Catholics believe that you should confess your sins from time to time. You sit in a room with your priest, sometimes with a privacy screen between(but they know who they’re talking to), and you tell him about the terrible things you’ve said and done until you’ve cleared your conscience. Afterwards, the priest will most likely give you some advice on how not to sin, and recommend that you go home and pray. By going through this process, you are pronounced “forgiven,” and have a fresh start to your walk with God. There is usually a great rush to the confessional room during the Sundays leading up to Lent.
I think I was in third grade when we took the class for Confession. We were supposed to learn why we told the priest our sins and why it was important. We learned that traditionally, Confession is like the people in the Old Testament bringing sacrifices to the church so the priest could go before God and present something pure and blameless to atone for our their sins. Being that sacrificing animals is now considered inhumane and unsanitary, Confession is the modern substitute.
One thought troubled my younger self during these particular lessons; “What if my sins are forgiven in the confessional, but I go home and sin again?”
I asked my teacher this very question, and she seemed bewildered.
“Why would you go home and sin again?” she inquired.
“Because we’re not perfect and we sin all the time,” said Little Me.
“The goal is to leave the confessional and try to be good. If you sin again, you’ll just need to come back another day and tell the priest what happened.”
The teacher left it at that, but I wasn’t satisfied. At the time, sins for me were things like being mean to my little brother and disobeying my parents, but they happened more often than I wanted to admit to Father Mark*. How was I ever going to be completely forgiven? Would God be angry with me? I didn’t know.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that someone offered me real answers to my questions. I started attending a youth group with some friends of mine, and I learned the truth about God and how He forgives sins.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34, ESV
Jesus said this while hanging on the cross. He was beaten and tortured and shamefully nailed to a tree like a criminal, and still chose to ask God for someone else’s forgiveness. The Son of God took this pain for us. The Prince of Peace died asking for God to forgive us. The Savior became the pure and blameless sacrifice to atone for our sins.
As a third grader, I already knew in my heart that asking a priest for God’s forgiveness was redundant. The truth was that Christ already went to God for the sins I’ve committed and the sins that I have yet to do. Everyone sins. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23, HCSB) It happens, but Jesus came so that we don’t have to live with those sins forever. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness in Jesus’ name. Jesus will intercede and God will forgive us.
in·ter·cedeˌ in(t)ərˈsēd/ verb 1. intervene on behalf of another. (Google search intercede)
“Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:14, NLT
If you feel the need to confess your sins, going to a priest is not a bad thing. If you’re a practicing Catholic and you don’t want to go to a priest, that’s okay too. However you choose to go to God is between you and Him. Just keep in mind that the only one who can truly forgive is the Lord, and you ask Him through His son, Jesus Christ, who died so that we could.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6, ESV
Enjoy your chocolate bunnies and Reese’s eggs this Easter Sunday and celebrate what Jesus has done for us. Our Savior died and rose again so that we may be with Him in Paradise. <3