James 5:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Our parish has set aside every first Friday of the month for 24-hour Adoration. As Catholics we pray before the Blessed Sacrament, as it is our belief that we are in the presence of Christ. Every parish holds confessions; at our church we can go once a week. But on this day we have an opportunity to go to Confession after the 8:30 Mass. This Act of Contrition aids us in continuing our walk with the Lord with a clean slate.
A recent Pew Report reveals that over 69% of Catholics do not know that the Eucharist is the living Body of Christ, yet they receive communion when attending Mass. It is through God’s great mercy that a special blessing is extended to those who are ignorant of its true meaning. Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is the most important aspect in our belief system, going to confession and receiving absolution cleanses us of our sins.
When we confess our sins we are liberated from all our transgressions:
- Guilt is lifted;
- We are no longer consumed by the sin;
- If you have sinned against others, they, too, are released from bondage.
Guilt is one of the oldest tools of the Devil. Satan is constantly reminding us of our sins, and we often allow our self-talk to come into agreement with the Accuser of the Brethren. If you allow Satan to dictate your self-talk, he will overtake your mind; before you realize it, you are obsessed with this sin. You are in bondage because you have permitted negative self-talk to control your senses. You are robbed of joy and without joy there is no peace.
When someone has sinned against you and has broken your spirit, you develop anger toward that person. When you think of these persons, the Devil reminds you of the pain that they have caused you. It is through the act of confession that this heavy burden is lifted off your spirit and forgiveness takes its rightful place. God wants to heal us, and if we have a spirit of unforgiveness, the Holy Spirit will tug at our heart and guide us into the right path. But we must have the will to forgive. We need to put all of sin’s debris at the foot of the Cross, where we learn to let it go. To a Christian this is the most difficult obstacle to conquer.
Unforgiveness is a heavy load to carry, yet some people carry this baggage for years. It’s like adding a few unwanted pounds on your body. If you do not change your eating, eventually your body will adjust to the added weight. Unforgiveness works in the same manner: your mind conforms to your way of thinking, and the negative self-talk assures you how right you are to hold on to these unyielding thoughts. Your pain is all that matters.
Our mind was created to know and to serve God. How can God move in our lives if our minds are cluttered with ungodly thoughts?
I experienced full forgiveness by going to confession, because now my heart and spirit are one with God. Many times I find myself repeating the same sin, so until I can fully break that bondage, I will continue to confess the transgressions.
We all have direct access to God, and asking the Maker of us all for forgiveness is act of moving spiritually beyond our capacity to understand. We need to rid ourselves of the separation from God that we created because of our sin. Our conscience is a gift that constantly reminds us when we fall short. Our conscience also works to free us and binds us once again so that we may have communion with God.
Why do Catholics go to a priest to confess sins? The priest is the intercessor and mediator between man and God. Jesus gave the apostles the ability to forgive sins:
John 20:21-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
I can only express my personal experiences when I do go to a priest and confess my sins. I am completely restored and can continue to serve the Lord with a contrite heart. I am a sinner, and I know that it will only be a matter of hours when something will cause me to fall again. But because I serve a God who is rich in mercy and loves to forgive me, I can ask Him again and again for forgiveness. He calls me His friend, and He wants to heal me.
Psalm 103:2-4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
2 Bless the Lord, my soul;
and do not forget all his gifts,
3 Who pardons all your sins,
and heals all your ills,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
and crowns you with mercy and compassion
The sin of unforgiveness has been linked to many diseases: depression, arthritis, obesity, and cancer. Many times the suffering leads to suicidal thoughts. Therefore don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Do not allow Satan to eat away at your spirit, because this weakens not only your mind but your body as well.
Ephesians 4:26-27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
If you confess your sins to others, make sure that you are doing it to free yourself of the sin, and not for the sake of someone agreeing with you; that would be considered gossip. When confessing to a priest or a pastor you are safe in knowing that a godly person has helped you through your journey to wholeness. I leave you with this fact: the highest suicide rate is among atheists.