July 1, 2014. The Council of Cardinals began their fifth meeting with the Pope at the Vatican. Starting today at Casa Santa Marta, it will end on Friday, July 4. The previous meetings were from 1 to 3 October 2013, 3 -5 December 2013, from 17 to 19 February 2014 and 28 to 30 April 2014.
In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis talked about the Sacrament of Confession. With about 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope encouraged Catholics to embrace the Sacrament.
While some may be tempted to dismiss it, because of laziness, embarrassment or a lost sense of sin, the Pope described it as a gift that can heal hearts and minds.
SUMMARY OF POPE'S CATECHESIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Through the Sacraments of Initiation, we receive new life in Christ. This life we carry in earthen vessels, however, and we still experience temptations, suffering, and death. Because of sin, we can even lose this new life. Jesus therefore willed that the Church continue his works of salvation for her members, in particular through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which flows from the Paschal Mystery. The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other.
While the celebration of the Sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the community of the Church, in which the Holy Spirit is present, uniting us all in Jesus Christ. When confessing our sins then, we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion. Though this Sacrament is a great treasure, we may be tempted to dismiss it, perhaps due to laziness or embarrassment, or because of a diminishing sense of sin and its effects. Too often, we see ourselves as the center and measure of all things, and our lives can go adrift. The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy. May we allow his love to renew us as his children and to reconcile us with him, with ourselves, and with one another.
I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Norway, Nigeria, Japan and the United States. May your visit to the Eternal City renew and deepen your love for Jesus Christ and his Church. God bless you all!