That citation of Pope Francis is from the opening of the Holy Year of Mercy in Bangui, CAR (in advance!). This is especially for Missionaries of Mercy and all priests:
- The only way to become practitioners of forgiveness is to practice forgiveness. Otherwise, we will not be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.
- The only way for priests, beyond this, to become practicioners of forgiveness, is to go ahead and hear confessions. This also means speaking about confession in homilies frequently, inviting people to the great, great joy of kneeling before the Lord Jesus.
- The only way for priests to become specialists in reconciliation is to go to confession frequently themselves. This is a sine qua non. I have heard priests reject this, saying that confession for them can be rare. But this is simply not true. This is about a living friendship with Jesus in the sacramental life of the Church. One cannot live apart from the sacramental life of the Church. We are just too good at coming up with rationalizations. We must be humble before Jesus, regularly, and with joy. If not, our rationalizations will kill us off without us realizing it. Truly dead, the only thing we will be experts in is helping others to rationalize their sin as well. We must live close to Jesus.
- Remember, Jesus is innocent, but taking on what we deserve because of original sin and our own sin, the worst we have to give out, death, thus having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us, He thus becomes sin for us, as Saint Paul so succinctly puts it, kneels in a confessional, as it were, and confesses all of our sins for us, and takes on the penance of penances, His suffering and death, for our redemption and salvation. But remember again, He rose from the dead and loves us so very, very much. Having said all that, He wants us to… Go to Confession!
Update: A shy, English speaking lay reader sends in this comment:
“This moulds the flock and rejuvenates their zeal. Nothing is more edifying than seeing a Priest praying and going to Confession. It gives us the encouragement to happily struggle on.”
Get that? “Nothing is more edifying…”