Vatican City, Feb 19, 2014 / 04:57 am (CNA).- During his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis encouraged the pilgrims filling St. Peter's Square to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
"Everyone say to himself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day! Go, the priest will be good. And Jesus, (will be) there, and Jesus is better than the priests - Jesus receives you. He will receive you with so much love! Be courageous, and go to confession,” urged the Pope on Feb. 19.
Acknowledging a popular objection to the sacrament, Pope Francis noted, “someone can say, ‘I confess my sins only to God.’ Yes, you can say to God, ‘forgive me,’ and say your sins. But our sins are also against our brothers, against the Church. This is is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers, in the person of the priest.”
"While the celebration of the sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the universality of the Church," which "accompanies us on the path of conversion," he explained.
“Forgiveness is not something we can give ourselves,” cautioned the Pope. “One asks forgiveness, one asks it of another person, and in confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus.”
“Forgiveness is not a result of our efforts, but is a gift. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit who showers us with mercy and grace that pours forth unceasingly from the open heart of Christ crucified and risen.”
The Pontiff went on to recognize that many people feel ashamed at the idea of confessing their sins and might say, “but Father, I am embarrased!”
“Even embarrassment is good. It’s healthy to have a bit of shame... it does us good, because it makes us more humble.”
“Don’t be afraid of confession,” Pope Francis stressed. “When someone is in line for confession he feels all these things - even shame - but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves (feeling) free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy.”
“The sacrament of reconciliation is a sacrament of healing,” he pointed out.
“When I go to confession, it’s for healing: healing the soul, healing the heart because of something that I did to make it unwell.”
The Pope pointed to the biblical story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man, which expresses the “profound link” between “forgiveness and healing,” since “the Lord Jesus is revealed at the same time as the physician of soul and body.”
He also recounted the parable of the prodigal son, who sought his father’s forgiveness and was welcomed home with open arms.
“But I say to you,” he stressed to the many pilgrims, “every time we go to confession, God embraces us.”
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THE RULES OF RUGBY PUT INTO PRACTICE IN THE FIELD OF LIFE
Pope Francis' homily to the Augustinians on the Feast Day of Saint Augustine - He speaks to us of "Restlessness" - 28 August 2013
1. The first: the restlessness of the spiritual quest. Augustine lives an experience that is very common today: quite common with today's youth. He was educated by his mother Monica in the Christian faith, even if he did not receive Baptism, but growing up he begins to distance himself, he doesn't find in that the answer to his questions, to the desires of his heart, and he is attracted by other proposals. He then enters a group of Manicheans, he devotes himself diligently to his studies, he does not renounce light-hearted fun, in the spectacles of that time, intense friendships, he knows intense love and embarks on a brilliant career as a master of rhetoric that takes him all the way to the imperial court of Milan. Augustine is an "accomplished" man, he has everything, but in his heart remains the restlessness of the search of the profound meaning of his life; his heart is not asleep. I would say that it is not anesthetized by success, by things, by power. Augustine does not close in on himself, he does not rest, he continues to search for the truth, the meaning of life, he continues to search for the face of God. Of course he makes mistakes, he also takes wrong paths, he sins, he is a sinner; but he does not lose the restlessness of the spiritual quest. And in this way he discovers that God was waiting for him, on the contrary, that He never gave up looking for him first. I would like to say to those who feel indifferent towards God, towards the faith, to those who are far from God or have abandoned Him, even to us, with our "distances" and our "abandonment" of God, small, maybe, but there are so many in our everyday life: look deep within your heart, look deep within yourself, and ask yourself: do you have a heart that desires something greater or a heart that is asleep with things? Has your heart preserved the restlessness of searching or do you let it suffocate from things that end up leaving it atrophied? God is waiting for you, he is looking for you: what will you respond? Do you realize this situation of your soul? Or do you sleep? Do you believe that God is waiting for you or is this truth only just "words" to you?