01/03/2018, 13.24
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Pope: The penitential act, the courage to remove our mask and open up to the grace that renews our heart

In  the first catechesis of the New Year, Pope Francis explains the gestures and words of the Introductory Rite of the Mass. "To reckon with our weakness,  opens our hearts to invoke the divine mercy that transforms and converts". Beating one's chest means recognizing that "I have sinned because of me, and not others". We are guilty of "omissions": "it is not enough not to harm others, we must choose to do good".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The penitential act, the Introductory Rite of the Mass, was at the center of the meditation given by Pope Francis in the Paul VI audience today. In his first Wednesday audience of 2018 he dedicated his catechesis, to the meaning of the penitential act, pontiff presenting some figures of "penitents" present in the Bible, who "returning to themselves after having committed a sin find the courage to remove their mask and open up to the grace that renews the heart ". The Pope quoted King David, the prodigal son, the tax collector, Peter, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman. "To measure ourselves with the fragility of the clay with which we are made - he said - is an experience that strengthens us: while making us face with our weakness, it opens our hearts to invoke the divine mercy that transforms and converts".

The Penitential Act, he explained, "favors the attitude with which to dispose oneself to worthily celebrate the Sacred Mysteries, that is, recognizing our sins before God and our brothers".

"What can the Lord give to those who already have a heart full of themselves, of their own success? Nothing, because the conceited are unable to receive forgiveness, full of thier alleged justice. Let us think of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, where only the latter returns home justified, that is, forgiven (cf. Lk 18: 9-14). Those who are aware of their own miseries and lower their eyes with humility, feel the merciful gaze of God resting on them. We know from experience that only those who can recognize their mistakes and apologize receive the understanding and forgiveness of others ".

The Pope then emphasized the act of contrition, "pronounced in the first person singular" by the community, in which we "confess to God and to our brothers" to have greatly sinned in thoughts, words, deeds and omissions". Yes, even in omissions, namely to have failed to do the good that we could have done. We often feel good because – we say - 'I did not hurt anyone'. In reality, it is not enough not to hurt one's neighbor, one must choose to do good by seizing the opportunities to bear good witness that we are disciples of Jesus ".

"The words we say with our mouths are accompanied by the gesture of beating our breasts, recognizing that I have sinned through my own fault, and not through the fault of others. It often happens that, for fear or shame, we point the finger to accuse others. It takes a lot to admit to being guilty, but it's good for us to confess it with sincerity ".

"After the confession of sin, let us entreat the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints to pray to the Lord for us. Also in this the communion of saints is precious: the intercession of these "friends and models of life" (Preface of 1 November) supports us on the path towards full communion with God, when sin will be definitively annihilated ".

"The Penitential Act ends with the absolution of the priest, who invokes God Almighty so that He "may have mercy on us, forgive our sins and lead us to eternal life". This absolution "however does not have the same value as the Sacrament of Reconciliation" (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 51). In fact, there are serious sins, also called mortal sins, because they make the divine life die in us, which in order to be forgiven need Confession and Sacramental absolution ".

Among the various formulas that can be used in the penitential act, the Pope also mentioned the Kyrie eleison: "with ancient Greek expression, we acclaim the Lord - Kyrios - and implore His mercy".

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