little thought regarding the media swoon over Papa Francesco, which occurred last week. (And will last, one wonders, how long?)
Anyway: We confessors do have something of a special point-of-view on things, when it comes to this being “a time or mercy,” as, indeed it is. The Pope and all of us unworthy priests share this point-of-view.
St. Alphonsus Ligouri put it like this (more or less, I think) in his exhortation to priests, “Be a lion in the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.”
A contrite soul seeks the mercy of God because he/she has become aware of having committed a sin. The more clearly a preacher separates right from wrong, the more likely it is that someone listening to the sermon will actually wind up experiencing mercy. Because mercy follows contrition, i.e. sorrow for having sinned.
In other words, there is no mercy in preaching that does not clearly delineate right and wrong. The clear delineation of right and wrong helps people make good confessions. It helps us arrive at the place where the lion we heard roaring from the pulpit meets us privately, and turns out to be a gentle lamb, absolving our sins and praising God for His infinite love and the fresh start He gives us all when we confess.
Did anybody (and I literally mean anybody on earth) read the part of the Pope’s interview where he identified the center of the whole drama? The confessional. He approached the business of the Church freeing Herself from ‘small, narrow rules’ from the point-of-view of the confessor, in a confessional, during a confession.
Not to be mean-spirited or small or whatever:
The real Pope Francis bandwagon parade will form at the confessional, my friends. That’s the place to go to get on it.