(Vatican Radio) The Major Penitentiary of the Church, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, has sent a Christmas letter to the confessors of the Church.
The Major Penitentiary is the Vatican Tribunal which deals with the “internal forum” and deals with issues in the Church surrounding the Sacrament of Confession.
In his letter, Cardinal Piacenza reminds confessor the upcoming Solemnity of Christmas is not a “sentimental fairy-tale,” but a holy mystery, the mystery of God’s mercy.
The Cardinal looks to the end times, when humanity will be judged by the Son of Man. He says this judgement will not only be on the basis of an “abstractly understood moral behaviour,” but based on the “‘truth’ of our love.”
“We know that our love – called to grow in response to Christ's love – is, however, a wounded love, ‘polluted’ by sin, and a love that not only needs to be ‘real’, but, more and more, needs to be ‘made true,’ purified, saved,” writes Cardinal Piacenza.
“Nevertheless” - he continues – “there is no social or ecclesial structure, nor any moral exhortation, nor any merely human strategy that can free love and render it truly ‘real’. Only the grace of Christ has this power. He is - the Holy Father reminds us - the mystery of mercy and He, when recognized and welcomed, makes man free to love truly.”
Cardinal Piacenza says this means at the end of time, we will be “judged according to the truth of Christ, the truth of our love for Him, but, at the same time, only Christ is able to liberate our love and make us truly capable of loving Him.”
“Therefore He is Judge, and He is Saviour; He is Justice, and He is Love; He is Truth, and He is Mercy” – Cardinal Piacenza continues – “How do we resolve this apparent and divine paradox? Exactly in the great Sacrament of Mercy, in sacramental confession.”
The Cardinal says every celebration of the sacrament of confession “anticipates” the Last Judgement, and give the penitent the gift of looking at the “great truth of the mystery of Christ, the Truth of His Mercy.”
He calls on all confessors to joyfully offer their lives to the “service of this encounter of Truth and Mercy,” and says that in the confessional is “born the only true peace of which the world truly needs.”
“The only help truly effective for the whole of humanity, that, confession after confession, you will see cleansed of sin and thus saved from the deadliest of ‘smog’” – continues Cardinal Piacenza – “And it is in the confessional where we see the most radical work of ecology that we can accomplish!”
The Cardinal concludes his letter by asking priests to pray for one another, so they, too, can be “continually purified by this Mercy,” and therefore be “ever more intimately transformed by the Mystery of the Incarnate Word.”