thebeauty of Confession.” You are welcome to experience the mercy of Godin our Parish Reconciliation Liturgy on Wednesday,March 18th @ 7:00 PM, here at St. Martin’s.
– Fr. Sergio