By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After going to confession, Catholics should perform a “corporal work of mercy” by inviting someone else to receive the sacrament, said a top Vatican official who deals with matters relating to conscience.
Msgr. Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, said penitents can be “missionaries of divine mercy” by encouraging others to “experience the greatness of the love of God in the sacrament of reconciliation. This truly would be a spiritual and corporal work of mercy.”
The monsignor spoke to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, March 6 as the Apostolic Penitentiary was about to begin its annual weeklong course on confession for new priests and seminarians. He said more than 500 students had signed up.
The course was set to end March 13 with participation in Pope Francis’ Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica. The students will have the opportunity to go to confession during the service, “experiencing for themselves the beneficial and healthy effects of the penitential celebration, becoming penitents themselves who humbly ask the Lord for forgiveness and reconciliation.”
Pope Francis’ liturgy will begin the “24 Hours for the Lord” celebration in Rome with several churches in the city’s historic center open all night for prayer and confession. Many dioceses around the world hold such celebrations during Lent.
The Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court that deals with matters of consciences, also coordinates the work of the priests serving as confessors in St. Peter’s Basilica and the major basilicas of Rome. Msgr. Nykiel said his office has assigned 60 priests to help hear confessions during the 24-hour celebration. In addition, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the office, and all the priests on staff will be available to penitents.
“It will be a strong moment of grace and a favorable occasion for reflecting on our call to conversion, to change our lives and put the love of God at the center of our hearts,” he said.
The course for new priests and seminarians, Msgr. Nykiel said, aims to ensure that as confessors they “promote the conditions necessary for penitents to encounter the loving gaze of Jesus,” who calls them to conversion and a new life.
Confession should be the place where Catholics “discover and experience the greatness of God’s love, which shakes the weight of sin off our hearts,” he said.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.