THE HOLY FATHER AS A PENITENT AND A CONFESSOR
The initiative ’24 hours for Lord’, suggested by pope Francis is a special expiatory divine service, with adoration of the Holy Sacrament and confession for 24 hours, which started on 28 March in the afternoon. It was also held in many churches in the whole world.
In the Vatican Basilica the feast of forgiveness with pope Francis and under his supervision had a character of the expiatory divine service. After the general confession and biblical readings, the Holy Father preached a homily. He pointed out to two basic moments of the Christian life. The first of them is becoming a new man at the moment of the holy baptism. – The man is worthier in respect to who he is, than what he has. Here is the basic difference between life distorted by a sin and life enlightened by grace – said pope Francis. He explained that according to God, it is the human heart from which renewed, good behaviours come: always telling the truth and avoiding a lie; not stealing, but sharing with others, especially with those in need; not succumbing to anger, not feeling grudge and desire for revenge, but being gentle, generous, ready to forgive; not slandering, not destroying somebody’s good opinion, but rather noticing a positive side of everybody. – Another important element of the Christian life is maintaining in love – said the Holy Father. He emphasized that Christ’s love lasts forever, it never finishes, because it is the very life of God. – Our Father never stops loving us, but His eyes are still looking at a path to home, in order to see whether this son who has been lost, is coming back. Here we can say about God’s hope, who is still waiting for us. Not only does he leave us open door, but is waiting for us patiently – explained pope Francis.
After his sermon and saying the Angelus Prayer, priests started confessing believers numerously gathered in the Vatican Basilica. Also pope Francis, wearing a surplice and stole, went to one of confessionals. However, before he sat in it in order to confess others, he had joined the sacrament of reconciliation. According to the custom recognized in so many countries in the south of Europe, and in the Latin America, he did not come up to the side of a confessional, but he kneeled opposite a confessor and, in this way, he was expressing his confession. At the end, a priest gave the Holy Father repentance and then kissed the departing Pope on his hand. Having ended his own confession, the Holy Father started confessing others. Most penitents were having their confession while kneeling opposite pope Francis, who even opened the door of a confessional wide, in order to make it easier for believers to have a direct contact with him. After half an hour the Holy Father left the confessional, returned to an altar in order to continue the expiatory divine service. At the end he gave the apostolic blessing to everybody, and then the Mary’s hymn ‘ Salve Regina’ was sung.