Merton on first confessing his sins:
But one by one, that is, species by species, as best I could, I tore out all those sins by their roots, like teeth. Some of them were hard, but I did it quickly, doing the best I could to approximate the number of times all these things had happened-there was no counting them, only guessing.
I did not have any time to feel how relieved I was when I came stumbling out, and I had to go down to the front of the church where Father Moore would see me and come out to begin his-and my-Mass. But ever since that day, I have loved confessionals.
-Thomas Merton, The Seven Story Mountain, p.224
Growing up, the formalizing of confessions was always scorned. I wish it had been actually REPLACED by something. With the exception of “getting in trouble” for something with my parents, I don’t recall ever confessing sin to another person (a peer or mentor) until later in college. It causes secrets to build up. Not good. Of courses Jesus hears our prayers and he alone is our mediator and intercessor. But there is something powerful in another human being KNOWING. Where’s a confessional when you need one?