Friday, August 04, 2006

The Cure of Ars - Pastor of Souls in the Sacrament of Penance

1) The Radical Nature of Christianity and the ministerial priesthood: “We must acknowledge the novelty of the New Testament to understand the Gospel as Gospel, as Good News… If we seek the true novelty of the New Testament, Christ Himself stands before us. This novelty consists not so much in new ideas or conceptions – the novelty is a person: God, who becomes man and draws human beings to Himself.

“Even the question regarding what the New Testament has to say about priesthood should begin with Christology. The so-called Liberal Age interpreted the figure of Christ on the basis of its own presuppositions. According to its interpretation Jesus set up pure ethics in opposition to ritually distorted religion; to communal and collective religion He contrasted the freedom and responsibility of the individual person. He Himself is portrayed as the great Teacher of morals who frees man from the bonds of cult and of rite and without other mediations sets him before God alone with his personal conscience….

“The image of Christ which we encounter in the Bible is a very different one. It is clear that we can consider here only those elements which immediately pertain to our problem. The essential factor in the image of Christ as handed on by the writings of the New Testament consists in His unique relationship with God. Jesus knows that He has a direct mission from God; God authority is at work in Him (cf. Mt. 7, 29; 21, 23; Mk. 1, 27; 11, 28; Lk. 20, 2; 24, 19 etc.). He proclaims a message which He has received from the Father; He has been `sent’ with an office entrusted to Him by the Father…

“A `paradoxical’ moment of this mission clearly appears in the formula of John which Augustine so profoundly interpreted: My doctrine is not mine… (Jn. 7, 16) Jesus has nothing of His own except the Father. His doctrine is not His own, because even He Himself is not His own, but in His entire existence He is, as it were, Son from the Father and directed towards the Father. But for the same reason, because He has nothing of His own, everything that the Father has belongs to Him as well: `I and the Father are one’ (Jn. 10, 30). The giving back of His own will (Jn. 5, 30), made Him credible, because the word of the Father shone through Him like light. Here the mystery of the divine Trinity shines forth which is also the model for our own existence.

“Only from this Christological center can we understand the ministry of the Apostles to which the priesthood of Christ’s Church traces its origin. Towards the beginning of His public life, Jesus created the new figure of 12 chosen men, a figure which is continued after the Resurrection in the ministry of the Apostles – that is, of the ones sent. Of great importance for our question is the fact that Jesus gave His power to the Apostles in such a way that He made their ministry, as it were, a continuation of His own mission. `He who receives you receives me’ … ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you’ (Jn. 20, 21; cf. Jn. 13, 20; Jn. 17, 18).

“The weight of this sentence is evident if we recall what we said above concerning the structure of the mission of Jesus. As we saw, Jesus Himself sent in the totality of His person, is indeed mission and relation from the Father and to the Father. In this light the great importance of the following parallelism appears:

`The Son can do nothing of His own accord’ (Jn. 5, 19-30).

`Apart from Me you can do nothing’ (Jn. 15, 5).

“This `nothing’ which the disciples share with Jesus expresses at one and the same time both the power and the infirmity of the apostolic ministry. By themselves, of their own strength, they can do none of those things which apostles must do. How could they of their own accord say, `I forgive you your sins’? How could they say, `This is my body’? How could they perform the imposition of hands and say, `Receive the Holy Spirit’? None of those things which constitute apostolic activity are done by one’s own authority. But this expropriation of their very powers constitutes a mode of communion with Jesus, who is wholly from the Father, with Him all things and nothing without Him. Their own `nihil posse,’ their own inability to do anything, draws them into a community of mission with Jesus. Such a ministry, in which a man does and gives through a divine communication what he could never do and give on his own, is called by the tradition of the Church a `sacrament.’

“If Church usage calls ordination to the ministry of priesthood a `sacrament,’ the following is meant: This man is in no way performing functions for which he is highly qualified by his own natural ability nor is he doing the things that please him most and that are most profitable. On the contrary – the one who receives the sacrament is sent to give what he cannot give of his own strength; he is sent to act in the person of another, to be his living instrument. For this reason no human being can declare himself a priest; for this reason, too, no community can promote a person to this ministry by its own decree. Only from the sacrament, which belongs to God, can priesthood be received”
(Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Nature of Priesthood," L'Osservatore Romano October 29, 1990).

It is in this perspective of being another Christ in the sacrament of penance that we find the Cure of Ars and his immense effectiveness.

* * * * * * * *

The Sacrament of Penance: John Paul II (Holy Thursday 2002, “Letter to Priests”)

Jesus and Zacchaeus:

“`When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Lk. 19, 5)

“Every encounter with someone wanting to go to confession, even when the request is somewhat superficial because it is poorly motivated and prepared, can become, through the surprising grace of God, that `place’ near the sycamore tree where Christ looked up at Zacchaeus. How deeply Christ’s gaze penetrated the Jericho publican’s soul is impossible for us to judge. But we do know that that same gaze looks upon each of our penitents. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are agents of a supernatural encounter with laws of its own, an encounter which we have only to respect and facilitate. For Zacchaeus, it must have been a stunning experience to hear himself called by his name, a name which many of his townsmen spoke with contempt. Now he hears it spoken in a tone of tenderness, expressing not just trust but familiarity, insistent friendship. Yes, Jesus speaks ot Zaccheus like an old friend, forgotten maybe, but a friend who has nonetheless remained faithful, and who enters with the gentle force of affection into the life and into the home of his re-discovered friend: `Make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today’ (Lk. 19, 5)….

“In the sacrament, the penitent first meets not `the commandments of God’ but, in Jesus, `the God of the commandments.’ To Zacchaeus, Jesus offers himself: `I must stay at your house.’ He himself is the gift that awaits Zacchaeus, and he is also `God’s law’ for Zacchaeus. When we see our encounter with Jesus as a gift, even the most demanding features of the law assume the `lightness ‘ of grace, in line with that supernatural dynamic which prompted Saint Paul to say: `If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law’ (Gal. 5, 18).

‘This is what happens in the case of Zacchaeus. Aware that he is now being treated as a `son,’ he begins to think and act like a son, and this he shows in the way he rediscovers his brothers and sisters. Beneath the loving gaze of Christ, the heart of Zacchaeus warms to love of neighbor. From a feeling of isolation, which had led him to enrich himself without caring about what others had to suffer, he moves to an attitude of sharing. This is expressed in a genuine `division’ of his wealth: `half of my goods to the poor.’ The injustice done to others by his fraudulent behavior is atoned for by a fourfold restitution: `If I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold’ (Lk. 19, 8). And it is only at this point that the love of God achieves its purpose, and salvation is accomplished: `Today salvation has come to this house’ (Lk. 19, 9).
Cardinal Ratzinger: - Commenting on the abuse of communal absolution confronted in the apostolic letter `Misericordia Dei" (2002): "God does not treat us as parts of a collectivity. He knows each one by name, calls him personally and saves him, if he has fallen into sin. Although the Lord addresses each person directly in all the sacraments, the personalist character of Christian life is manifested in a particularly clelar way in the sacrament of penance"


Anonymous said...

rebuilding when your relationship end

Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read »