I've always been befuddled by those who consider repentance to be a gloomy and unhealthy exercise because it seems to me that it is just the opposite. Admitting our sins and going to confession is actually one of the healthiest and happiest things we can do. Apart from the spiritual graces of the sacrament, here are the practical benefits:
- Penitence makes me realistic about myself. - As soon as I say, "Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy on me a Sinner" all the self delusions fall away and I can begin to see myself as I really am.
- Penitence makes me relistic about other people. - Not only realistic, but compassionate. If I'm a struggling sinner, then so is everyone else. What's the saying, "Be kind, everyone is fighting a great battle."
- Penitence makes me realistic about God - If I'm a sinner and see myself clearly, then I suddenly see God clearly too. I cut through the sentimentality or the fear or whatever false image of God and should be able to see him as the loving and forgiving Father.
- Penitence makes me able to learn. - You can't learn anything if you think you know it all. You can learn to be righteous is you think you already are. Saying you're a sinner is the first step to enlightenment.
- Penitence makes me aware of my need for God - The cry "O Lord make haste to help me!" is the cry of a person in need. We can only be given what we need when we ask for what we need and we can only ask if we first realize we have a need.
- Penitence opens my heart - The hardened heart is a fearful thing, and no one who is truly penitent can have a hardened heart. Immediately we cry out in penitence we make a great soul jump forward. The opened heart is a heart that can sing.