Pope Francis encouraged pilgrims who came for his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square today to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently, saying that it is an act of spiritual bravery in this day and age for people to go to confession. "Everyone say to himself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day! Go, the priest will be good. And Jesus, will be there, and Jesus is better than the priests, Jesus receives you. He will receive you with so much love! Be courageous, and go to confession,” Francis told the assembled crowd.
“Someone can say, ‘I confess my sins only to God.’ Yes, you can say to God, ‘forgive me,’ and say your sins. But our sins are also against our brothers, against the Church. This is is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers, in the person of the priest. While the celebration of the sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the universality of the Church, which accompanies us on the path of conversion," the Pope taught.
“Forgiveness is not something we can give ourselves. One asks forgiveness, one asks it of another person, and in confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus. Forgiveness is not a result of our efforts, but is a gift. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit who showers us with mercy and grace that pours forth unceasingly from the open heart of Christ crucified and risen.”
Responding to the notion that someone may be too embarrassed to properly confess their sins, the Holy Father said that the embarrassment that we may feel about our sins can be a good thing. “Even embarrassment is good. It’s healthy to have a bit of shame... it does us good, because it makes us more humble." the Pope said. “Don’t be afraid of confession. When someone is in line for confession he feels all these things - even shame - but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves feeling free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy.The sacrament of reconciliation is a sacrament of healing,” declared the Pontiff. “When I go to confession, it’s for healing: healing the soul, healing the heart because of something that I did to make it unwell.”
“Every time we go to confession, God embraces us,” Pope Francis told the pilgrims.