Pope Benedict XVI: March 2007 Archives

Pope Benedict XVI on Reparation

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At a February 22, 2007 meeting of the Roman clergy with Pope Benedict XVI, Don Alberto Pacini, Rector of the Basilica of Sant'Anastasia, spoke of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and asked the Holy Father to explain the meaning and value of Eucharistic reparation, specifically with reference to sacrilegious thefts and satanic sects. For a fruitful reflection on the Holy Father's response, read it together with Pope Pius XI's treatment of the same subject in the encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor :

Eucharistic Reparation, A Difficult Topic

We are not speaking now about Eucharistic Adoration in general, which has truly penetrated our hearts and is penetrating the hearts of the people. You have asked this specific question about Eucharistic reparation. This has become a difficult topic. I remember, when I was young, that on the Feast of the Sacred Heart we prayed using a beautiful prayer by Leo XIII and then one by Pius XI in which reparation had a special place, precisely in reference, already at that time, to sacrilegious acts for which reparation had to be made.

The Reparation of Christ

I think we should get to the bottom of it, going back to the Lord himself who offered reparation for the sins of the world, and try to atone for them: let us say, try to balance the plus of evil and the plus of goodness. We must not, therefore, leave this great negative plus on the scales of the world but must give at least an equal weight to goodness.

The Weight of Infinite Love

This fundamental idea is based on what Christ did. As far as we can understand it, this is the sense of the Eucharistic sacrifice. To counter the great weight of evil that exists in the world and pulls the world downwards, the Lord places another, greater weight, that of the infinite love that enters this world. This is the most important point: God is always the absolute good, but this absolute good actually entered history: Christ makes himself present here and suffers evil to the very end, thereby creating a counterweight of absolute value. Even if we see only empirically the proportions of the plus of evil, they are exceeded by the immense plus of good, of the suffering of the Son of God.

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Here it is. I will be studying the document today. More later.

The Novena to Saint Joseph

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There are Catholics, belonging to a certain theological "caste", who sniff condescendingly at novenas and other expressions of popular devotion. They forget, perhaps, the words of Our Lord in the Gospel: "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones" (Mt 11:25).

Pope Benedict XVI addressed the place of popular devotions with the clergy of Rome on February 22nd:

Popular piety is one of our strengths because it consists of prayers deeply rooted in people's hearts. These prayers even move the hearts of people who are somewhat cut off from the life of the Church and who have no special understanding of faith. All that is required is to "illuminate" these actions and "purify" this tradition so that it may become part of the life of the Church today.

Several years ago my father gave me a wonderful old prayer book that has been handed down from generation to generation in the family. The Treasury of the Sacred Heart Abridged from the Larger Work, With Epistles and Gospels for All Sundays and Festivals of the Year was published by Charles Eason, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin in 1860. It contains, among other precious texts, a popular Novena to Saint Joseph, which Novena begins today.

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The section On Novenas is preceded by a very wise pastoral introduction. Again, this was published in 1860! Here is the text of the introduction:

"By a Novena, is meant a devotion of nine days in honour of some mystery of our Redemption, to obtain a particular request: or in honour of the Blessed Virgin, or any of the Saints; to beg their intercession in obtaining a favour from God.

It may be made of any prayer according to each person's devotion, and is certainly a holy practice, which has often been found successful in obtaining favours from God. Those who perform it with the conditions necessary for prayer; in particular with a lively hope of having their request granted, and perfect resignation, should it be refused, may be assured that Christ, who has said ask and you shall receive, will grant them some grace or blessing as the fruit of their prayer, though, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, he may refuse the particular favour which they implore.

'If," says Saint Augustine, 'he seems deaf to their cries, it is only to grant their main desire, by doing what is more expedient to them.' God alone knows what is good for us: how often is the refusal of our requests a far greater favour than would be the grant of them!'"

The Novena to Saint Joseph begins today. Addressing Saint Joseph, my 147 year old Irish prayer book says: "Thou art the most hidden, though the greatest saint." "Go to Joseph," then. You will not be disappointed.

On Monday, 19 February 2007 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Confessors who serve in the four major basilicas of Rome. At the same time, he spoke to "all the priests of the world who dedicate themselves to the ministry of the confessional." My own experience here in Rome is that people do come to confession whenever a priest makes himself available by sitting in the confessional. Time spent waiting for penitents in the confessional is not lost time. It is a means of entering into the eternal patience and mercy of the Crucified who waits for souls to approach His glorious wounds and to yield to His merciful embrace. Besides, one can always use the time praying the rosary for sinners.

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The Ministry of the Confessional

. . . I wish to extend a cordial thought to all the priests of the world who dedicate themselves with commitment to the ministry of the confessional.

A Wonderful Event of Grace

The Sacrament of Penance, which has such importance in the Christian life, renders present the redemptive efficacy of Christ's Paschal Mystery. In imparting absolution, pronounced in the name and on behalf of the Church, the confessor becomes the conscious means of a wonderful event of grace.

Minister of the Consoling Mercy of God

With docile compliance to the Magisterium of the Church, he makes himself minister of the consoling mercy of God, he draws attention to the reality of sin, and at the same time he manifests the boundless renewing power of divine love, love that gives back life.

Through the Words and Gestures of the Priest

Therefore, confession becomes a spiritual rebirth that transforms the penitent into a new creature. Only God's grace can work this miracle, and it is accomplished through the words and gestures of the priest.

By experiencing the tenderness and pardon of the Lord, the penitent is more easily led to acknowledge the gravity of sin, is more resolved to avoid it in order to remain and grow in renewed friendship with him.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

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