The following comes from a Mar. 24 story on the Vatican Insider, a feature of the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Priests should sit and wait patiently for faithful in the confessional at times that are convenient for penitents. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza said this afternoon during the inauguration of the course on the inner conscience, the private inner space of each individual. The week-long course has become something of a tradition. It will be taking place in the Chancery office and attended by about five hundred priests and seminarians who are approaching ordination. The meeting will conclude Friday with an Audience with Francis. In the afternoon there will be a penitential liturgy in the St. Peter’s Basilica, when the Pope will confess some of those present, inaugurating the “feast of forgiveness”, during which churches will stay open 24/7 for confessions.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation “is possibly the most concrete and real way to renew one’s personal meeting with Jesus Christ,” Piacenza said.  Although it is true that the celebration of this sacrament often comes after a long and trying inner journey and is a destination one reaches after a previous personal Church-mediated encounter with the Lord, there are cases of radical conversions taking place during the very celebration of the sacrament. During this time, a supernatural grace acts through the confessor, working on the penitent’s conscience and can lead to brief instants of unimaginable spiritual highs.”

“When we deal with the inner conscience, what we’re dealing with is God!,” the cardinal said. “The conscience is a shrine where God always speaks to all humans in accordance with creation and to Christians in accordance with creation and redemption… Accompanying a brother in the process of discerning his or her personal way of acting and receiving everything that emerges from the inner conscience, means entering into sacred territory with this person and one needs to be extremely careful when doing so. It’s like walking on silk….”

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