Addressing the participants of a course on the “internal forum” organized by the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Pope John Paul II said on Saturday that frequent confession is a must to achieve personal holiness.
The Pontiff said that the fruit of the sacrament of reconciliation is not only the remission of sins: “It also performs an authentic ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restores the dignity and the good of the life of the children of God, the most precious of which is friendship with God.”
“It would be illusory to desire to reach holiness, according to the vocation that each one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and sanctification,” that, together with the Eucharist, “accompanies the path of the Christian towards perfection,” he added.
“Penance, by its nature,” he explained, “involves purification, in both the acts of the penitent who lays bare his conscience because of the deep need to be pardoned and reborn, and in the effusion of sacramental grace that purifies and renews.”
The Pope stated that “Penance is a sacrament of enlightenment.” “Those who go to confession frequently and do so with the desire to make progress, know they have received in this sacrament, through pardon from God and grace from the Spirit, a precious light for the path of perfection.”
“From confession to confession,” the Pope added, “the faithful feel an ever deeper communion with the merciful Lord, up to fully identifying with Him, that one has in that perfect ‘life of Christ’ in which true holiness consists.”
The Holy Father underlined that this Sacrament “is also a gift for us priests who, called to exercise the sacramental ministry, also ask to have our sins pardoned. The joy of pardoning and being pardoned go hand in hand.”
“All confessors,” he concluded, “have the great responsibility to exercise this ministry with benevolence, wisdom and courage. Their duty is to make lovable and desirable this encounter which purifies and renews us on the path to Christian perfection and on our pilgrimage to our home.”