Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Meditations On The Mercy And Pardon Of Christ

by Congregation for the Clergy


This is a collection of meditations on the mercy and pardon of Christ.

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano


6 - 7

Publisher & Date

Vatican, 5 September 2001

The Mercy Of Christ

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you'. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you'. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; If you retain the sins of any, they are retained'" (Jn 20,19-23).

From Francois Mauriac's comment in his La Vie de Jesus, "For the first time Jesus entered the room where the disciples had gathered out of fear of the Jews. He had shown them his wounds, he had flooded them with his peace and joy, and had communicated to them that power to forgive sins. (The certainty of being forgiven through the priest! Over our foreheads the words of absolution that permeate our hearts and our flesh, like the water and blood that poured from the wound in Jesus' side opened by the spear)".

"For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; / he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, / and no beauty that we should desire him. / He was despised and rejected by men; / a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, / and as one from whom men hide their faces / he was despised, and we esteemed him not. / Surely he has borne our griefs / and carried our sorrows; / yet we esteemed him stricken, / smitten by God, and afflicted. / But he was wounded for our transgressions, / he was bruised for our iniquities; / upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, / and with his stripes we are healed" (Is 53, 2-5).

From John Paul's homily for the canonization of Sr Faustina Kowalska, (30 April 2000): "Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified: Tell [all people], my daughter, that I am Love and Mercy itself, Jesus was to ask Sr Faustina (Diary, Notebook III, n. 1074). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love's 'second name' (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?".

St Leopold Mandic said: "Oh how weak is human nature! It was so grievously wounded by original sin. How great is our need for the infinite mercy of God our Master! . . .God's mercy is far above any expectation . . . I want to show great mercy and kindness to the souls of sinners . . . Were the Lord to chastise me for excessive generosity, I could say to him: Blessed Master, it is you who set me this bad example, by dying for souls on the Cross, moved by your divine charity!".

Trust In Divine Mercy

"But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph 2, 4-9).

From St John Chrysostom's Homily on Matthew: "For in many cases [the Lord] made a point of healing on entreaty, lest any should suppose him to be rushing upon these miracles through vainglory: and not on this account alone, but to indicate also that they deserve healing, and that no one should say, 'If it was of mere mercy that he saved, all men ought to be saved'. For even his love to man has a kind of proportion; depending on the faith of them that are healed" (Homily XXXII, Mt 9, 27-30).

"Give thanks to the Lord for he is Good, / his steadfast love endures forever! / Let Israel say, / 'His steadfast love endures forever'. / Let the house of Aaron say, / 'His steadfast love endures forever'. / Let those who fear the Lord say, 'his steadfast love endures forever' . . . / It is better to take refuge in the Lord / than to put confidence in man. / It is better to take refuge in the Lord / than to put confidence in princes . . . / The Lord is my strength and my song; / he has become my salvation" (Ps 118 [117], 1-4.8-9.14).

St Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary: "Tell [all people], My daughter, that I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls. Souls who spread the honour of my mercy I shield through their entire lives as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Saviour. At that last hour, a soul has nothing with which to defend itself except my mercy. Happy is the soul that during its lifetime immersed itself in the Fountain of Mercy, because justice will have no hold on it.

Write this: Everything that exists is enclosed in the bowels of my mercy, more deeply than an infant in its mother's womb. How painfully distrust of my goodness wounds me! Sins of distrust wound me most painfully" (Diary, Notebook III, nn. 1074-1076).

From John Paul II's homily for the canonization of Sr Faustina Kowalska on 30 April 2000: "This consoling message is addressed above all to those who, afflicted by a particularly harsh trial or crushed by the weight of the sins they committed, have lost all confidence in life and are tempted to give in to despair. To them the gentle face of Christ is offered; those rays from his heart touch them and shine upon them, warm them, show them the way and fill them with hope. How many souls have been consoled by the prayer 'Jesus, I trust in you', which Providence intimated through Sr Faustina! This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life".

From Christ the Life of the Soul by Dom Columba Marmion: "Never forget that each time we receive this sacrament worthily and with devotion, even if there were only venial faults to be confessed, the Blood of Christ is poured abundantly on our souls to revive them generously in the struggle against attachment to sin, and to destroy in them the roots and effects of sin. The soul finds in this sacrament special grace to uproot its vices and purify itself more and more, so that the life of grace may be recovered or increased in it.

Before confession, let us then always arouse our faith in the infinite value of the expiation of Jesus Christ . . . I have said that when he journeyed through Palestine and one came to him to be delivered from the devil, Christ Jesus required faith in his Divinity; it was only to faith he granted the healing of diseases or the remission of sins: 'Go, your sins are forgiven, your faith has made you whole'. It is faith that must, before all, accompany us to this tribunal of mercy: faith in the sacramental character of all our acts; faith, especially, in the superabundance of the satisfaction made by Jesus to his Father for us" (Christ the Life of the Soul, 2.4.2).

The Pouring Out Of Divine Mercy

"Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, 'and said, 'Peace be with you'. Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing". Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'. Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe'" (Jn 20,26-29).

From St Albert the Great's commentary on John (Super Ioannem): "To give his work virtue, he shows spiritually the hands that had the virtue of working; then he shows his side, in which his heart is hidden, to offer contemplation of the truth. He shows the hands he worked with when he was alive, the feet with which he walked, leading us to salvation, and the side from which, in dying, he caused the sacraments of expiation and redemption to flow. And therefore his side, his heart, was pierced by the spear, to make us understand that we must not turn away from his heart".

"O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, / for his steadfast love endures forever. / O give thanks to the God of gods, / for his steadfast love endures forever; / O give thanks to the Lord of lords, / for his steadfast love endures forever; / to him who alone does great wonders, / for his steadfast love endures forever. / It is he who remembered us in our low estate, / for his steadfast love endures forever; / and rescued us from our toes, / for his steadfast love endures forever; / he who gives good to all flesh, / for his steadfast love endures forever. / O give thanks to the God of heaven, / for his steadfast love endures forever". (Ps 136 [135], 1-4.23-26).

From Christ the Life of the Soul by Dom Columba Marmion: "You know that magnificent collect that the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, places on our lips in the Mass for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost: 'O God who manifested your omnipotence above all by sparing and by showing mercy, multiply your mercy upon us' (now for the 26th Sunday): Our God, to whom it alone belongs always to have mercy and to spare, favourably receive our prayer, that we and all your servants, who are bound by the chain of sins, may, by the compassion of your goodness, mercifully be absolved.

That is a revelation God gives us by the mouth of the Church. It is in forgiving us, parcendo, in having pity, miserando, that God shows above all, maxime, his power" (Christ the Life of the Soul, 2, 4, 1).

Divine Mercy Makes Men Brothers

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Col 3, 12-17).

From Dives in misericordia: "In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and risen, in the spirit of his messianic mission, enduring in the history of humanity, we raise our voices and pray that the Love which is in the Father may once again be revealed at this stage of history, and that through the work of the Son and the Holy Spirit, it may be shown to be present in our modern world and to be more powerful than evil: more powerful than sin and death. We pray for this through the intercession of her who does not cease to proclaim 'mercy . . . from generation to generation', and also through the intercession of those for whom there have been completely fulfilled the words of the Sermon on the Mount: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy'" (n. 15).

"Be merciful, even as your Father Is merciful. 'Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put Into your lap. For the measure you give, will be the measure you get back'" (Lk 6, 36-38).

Frequent Sacramental Confession

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who Is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4, 14-16).

From Presbyterorum ordinis: "The ministers of sacramental grace are intimately united to Christ the Saviour and Pastor through the fruitful reception of Penance. If it is prepared for by a daily examination of conscience, it is a powerful incentive to the essential conversion of heart to the love of the Father of mercies" (n. 18).

From Pius XII's Mystici corporis on the "pious practice of frequent" confession, "by it, genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased . . . " (n. 88).

Bl. Padre Pio said: "May hope in God's mercy sustain us in the tumult of passions and contradictions. Let us have trusting recourse to the sacrament of Penance, where the Lord always waits for us with infinite tenderness. And once our sins have been forgiven, let us forget them, because the Lord has already done so before us".

The saintly Cure d'Ars says: "When we go to Confession, we must understand what we are about to do. We might say that we are going to take our Lord down from the Cross.

When you make a good confession you enchain the devil.

Our sins are but a grain of sand compared with the massive mountain of God's mercies".

St Teresa of Avila said: "I went often to confession and felt a longing for it".

From a homily by St John Chrysostom: "Do you not see how overwhelming the truth is? . . . That act of piercing Jesus' side not only served to fulfill the prophecies, but later also served to prove to St Thomas and to other unbelievers that the Crucifixion and the Resurrection actually occurred. Besides, though that event an ineffable mystery was fulfilled, for straight away blood and water gushed out. Not without reason, nor by pure chance did these sources flow: indeed, the Church was formed by both . . . pondering on the treasure they contain, the Apostle gives a special account of them which foretells the future sacraments".

About Confession


From The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection by St Alphonsus Liguori: "Oh! Please God let preachers be more careful in suggesting to those who hear them that great instrument, prayer! Some preachers will barely mention it once or twice, in all of Lent; whereas they should speak of it deliberately and often, and in virtually all their preaching; they will have much to account for to God should they neglect to do so. Consequently, too many confessors are just waiting for penitents to show their determination no longer to offend God; they do not take the trouble even to suggest that they pray, for the next time when they are tempted to transgress; but we must be convinced that when temptations are strong, if the penitent does not ask for God's assistance in order to resist, all his resolutions will be in vain and prayer alone can save him. It is certain that those who pray are saved and that those who do not pray are condemned".

Examination Of Conscience

From the Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales: "Do not be content with certain superficial accusations made out of habit, such as saying: I have not loved God as I should, I have not prayed God with due devotion, I have not loved my neighbour, I have not received the sacraments with the proper reverence . . . Think rather, of your special reason for making these accusations, and once you have identified it, accuse yourself for it simply and honestly".

From John Paul II's Homily during the Liturgy of the Word at the General Audience of 14 March 1984: "Perhaps it is necessary to insist that to recognize one's own faults does not mean merely to recall events as bare facts, letting them come back to memory as simple acts of behaviour, as deeds unrelated as it were to liberty, and indeed in some way removed from conscience. The recognition of one's own faults implies rather the bringing to light of the deliberateness, which lies behind and within the individual acts, which we have performed.

This requires the courage to admit one's own liberty, which has been directed to evil. This obliges us to face up to the moral demands which God has inscribed in the depths of our being as imperatives which lead to perfection, when he created us 'in his image and likeness' (cf. Gn 1,26) and 'predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son' (cf. Rom 8,29). This requires us, in particular, to 'come to ourselves' (cf. Lk 15,17) to let the facts speak for themselves: our evil choices do not pass alongside us; they do not exist before us: they do not pass through us as though they were events, which do not involve us. Our evil choices, inasmuch as they are evil, arise within us, solely from us" (n. 2).

" . . . Only in the divine light, which is revealed in the Church can we clearly detect our faults. Only in the presence of the Lord Jesus who offers his life 'for us and for our salvation' shall we succeed in confessing our sins. We shall succeed also because we know that they are already pardoned, if we open ourselves to his mercy. We can let our heart 'rebuke us', because we are certain that 'God is greater than our hearts' (I Jn 3,20). And for every sin, he offers us his benevolence and his grace" (n. 3).

Then the desire for amendment is also born within us. Pascal was to say: "Did you know your sins, you would lose heart . . . by dint of making amends for them, you will know them, and will hear it said: 'Lo, your sins are forgiven'" (Pensees, The Apology, 544, 545; Adversaria, 5).

St Leopold Mandic: "As for us, we must not make a show of culture in confession, and we must not speak of things which are beyond a person's grasp: otherwise, by being rash we ruin what the Lord is doing in them. It is God who works in souls: we must disappear and limit ourselves to assisting his divine intervention in the mysterious ways of their salvation and sanctification".

Spiritual Direction

From John Paul II's catechesis at the General Audience of 11 April 1984: "Certainly, 'spiritual direction' (or 'spiritual counsel' or 'spiritual dialogue' as some prefer to express it at times) can be carried out even outside the context of the Sacrament of Penance and even by someone who is not endowed with Holy Orders. However, it cannot be denied that this function — insufficient, if it is done only within a group, without a personal relationship — is in fact frequently and happily linked to the sacrament of Reconciliation and is done by a 'teacher' of life (cf. Eph 4,11), by a 'spiritualis senior' (spiritual elder) (Rule of St Benedict, chap. 4, 50-51), by a 'doctor' (cf. Summa Theologica, Supplementum, q. 18), by a 'guide in the things of God' (ibid., q. 36, a.1) who is made suitable for 'special duties in the Church' by a 'singular gift of grace' (ibid., q. 35, a.1). In this way, the penitent overcomes the danger of arbitrariness and is helped to know and to decide his vocation in the light of God".

From the Apostolic Letter of John Paul II for the International Youth Year, 31 March 1985: "It is also necessary, — and always in relationship with the Eucharist — to reflect on the sacrament of Penance, which is of irreplaceable importance for the formation of the Christian personality, especially if it is linked with spiritual direction, which is a systematic school of the interior life" (n. 9).

The Sacramental Confessions Of Children

On 15 April 1983, Pope John Paul II said to the Bishops of the United States on an ad limina visit: "I would ask you once again for your zealous pastoral and collegial solicitude to help ensure that these norms, as well as the norms regulating the First Confession of children, are understood and properly applied. The treasures of Christ's love in the sacrament of Penance are so great that children too must be initiated into them. The patient effort of parents, teachers and priests needed to prepare children for this sacrament are of great value for the whole Church" (n. 5).

Prayer For The Sanctification Of Priests

O God our Father, rich in mercy, who in the Blood and Water which flowed from the Heart of Christ, your Son and our Lord, poured out your infinite love upon all humanity, we beg you to grant that we may respond faithfully to your goodness which has made us ministers of reconciliation among our brothers and sisters.

Let us pray together saying: Pour out your mercy upon us, O Lord!

1. For all priests scattered throughout the world, that they may rediscover their priestly vocation as a "mystery of mercy" and, drawing plentifully from the sacramental source of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, may become channels of mercy for the world, let us pray:

2. For the new evangelization, at the dawn of this millennium, that in every priest the Lord may inspire a deep desire for holiness in his own specific state to live the primacy of holiness and to act in the world as a contemplative of his merciful love, let us pray:

3. For priests who are ill or in any kind of difficulty, that our prayer may reach them all and give them true spiritual consolation, that it may strengthen their certainty of the Lord's love for them, which is also manifest in the sign of his Cross, let us pray:

4. For those called to the priesthood, that their choice may be motivated solely by the desire to glorify God and to serve him in their brethren, communicating to them the gifts of the divine mercy of the Lord who came to find those who were lost and to restore to life those who lived no longer, let us pray:

5. For the unity of priests, among themselves and with their bishops, so that Christ's true charity may reign among them, to form one body and one spirit, united with the Pope in effective communion and thus setting an example to the world that can conquer it for the saving mission of Jesus, let us pray:

6. For priests who are in difficulty, so that, through prayer, they may accept enlightenment from the Lord in order to rediscover the joy of their identity as men in the world but not of the world, consecrated in the truth and witnesses of the Cross and the Resurrection, let us pray:

7. That all of us gathered here may taste the Lord's goodness today and forever and, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may find ourselves loved and pardoned in Christ by God the Father, let us pray:

8. That all priests who have passed on to eternity may live joyfully the splendour of the heavenly liturgy in the blessed vision of peace, let us pray:

O God, Our Father, who reveal your omnipotence to us in the superabundance of your mercy, poured forth into the world as it flows from the holy wounds of your Son the Redeemer, grant we beseech you, that your ministers become a transparent reflection of your mercy, so that with their words and their life they may illumine humanity, bewildered by sin, and bring it back to you, who are Love.

We ask you this through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer To B.V.M.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ / and Mother of priests, / accept this title which we bestow on you / to celebrate your motherhood / and to contemplate with you / the Priesthood / of your Son and of your sons, / O Holy Mother of God. / O Mother of Christ, / to the Messiah-Priest you gave a body of flesh / for the anointing of the Holy Spirit / for the salvation of the poor and the contrite of heart; / guard priests in your heart and in the Church, / O Mother of the Saviour. / O Mother of Faith, / you accompanied to the Temple the Son of Man, / the fulfilment of the promises given to the fathers; / give to the Father for his glory / the priests of your Son, / O Ark of the Covenant. / O Mother of the Church, / in the midst of the disciples in the Upper Room / you prayed to the Spirit / for the new People and their Shepherds; / obtain for the order of presbyters / a full measure of gifts, / O Queen of the Apostles. / O Mother of Jesus Christ, / you were with him / at the beginning of his life and mission, / you sought the Master among the crowd, / you stood beside him / when he was lifted up from the earth / consumed as the one eternal sacrifice / and you had John, your son, near at hand; / accept from the beginning / those who have been called, / protect their growth, / in their life ministry accompany your sons, / O Mother of Priests. / Amen. (John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis, n. 82).

As we think of the sacrifice of the Body and Blood, which we offer in persona Christi, we find it difficult not to recognize therein the presence of the Mother. Mary gave life to the Son of God so that he might offer himself, even as our mothers gave us life, that we too, through the priestly ministry, might offer ourselves in sacrifice together with him . . . " [Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 1995, n. 3).

"If the priesthood is by its nature ministerial, we must live it in union with the Mother who is the Handmaid of the Lord. Then our priesthood will be kept safe in her hands, indeed in her heart, and we shall be able to open it to everyone. In this way our priesthood, in all its dimensions, will be fruitful and salvific" (ibid., n. 8).

Litany Of Divine Mercy

Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy / Christ, have mercy, Christ, have mercy / Lord, have mercy, Lord have mercy / Divine Mercy, greatest attribute of God, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, incomprehensible mystery, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, fount rushing forth from the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, unfathomed by any intellect, human or angelic, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, from which wells forth all life and happiness, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, more sublime than the heavens, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, source of miracles and wonders, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, encompassing the whole universe, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, descending to earth in the person of the incarnate Word, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, which flowed out from the open wound of the Heart of Jesus, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, enclosed in the Heart of Jesus for us, and especially for sinners, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, unfathomed in the institution of the Sacred Host, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy in the founding of Holy Church, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, in our justification through Jesus Christ, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, accompanying us through our whole life, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, embracing us especially at the hour of death, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, endowing us with immortal life, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, endowing us with immortal life, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, accompanying us every moment of our life, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, shielding us from the fire of hell, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, in the conversion of hardened sinners, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, astonishment for Angels, incomprehensible to Saints, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, unfathomed in all the mysteries of God, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, lifting us out of every misery, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, source of our happiness and joy, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, in calling us forth from nothingness to existence, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, embracing all the works of his hands, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, crown of all of God's handiwork, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, in which we are all immersed, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, sweet relief for anguished hearts, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, only hope of despairing souls, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, repose of hearts, peace amidst fear, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, delight and ecstasy of holy souls, I trust in you. / Divine Mercy, inspiring hope against all hope, I trust in you.

Let Us Pray:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen (St Faustina Kowalska, "Litany in praise of Divine Mercy" in Diary, Notebook II, 949-950).

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