Jesus said [to the apostles], “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23)
Here, in my opinion, is a sure sign that you are on the right path – that is, on the path that leads to Heaven. Conversely, I would maintain that it is a sure sign that something is amiss in your spiritual life if you devalue this essential means of sanctification. In short, I maintain that it is a sure sign that you are on the path leading to Eternal Life if you dearly value the Sacrament of Confession.
Our lives are in need of continual purification – this due not only to the weakness of our nature corrupted by the effects of original sin but also due to the corrupting influence of the world – and there are special purifying graces in Sacramental Confession that not only forgive our sins but also strengthen us to fight the good fight. We need these graces.
The Sacrament of Confession, established by Jesus after his Resurrection (see John 20:22-23), is the most assured means to root out sin and impurity from our lives. The other day I was listening to a talk given by Father Michael Scanlan of Franciscan University, and he mentioned in his talk that he had never met a priest who hadn’t seen amazing things occur in the confessional.
When we walk out of the confessional we are forgiven, renewed, empowered and protected from evil. Confession is truly an awesome sacrament!
While Pope, Saint John Paul II drew attention to the healing power of Confession, saying:
“It [sacramental Confession] also performs an authentic ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restores the dignity and the good of the life of the children of God, the most precious of which is friendship with God.”
“It would be illusory to desire to reach holiness, according to the vocation that each one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and sanctification,” that, together with the Eucharist, “accompanies the path of the Christian towards perfection.”
“Penance, by its nature,” he explained, “involves purification, in both the acts of the penitent who lays bare his conscience because of the deep need to be pardoned and reborn, and in the effusion of sacramental grace that purifies and renews.” (May 29, 2004 Catholic New Agency)
Consider it a great treasure – indeed, an invaluable treasure – that you have such easy access to this Sacrament. Treasure it. Desire it. Don’t fear it, for it is a dear friend. Be so happy to confess your sins and faults. This Sacrament will take you where you want to go, “upward, onward,” to Eternal Life!
Ref. I am relying most particularly on Father Lallemant who says on page 50 of The Spiritual Doctrine that Confession produces “great purity of heart,” and also that it “is a matter of moral demonstration that nothing conduces more to the progress of souls than confession and daily communion….”