Pope Francis to Slovakia’s young Catholics: Confession is the ‘sacrament of joy’

Pope Francis told young Slovakian Catholics on Tuesday, Sept 14, that Confession is an “infallible remedy” for the times when they are feeling down.

Sep 18, 2021

Pope Francis addresses young people at Lokomotiva Stadium in Košice, Slovakia, Sept 14, 2021. (CNA photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis told young Slovakian Catholics on Tuesday, Sept 14, that Confession is an “infallible remedy” for the times when they are feeling down.

Speaking at Lokomotiva Stadium in Košice, eastern Slovakia on Sept 14, the Pope advised young people who felt downcast to receive the sacrament.

Responding to a question from Petra Filová, a 29-year-old student, about how to overcome obstacles to encountering God’s mercy, he said: “Today, there are so many disruptive forces, so many people ready to blame everyone and everything, spreaders of negativity, professional complainers.”

“Pay no attention to them, no, for pessimism and complaining are not Christian. The Lord detests glumness and victimhood. We were not made to be downcast, but to look up to heaven, to others, to society.”

“But when we feel downcast -- because everyone in life is a little down at certain times, we all know this experience -- what are we to do? There is one infallible remedy that can put us back on our feet. Petra, it is what you said: Confession.”

The 84-year-old pope, who is making his first international trip since undergoing surgery in July, began his four-day visit to Slovakia on Sept. 12.

In his first public engagement on Sept 14, he presided at a Byzantine Divine Liturgy in Prešov, 20 miles north of Košice. In the afternoon, he met with members of the minority Roma community in Košice’s Luník IX district.

He travelled directly from Luník IX to Lokomotiva Stadium, which was built in 1970 and usually hosts soccer games. The live-streamed event, attended by an estimated 25,000 exuberant young people, began with an introduction by Archbishop Bernard Bober of Košice, followed by three testimonies.

The Pope encouraged youngsters to see that God’s mercy, not their sins, is what lies at the heart of Confession.

He said: “I will give you a little piece of advice: after each Confession, sit still for a few moments in order to remember the forgiveness you received. Hold on to that peace in your heart, that inner freedom you are feeling; not your sins, which no longer exist, but the forgiveness that God has granted you, the caress of God the Father. Just hold on to that; don’t let it fade.”

“And the next time you go to Confession, remember: I am going to receive again the embrace that did me so much good. I don’t go to a judge to settle accounts, I go to Jesus who loves me and heals me.”

He added: “In Confession, let us give God first place. If God is the protagonist, everything becomes beautiful and Confession becomes the sacrament of joy. Yes, joy; not fear or judgment, but joy.”

As the Pope spoke, he was frequently interrupted by applause. He paused several times to ask the crowd questions, pretending at times not to hear their answers so they would answer more loudly.

Continuing his reflection, he urged priests who hear Confession to be merciful and never “curious or inquisitorial.”

To those who are embarrassed to enter the confessional box, the Pope said that feeling ashamed was positive be-cause it indicated regret.

“Feeling ashamed is a good sign but, like any other sign, it asks you to move beyond it,” he said. “Don’t let shame imprison you, because God is never ashamed of you. He loves you in the very place where you feel ashamed. And he loves you always.”

To those who are concerned that they always commit the same sins, he said: “Listen, is God ever offended? Is he offended if you go to him and ask for forgiveness? No, never. God suffers when we think that he can’t forgive us, because that is like us telling him: ‘Your love is not strong enough.’”

He continued: “Instead, God rejoices in forgiving us, time and time again. Whenever he picks us up, he believes in us as if it were the first time. He never grows discouraged. We are the ones who get discouraged, not He. He does not label us as sinners: he sees us as children to be loved. He does not see us as lost causes but as beloved and hurting children; and then he feels all the more compassion and tenderness.”

“And every time we go to Confession – never forget this – there is a party in heaven. May it also be so on earth.” -- CNA

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