Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 22: Toward a Reconciled Life

Some final thoughts on the mysterium pietatis lead us Toward a Reconciled Life:

22. Thus the word of Scripture, as it reveals to us the mystery of pietas, opens the intellect to conversion and reconciliation, understood not as lofty abstractions but as concrete Christian values to be achieved in our daily lives.

There is a danger, of course, in thinking of reconciliation, penance, and piety as exclusively intellectual propositions. Sometimes the heart is smacked by realizations of sin. But yes, sometimes, we do need our sense of reason to jar our sense of justice.

Again, John Paul II says “loss.” I suggest “lack.”

Deceived by the loss of the sense of sin and at times tempted by an illusion of sinlessness which is not at all Christian, the people of today too need to listen again to St. John’s admonition, as addressed to each one of them personally: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,”(1 John 1:8) and indeed, “the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”(Ibid., 5:19) Every individual therefore is invited by the voice of divine truth to examine realistically his or her conscience and to confess that he or she has been brought forth in iniquity, as we say in the Miserere psalm.”(Cf Psalm 51:5)

For this to work realistically, we need some steps. Conscience formation for Catholics is often stuck on the first/second grade level. Perhaps there was nervousness about forming people for the sacrament at a later age, but one drawback is that age seven prep is farther away from adult prep by a few more years.

I think once pastors and catechists get on board with forming teens and adults in discernment, we will have cause for hope:

Nevertheless, though threatened by fear and despair, the people of today can feel uplifted by the divine promise which opens to them the hope of full reconciliation.

Let’s give Pope John Paul II the last word on the mystery of piety:

The mystery of pietas, on God’s part, is that mercy in which our Lord and Father-I repeat it again-is infinitely rich.(Cf Ephesians 2:4) As I said in my encyclical on the subject of divine mercy,(Cf Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 8; 15) it is a love more powerful than sin, stronger than death. When we realize that God’s love for us does not cease in the face of our sin or recoil before our offenses, but becomes even mere attentive and generous; when we realize that this love went so far as cause the passion and death of the Word made flesh who consented to redeem us at the price of his own blood, then we exclaim in gratitude: “Yes, the Lord is rich in mercy, and even: “The Lord is mercy.”

The mystery of pietas is the path opened by divine mercy to a reconciled life.

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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