The following short short writing was an exercise that my youth choir did to say why each one of us thought it necessary to confess our sins to the priest. This is what I wrote.
Confession of our sins to a priest
The sacrament of penance, also known as confession, is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ.
In the healing of the paralytic, Jesus had taught that he indeed had the power to forgive sins. After he had risen, he empowered his apostles to forgive sins.
"(Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."- John 20:21-23
That power to forgive sins has been passed through the direct descendance of the apostles, as it is inconceivable that Jesus would mean for his apostles to forgive sins, and not mean for future generations to receive the same forgiveness.
Sin is never a private matter. It is the breaking of our covenant with God, and as a member of the body of Christ, we have caused the body not to function healthily. In sinning, we make part of the body ill, or even sever it from the main body. Thus sin is never just a personal failing to God but to the community.Thus in confession, we confess our sins to the priest and seek forgiveness from Jesus, who is represented by the priest.
At the same time, the priest also represents the body of Christ in listening to our acknowledgement of our failings as a member of Christ's mystical body. That is why we cannot obtain forgiveness for our sins through privately confessing our sins to God. In being forgiven of our sins, we would regain full and effective membership in His mystical body, and that forgiveness flows from Christ through the His body.Confession to the priest also affords us with an opportunity on spiritual advice and as well as a chance to make amends to the injured Body of Christ, through penance in the form of prayers and good works.
Christ, having died on the cross has already paid for the price of our sin. Penance, is therefore not so that our sins may be forgiven, but that we might make reparation for the sins already forgiven. Again, the measure of how much reparation is in order would have to come from the priest, who represents God and the community. If we confessed to God privately, we would have to decide how much is needed ourselves, and that would not be very meaningful.