Greeting pilgrims and visitors gathered in the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his reflections on the celebration of the Eucharist, focusing on the penitential rite which helps us to prepare our hearts to receive God’s mercy.
Presumptous heart cannot receive pardon
We acknowledge before God and before our brothers and sisters that we are all sinners, he said. A presumptuous heart, full of its own importance, is incapable of receiving God’s pardon, he continued, just as we know from experience that only by recognising our faults and asking for forgiveness can we pardoned by other people.
Personal confession in community context
We make our confession as a community, the Pope said, yet each of us speaks personally, striking our breast and recognising that we are unworthy of the gift of God’s mercy. We confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed, he said, because it is not enough to do no harm to others. Instead, we must choose to do good and bear witness to others that we are disciples of Christ.
Our Lady, angels and saints sustain us
Pope Francis said it is hard for us to admit our own shortcomings but we must learn to confess them sincerely instead of accusing others of wrongdoing. After confessing our sins, we ask for the intercession of Our Lady, the angels and all the saints to sustain us on the path to holiness and conversion.
Transforming power of God's grace
The Pope mentioned other forms of the penitential rite, such as the singing of the ancient Greek Kyrie eléison, or the blessing and sprinkling of water to remind us of our Baptism.
In this way, the Pope concluded, we join the great tradition of biblical figures – like David, the Prodigal Son, Zaccheus and Saint Peter – who, conscious of their sins, acknowledged them before God with confidence in the transforming power of his grace.