The pope went to confession on Friday 28th March, 2014. He had just presided at a penitential service in St Peter’s and he had preached on the joy of reconciliation. He was due to hear confessions in the basilica when he turned and went to one of the priests already in a confessional and knelt in full view of every one and went to confession.
For many years now it was customary to see the pope actually hearing confessions in St Peter’s sometime during Lent but seeing the pope kneeling and making his own confession was a memorable moment and a strong visual image of personal sincerity. He was practicing what he had just preached!
He had preached about the joy of the grace of forgiveness:
From the heart renewed according to God comes good behaviour: to always speak the truth and to avoid every lie; not to steal but rather to share what one has with others; not to give in the anger, but to be gentle and quick to forgive…”
From the start of his ministry as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has spoken about this being a time for mercy. In his homily that Friday he repeated an insight he has shared before:
“Our Father awaits us always, not only does he leave the door open for us but he awaits us.. and this Father does not even grow tired of loving the other son, who though always staying a home with him, is still not a participant in his mercy”
The conclusion Pope Francis draws is that if we really experience reconciliation we will become “missionaries of reconciliation”, sharing the forgiveness with others, encouraging others to throw themselves on the mercy of God.
On Thursday, April 10th at 19 30 we will celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation here. Our Lenten/Easter confession will be a crowning grace, a real joy, a delight of peace and comfort especially for those who feel heavily burdened. Welcome to the mercy of God!
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.