Pope Francis commended the sacrament of confession as the prime means of encountering God’s mercy in his message sent Monday to Italy’s National Liturgical Week, which is being held in Gubbio.
In Confession “there is fulfilled the encounter with the re-creating mercy of God whence come new women and men who announce the good life of the Gospel by a life which is reconciled and reconciling,” the Pope said in a message signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and sent Aug. 22 to Bishop Claudio Maniago of Castellaneta, president of Italy’s Center for Liturgy.
The National Liturgical Week is focusing this year on “liturgy as a place of mercy.”
Pope Francis noted that this theme “helps one perceive that all the liturgy is a place where mercy is encountered and welcomed in order to be given; a place where the great mystery of reconciliation is made present, announced, celebrated, and communicated.”
While each sacrament and sacramental show forth God’s mercy “according to the diverse circumstances of life … The gift of Mercy is resplendent in a particular way in the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation,” he said.
“We are reconciled so as to reconcile. The mercy of the Father cannot be confined in ‘intimistic’ and ‘self-consoling’ attitudes, because its potency is demonstrated in the renewal of persons, rendering them capable of offering to others a living experience of the same gift.”
The Pope exhorted that “based on the belief that one is pardoned in order to pardon, we must be witnesses of mercy in every environment, provoking a desire and a capacity for pardon.”
“This is a task to which we are all called,” he said, “especially in front of the rancor in which too many are entrapped, who need to rediscover the joy of interior serenity and the taste of peace.”
Pope Francis reflected that Confession “must therefore be perceived as an expression of the ‘Church in outreach’, as a ‘door’ not only by which to re-enter after having been away, but also a ‘threshold’ open to the various peripheries of humanity ever more in need of compassion.”
The message concluded with the Pope’s hope that the celebration of Italy’s Liturgical Week would promote an “ecclesial and personal life full of mercy and compassion.”