Continuing for just a moment on the reality of Divine Mercy –given yesterday’s feast on the Second Sunday of Easter– there are few thoughts of Blessed John Paul II’s that I think are worth reflecting on when, in the canonization homily he delivered for Padre Pio’s canonization (16 June 2002), he stated:

“I am the Lord who acts with mercy” (Jeremiah 9,23)

Padre Pio hearing confessions.jpg

Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all
by welcoming them, by spiritual direction and, especially, by the
administration of the sacrament of Penance
. I also had the privilege, during my
young years, of benefiting from his availability for penitents. The ministry of
the confessional
, which is one of the distinctive traits of his apostolate,
attracted great crowds of the faithful to the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo.
Even when that unusual confessor treated pilgrims with apparent severity, the
latter, becoming conscious of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant,
almost always came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness
May his example encourage priests to carry out with joy and zeal this ministry
which is so important today, as I wished to confirm this year in the Letter to
Priests on the occasion of Holy Thursday.

Perhaps priests –indeed, all of the faithful– ought to review the Holy Father’s Holy Thursday 2002 letter to priests. I once made a statement: Don’t trust a priest who doesn’t regularly sit in the confession box. I think it is reasonable advice.