Friday, March 14, 2008

Pope hears Confessions

The Holy Father presided over a service of penance yesterday and heard confessions, here is part of Fr Z's translation of his sermon.

When I was Archbishop of Munich-Freising, in a meditation on Pentecost I was inspired by a film entitled Seelenwanderung (Metempsychosis), to explain what the action is of the Holy Spirit in the soul. The film presents two poor devils who, because of their goodness, weren’t able to get ahead in life. One day one of them got the idea that, not having anything else to sell, he could sell his soul. This was bought at a cheap price and put into a box. From that moment, to his great surprise, everything changed in his life. The began a rapid rise in the world, he became ever richer, he attained great honors, and at his death he was even Consul, largely because of his money and property. From the moment when he was freed from his soul, he no longer had any consideration or humanity. He acted without scruples, aiming only at gain and success. Man no longer counted for anything. He himself no longer had a soul. The film, as I concluded, show in an impressive way how behind the facade of success, there is often hidden an empty existence.

On the surface, the man hadn’t lost anything, but he lacked a soul, and without it, lacked everything. It is obvious, as I continued in that reflection, that a human being can’t literally throw away his own soul, from the moment that it makes him into a person. In fact, he still remains a person. And still there is the frightening possibility of being inhuman, to remain a person selling and losing at the same time one’s own humanity. The distance between the human person and the inhuman person is immense, even if your can’t demonstrate it; it is that thing which is really essential, even though it is, on the surface, without importance (cf.Suchen, was droben ist. Meditationem das Jahr hindurch, LEV, 1985).

Even the Holy Spirit, who was at the beginning of creation and thanks to the Paschal Mystery descended abundantly on Mary and the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, offers no evidence to physical eyes. If It penetrates into the person, or not, you can’t see it of demonstrate it; but it changes and renews the whole outlook of human existence. The Holy Spirit does not change the exterior situations of life, but rather the interior. On the evening of Easter Jesus, appearing to the disciples, "breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20,22). In a way even more evident, the Spirit descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, like a roaring wind and in the form of tongues of fire. This night also the Spirit descends upon our hearts, to forgive sins and renew them interiorly, clothing them with a power will make us also, like the Apostles, bold in announcing that "Christ was dead and is risen!"

Dear friends, let us therefore prepare ourselves, with a sincere examination of conscience, to present ourselves before those to whom Christ entrusted the ministry of reconciliation. With a contrite spirit let us confess our sins, seriously proposing not to repeat them any more. This is how we will experience the joy that is true: which comes from the mercy of God, flows into our hearts and reconciles us with Him.

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