Q. How often do I need to go to confession to stay in good standing with the Church? Going to confession is quite difficult for me.
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
Church law requires us to confess serious sins at least once a year. Many Catholics find this difficult, so we should investigate the reasons for this precept. The Catechism of the Catholic Church observes that “setting things right” with God establishes the foundation on which we properly build or rebuild relations with one another (see Nos. 1455-1458). Admitting guilt is a way of looking at ourselves the way God does. This is not an invitation to self-punishment, but is a way of recognizing God’s mercy to us, and of encouraging us to show the same mercy to others.
Such reconciliation insures our readiness for the Eucharist (see Catechism, No. 2042) and also equips us to proclaim the Gospel. “In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians” (No. 2044).
Why hesitate to avail ourselves of sacramental confession? Fear? If so, we might approach the priest outside the confessional and explain our reluctance. He will surely be compassionate. We must remember the loving Christ who longs to welcome us. St. Augustine wrote: “Whoever confesses … sins … is already working with God.… Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made.”