Major Penitentiary Writes Fellow Confessors for Christmas

«The time of Advent, and especially the days of the beautiful novena of Christmas, are characterised by a particularly attentive waiting, not only by men for God … but also by God for men, whom he loves»

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Here is a letter to confessors from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, major penitentiary, released Gaudete Sunday.

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My dear brother Confessors,

Illumined by the light of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, mystical Dawn of the Redemption, we are awaiting with trepidation to experience the birth of the Son of God, while already full of thanksgiving for the gifts by which the Lord chooses to adorn the soul of his priests and for the graces of conversion and pardon which he will allow us to meditate in the priceless ministry of confession. 

The time of Advent, and especially the days of the beautiful novena of Christmas, are characterised by a particularly attentive waiting, not only by men for God – something that is written in the depth of the human heart – but also by God for men, whom he loves. The Lord sets himself to search for man and he ‘lowers’ himself even to begging for a welcome. The one who awaits this enocunter more than any other is He himself, the Eternal Son of God made Man in the virginal womb of Mary. He continually calls men to conversion and, in these days of vigil, draws hearts with a unique tenderness towards the crib: “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11: 28).

In this way, we, who have received the ineffable gift of priestly ordination, and in this way participate intimately in the work of salvation, have received the possibility of sharing more closely in this waiting on the part of the Redeemer and in the immense joy of the soul’s encounter with Him. Even as Mary Most Holy brought him forth to the world in the manger of Bethlehem, we bring him forth in the hearts of repentant sinners, and on the altar for their food and consolation.

The grace of this supernatural gaze that embraces all existence will always be accompanied by the ‘amazement’ of being able to approach the confessional with full freedom. In fact, when the freedom of a person is brought into action, we always find ourselves before a miacle that has the assistance of God himself. The freedom moved to act is always a mystery preceeded, accompanied and sustained by God’s grace. At the same time it is a gift for the Priest confessor, who always receives a light and special confirmation in the apostolate from contemplating this mystery.

This supernatural gaze that allows the true protagonists of the human drama to be revealed – God who goes in search of man and man who allows himself to be reached by his Creator and Redeemer – is also the font of every authentic pastoral charity that is so much desired by the faithful, always asked for by the Church, so ardently insisted upon by the Holy Father, and overflowing from the wounded Heart of Jesus. This Heart always shines out wounded before every Priest and burns with the desire to communicate to each shepherd the grace of a restored spiritual sight and the ardour of that charity that is poured into poor hearts by prayer; it renews us in mercy and “submerges” us in the Eucharist. 

My dear and most treasured Brothers, let us pray for one another, above all in these days of preparation for the holy feast of Christmas, so that, for confessors as much as for pentitents, the smile of the Child Jesus may shine transformatively in their souls. And thank you for all you do as generous channels of the waters of divine mercy.

May the Immaculate Virgin, perfect mirror of Christ’s charity and sign of sure hope in his victory over sin and death, obtain for us the grace of which each of us has most need, and may she stake out a true and lasting spiritual ‘rebirth’ for all the members of the ecclesiasl Body. 

Happy Christmas!

Mauro Card. Piacenza

Major Penitentiary

14 December 2014

“Gaudete” Sunday

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