We are all sinners. Every one of us. There is no one who is sinless and incapable of sinning (except for Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary). But we have recourse to the Sacrament of Confession to remove our sins.
Psalm 32:5: “Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the LORD,’ and you took away the guilt of my sin.”
We confess our sins to a priest and through him God cleanses us of our sin and its guilt. That is how the sacrament works.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1116: “Sacraments are ‘powers that comes forth’ from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are ‘the masterworks of God’ in the new and everlasting covenant.”
We can confess our sins to God, but in doing so there is no guarantee of absolution (the removal of the sin and guilt). Jesus after all gave His disciples the power to forgive sins or not to (so why bother if we can just go straight to God?):
John 20:22-23: “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.'”
Even Twelve Step movements recognize the need to clear the air of the past with another person. In Step 5 people are exhorted to admit to God, to yourself and to another person the wrongs of the past. The courage needed to talk to another person helps to strengthen the “firm purpose of amendment” that we must possess and increases our personal honesty. It is a sign of humility.
The main practical here-and-now difference between confessing your sins to a priest, however, and “doing a Step 5” with another is that the priest is bound by the seal of confession to not reveal whatever is said during it. No person hearing an alcoholic’s 5th Step list of wrongs is bound by such a thing. Your Step 5 “confession” is not guaranteed to remain a secret.
So, in recognition of the fact that going to Confession is hard if you’re not used to it, confess your sins to God, as a start. As a humble prayer present your sins to God along with a petition for the courage to see a priest for the sacrament. As I said in the beginning, we are all sinners, no getting around that. Jesus established the sacrament for a reason; a direct, tangible and certain way for us to know that our sins are forgiven and removed. This is something that those going directly to God in prayer cannot ever be certain of. Non-Catholics may disagree, but simply put, going straight to God with a prayer of petition to forgive sins is nothing more than a prayer. And as everyone knows, although God does answer all of our prayers, He may not do so in the manner we want, nor in the time we need. Using Confession removes all doubt. We are using the tools that God expressly provided for us to ask Him to do something for us. He is bound by it.
Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'”
So, go to Confession soon. Once a month isn’t too difficult. Often enough for a good cleansing, but not too often that it is “burdensome”. After a fashion you may opt for a more frequent schedule!
Psalm 32:1: “Happy the sinner whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven.”
(Via USCCB.)Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"