One of the best means to do this is to regularly avail oneself of the Sacrament of Penance or confession. Sure, you can tell God you're sorry anytime! In fact, that's not a bad thing! But it doesn't make up for the stupendous gifts of His grace that He wants so much to give us through the Sacrament of Penance. Through the instrument of the priest — a frail human being like ourselves —Jesus totally washes away our sins.
That's not all! Because this a SACRAMENT Jesus himself through the merits of His Passion and Death restores us to an intimate friendship with himself! "I call you friends because I have told you everything that I have heard from my Father."
Often Jesus gives us many other gifts besides forgiving our sins in this sacrament. He often heals us emotionally or even physically. If we are properly disposed and not just going through the motions, we may even receive much spiritual consolation, peace and joy. Through this sacrament we will receive strength to overcome sins in the future.
Going to confession isn't easy—for anyone! Yes, even priests and religious often find it difficult. After all, we should be ashamed of the ways we have offended God and hurt our brothers and sisters in Christ! However, we shouldn't let these feelings stop us from receiving the reconciliation and love that Jesus wants so much to give us!
This Lent many dioceses are taking this time to encourage Catholics to come home to the Church, to become reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance. The diocese of Fall River just unveiled a wonderful, user-friendly website to get the word out and to help people prepare themselves to receive this beautiful sacrament. The website is full of wonderful resources along with an insightful video presentation and radio spots that are being used in the diocese. We highly recommend the site and hope that you will find it helpful, too.
Whether it's been 1 year or 10 years don't be afraid to make this Lent be the time to become reconciled to God and become a more intimate friend with Him! Don't worry about not knowing what to say or how to say it. The priest will help you with the rest. The important thing is that you are sorry for your sins.