Q: Confession has been a really sore spot for me but, having been raised a Catholic, I do love the Church and all the other sacraments. I am sure there are priests I could go to for confession, but I feel so uncomfortable and always feel that God already knows my sins and what I am sorry for. Will I go to hell for feeling this way? Will God forgive me if I am truly sorry?
A: You will not go to hell for feeling that way—only if you commit some mortal sin for which you refuse to repent. Will God forgive you if you are truly sorry? Yes.
You may, however, be seeing repentance and forgiveness too narrowly. Sin cuts us off not only from God but also from other people. Repentance is not simply about straightening things out with an angry God who, in human terms, is actually more disappointed than angry.
Repentance is also about admitting that our sins affect how we treat other people.
The Roman Catholic faith is an incarnational one, a sacramental one, a faith which sees God acting through physical objects (water, oil, bread, wine) and by means of human instruments, including a priest hearing confessions.
Why not participate in a Lenten penance service in your parish? Common prayers and Scripture readings are followed by a chance for private confession in the open or in a confessional.
In almost 25 years of hearing confessions, I have always been humbled and edified as people face their sinfulness, accepting God’s love and forgiveness. Remember, confessors go to confession, too!