Why Catholics Have Confession

For those who have followed me on one of my other blogs, you probably already know that I am Roman Catholic. Just what is confession, why do Catholics have it, and why do I go? Confession (you may hear it called the Sacrament of Reconciliation or something similar) is when you go inside the confessional (that booth you see in the picture above) and pour out your sins. You tell the priest who is in one side of the booth all the sins you have committed. Don’t worry he isn’t going be telling anyone what you say. That is between you, the priest, and God. When you have finished confessing the priest will give you your penance.

Jesus, himself, established the sacrament of confession. He knew that he would not be with us always to forgive our sins, so he delegated this power to other men. This would allow the church to offer forgiveness to future generations. You can see that in this bible verse:

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he has said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20:21-22

That is one way to explain it. However, when I explain it to people I usually tell them that as humans we sometimes need to hear that we are forgiven. It helps to hear the priest say to us:

I forgive you your sins, now go in peace.

There is a weight lifted by hearing those words. We don’t always hear when God forgives us for our sins. It is not the priest forgiving us so much as he is acting as God’s delegate. He is the physical reminder that yes, God has forgiven us. 

What Is Require to Confess?

The only thing required for a good confession is having the  intention of returning to God with your whole heart. Acknowledge your sins with true sorrow and ask for forgiveness. That is all you really need.

Do I Need to Confess Everything?

Yep, everything. Don’t worry about your priest dropping their bible or something else you may have seen in the movies. They have heard pretty much everything. I remember my very first confession. I couldn’t even reach up to the little window. The priest we had at the time told me to stand on the chair cause he couldn’t hear me. I had no idea what to confess. So, I told about all the time I disobeyed my parents, hit my siblings, etc.

I also remember my sister being in the confessional once for almost an hour. We were all lined up on the pew waiting our turn and my cousin leaned over and whispered “What in the world is she confessing in there?” We were teens at the time and my sister was wild so there was no telling.

What is Penance?

Once you have finished giving your confession, you may be given a penance you need to perform.  Completing the penance will help diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. A penance can be anything from doing something nice for someone you have wronged, asking publicly for forgiveness, donate time to worthy cause, etc. It can also be praying the Our Father or the Hail Mary, a certain number of times. I once had to say those two hundred times each. I was thirteen at the time and we aren’t going to talk about what I said to my brother that earned that penance.

Confession is something that is sacred to Catholic. Most churches have confession days every week. I don’t go every week, rather I go every other week. Although I will make myself a note of things I want to confess so I don’t forget them. I don’t know if I am the only person who does that or not but there you go.


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