Friday, March 7, 2008

In Confession We Experience the Joy of God's Foregiveness

It's Lent. If you haven't been to confession in awhile. Why not go now? You'll feel great.

VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received participants in a course on the "internal forum" organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

In his remarks, the Holy Father reflected on the administration of the Sacrament of Penance in our own day "which unfortunately", he said, "is losing the notion of sin. What is needed today is to ensure that people who confess experience that divine tenderness for penitent sinners which so many Gospel episodes express with intense emotion".

Referring to the episode of the sinful woman in the Gospel of Luke, the Pope highlighted "the eloquent message that emerges from this Gospel passage: to those who love much God forgives everything. Those who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their own 'I' and their hearts harden in sin. On the other hand, those who recognize themselves as weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and from Him obtain grace and forgiveness. ... What is most important is to make it clear that in the Sacrament of Penance - whatever the sin committed - if sinners recognize it humbly and entrust themselves to the priest confessor, they will always experience the soothing joy of God's forgiveness".

Noting how there currently exists "a certain disaffection" with the Sacrament of Penance, the Pope indicated that "when we insist only on the accusation of sin (although this must exist, and it is necessary to help the faithful understand its importance), we run the risk of relegating to second place what is, in fact, essential, in other words the personal meeting with God, Father of goodness and mercy".

Pastors, and especially confessors, must, said the Holy Father, "emphasise the close link between the Sacrament of Penance and an existence decisively oriented to conversion", so that "the grace of the Sacrament may support and nourish the commitment to be faithful disciples of the Lord".

"If this incessant longing is lost", he concluded, "the celebration of this Sacrament unfortunately risks becoming a formality which does not penetrate the fabric of everyday life. On the other hand, if people (though animated by a desire to follow Jesus) do not confess regularly, little by little they risk slowing spiritual rhythm until it weakens and perhaps even stops".

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