Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Confession can seem like a scary thing. But I assure you, I’ve never seen a person leaving a confession not feeling much better and lighter. Yet, beyond a sense of relief and peace, here are some reasons parents may want to consider coming to confession more often—even monthly is not too often.
1. Greater compassion towards others
In giving His apostles the power to forgive sins on His behalf (see John 20:19-23), Jesus not only expressed His mercy and desire to forgive us whenever we are sorry, but He also acted as the divine psychologist. Sometimes it is good for us to be reminded of our own weaknesses so that we can be more compassionate towards others. As we acknowledge our own brokenness, we are more likely to show greater patience, understanding, and gentleness to a spouse or child we are having a difficult time with. In confession, Christ shows you His compassion, love, and mercy, and seeks to inspire you to share it with the other wounded people in your life.
2. Getting good advice in difficulties
Not all the time, but often enough, your priest will have some great advice to give you relating to what you can do about certain struggles or situations you find yourself in. People pay big bucks to speak to counsellors, but confession is free, and the priest can’t tell anyone what you say. What is there to lose?
3. Remaining in a “state of grace”
The Church teaches that we are in right relationship with God—called the state of grace—or we are not, and are instead in a state of mortal sin. You may want to check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 1854 to 1855 and beyond to learn more about these. Some key takeaways, however, are that when we are not in a state of grace, we are substantially disconnected from God, and so our prayers are weaker. Moreover, we are not in a right relationship to receive His grace, blessings, guidance, and strength in our lives. Souls in the state of grace receive more grace and light from the Holy Spirit to help them day by day. We all need that, and perhaps especially parents!
This Sacrament has the power to heal your heart, decrease your sinful tendencies, and make it easier to do the right thing in the future! You and your family will certainly be grateful for that.
4. Greater joy in you, which spills over into your family
The Sacraments infuse into us the very divine life of God, which we call sanctifying grace. This means more of the Holy Spirit dwelling with you, which in turn means you’ll experience more of the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, including joy (Galatians 5:22). That joy will spill over into your relationships with family and friends. You may actually be surprised by how much your own joy will change the tone in your family. Your children, who are often more sensitive than you think, will certainly pick up on it and will feel more calm and joyful as well. Now just try to hold on to that calm and peace!
5. Increased union with God
Everyone is called to a personal relationship with Jesus. The deeper our union with God is, the holier we will be. Holiness, to which all Christians are called (cf. Lumen Gentium 39), is really a deep personal union with God. Confession binds us much closer to God, He Who is our deepest source of joy and happiness—in this life, and the next. He alone satisfies the deepest desires of our heart, and is all-deserving of our love. “On this way of perfection, the Spirit and the Bride call whoever hears them to perfect communion with God.” (CCC 2550)
6. An easier time avoiding committing the same sins
I am surprised how few people are aware of the fact that confession isn’t only for the forgiveness of sins, but also provides powerful graces in avoiding sin. It’s like a spiritual heart surgery that works against sinful desires. St. John Paul II says this, “Above all it should be emphasized that the grace proper to the sacramental celebration has a great remedial power and helps to remove the very roots of sin.” (Reconciliation and Penance, 32) If you struggle with committing the same sins again and again, then confession will help you. Perhaps it’s impatience with children, or selfishness in your relationship. Whatever it is, this Sacrament has the power to heal your heart, decrease your sinful tendencies, and make it easier to do the right thing in the future! You and your family will certainly be grateful for that.
7. Growing in humility and self-knowledge
At first glance you may think that this sounds a lot like point #1 above, but let me assure you, it is altogether different. Humility is the opposite of pride, which is often bound up with thinking too highly of ourselves. When we face our imperfections and sins head on, within the safe space of God’s unconditional mercy, we realize what Jesus meant when He said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In other words, our big heads start to shrink and we become more humble, gentle, and aware of who we are in God’s sight. This increased humility and self-knowledge, which the Saints say is so necessary for a true life of holiness, will have ripple-like effects in our spiritual life, and in our family life as well. Parents who experience these fruits of the Sacrament of Reconciliation will inevitably become way better role models for their children. They will also be more equipped to guide their children in the pathways of Jesus’s commandments—the roadmap to happiness, both now and for eternity.
8. Confession gets easier with time and practice
While confession can seem scary, even more so if you’ve been away from it for a while, I want to encourage and reassure you that it’s way more scary in your head than in reality. It will get easier the more you go. Those “doomsday scenarios” the devil may plant in your head—ultimately to dissuade you from confession—are not really how it’s going to go. Just give it a shot, do your best, and let God do the rest. The priest has heard everything, he won’t judge you; in fact, will be so proud of you.
If you have been one of those unfortunate enough to have had a bad experience with a priest in confession, I invite you to consider forgiving that priest from your heart. Parents, I beg you , please don’t let your bad experience(s) stop you from encountering all the above benefits of this amazing Sacrament.
Now is the time the Lord is calling you to seek out a kindhearted priest you can trust and who will help you grow in your faith life.
Father Gregory Merkley
Father Gregory Merkley is a priest of the Diocese of Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada. Having grown up in a family where the faith was not very practiced, he lived for some years as a practical atheist. After his return to the Catholic Church, he gave his life to Christ and was ordained a Catholic priest on May 4th, 2019. Father Merkley is interested in anything Catholic, with a special love for evangelization, apologetics, Catholic Tradition, and canon law. When he is not praying, he is most typically involved in some form of evangelization or ministry. You can learn more about him at his personal website.