The Sacraments, as we know, are the locus of the closeness and the tenderness of God for mankind; they are the concrete way that God thought and wanted to come and meet us, to embrace us, without being ashamed of us and of our limitations.
AIUTA CON UN PICCOLO CONTRIBUTO:
Among the Sacraments, certainly Reconciliation renders present with particular efficacy the merciful face of God: it is constantly and ceaselessly made real and manifest. Let us never forget, both as penitents and confessors: there is no sin that God cannot forgive. None! Only that which is withheld from divine mercy cannot be forgiven, just as one who withdraws from the sun can be neither illuminated nor warmed.
In the light of this wondrous gift of God, I would like to highlight three exigencies: living the Sacrament as a means of educating in mercy; allowing yourself to learn from what we celebrate; safeguarding the supernatural gaze.
1. Living the Sacrament as a means of educating in mercy, means helping our brothers to experience human and Christian peace and understanding. Confession should not be “torture”, but everyone should leave the confessional with happiness in their hearts, with their faces radiating hope, albeit at times — we know — bathed in the tears of conversion and joy derived from it (cf. Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 44). The Sacrament, with all of the penitent’s actions, does not mean it should become a harsh, annoying and intrusive interrogation. On the contrary, it should be a liberating encounter, enriched with humanity, through which one can educate in mercy, which does not exclude but rather includes the just obligation to atone for, to the extent possible, the wrong committed. Thus the faithful will feel called to confess frequently, and will learn to do so in the best of ways, with that gentleness of soul that does so much good for the heart — also the heart of the confessor! In this way we priests enable the personal relationship with God to grow, so that his Kingdom of love and peace expands in hearts.
So often being merciful is confused with being a lenient confessor. But consider this: neither a lenient confessor nor a rigid confessor is merciful. Neither one. The first, because he says: “Go on, this is not a sin, go on, go!”. The other, because he says: “No, the law says…”. But neither of them treats the penitent as a brother, taking him by the hand and accompanying him in his conversion! One says: “Go, don’t worry, God forgives all. Go on, go!”. The other says: “No, the law says no”. The merciful one instead listens to him, forgives him, but carries his burden and accompanies him, because conversion, yes, has begun — perhaps — today, but it must continue with perseverance…. You carry his burden, as the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep and carries it. But it must not be confused: this is very important. Mercy means carrying the burden of a brother or sister and helping them walk. Do not say “ah, no, go on, go!”, nor be rigid. This is very important. And who can do this? The confessor who prays, the confessor who weeps, the confessor who knows that he is more a sinner than the penitent, and if he himself has never done the bad thing that the penitent speaks of, it is but for the grace of God. Merciful is being close and accompanying the process of conversion.
2. It is precisely to you confessors that I say: let yourselves learn from the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Second point. How many times does it happen to us that hearing confessions edifies us! Brothers and sisters who live an authentic personal and ecclesial communion with the Lord and a sincere love for their brothers. Simple souls, souls poor in spirit, who abandon themselves totally to the Lord, who trust in the Church and, therefore, also in their confessor. Often, we are also called on to witness genuine miracles of conversion. People who for months, sometimes years have been under the dominion of sin and who, like the prodigal son, come to their senses and decide to arise and return to the the Father’s house (cf. Lk 15:18), to implore his forgiveness. How beautiful it is to welcome these contrite brothers and sisters with the sanctifying embrace of the merciful Father, who loves us so much and holds a feast for every child that returns to Him with all his/her heart!
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