Many of us Catholics are tired of hearing our separated brethren insinuate or even directly accuse us of deceiving ourselves with a promise of forgiveness every time we sin. To them, we make sin easy: sin, confess, do penance and voila: you’re free.
This oversimplified notion is wrong but not dangerous to the Church until some of her members start to actually think this is truly the use of confession.
Answering the notion above first: The truth is, the teachings of the Catholic Church and her Sacramental practices go on to show the Holiness of God, his bounty and the seriousness of sin. If anything, the Church’s belief in the Sacramental forgiveness of sin is more difficult to practice than the practice of praying on your own (which is part of the Sacrament of confession, when you sin, you have to ask God then receive absolution after confessing to a priest). It is easier to confess to God directly, than to look a priest in the face and say the most hideous of things you’ve done.
Again to Catholics: Confession isn’t a pool you mindlessly fall into with a Joie de vivre after playing in mud with the full intention of returning later to dirt. Confession is a Sacrament you receive with a remorseful but grateful heart. You celebrate the mercy of God in all joy and humility with the full intention of making amends for the sins you have confessed. Therefore, a valid confession presupposes contrition, confession and satisfaction. Without these three conditions, your confessions might be faulty. A person who isn’t sorry doesn’t receive forgiveness, a person who keeps what he has stolen (for example), is not forgiven unless he restores them, and a person who consciously hides a sin cannot be forgiven either.
You must be sorry, you must confess ALL YOU RECALL, and you must restore all you’ve damaged and make amends. So if you have always believed confession is where you go to be clean enough for more sin, sorry it isn’t. God forgives ALL SIN, but you must first confess ALL SIN and be sorry for them.
Read the Catechism of the Church on confession or ask your priest for more explanation in ways you’d understand.