The confessional is not like the dry cleaners, so don’t treat it like one….
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis gave this warning today, March 21, 2017, during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, while noting that for one to properly confess and be forgiven, one must feel great shame for what they have done.
The Pope drew from today’s readings, including that from the book of Daniel, which emphasized mankind coming before God with a humble and contrite spirit, and today’s Gospel, in which Jesus tells Peter to forgive his brother “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Must Feel Genuine Shame
In his homily, the Pope warned that without feeling ashamed in the confessional, it’s a false pardon.
“If I ask ‘Are you all sinners? – Yes Father, all of us – and to obtain pardon for our sins? – We confess – And how did the confession go? – I go there, I say my sins, the priest forgives me, I’m given three Hail Mary’s to pray and I leave in peace.’ You have not understood! You have only gone to confession to carry out a banking transaction or an office task.
“You have not gone to confession ashamed of what you have done. You have seen stains on your conscience and have mistakenly believed that the confessional box is like the dry cleaners that removes those sins. You’re unable to feel shame for your sins.”
The Pope also highlighted that being forgiven gives us, in turn, the ability to forgive others.
Recalling the actions of the debtor who is forgiven by his master, but who himself could not forgive another person who was in debt to him, Francis criticized: “He did not understand the mystery of forgiveness.”
Not Bank Transactions
This mystery, the Holy Father cautioned, is not like a transaction in a bank. He also warned against confessing sins like a sort of checklist.
“Entering into this mystery helps us to reform our lives,” the Pope continued. “The marvel enters your heart. You have the power to enter into its knowledge. Otherwise you leave the confessional, meet a friend, begin to talk and gossip about someone else and continue sinning.”
If we don’t have this knowledge, Francis reminded those present, we will be like the servant in the Gospel, who thought he could get away with not forgiving others, when he himself had been forgiven.
“I can only forgive when I feel forgiven. If you don’t have the knowledge to be forgiven, you will never be able to forgive,” the Pope said, noting this attitude affects how we deal with others.
Forgiveness Is Total
“But I can forgive only when I feel my sins, my shame. I am ashamed and I call on God for forgiveness. I feel forgiven by the Father and in that way I can forgive others. If not, I cannot forgive, and we are unable to do so.” For this reason, he said, forgiveness is a mystery.
The Holy Father called on those present to always forgive others, just as they have been forgiven.
“Today, let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand this, seventy times seven. Let us ask for the grace to be ashamed before God. It is a huge grace. To feel ashamed of our sins and then receive forgiveness and the grace of generosity to give it to others, because the Lord has forgiven all, so who am I to not forgive?” Pope Francis concluded.