Reasons why some Catholics hesitate/are reluctant to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation
1) Can’t I just confess my sins to God directly?
Without the word: “just”, the answer is “yes.” Why, then, did Jesus give the apostles the power to forgive sins? (John 20:23). Proper preparation for confession helps us make the sacramental experience more
meaningful. Confessing our sins to a priest helps us encounter the living Christ.
Receiving absolution reassures and comforts us, and validates our forgiveness.
2) What if, as a Catholic, I haven’t gone to Confession for a long time, or ever?
Jesus teaches the parable about the merciful Father of the prodigal son. He teaches himself as the Good Shepherd. The priest is called to represent Christ. Priests today are known for their compassion. Just be honest: “Father it has been a rather long time since my last confession __ years ago. The priest will probably respond: “I am so glad you are here.”
3) What if I am unaware of the form I should use?
We are distributing materials about how to celebrate the sacrament. If a person is unsure, simply ask the priest to assist. (“What father among you would hand his son a snake if he asked for a fish, or a scorpion if he asked for an egg? Luke 11:11-12). The priest will help guide you.
4) Confessing our sins can be burdensome and embarrassing. What will the priests think of me? What will others who see us going to confession think of me?
Popes have been known to go to confession once a week. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta went to confession every eight days. We should think well of anyone who goes to Confession. Frankly, the priest humanly and spiritually admires anyone who approaches the sacrament, even more when a person confesses an exceptional “fall from grace” or a habitual/addictive sin. The priest is not there to “judge the person” (“Judge not and you shall not be judged” – Luke 6:37, but to understand, empathize, support, advise and forgive the sinner). Confession is apologizing truthfully for what we have done wrong, not justifying or bragging about our sins.
5) Why go to confession when we may need to confess many or all the same sins again?
If that argument were valid, we could also ask: Why take out the garbage, why bathe, why eat, why sleep, for that matter, why breathe? Many things in life are repetitive. The grace of the sacrament can help us avoid sin.
6) What if I had a bad experience from a previous confession (such as the priest scolding me for not having gone often enough, or not being compassionate about a sin which was either especially grievous or repetitive)?
You are not obliged to go back to that priest for confession. Ask God to direct you. Many people ask their friends about recommendations of a confessor (just as we do about a movie, a restaurant, a cell phone and so on). Also, don’t hesitate to volunteer to another an especially helpful experience you had in confession. (I went to Fr. Jones for confession and he was very understanding and helpful to me. I find Fr. Smith such a good confessor to me. He made me feel at ease and was very supportive of my efforts to overcome sin.)