He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
When I made my first confession as a Catholic, I was terrified. It meant I must go before a man I would be seeing at least once a week and tell him about all of the dark spots on my soul. I imagined him condemning me every time he looked upon me. It made me cringe and want to hide. But I knew I needed the Absolution received from the act of Confession and Contrition. So I went feeling like a small child, scared and ashamed. (Luke 18:17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.) I did not know how to begin or if I even could. But the words started to flow and the tears streamed. With each moment, my heart grew lighter and this burden dropped away.
On the way home, I stopped at a cemetery on a little country road. Why I didn't pray at the church I don't know, but I felt such a sense of solitude and communion with God in that place that day. My prayers were of sorrow for my sins and thanksgiving for my forgiveness. Not since the day of my Baptism had I felt such elation.
The trepidation of going to confession has dwindled away for me as time has passed. Now I look forward to unburdening my heart. I never want to attempt to live life bearing the full burden of my sins again. Handing them over makes living life so much easier. Every Sunday there comes a point in the Mass in which I have this immense sense of elation, thankfulness, God's mercy and knowing that I am loved. It is during the Consecration. I can only pray that those around me experience such wondrous knowing of the beauty and love of God.
To be able to come to such a communion with our Lord, I believe a person has to first unburden themselves. They must acknowledge the shame and guilt they hold of their sins and put it before Him asking for forgiveness.
1432 The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!"26 God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:27
And then they must let those sins go. Holding on, by means of not allowing the self to forgive the self, drags the soul out of communion. Holding on in itself is a sin. A horrific sin at that. By holding on, one does not acknowledge that God has forgiven them and thus is an unbeliever.
Consider John 20:19-23
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,"Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, " Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I 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, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'"
He is saying these words to His disciples,"If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." If we cannot forgive ourself for our sins, how can we expect God to forgive them?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
We must be united with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit if we are to be received into the glory of heaven.