Sin affects not only your relationship with God, but also with yourself and your community. That’s why confession is such a valuable sacrament. Yes, you can confess sins directly to God and He is apt to forgive them, however, a lot of times we don’t forgive ourselves or reach out for forgiveness from our community for the damage our sin has done in relationships and relations.
Confession brings a lot of that together– the Priest guides you in confession to God, and then pronouncing to you God’s healing atonement upon you and forgives you for the Church also, and finally, within those words, you are given the space to forgive yourself.
That’s why I love in our general confession that we ask for forgiveness of ‘the things we have done and the things we have left undone.’ Sin has a way to eat at relationships and the interplay with other things like psychological disorders and mental health diseases along with other relational pitfalls such as poor communication, distance, and lack of intimacy can help lead us down a shame spiral where we see ourselves as unforgivable.
Confession is saying that all are welcome, come and sit with Christ and the Church, confess all that you have done wrong, and then leave, knowing that Christ and the community forgives you and because you were first forgiven, you need to forgive yourself.
Unforgiveness can ultimately lead you down the road of self-hatred, which is in a way, a hatred of God. For all bear the Divine image within them, and the baptized bear the new life of Christ, so when we refuse forgiveness, we are refusing both a free gift but also the divine life within us that wants to burst out. The ability to forgive oneself leads to a path of correctly viewing yourself as an adopted child of God and not as an orphan on the outside of the Kingdom.
Within confession, you bring out into light what was once hidden, so that Christ can say to you, “Awake O’Sleeper, Arise.”
Light can defeat darkness, for once exposed to light, darkness will flee. Christ in his Death on the cross, harrowing of Hell, Resurrection from the grave, and ascension to the right hand of Father, took light to the darkest place on earth and defeated it. Christ wants to go the darkest places and sins of your life, and work as a physician, in healing your wounds and cauterizing them with his refining fire.
Confession is a gift from God to his People to bring us closer to Him and His Kingdom. Confession is a reminder that your faith is not just between you and Jesus, but is a holistic life that is not only with Jesus, but His Church, His people, and the whole Communion of Saints.