“Nobody goes to Confession anymore …”. “No priest ever told me to go to Confession … so, obviously it’s not important …”. This is how most Catholics today would react to anyone suggesting Confession to them. And, who could blame them? It’s true that hardly anyone goes to Confession anymore and priests rarely, if ever, preach about the importance of this Sacrament.
But, Confession is really important because sin is really important. Sin offends God our Father and separates us from Him, especially mortal sin, which kills our soul. But, if our soul is dead, we have lost everything, because we have lost God, and with Him we have lost any hope of getting to heaven. Our destiny is misery in Hell for all eternity. If our body gets sick and we die, it’s a terrible loss, but if we are in God’s friendship, everything will be okay in the end – we can still go to heaven, and on the Last Day we will receive our bodies again.
Thank God, though, there is hope for us when our souls are dead in sin. This hope is Confession. In Confession, the priest is God’s accredited doctor, with the power and authority to forgive all sins in God’s Name, if we are sorry and determined not to sin again. Christ said: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they shall be retained”.
Confessing sins to a priest might seem impossible to some people. But, don’t forget – the priest is also a sinner who has to go to Confession himself. Also, the priest is only taking the place of Christ – ultimately, it is to Christ that we are confessing our sins, through His minister, the priest. Finally, the priest can never, ever reveal any sin he has been told in Confession, under any circumstances, even if he has to die in order to keep the secret. Saint John Nepomucene preferred to have his tongue cut out and be drowned in the Moldau river in Prague rather than tell King Wenceslas anything which the King’s wife had confessed to him. Even priests who are known not to have a great faith in the Sacrament of Confession are determined never to reveal what they have been told in it.