Wednesday, February 19, 2014
ONE OF THE MAJOR, MAJOR AREAS OF POPE FRANCIS' REFORM OF THE REFORM THAT REFORMERS OF THE REFORM MISS OR UNDERAPPRECIATE
Apart from Pope Francis' consistent catechesis on the devil and his influence but certainly tied into it is the Holy Father's call to every Catholic to go to confession frequently. All of us know that in the years of decline of the Church since the false "spirit" of Vatican II (an anti-Christ spirit, if I might be so bold) is the decline in the use of the Sacrament of Penance by the majority of people who need it and those who need it the most presenting themselves for Holy Communion, in fact we have seen an increase in the number of Catholics presenting themselves for Holy Communion at any given Mass, since Vatican II and without the benefit of being alive in God's grace due to unrepentant mortal sin or a misguided theology that teaches them there is no need for the Sacrament of Penance for mortal sin prior to receiving our Lord in Holy communion!
What's is wrong with this picture? The Church still teaches as does Pope Francis, that we need the Sacraments of the Church, especially Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist and we need the Sacrament of Penance to be made worthy by God's grace to receive our Lord in a state of pure grace where our souls are cleansed of the filth and death of sin, mortal and venial. Of course the Mass itself is a remedy for venial sin when repentance is present in the sinner. But not so for mortal sin, the Sacrament of Penance is required for these sins.
I like what the Baltimore Catechism teaches children and adults about the sacraments as it makes it so clear and understandable.
Baptism and Penance are sacraments for the dead!
Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, as well as Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony are sacraments of the living. Anointing of the Sick I suppose is in between.
What does this mean that Baptism and Penance are Sacraments for the dead?
It means that because of Original and actual sin, our souls are dead to Christ's grace and can only be "resurrected" through these two sacraments. Obviously the Sacrament of Baptism can be received only once for the soul dead because of Original and actual sin. Baptism releases the soul from the clutches of Satan l but our Lord's sanctifying grace does not make us perfect, we are capable of killing the life-giving effects of Sanctifying Grace through actual sin.
Mortal sin removes the soul's God given grace and makes us dead once again and in the grip of Satan. Repentance through the Sacrament of Penance allows our Lord to forgive us and bring the soul make to life through actual grace, so that we can participate worthily in the other sacraments of the Church, especially the Most Holy Eucharist.
The Sacraments of Confirmation and especially the Most Holy Eucharist are Sacraments of the living, those whose souls have been cleansed either through the Lord's sanctifying grace in Holy Baptism or in Penance for the mortal sins we commit after baptism. To receive Confirmation, Holy Eucharist or any other Sacrament in a "dead" state is another mortal sin and a sacrilege. It has no spiritual effects on the dead soul and casts it deeper into the grip of the devil.
I think the most important aspect of the REFORM OF THE REFORM is the recovery of the proper understanding of the sacraments and the recovery of the need for the Sacrament of Penance. In fact, just as baptism and penance must precede the reception of Holy Communion, so too should the "reform of the reform" focus first on the Sacrament of Penance and a recovery of its practice according to the pre-Vatican II model in terms of the frequent use of it by the majority of active, practicing Catholics precede the "reform of the reform" of the Mass, although the two should walk hand-in-hand.
Once we recover the Sacrament of Penance and its proper place and order in terms of receiving the Sacraments of the Living, then we can focus more intently on the "reform of the reform" of the 1970 Roman Missal meaning its proper celebration in continuity with the spirituality, reverence and ethos of the 1962 missal!
Here is what Pope Francis said this morning (synopsis) at his Wednesday general audience on the Sacrament of Penance:
(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the English language synthesis of Pope Francis’ Catechesis for the General Audience on Wednesday 19 February 2014:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Through the Sacraments of Initiation, we receive new life in Christ. This life we carry in earthen vessels, however, and we still experience temptations, suffering, and death. Because of sin, we can even lose this new life. Jesus therefore willed that the Church continue his works of salvation for her members, in particular through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which flows from the Paschal Mystery. The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other. While the celebration of the Sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the community of the Church, in which the Holy Spirit is present, uniting us all in Jesus Christ. When confessing our sins then, we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion. Though this Sacrament is a great treasure, we may be tempted to dismiss it, perhaps due to laziness or embarrassment, or because of a diminishing sense of sin and its effects. Too often, we see ourselves as the centre and measure of all things, and our lives can go adrift. The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy. May we allow his love to renew us as his children and to reconcile us with him, with ourselves, and with one another.