May 27, 2011
Why do Catholics Confess Their Sins?
The confession of sins is part of the sacrament of reconciliation, which is one of the seven Catholic sacraments. As far as sacraments go, there are pretty clear roots to it within the New Testament. According to John 20:21-23, Jesus addresses his apostles saying, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. “ In another story within the gospel of John, Jesus grants forgiveness to a woman guilty of adultery. Modern-day priests act on the behalf Christ, granting forgiveness of sin.
The concept of sin is a major focus of the Old and New Testaments. We are told that sin alienates us from God and from one another. All sin leads to death, but fortunately not all sin is deadly. Moreover, there are different types of sin, varying in degree of severity. Mortal sins can destroy our relationship with God while venial sins will simply damage this relationship. Sacramental penance is not as frequently practiced as it once was, but many that practice this sacrament find that it can help in the healing process. After listening to a person’s confession of sins, the priest will suggest an appropriate penance. He may also offer advice concerning the how to improve one’s spiritual life as well as how to avoid similar future sins.
References: The Everything Guide to Catholicism by Richard Gribble