Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 23: Promoting Penance and Reconciliation, Part 2: Christ As Redeemer

Let’s talk a bit more about Promoting Penance and Reconciliation:

The church thus finds herself face to face with (people)-with the whole human world-wounded by sin and affected by sin in the innermost depths of (our) being. But at the same time (she or) he is moved by an unrestrainable desire to be freed from sin and, especially if (she or) he is a Christian, (she or) he is aware that the mystery of pietas, Christ the Lord, is already acting in (them) and in the world by the power of the redemption.

Perhaps Christians, by grace, are inspired. But the desire to be free from sin is not exclusively a Christian thing.

The church’s reconciling role must therefore be carried out in accordance with that intimate link which closely connects the forgiveness and remission of the sin of each person with the fundamental and full reconciliation of humanity which took place with the redemption. This link helps us to understand that, since sin is the active principle of division-division between (people) and the nature created by God-only conversion from sin is capable of bringing about a profound and lasting reconciliation wherever division has penetrated.

This is a good insight. But it needs more than traditional trappings of penance and reconciliation as the Church has expressed them. What does it require? Rootedness in Scripture, first and foremost. Telling the story is essential. Saint Paul is one possibility, but there are many others:

I do not need to repeat what I have already said about the importance of this “ministry of reconciliation,”(Cf 2 Corinthians 5:18) and of the pastoral activity whereby it is carried out in the church’s consciousness and life. This pastoral activity would be lacking an essential aspect of its being and failing in an indispensable function if the “message of reconciliation”(Cf 2 Corinthians 5:19) were not proclaimed with clarity and tenacity in season and out of season, and if the gift of reconciliation were not offered to the world. But it is worth repeating that the importance of the ecclesial service of reconciliation extends beyond the confines of the church to the whole world.

Quoting Scripture isn’t the only way of citing Jesus’ redemption of humankind. Every Christian can be prepared to cite the story, and also relate their own participation in the grace of Christ.

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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