Can you picture what it feels like to hold a fresh piece of laundry after it has been washed and dried? You take it, smell it, and feel that rush of satisfaction that comes with clean laundry. It’s almost as if the cleanliness radiates through you and makes your whole body feel clean. This is the same feeling I get after going to confession. There is an overwhelming sense of peace that comes with knowing that God has forgiven your sins and that through the prayer of absolution God “washes us clean.” While not reducing the grace that is received in Confession to what happens in a wash machine what’s important is the feeling one has knowing that God has truly forgiven your sins. But, it’s understandable not everyone will feel this way after going to confession. It’s possible you may even question why it’s even necessary in the first place. This leads us to the question, “Why do Catholics Go to Confession.”
Without going immensely into the history of the sacrament here is the “spark notes” version about the sacrament of confession. Confession is one of our seven sacraments labeled under the category “Sacraments of Healing.” As Catholics we believe that this sacrament actually originated from Jesus himself in Scripture (John 20:23) and has been passed down through apostolic succession. God alone possess the power to forgive sins, and since Jesus was true God and true man Jesus also had this power. Jesus then passed the power to forgive sins on to his apostles who then passed on this power to the bishops of the early church. It is from these early bishops that we continue the power of forgiving sins.
It is very important to remember that although it is the bishop or priest that is present in the sacrament it is actually Jesus who is the one forgiving your sins. The priest or bishop is merely the representative of Jesus (Catholic Faith Handbook, 226). Another important thing to remember about the sacrament of confession is the “effects” we receive from it. Confession all at once restores our relationship with God and others, converts our hearts, gives us power to resist future temptation, and gives us freedom from our past sins (Catholic Faith Handbook, 228).
In the end there are many reasons to go to confession but if you have to remember one remember that inner sense of peace and freedom that comes with knowing that God has truly forgiven. Finally know that confession is available frequently. You can easily check the archdiocesan website to find the closest one to you. They are available multiple times a day and week.