Fr. Theodore Lange explains why Catholics confess sins to a priest. He relates the conversion story of a man who had been away from the church for 40 years. This man had acquired a lot of material wealth, worldliness, and sin. After his conversion, he began going to daily mass, and eventually decided that he needed to confess his sins to a priest to reconcile himself to God. After unloading 40 years of guilt and sin, the priest absolved him of his sins saying, “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercy endures forever.” After receiving absolution, the man was so overwhelmed that he asked for the priest to repeat it again, because he was unable to believe it.
The beauty of confession is that it allows us to open up to another about our sins and struggles, instead of having to keep it inside. Sin sticks with us and eats at our spiritual well-being. We not only seek absolution from our sins, but we seek support in our commitment to turn away from sin for good. Sin damages our emotional, physical, and spiritual life, and so the Church recommends that Catholics go to confession at least once a year, and if possible, once a month.
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