I dread going to Confession. Not quite the statement you were expecting, huh?
Let me clarify: I dread it, but I don't hate it. I love Confession when it’s all said and done, but I dread confessing my sins out loud.
Jesus knows our sins; He died for the bajillion sins you and I choose to do in our lives. No matter how big or small the sin, I know Jesus is always there to forgive me.
We shouldn't be afraid to confess our sins . And yet we hesitate.
I literally need to psych myself up just to walk in those church doors. Why? Because I know I have sinned and I'm not proud of it; I feel remorse for what I have done.
The enemy tries to hold me (and you) back from confessing our sins because by confessing our sins out loud to a priest, our souls are being healed and we are brought closer to God through His grace. Holding in our sins and not seeking forgiveness mostly hurts us.
For my non-Catholic friends, you may be wondering why Catholics go to Confession. Why not just confess our sins to God either alone or share our struggles with friends?
The Catholic Church believes sin is a communal affair (James 5:16).
Fr. Eamon Tobin wrote in The Sacrament of Penance,
"In response to this question, the first remark I often make is, "Why do we not object to having a mediator, another man, at the sacrament of baptism? Why don’t we just baptize ourselves?" Baptism, among other things, cleanses us of sin. The sacrament of reconciliation is like a second baptism; it cleanses us of post-baptismal sin. If we have no objections to another man’s mediating to us God’s grace in the sacrament of baptism, why should we object to another man’s mediating God’s grace in the sacrament of reconciliation?
The primary reason, however, why the Catholic Church asks her members to confess their sins to a priest is simply because the Church has always believed that sin, however private, is a community affair. Every sin, however small, wounds the Body of Christ, the members of the Church. . . . When any of its members sin, they all suffer. Moreover, because my sins wound the community and diminish its effectiveness, reconciliation must include the community and not just God. In the confessional, the priest is the representative of God and of the community. In the confessional, the priest represents the whole Christ, the Head (Jesus) and the members (the Church).
Because Confession is ordered toward the healing of our souls, the priest gives you a penance to participate in repairing the damage sin has done. For example, a penance may consist of a prayer, a good deed, asking you to spend time in church after Confession, or simply sitting and telling Jesus that you love Him .
Penance isn’t “earning” forgiveness but participating in it, particularly on the point of repairing sin’s damage. Sin damages our soul and body; we can rarely make perfect reparation for the corporal damage of sin, so we turn to acts of faith and prayer to bring about healing. As a religion teacher once explained: If sin is a nail driven into a board, Confession removes the nail, and penance fills the hole that remains.
It’s such an amazing feeling to go through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), that you wonder why you dreaded it in the first place . As humans, we materialize feelings and need to let them free. Releasing acts or thoughts to someone instead of internalizing it all, gets them off our chest and makes us feel refreshed.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20: 21-23
Below are 2 videos; one explains Confession going more in depth while the other one talks about what makes a good confession.
(Shamelessly promoting Fr. Mike here...but if you have time, watch his videos...he speaks to Catholics and non-Catholics)