Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?

Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?
 
What is Confession?
Ever feel bad for something you did, or find yourself being weighed down by a bit of guilt? Often we sweep these feelings under the rug and pretend they’re not there but eventually they show up - sometimes all at once!
Confession is an amazing gift offered to us by the Church in which we can get rid of this baggage by owning up to our mistakes and confessing them to a priest who represents Jesus.
 
I thought only God could forgive our sins?
In the Bible, Jesus gives the apostles the Holy Spirit, and then says to them “if you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22-23). This is very clear. This same Holy Spirit is present in God’s priests today. Remember, it is Jesus who forgives us, but He works THROUGH His priests - just like when Peter and Paul healed people in the Bible, it was actually God doing the healing, but using them. So God gave a special group of men the ability to forgive sins in his name. This authority was passed down to the next generation of Church leaders, and so on. It would absurd to think that Christ only intended for one generation to be able to receive absolution.
 
What happens if I don’t go to Confession, does that mean I won’t be forgiven?
Try not to think of it like that. There is no limit to God’s mercy. However, there is a limit to the sorrow we feel (because we never really understand the impact of our sins) and this inhibits us from accepting God’s mercy in its fullness. Confession washes God’s mercy upon us in full!
 
So therefore…
Confession liberates us from the mistakes of the past and allows us to make a fresh start with God as we are joined back to Him. Furthermore, Confession not only brings forgiveness, but spiritual healing which fills the wounds in our soul with the Love of God and reunites us with Him.