Pope Francis: ‘Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber’
October 25, 2013. (Romereports.com) During Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explained the keys to the Sacrament of Confession. He said it must be face-to-face and concrete. The Pope said children offer a good example of confession because they are not afraid to speak openly.
“Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber. Some say: ‘Ah, I confess directly to God. It’s easy, But it’s like confessing by email, no?’ God is far away, I say things and there’s no face-to-face contact. Little children have that wisdom: when a child comes to confess, he never says something general. ‘But Father, I did this and I did that to my aunt, another time I said this word.’ And they say the word. But they are concrete, eh? They have that simplicity of the truth.”
Pope Francis also spoke about shame. He said it wasn’t bad. Rather, it’s a God-given grace to help people return to Him. As an example, he recalled St. Peter who denied knowing Jesus on three separate times.
EXCERPT FROM POPE’S HOMILY
Source: Vatican Radio
“This is the struggle of Christians. It is our struggle every day. And we do not always have the courage to speak as Paul spoke about this struggle. We always seek a way of justification: ‘But yes, we are all sinners.’ But we say it like that, don’t we? This says it dramatically: it is our struggle. And if we don’t recognize this, we will never be able to have God’s forgiveness. Because if being a sinner is a word, a way of speaking, a manner of speaking, we have no need of God’s forgiveness. But if it is a reality that makes us slaves, we need this interior liberation of the Lord, of that force. But more important here is that, to find the way out, Paul confesses his sin to the community, his tendency to sin. He doesn’t hide it.”
“Some say: ‘Ah, I confess to God.’ But it’s easy, it’s like confessing by email, no? God is far away, I say things and there’s no face-to-face, no eye-to-eye contact. Paul confesses his weakness to the brethren face-to-face. Others [say], ‘No, I go to confession,’ but they confess so many ethereal things, so many up-in-the-air things, that they don’t have anything concrete. And that’s the same as not doing it. Confessing our sins is not going to a psychiatrist, or to a torture chamber: it’s saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am a sinner,’ but saying it through the brother, because this says it concretely. ‘I am sinner because of this, that and the other thing.’”
“Little children have that wisdom: when a child comes to confess, he never says something general. ‘But father, I did this and I did that to my aunt, another time I said this word’ and they say the word. But they are concrete, eh? They have that simplicity of the truth. And we always have the tendency to hide the reality of our failings. But there is something beautiful: when we confess our sins as they are in the presence of God, we always feel that grace of shame. Being ashamed in the sight of God is a grace. It is a grace: ‘I am ashamed of myself.’ We think of Peter when, after the miracle of Jesus on the lake, [he said] ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner.’ He is ashamed of his sins in the presence of the sanctity of Jesus.”