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‘Can’t Go to Confession?’ Pope Says Talk to God Your Father & Ask Forgiveness (Full Text of Morning Homily)
March 20, 2020. Recalling Catechism, Reminds Faithful the Lord Is Waiting for Them & Will Forgive Them Now.

Can’t go to confession? Have a heartfelt talk with God, Your Father, and ask Him forgiveness for your sins…

Pope Francis encouraged faithful worldwide to welcome his invitation, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, again offered for the victims and those affected by the Coronavirus, praying especially today for healthcare providers in the north, many giving and risking their lives.

“Yesterday,” Francis said, “I received a message from a priest from the Bergamo region who asked for prayers for the doctors working there…. They are at the end their strength…and are truly giving their lives to help those who are ill, to save others’ lives.”

The Pope also prayed for civil leaders who, as they manage the crisis, often “suffer from being misunderstood,” and are “pillars helping us move out of the situation and are defending us from this crisis.”

In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s readings from Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, which tells the story of the Prodigal Son, reported Vatican News.

The father in the story, Francis recalled, “would go up to the terrace — how many times a day! — during the day and days, months, years, perhaps, waiting for his son. He saw him from afar.”

Similarly, as that son needed to take the step to return, the Pope exhorted: “Return to your Daddy, return to your Father. He is waiting for you. It’s God’s tenderness that speaks to us, especially in Lent. It’s the time to enter into ourselves and remember the Father and return to God, our Daddy.”

Francis acknowledged that we may say: “No, Father, I’m ashamed to return because . . . You know Father, I have made so many . . ., I’ve done a lot . . . “What does the Lord say? “Return, I will heal…”

“Return to your Father who waits for you,” he underscored: “The God of tenderness will heal us; He will heal us of the many, many wounds of life and of the many awful things we’ve done. Everyone has their own!”

The Holy Father called on faithful to remember “to return to God is to return to an embrace, to the Father’s embrace.” He also encourages them to remember the promise Isaiah makes: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

God, Francis stresses, “is able to transform us, He is able to change our heart, but it’s necessary to take the first step: to return. It’s not to go to God, no: it’s to return home.”

Lent, the Pope pointed out, always points to this conversion of heart that, in the Christian custom, is embodied in the Sacrament of Confession.

“It’s the moment,” Pope Francis said, “to let God whiten us, God purify us, God embrace us.”

What If Cannot Leave Home…

The Holy Father recognized that before Easter, many faithful go to Confession to meet with God again.

“However,” he acknowledged, “many will say to me today: ‘But, Father, where can I find a priest, a confessor, because one can’t leave home? And I want to make peace with the Lord, I want Him to embrace me, that my Papa embrace me . . . What can I do if I can’t find priests?’”

“Do what the Catechism says,” the Jesuit Pope stressed, “it’s very clear: if you don’t find a priest to hear your Confession, talk with God, He is your Father, and tell Him the truth: ‘Lord, I’ve done this, and that, and that . . . I’m sorry,” and ask Him for forgiveness with all your heart, with the Act of Contrition and promise Him: “Afterwards I will go to Confession, but forgive me now.”

If you do all this, Francis said, you will return to God’s grace immediately. As the Catechism teaches, he reminded, you yourself can approach God’s forgiveness without having a priest at hand.

“Think: it’s the moment! And this is the right moment, the opportune moment. An Act of Contrition well made, Francis said, will make “our soul become white as snow.

“It would be good if today this “return” resounded in our ears, “return to your Papa, return to your Father,” Pope Francis said, underscoring: “He is waiting for you and He will celebrate you.”

The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation.

It was announced in recent days that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time.

This comes at a time too when the Italian bishops’ conference has canceled public Masses throughout the nation, until at least April 3rd, following guidelines put out by Italian authorities. The entire country is on lockdown. Many countries worldwide now are increasingly taking precautions against the virus.

In addition to Santa Marta, the Vatican is taking other steps to discourage crowds and keep people safe. They are televising the Pope giving privately, from the papal library, his weekly Angelus and General Audience addresses.

Moreover, the Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.

To date, one person, an external visitor, has been tested positive for Coronavirus in the Vatican. The five people the individual had contact with, are being quarantined.

FULL HOMILY

When I read or listen to this passage of the Prophet Hosea, which we heard in the First Reading [which says]: “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,” when I hear it, there comes to mind a song that Carlo Buti sang 75 years ago, and that Italian families in Buenos Aires loved to listen to: “Return to your Papa. He will sing a lullaby again to you.” Return: but it’s your Papa who asks you to return. God is your Papa; he isn’t a judge; He is your Papa: Return home, listen, come.” And that memory — I was a small boy — brings me immediately to the Papa of chapter 15 of Luke, that Father that it says: “while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him,” that son who had gone away with all the money and had squandered it. However, if he saw him from afar, it’s because he was waiting for him. He would go up to the terrace — how many times a day! — during the day and days, months, years, perhaps, waiting for his son. He saw him from afar. Return to your Papa, return to your Father. He is waiting for you. It’s God’s tenderness that speaks to us, especially in Lent. It’s the time to enter into ourselves and remember the Father and return to Papa.

“No, Father, I’m ashamed to return because . . . You know Father, I have made so many . . ., I’ve done a lot . . . “What does the Lord say? “Return, I will heal your faithlessness; I will love you freely, for my anger has turned from you. I will be as dew to you; you shall blossom as a lily; you shall strike root as a tree of Lebanon.” Return to your Father who waits for you. The God of tenderness will heal us; He will heal us of the many, many wounds of life and of the many awful things we’ve done. Everyone has their own!

However, think of this: to return to God is to return to an embrace, to the Father’s embrace. And think of the other promise that Isaiah makes: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” He is able to transform us, He is able to change our heart, but it’s necessary to take the first step: to return. It’s not to go to God, no: it’s to return home.

And Lent always points to this conversion of heart that, in the Christian custom, is embodied in the Sacrament of Confession. It’s the moment to — I don’t know if to “adjust accounts,” I don’t like that — but to let God whiten us, God purify us, God embrace us.

I know that many of you go to Confession for Easter to meet with God again. However, many will say to me today: “But, Father, where can I find a priest, a confessor, because one can’t leave home? And I want to make peace with the Lord, I want Him to embrace me, that my Papa embrace me . . . What can I do if I can’t find priests?” Do what the Catechism says; it’s very clear: if you don’t find a priest to hear your Confession, talk with God, He is your Father, and tell Him the truth” Lord, I’ve done this, and that, and that . . . I’m sorry,” and ask Him for forgiveness with all your heart, with the Act of Contrition and promise Him: “Afterwards I will go to Confession, but forgive me now.” And you will return to God’s grace immediately. As the Catechism teaches, you yourself can approach God’s forgiveness without having a priest at hand. Think: it’s the moment! And this is the right moment, the opportune moment. And Act of Contrition well made, and so our soul will become white as snow. It would be good if today this “return” resounded in our ears, “return to your Papa, return to your Father.” He is waiting for you and He will celebrate you.

Pope Francis ended today’s Celebration also with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting to make a Spiritual Communion.

Here Is the Prayer the Pope Recited:

I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer you the repentance of my heart, which abases itself in its nothingness and in your Holy Presence. I adore You in the Sacrament of your Love; I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You. While awaiting the happiness of Sacramental Communion, I wish to possess you in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, that I may come to You. May your Love inflame my whole being in life and in death. Jesus, I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You.

[ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ full homily at Santa Marta]