Through his Secretary of State, Pope Francis has sent a message to the 67th Italian National Liturgical Week, which opened today at Gubbio on the theme “The Liturgy, Place of Mercy. Reconciled to Reconcile.”
Here is a ZENIT translation of the text.
To His Excellency, Most Reverend Monsignor Claudio Maniago,
Bishop of Castellaneta
Most Reverend Excellency,
On the occasion of the 67th National Liturgical Week, which this years is being held at Gubbio, in the mystical and pacifying scenery of the Umbrian land, the Holy Father Francis is happy to send his well-wishing word to you, to the collaborators of CAL, and to all those taking part in the significant study days. The choice of the place, motivated by the observance of the 1600 years of the Letter of Pope Innocent I to Decenzio, Bishop of Gubbio (cf. PL 20, 551-561), is all the more opportune in the context of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy. Found in that writing, in which the Roman Pontiff was giving clarifying answers to questions posed by the <Gubbio> pastor, is interesting information on peculiar aspects and moments of the celebration of some Sacraments in that precise historical moment. Among the many issues addressed, one in particular draws our attention: the Reconciliation of penitents in view of Easter (cf. c. VII, 10).
Hence, the National Liturgical Week has chosen to return to a topic already addressed at other times, reflecting on the “Liturgy as Place of Mercy,” with the explicit intent to offer, in the context of the Jubilee Year, a special contribution to the journey of the Italian Church. When we exert ourselves to live every liturgical event “with our gaze fixed on Jesus and His merciful face, we can receive the love of the Most Holy Trinity (…). This love is now rendered visible and tangible in Jesus’ whole life (…). Everything in Him speaks of mercy. Nothing in Him is deprived of compassion” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). These words bring to mind those of Pope Leo the Great, who in a homily for the Ascension, stated: ”What was visible [and tangible] of our Redeemer is passed in the Sacraments” (PL 54, 398). Such an approach helps to perceive the whole of the liturgy as place of mercy found and received, in order to be given; a place where the great mystery of Reconciliation is rendered present, proclaimed, celebrated and communicated. The specific celebrations of the Sacraments or Sacramentals set the unique great gift of Divine Mercy according to the different circumstances of life.
However, the gift of Mercy shines in an altogether particular way in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. One is reconciled to reconcile. The Father’s Mercy cannot be shut-in in intimistic and self-consoling attitudes, because it shows itself powerful in renewing persons and rendering capable of offering others the vivid experience of the gift itself. Beginning from the awareness that one is forgiven to forgive, we must be witnesses of mercy in every environment, awakening the desire and capacity to forgive. This is a task to which we are all called, especially in face of the rancor in which too many persons are enclosed, who are in need of rediscovering the joy of interior serenity and the enjoyment of peace.
Therefore, the rite of Sacramental Penance is perceived as expression of an “outgoing Church,” as “door not only to re-enter after having been estranged, but also open “threshold” to the different peripheries of a humanity ever needier of compassion. In this, in fact, is effected the encounter with the recreating mercy of God from which new women and men issue to proclaim the good life of the Gospel, through a reconciled and reconciling existence.
His Holiness hopes that, from the reflections and the celebrations of the Liturgical Week, understanding will increasingly mature of the liturgy as fons et culmen of an ecclesial and personal life full of mercy and compassion, because constantly formed in the school of the Gospel. He entrusts to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mater Misericordiae, the works and expectations of this important national liturgical event and, while he asks that you pray for him and for his service to the Church, he sends a heartfelt and altogether special Apostolic Blessing to Your Excellency, to the Bishop of Gubbio Monsignor Mario Ceccobelli, to the Prelates and to the priests present, to the Relators and to the participants.
In uniting my personal good wishes, I take advantage of the circumstance to express my kind regards to Your Most Reverend Excellency.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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