“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 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, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:21-23)
Why do I have to receive the Sacrament of Confession after committing a mortal sin before I can receive the Eucharist?
When in a state of mortal sin the sin corrupts the purity of our soul and prevents us from receiving the grace that the Eucharist brings to us by consuming the Body and Blood of Christ. When we receive Jesus we have to have our whole hearts, whole minds, and whole souls available to him, but if we have a grave sin on our conscience and within our hearts it acts as a barrier that does not allow the light of Christ to penetrate through, and then we cannot share that light with others. Only the Sacrament of Confession can tear down that barrier and enable us to receive the grace promised to us by the Eucharist.
When we are baptized we receive sanctifying grace as Christians, and mortal sin takes away the grace that can only be restored by the Sacrament of Confession. If we are no longer in a state of grace due to mortal sin and have lost sanctifying grace how can we then receive more grace from the Eucharist? It would not make sense that we can receive the grace promised to us in the Eucharist if our relationship with Christ and with the Church needs to be reconciled. The confessional is the place where we can receive healing for our hearts, minds, and souls.
“I see the church as a field hospital after battle." (Pope Francis)
Why Can't God just forgive me?
I recall from a homily once the priest explaining how we as human beings by our very nature need to be able to free ourselves from heavy burdens that we as human beings hold deep down in our hearts and how we desire to be able to obtain forgiveness. Father told us a story about how a congregation of Protestants would give to their Pastor their sins written on pieces of paper as a way of letting go of their sins, and after his death they released the pieces of paper into the sea. Another example of the desire for forgiveness is when our Jewish brothers and sisters on Rosh Hashanah throw pieces of bread into the water to represent the letting go of their sins from the past year, and leading up to Yom Kippur they ask others for forgiveness of their sins. Jesus understood the need that we have to be able to receive the powerful sense of freedom by being able to talk out loud to someone else about what is burdening us. I know in my own experience simply by talking to someone after going through a challenging or difficult experience I always feel so much better to be able to get the words out by speaking to a friend or family member.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation enables us to not only speak of our transgressions, but to receive forgiveness from our loving and merciful God. After leaving the confessional I always feel this amazing sense of knowing that I now can start anew, and have a fresh start in working to keep strong my relationship with Christ because now I can truly let go of my sins.
"Let it Go, let it go!"
Once we leave the confessional the sacrament truly frees us from our sins, and we should try our best to let them go so that we can embrace and accept the grace given to us by the sacrament. Jesus gave the authority to the disciples the ability to forgive sins by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we confess our sins to a Catholic priest today and receive absolution we are truly set free. Our hearts and minds are no longer held captive by our sins and we receive the grace to reconcile our relationship with both God and our Church; the Mystical Body of Christ. When we commit sin, especially grave sin, we affect the entire Body of Christ, and we affect all of our brothers and sisters in Christ by weakening our relationship together as the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church". When mortal sin severs our relationship with God and the Church it is only by the Sacrament of Confession that we can restore sanctifying grace, and continue on our path towards holiness.