As Catholics we have a very special gift from God: the opportunity to go to confession and have our sins forgiven! This is what Jesus came to do, to forgive our sins, and He gave us this opportunity to have them forgiven at any time. Because of this, it is very important that we take advantage of this sacrament.
Why should I go to confession if I can just ask God for His forgiveness?
I have no doubt in God’s ability to forgive us when we are contrite, but Jesus instituted this sacrament Himself, so we should follow His instructions. Read John 20:19-23. The passage ends with Jesus telling His disciples “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them , and whose sins you retain are retained.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that, folks. In addition, St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18 says “..and all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Here St. Paul is specifically referencing reconciliation!
Who does the forgiving of sins?
Only a priest or bishop can minister the sacrament of reconciliation. Notice how the disciples had to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20 before Jesus told them to forgive sins. So in confession it is Jesus forgiving your sins, through the priest. The priest is only the instrument of God.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops blog has a top ten reasons why you should go to confession list, should check it out!
Personally, there might not be a better feeling than leaving that confessional after having your sins forgiven. The sacrament gives me hope when I feel like all that I do is mess up and sin. Give God’s mercy a try, it’s infinite… 😉
Come to think of it, asking God for forgiveness is kind of like asking your grandma for food. They both are dying to give it and they’re really good at it 😀
Have a regular schedule for going. Pope John Paul II suggested going once a month.
Keep track of your sins if you have a bad memory (like me) by writing them down or something. But make sure to do some sort of celebratory destruction of your paper or whatever you use afterwards , because they are truly forgiven and you don’t have to worry about them anymore!
Do your penance right away before you forget.
Having the same priest for confession is a good idea so he can help guide you. Ask him questions and for advice.