Well, as you know, we Catholics are to confess to a priest at least once a year to be considered good practicing Catholics. Additionally, in the mass, we have where we admit we have sinned, but without saying, specifically, in what way.
I find private confession essential. A lot of people say, “I have sinned and am sorry” but don’t get specific enough to really do much good. I find that confession, saying this, outloud, to a priest, knocks the person one of denial, in many cases.
In AA, it’s very powerful when someone can say, “I’m an alcoholic”, to admit this not only to himself but to another individual. I don’t know if I could begin to explain why it is. It just is.
We are encouraged to review our conscience, preferably monthly. Some, religious especially, do this daily.
An examination of a “review of conscience” is here:
The review of conscience helps me to see where, specifically, I am going wrong so that I can’t easily deceive myself. Without this discipline, I think it’s easy for a lot of us to get off track without even realizing it.
The priest often acts as a counselor, giving advice from a position of faith, rather than a secular counselor. It’s anonymous or not, depending.
Even some non-Catholics have taken advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation to complete their 12-step program, where they are to confess to another individual the exact nature of their wrongs, and some like to do this anonymously.
In the Bible, God gives the apostles special power to forgive sin.
- 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.”
If God had intended everyone to confess directly to God, as had been done previously, why did he bother to go to all that trouble, to breathe on them, give them the power to forgive sins if Christ hadn’t intended them to use it? We Catholics believe it had been Christ’s intention to go through the Church for the sacraments, not to try to “go it alone”, without it.
John the Baptist’s converts confess their sins outloud…Matthew 3:6.
Acts 19:18…Penitents confess out loud and divulge their sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Pauls says he has the ministry of reconciliation or the forgiveness of sins.
James 5:16 James says to confess your sins to one another.
In the Old Testament, it was okay to confess your sins directly to God, but in the New Testament, Jesus set it up that we would go through priests.
I’ve experimented with other churches where confession was not considered necessary. I found that most of the time I forgot, didn’t bother, and I didn’t really give my sins much thought at that time.