There are a wide variety of reasons, both good and not-so-good, why many Catholics today do not celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation as frequently as Catholics did in the past.
On the positive side, these reasons include a deeper understanding of sin, a better understanding of the Sacrament, and an appreciation for other ways in which we can recognize and accept God's forgiveness in our personal and spiritual lives.
On the negative side, however, some of us today have an inflated sense of individual freedom, a diminished sense of personal responsibility, a nagging resentment toward authority, an innate fear of confessing, or a confused sense of sin. All of these tend to reduce our need or desire to celebrate Reconciliation.
The biggest obstacle to recognizing the value and importance of this Sacrament is the fear we have of admitting (first to ourselves) that we are imperfect, incomplete and sinful human beings. In a society which penalizes failure, we make mistakes and bad choices. We do good things for bad reasons and bad things, even for good reasons. There are important things we cannot achieve, accept, manage, control, fix, endure, escape, excuse or forgive on our own, no matter how hard we try.
Our appreciation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation begins when we are willing to believe that God knows all of this and loves us anyway. At the heart of Reconciliation is the experience of God's mercy and love; the acceptance of our status as imperfect, sinful human beings who are dependent on God's mercy should make us all the more aware of God's love.
• If you have doubts or fears about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, visit privately with a good friend, a pastor or a trusted spiritual guide who can help you identify underlying issues which may prevent you from growing in your appreciation for God's love and acceptance which Catholics celebrate in this sacrament.