You know what they say, "Confession is good for the soul." And if you are Catholic, it's more than good for the soul, it's required before you can receive your first communion.
Peter is in second grade which means he will receive his first communion this spring after he completes all of his required prep classes and after he receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka - his first confession).
I was raised as a Protestant and when I first considered joining the Catholic church, one of the things I balked at was the idea of confessing my sins to a priest.
I don't need a priest! I can go straight to God! Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest?
These were the arguments I made in protest but as I started to read and reflect and pray about the matter, I realized that confession is Biblical.
The text below which is taken from Catholics Come Home answers the question of Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest instead of going directly to God? quite nicely and succinctly:
The quick answer is because that's the way God wants us to do it. In James 5:16, God, through Sacred Scripture, commands us to "confess our sins to one another." Notice, Scripture does not say confess your sins straight to God and only to God...it says confess your sins to one another.
In Matthew, chapter 9, verse 6, Jesus tells us that He was given authority on earth to forgive sins. And then Scripture proceeds to tell us, in verse 8, that this authority was given to "men"...plural.
In John 20, verses 21-23, what is the 1st thing Jesus says to the gathered disciples on the night of His resurrection? "Jesus said to them, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.'" How did the Father send Jesus? Well, we just saw in Mt 9 that the Father sent Jesus with the authority on earth to forgive sins. Now, Jesus sends out His disciples as the Father has sent Him...so, what authority must Jesus be sending His disciples out with? The authority on earth to forgive sins. And, just in case they didn't get it, verses 22-23 say this, "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"
Why would Jesus give the Apostles the power to forgive or to retain sins if He wasn't expecting folks to confess their sins to them? And how could they forgive or retain sins if no one was confessing their sins to them?
The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. It also tells us that God gave men the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Jesus sends out His disciples with the authority on earth to forgive sins. When Catholics confess our sins to a priest, we are simply following the plan laid down by Jesus Christ. He forgives sins through the priest...it is God's power, but He exercises that power through the ministry of the priest.
I was 37 years old when I gave my first confession. It was hard. I was sweating bullets. Think of all the sins you had committed by the time you were 37. Now think about telling them to someone. Out loud. Even someone as loving and nonjudgmental as a priest. That's hard stuff.
But when I left the confessional, I felt as light as air. Even though I had prayed many times to God asking him for forgiveness for the discretions on my list, (and yes, I took a list into the confessional) I never truly felt forgiven until I told them to the priest and he absolved me of them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Peter gives his first confession on Saturday morning and I have a little advice for him. Don't be nervous. Be honest. Speak slowly and clearly. And remember what they say, little man, "Confession really is good for your soul!"