Skip to comments.Benedict XVI Extols Sacrament of Penance - Says Priests Need to Make It a Priority
Posted on 02/19/2007 7:10:34 PM PST by NYer
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The baptized need to rediscover the sacrament of reconciliation so that they can experience "the boundless renewing power of divine love," says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today when receiving in audience Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, with the prelates and officials of that tribunal, as well as the penitentiary fathers of the patriarchal basilicas of Rome.
"In the gesture of absolution, uttered in the name and on account of the Church, the confessor becomes the conscious means of a wonderful event of grace," the Holy Father said in his address.
"On adhering with docility to the magisterium of the Church, he becomes minister of the consoling mercy of God, makes the reality of sin manifest and at the same time the boundless renewing power of divine love, a love that gives life again," the Pontiff added.
Thus confession becomes "a spiritual rebirth, which transforms the penitent into a new creature," he stated.
Benedict XVI continued: "Only God can realize this miracle of grace, and he does so through the words and gestures of the priest. On experiencing the Lord's tenderness and forgiveness, the penitent more easily acknowledges the gravity of sin and reinforces his decision to avoid it and to remain and grow in his renewed friendship with him.
"In virtue of presbyterial ordination, the confessor carries out a particular service 'in persona Christi.'"
The Holy Father invited priests to also experience God's forgiveness: "Given such a lofty responsibility, human strength is undoubtedly inadequate."
The Pope continued: "We cannot preach forgiveness and reconciliation to others, if we are not personally penetrated by it.
"Christ has chosen us, dear priests, to be the only ones who can forgive sins in his name: Therefore, it is a specific ecclesial service to which we must give priority."
"How many people in difficulties seek the support and consolation of Christ!" Benedict XVI added. "How many penitents find the peace and joy in confession that they have been pursuing for a long time! How can we not acknowledge that also in our time, marked by so many religious and social challenges, this sacrament must be rediscovered and proposed again."
My sister - who monitors blogs - just told me that Abp Wuerl, of all people, is ordering his priests to be in the confessional from 7:00 to 8:30 pm every night during Lent, whether people come or not.
I'm impressed! I have not liked him a lot because of his weakness on abortion, but if he is doing this, he is getting to the root of the problem. (I hope he plans to offer some training to the priests on how to hear a confession.)
Everybody goes to communion.
Nobody goes to confession.
Must not be any sinners left.
. . . actually, Monsignor and his assistants have been preaching the virtues of the Sacrament of Confession over and over again -- when the parish does a penance service, the lines are out the door. But on your average Saturday there are maybe 20 people in line and a few more trickle in until Mass begins.
I do...On a daily basis...
"How many penitents find the peace and joy in confession that they have been pursuing for a long time!
I do (raising my hand)
**Priests Need to Make It a Priority **
Bump that! Pope Benedict is not afraid to take on the important issues, is he?
Someone told me here on FR (maybe it was Frank Sheed)that the marks of a vital parish were
1. How long the lines were for the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession.
2. How many people a parish had heading to the priesthood and/or religious life.
Sorry, but I don't remember exactly who it was.
Here where I live you very seldom see anyone NOT go to communion but on Sat. confessions you might see eight people standing in line. Or maybe just a couple. It's like adding 2+2 and getting 3 don't add up. We have about 1500 families in our parish and yet almost all of the parish go to communion on a regular basis.
No, he isn't. It's funny that he didn't want to come to Rome, yet now it's as though he has been waiting all of his life to get things done!
A long time back, an article appeared in one of the Catholic daily email news lists (Catholic Exchange; National Catholic Register?) that was an Op-Ed. It dissected the average parish bulletin and how much "stuff" was in it. The writer especially focused on the financial news about how much was taken in during the previous week's collection and what fund-raisers were taking place that week (we all know them now by heart!). The writer then stated that this was to convince us of the "vitality" of the Parish in doing its Mission. The person then stated what Salvation quotes above: that only two pieces of information (aside from the Mass schedule and how to get a priest in an emergency) are required. The first is how many confessions took place last week; the second was how many vocations (priesthood or religious life) are in progress or took place. The implication was that God would take care of all the rest (money) because the graces He was providing were being used for the purpose of saving souls.
That, to me, was astounding and dead on. I am stunned as I look back on my own life and see that certain Parishes in the Diocese were "vocation factories" that sent literally tens of priests to seminaries over a decade. Others had no priests in their entire history. It also occurred to me that the "priest factories" had a great many standard devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration, Miraculous Medal novenas, weekly Benediction, a Sodality that was large, a Men's Club or very religious K of C Council, many daily communicants and long, LONG confession lines.
This person, Lord knows who they are because this old gray head can't recall, hit on a vital connection and one worthy of meditation. I remember that another comment made was that "if for Confession, the time listed was on Saturday from 3:45 to 4:00 PM, or, worse yet, 'by appointment'", the Parish was already dead!
Thanks for the "ping" Salvation. I hope others will read this too.
Good point. I personally know 2-3 people who have difficulties in life and instead reach for a pill or spend time with a therapist. The sickness they feel of the mind is simply a sickness of their soul.
So true! Our Lord said: "Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you peace". Meanwhile, society's message is "Come to me all who are lonely and depressed and I will give you drugs". We are perhaps the most drugged society in the world, beginning with pre-k kids on ritalyn, right up to pumping high doses of morphine into the terminally ill. Pray for these victims!
Oops ... should read rest.
You have a point, but I can think of one Parish in my Diocese which has a very modern (some might say "modern ugly barn" Church) that has had many vocations. Do you know what is special about that Parish? It is ethnic, composed largely of Italians and Spanish-speaking people. They have a "family" atmosphere which is not "faux" due to "greeters" or "after Mass coffee and donuts." What we lost after World War II was the ethnic enclaves which fostered identity. The Irish went to four Churches, the Germans to two others, the Poles to a half dozen others and so on. That sense of being part of something "apart yet within" the entire Church left its mark. Just watch the movie "The Deer Hunter" to see that being played out with Ukrainians in an Orthodox setting in PA. Or check out Boston or New York which had great ethnic parishes. I think that explains a great deal too: that we are One (Catholic) but composed of many nations and nationalities. We have lost that in the US. We are now from everywhere and share only our Faith. The "family-ness" is gone.
I'm very blessed to be part of a conservative parish. We have 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration, and on Saturdays, there are long lines for penance.
The church is St. Anthony of Padua in Fresno.
May I make a recommendation besides saying the daily rosary for your parish? I would start a mini-campaign of leaflets. There is an EXCELLENT one from Tan Books called Our Lady's Peace Plan from Heaven. If you buy it in bulk it's very cheap. I can almost guarantee you, if people pick this up and read it, many will be convicted to live better lives and be better Catholics.
Another one would be to promote the devotion to the Divine Mercy. There are little booklets/leaflets for this as well.
One little leaflet could save a multitude of souls.
I don't mind being one of the few "mick families" in a largely German parish. We have one heckuva Oktoberfest and lots of great German "oompah music" and sauerbrauten & dumplings at Parish functions.
I still manage to smuggle in my Guinness though...(and have corned beef and cabbage on my breath).
Another issue that no one seems to know is that confession is a sacrament which delivers sacramental grace. You don't need to commit a murder to confess. I regularly realize how much I break the "sub-sins" of the 10 Commandments and fall into the 7 deadly sins. I'm never at a loss to confess, even if it's merely sins of omission.
I have tried the "leaflet" thing at various parishes. Unfortunately, if it doesn't come from the pulpit, it is a very tough road to hoe. A friend of mine has a young priest for Associate Pastor who prays three hours a day (Divine Office, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, etc.). He was getting grief because he was "not doing his paperwork!" It's a good thing I wasn't there! What he is doing is getting grace and gifts of the Spirit which keep him being the superb young priest he is! His sermons are masterpieces! And the lines at confession for HIM are long!
That's wonderful, what a blessing those people have, to have such a priest.
I'm sorry your leaflet campaign didn't work.
And then there are those of us who do all 3!
I think the "smells and bells" is an important feature of our faith in practice.
These are the leaflets I leave. I'm not sure they don't work; I'm just not there to see how effective they are.
When you are "called" you will know. I consecrated myself years ago with two friends. We renew our consecration each year on August 15th, the day we took our initial consecration.
I think the "tap on the shoulder" comes and people respond immediately or maybe years later but they all seem to invariably respond. You can't say "no" it seems!
have Our Lady's Peace Plan leaflets, I've been leaving them at the DMV and the airport."
What a coincidence that you're doing it already!!!! Wow!!
I keep prodding my pastor and he is going to have a full homily on confession this week. We are also having a "Fathers of Mercy" priest from Kentucky here in March for a Mission. They are active with EWTN.
I pray for them all.