The sacrament of Confession
One of the biblical catecheses of our community was dedicated to the deepening of the sacrament of Confession. Reading John's gospel it's understood this sacrament was instituted directly by Christ when, after his resurrection, appeared to the apostles gathered in the cenacle, he breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20, 22-23). The fact that Jesus breathed on the apostles indicates a particular intervention of God and remembers the moment of creation when the Lord, after creating the sky, the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the sea and all the animal species, moulded man with some clay, breathed on him and infused the soul into him (Gn 1).
God's act of removing sins is extremely great and important. No man has this power in his natural state, but he has it by Christ's delegation who, instituting the sacrament of priesthood, gave to those who receive it the power of remitting sins and of consecrating the Eucharist. So each time we go to a priest for confessing we should think that we are in front of Jesus who continues his work of absolving sinners.
The sacrament of Confession is also called "sacrament of reconciliation" because it reconciles man with the Church that he wounded with his sins. In fact the sin of one person has not only an individual value and meaning, but falls also upon the collectivity, because it puts the universal Church in a heavier situation before God, according to the principle of unity that manifests itself in the mystical body. On the other hand each good deed done in a state of grace is a richness by which profits all the community to which the single person belongs. So the bishop invited us to be responsible, to commit ourselves more and more because this way the Church is edified and in it there is a greater presence of holiness and spiritual gifts.
Each man who commits a mortal sin can immediately free himself from it with a perfect repentance, that is with a repentance that comes of love and the suffering of having seriously offended God. In this case the sin is removed, one is in a state of grace again, all the same remaining the duty to confess at the earliest opportunity. But there is also an imperfect repentance, that originates from the fear of being damned and of not going to paradise. In this case the sin is not wiped out and Confession is needed in order to be united with God again.
No man can guarantee that an act of repentance is perfect, so the Lord instituted the sacrament of confession to give to the one who confesses the certitude of being forgiven and of being in a state of grace again. Through the power of the sacrament all sins are remitted and this is great and important and it must give us serenity. We shouldn't forget that when grace passes through a sacramental act it is more powerful and guaranteed. We must abandon ourselves to God: if He, in his infinite wisdom and omniscence, chose this way to let man come back to a state of grace, it is surely the best and the one that gives the highest security.
The bishop made us notice that at present, unfortunately, in the Church there is a crisis of the sacrament of Confession, one tends to abolish it and to diminish its importance and one of the principal reasons of this is that the sense of sin has nearly disappeared: it is enough to respect the human laws to feel well with conscience. At present there aren't long queues in front of the confessionals anymore as it happened some decades ago and above all, the priests are the first ones who are not available for confessing.
The bishop taught us that priests must devote themselves in particular to three activities: mass, confession and preaching; all the other activities can be carried out also by laymen.
Priesthood must be rediscovered in its authentic meaning, the one instituted by Christ who told his apostles: "Preach and tell the others what I tell you What you will bind will be bound and what you will loose will be loosed". Padre Pio himself has become saint not due to the performed miracles or because he had the gift of bilocation, but because he celebrated the mass with faith and love, confessed for entire days without sparing himself and when it was needed, he spoke clearly without drawing back.
The bishop denounced that today in the churches it is not spoken about Confession, this so important sacrament is not known and the result of this is that many people don't receive communion in a state of grace; those very few people who confess, don't know what to say because nobody ever taught them how to examine their conscience.
Each man should thank God for having instituted the sacrament of Repentance by which He continuously presents us with his grace. We the men are like fragile vases of clay that break easily, because we are exposed to weakness and sin. Only God can remit our sins, reconstruct the broken vase and make it more beautiful by his divine touch.
The bishop concluded the catechesis affirming: "The Eucharist is the reason of my life and of my priesthood. Up to now we have spoken to the others about the beauty, the importance and the sweetness of the Eucharist; we have manifested the need and the wish of being in contact with Jesus as much as possible, of receiving Him inside us, adoring Him and believing in the real presence. Of all this we have borne witness, but now we must allow the others to discover the joy of confession because the Lord, in case we have sinned, dresses us again with the white dress to allow us to participate in the Eucharistic banquet. Come on the Church will revive, at present its strength is present to a great extent in little seeds, but when they explode they will become trees and in their shadow people will find relief. The Church will revive not through the theologians, the students of canon law or the experts of dogmatic, but because the powerful action of the Holy Spirit will issue beginning from the little men and will go up in the world. As Our Lady said, the Church is entrusted also to you laymen, one day you will have some responsibilities, but in order to arrive to assume them it is important to feel sinners and withdraw from sin; passing through the sacramental repentance to reach the Eucharist purified and saint, this is the path to follow. After us other people will do the same: our friends, our relatives, the members of other communities. The renaissance of the Church is understood with the diffusion of holiness and grace and with the reduction of evil and sin in its members; my dear ones, this is the holiness of the Church".