Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How penance can make for a more fruitful Year of Faith

by J.J. Ziegler
On July 1, 1962, news of a joint U.S.-Mexican statement against totalitarianism topped the nation’s headlines. “The Music Man” was playing in theaters, and Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was America’s most popular song.  

And Blessed John XXIII issued Paenitentiam Agere (“To Do Penance”), his seventh encyclical letter. 

“Doing penance for one’s sins is a first step toward obtaining forgiveness and winning eternal salvation,” the pope began. “That is the clear and explicit teaching of Christ, and no one can fail to see how justified and how right the Catholic Church has always been in constantly insisting on this. She is the spokesman for her divine Redeemer. No individual Christian can grow in perfection, nor can Christianity gain in vigor, except it be on the basis of penance.” 

Pope John issued the encyclical three months before the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which he hoped would “give all possible impetus to the spread of Christianity,” lead to a “renewal of Christian life” and “refurbishing of Christian morality,” and inspire souls “to truth and virtue, to the worship of God both in private and in public, to a disciplined life and to missionary zeal.” 

When Jesus began his public ministry, the pope noted, “He did not begin by revealing the principal truths of the faith. First, he insisted that the soul must repent of every trace of sin that could render it impervious to the message of eternal salvation.” Similarly, the pope believed Catholics needed to do penance and pray in the months preceding the council in order for it to bear fruit. 

“We were made aware that the success of the Council depended upon the participation of all Catholics, at least in their prayers, penances and sacrifices,” recalled Bishop Thomas Doran, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 and led the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., from 1994 until March 2012. 

“Prayers for the success of the council were greatly encouraged, and I think people took that request seriously,” added Bishop William Skylstad, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who was ordained in 1960 and served as bishop of Spokane, Wash., from 1990 to 2010. 
Read the remainder of the article from OSV Newsweekly.

No comments:

Post a Comment