VATICAN - Prayers for Lent - The Act of Contrition (XI)

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Confession - “They will look upon the man whom they have pierced” (Zachariah 12, 10; cf Jn 19, 27b). It cannot be denied that the Sacrament of Confession is in a period of crisis, although its seriousness varies from parish to parish, diocese to diocese, and country to country. Many members of the faithful receive Holy Communion but few go to Confession … However, it should be said that where priests are available people do go to Confession. We refer to individual confession and absolution of course, not totally invalid general absolution in general penitential services, as seen in certain countries. I call on priests to make an examination of conscience …
The theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten Message “They will look upon the man whom they have pierced” can be found in Book of Numbers (21, 4-9). The Israelites revolt against God for leading them out of the land of Egypt “with mighty hand and outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 26, 8). To help the people realise the gravity of their revolt which leads to death “God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel” (Numbers 21, 6b). When Moses interceded for the repentant people, God told him to fashion a serpent of bronze, “anyone who was bitten by a serpent and looked at the bronze serpent survived” (Numbers 21, 9b).
Jesus recalls this episode to explain his Mission. He says to Nicodemus: “as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (Jn 3, 14). Later Jesus said: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself.' By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.” (Jn 12, 32-33). He explains the divine nature of his Mission. He is God in person who comes to save us: “So Jesus said: When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am He …” (Jn 8, 28), claiming for himself the holy name of God, as God told Moses; Isaiah said the son born to the virgin would be called “Emanuel” (Isaiah 7, 14c), which means “God with us” (Matthew 1, 23c); reality surpasses the highest of hopes: God is with us, God became man that we might become children of God … the Fathers of the Church will say.

Behold, O good and most sweet Jesus, I fall upon my knees before Thee, and with most fervent desire beg and beseech Thee that Thou wouldst impress upon my heart a lively sense of faith, hope and charity, true repentance for my sins, and a firm resolve to make amends. And with deep affection and grief, I reflect upon Thy five wounds, having before my eyes that which Thy prophet David spoke about Thee, O good Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and feet, they have counted all my bones." Amen. ". (Psalm XXI, 17-18) (to be Continued) (J.M.) (Agenzia Fides 29/3/2007, righe 34, parole 485)