Thursday, October 20, 2005

Divine forgiveness is theme of papal audience

Vatican, Oct. 19 ( - Christians should see God not an as implacable sovereign but as a loving father, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) said at his weekly public audience on October 19.

Speaking to about 40,000 people, as yet another large crowd gathered in St. Peter's square for the Wednesday audience, the Holy Father offered a meditation on Psalm 129, noting that it is "one of the best-known and most loved psalms of the Christian tradition."

This psalm, with its familiar phrase "out of the depths I cry to thee," illustrates the sinner's comprehension of his own iniquity, the Pope said. (Breaking from his prepared text, and looking up at the gray overcast skies above Rome, he commented that the weather seemed to be appropriate for penitential devotions.) But no matter how low a sinner might sink, God is prepared to welcome him back, the Pope continued.

In Psalm 129, the Pope said, the sinner recognizes God's immense mercy, as "the supplication of De Profundis, from the dark abyss of sin, reaches up to God's luminous horizon." It is God's mercy, rather than the fear of punishment, that should rouse awe in the believer, he said.

Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by citing the words of St. Ambrose: "Never lose hope in divine forgiveness, however great your sin."


thirsty scribe said...

Beautiful words from our Holy Father on Psalm 129. Incidentally, some Bibles have this as Psalm 130.

When St. Augustine of Hippo reflected on this Psalm, he saw those first lines as something Jonah might say while inside the whale. About this prayer "from the deep," he writes:

"It penetrated all things, it burst through all things, it reached the ears of God: if indeed we ought to say that, bursting through all things, it reached the ears of God, since the ears of God were in the heart of him who prayed. For where hath not he God present, whose voice is faithful? Nevertheless, we also ought to understand from what deep we cry unto the Lord. For this mortal life is our deep. Whoever hath understood himself to be in the deep, crieth out, groaneth, sigheth, until he be delivered from the deep, and come unto Him who sitteth above all the deeps . . . . For they are very deep in the deep, who do not even cry from the deep."

There is a lot in there. Augustine never fails to surprise me. He truly understood what it means to be a human being, and a Christian. I guess that is why he was uniquely situationed to comment on the Psalms.

Catholic Fire said...

This is beautiful! I read St. Augustine's Confessions when I was a teenager and he is close to my heart.