I feel more at ease with face-to-face. At the same time, it has done a lot to get me to quit committing a lot of habitual sins. Honestly, if I had only been going to anonymous Confession over the last few years, there would be nowhere near as much motivation to avoid habitual or embarrassing sins. But when I knew I would have to look a priest in the eye and tell him I did XYZ, or even worse, that it had only been two weeks since my last Confession and I did XYZ several times since then, that was a strong motivator to not do it. I know that my desire to be closer to Christ should be my main motivation, but when you’re going to have to go tell this guy who you’ve eaten dinner with, who socializes with your wife and sees your children on a daily basis that you’ve fallen in this or that area yet again, that tends to weigh on your conscience.
At the same time, I’ve developed the attitude that if I’m willing to commit the sin, I need to be willing to face up to it, and kneeling or sitting behind a screen in my mind is not facing up to it. I did something the other day that, the second I did it I said to myself, “Wait, you idiot, why’d you do that?!?” While it was technically a mortal sin, it was pretty minor in the grand scheme of things and extremely out of character for the person I am now. I was kicking myself for days and was extremely tempted to go to anonymous Confession because of how embarrassed I was after having not done anything of the sort in years, but I forced myself to go facet-to-face. Father barely paid it any notice, but I was so worked up over it that I can’t imagine myself ever doing it again. Similarly, several months ago I remembered a truly major, horrendous thing I did years and years ago. I made a point of going to a priest I’ve known for decades and is a close friend of several of my family members. It’s not that I felt comfortable telling him; on the contrary, I thought I was going to throw up in the confessional. On a positive note, I couldn’t imagine ever putting myself in a position of having to confess something similar again.
I know a lot of people talk about “Catholic guilt” as though it’s a horrible, pervasive thing, but sometimes a healthy dose of guild and shame can have a very positive influence.