Each year on this date, August 2, in the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, a celebration known as the Feast of Pardon attracts thousands to Assisi.
The feast originates with the account of St. Francis of Assisi persuading Pope Honorius III to grant a plenary indulgence to all those who visit the Portiuncula on this day and confess their sins.
In 2015, Pope Francis spoke of the feast as “a strong call to draw close to the Lord in the sacrament of mercy and also to receive Communion.”
Francis acknowledged on that occasion that many of us feel afraid of going to confession.
“It’s true that when we go to the confessional,” the pontiff said, “we feel a bit of embarrassment, and that happens to everyone, to all of us, but we have to recall that this shame is also a grace that prepares us for the embrace of the Father, who always forgives and always forgives everything.”
Pope Francis is constantly calling us to take advantage of the healing and freedom we find in this sacrament. Here are some of his most forceful messages:
Do not be afraid of Confession! When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free, grand, beautiful, forgiven, candid, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! (February 19, 2014)
Dear friends, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation means being enfolded in a warm embrace: it is the embrace of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us recall that beautiful, beautiful parable of the son who left his home with the money of his inheritance. He wasted all the money and then, when he had nothing left, he decided to return home, not as a son but as a servant. His heart was filled with so much guilt and shame. The surprise came when he began to speak, to ask for forgiveness, his father did not let him speak, he embraced him, he kissed him, and he began to make merry. But I am telling you: each time we go to confession, God embraces us. God rejoices! (February 19, 2014)
Let us not forget this word: God never ever tires of forgiving us! “Well, Father what is the problem?”. Well, the problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. (March 17, 2013)