As Italy’s public Masses are suspended, pope’s morning Mass gives a chance for country to pray with the Bishop of Rome
Pope Francis’ morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta was broadcast for the first time March 9, as a sign of the pope’s closeness to those affected by the coronavirus. Italy has cancelled all public Masses until early April.
Pope Francis introduced the liturgy saying “In these days, I will offer Mass for those who are sick from the coronavirus epidemic, for the doctors, nurses, volunteers who are helping them, for their families, for the elderly in nursing homes, for prisoners.” He then asked everyone to “pray together this week” the words of the entrance antiphon: “Redeem me, O Lord, and have mercy on me. My foot stands on level ground; I will bless the Lord in the assembly.”
The pope then reflected on the first reading of the Second Monday of Lent from the Book of the Prophet Daniel (9:4-10). He characterized it as a “confession of sin.”
The people recognized that they had sinned. “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.” This is a confession of sin, a recognition that we have sinned.
Pope Francis went on to speak about “when we prepare ourselves to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we have to do what is called an ‘examination of conscience.’”
This should not be a list of sins done on an intellectual level, but the heartfelt recognition of sin. It is not correct, the pope said:
to make a list of sins in the mind, to say ‘I’ve sinned,’ then say them to the priest and then the priest forgives me. That’s like drawing up a to-do list or things I need to have or what I’ve done wrong. This remains in the mind. A true confession of sins must remain in the heart.
The pope invites us to take a step forward so that we confess our “misery, but from the heart…. This is what Daniel, the Prophet, did: ‘Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced.’”
When I realize that I have sinned, that I haven’t prayed well, and I feel this in my heart, a sense of shame comes to us… Being ashamed of our sins is a grace we need to ask for. A person who has lost a sense of shame has lost a sense of moral judgement, has lost respect for others. The same thing regarding God…. ‘O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you.
When a sense of shame is added to the memory that we have sinned, “this touches God’s heart,” Pope Francis explained. The sense of shame leads us to experience God’s mercy. Our confessions, then, will not consist in reading a list of sins, but in realizing what we “have done to a God who is so good, so compassionate, so righteous.”
Today, let us ask for the grace of feeling ashamed, of feeling ashamed for our sins. May the Lord grant this grace to all of us.