The practice of regular confession appears to have declined in number, and perchance some clarification has to be made. In this regard, forgiveness must be seen as a relationship between God and man. But in this mutual and dual relationship it is man who has to reform and turn aside from evil, and be converted to God who is there waiting all the time (cf. Rev. 3:20, Ps. 34:14).
If this is not understood this way, how else? Even the parable of the Prodigal Son which portrays such mystery of God’s forgiveness shows therein a return of the sinner back to the Father’s house. In human experience, that would be a return to the normal, legitimate circumstances surrounding a person’s life.
In the shepherding or pastoral (for such is the work of the pastor which in Latin means shepherd) ministry of the Church, the sacrament of Confession is precisely one which is best in bringing sinners to reconciliation with God—not just with any created being, but with God alone (cf. Mk. 2:7). The others follow only as a compliment to the fulfillment of God’s will. That is why this is an important sacrament; a part and parcel of the proclamation of the Word, for here we do proclaim the mercy of God towards repentant sinners.