April 1, 2016
As the Year of Mercy continues, Pope Francis strives to remind his flock what God’s mercy is all about. Take, for example, the 24 Hours of Mercy event that took place in early March at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.
By now, many of you may have heard about the 24 hours of adoration and confession that took place in Rome, in our own diocese, and in dioceses throughout the world. It was evident that the local 24 Hours of Mercy event was a great success, with people from near and far lining up for confession even throughout all hours of the night.
I know that many who witnessed it were touched. And it was touching because so many were coming to the Font of Life, Christ, in confession to be made new.
In a world where there is a prevalent culture of death, it is so important to nurture our souls so that they are “recreated”, as the pope tells us. It would be impossible not to get bogged down with the negativity surrounding us in this world without the grace and mercy of God. How wonderful that His mercy was offered to us so often and constantly during these 24 hours!
In his homily before the 24 Hours of Mercy began at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, the pope addressed common fears that people have in regard to confession. We are all familiar with the nervous feeling before we walk into the confessional and bear all of our secret sins to someone else. In fact, this feeling is so strong that it sometimes keeps us away from the sacrament for long periods of time.
But the pope sheds new light on this for us by pointing out, “our hearts race, because we realize that the Light is gazing upon us...which invites us to come out of our dark blindness.”
So, it’s actually a good thing our hearts race! We are recognizing the presence of God in that moment. It’s that presence, that Light, which invites us to be liberated from our sins.
In the same homily, the Holy Father explained how our sin “impoverishes and isolates us.” It bogs us down the same way the culture of death bogs us down. The Year of Mercy is all about being freed from that isolation. It’s about coming into the Light and rejoicing.
When we consider Pope Francis’ words and the obvious effect this Year of Mercy is having on the world, it’s nearly impossible to not see that our Holy Father’s actions in this regard are certainly inspired by God.
Pope Francis says that when we sin “we become blind, lifeless and self-centered, devoid of joy and true freedom.” When confession offers us the opposite of this—life, joy, and freedom—it is ironic that we are scared to go to something that offers us this! Our Father Francis is trying to help combat that fear.
So, whether you went to confession last week, haven’t been in years, or perhaps were able to be a part of the 24 Hours of Mercy event in March, let’s resolve to stay close to this sacrament from here on out. Let’s resolve to be good stewards of our souls.
In doing so, we are combatting the culture of death in our souls and, in turn, the world.