DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY    December 10, 1998   vol. 9, no. 239


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          The Feature Article, begun in the inaugural issue two years ago, deals with the state of the Church. We continue probing the question that has perplexed the Magisterium and the laity for the past 30 years as the liberal element has left its mark, effecting changes that have seemingly watered down the "Roman Catholic" traditions. Yet, God in His Infinite Wisdom, has allowed this to happen for a specific purpose. He has been preparing us in a special way by sending His very Own Blessed Mother to guide us and remind us of our roots. Through perseverance, prayer and loyalty to Holy Mother Church headed by the Holy Father John Paul II and adhered to by the faithful who will not compromise, the pendulum is beginning to swing back toward the conservative side. In the eighty-seventh installment of this on-going feature series, we begin a segment on indulgences following up on the Holy Father's most recent Papal Bull Incarnationis Mysterium leading up to Christmas. It is vital to distinguish what the Pope means when he talks about indulgences and what they mean, and the fact they are not for sale but can only be gained if one fulfills all the requirements asked including, most of all, being free from mortal sin. The Church has always execised its right to grant indulgences to the faithful and it's important the faithful know what they are as we continue to alert the reader to what is happening and sound the call to arms, to enlist in Mary's army and take up the battle cry. God said it, we believe it, that settles it! Too many Catholics are going their own way with little regard to what their spiritual shepherd - the Vicar of Christ says. Sin is whitewashed. If we're not careful there will be a tremendous backwash and who among us wants to get caught in the vortex of that swirling whirlpool of Justice? This series is a set blueprint for Catholics everywhere to take up the banner of truth in defending Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as we prepare for this glorious event - the second coming of Christ and the Reign of the Sacred Heart, the New Pentecost, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the Second Advent.
Installment Eighty-seven

The Thirty-Ninth Clarion:

part one

"Whom you pardon anything, I also pardon. Indeed, what I have forgiven - if I have forgiven anything - I have done for your sakes, in the person of Christ."

2 Corinthians 2: 10
          Following up from our editorial last week on the Holy Father's most recent Papal Bull Incarnationis Mysterium, we feel it is vital to clear the air as to what Indulgences truly are for many secular and non-Catholic Christian news outlets have erroneously reported that the Pope is going to "sell indulgences in 1999 in preparation for Jubilee 2000." That is not only a very irresponsible remark, but a very, very dangerous and slanderous statement to make for selling indulgences is a sin of the highest degree called Simony. The etimology of the word can be found in Acts 8: 17-23 derived from an unscrupulous man named Simon Magus who saw Saint Peter laying on hands on the people and invoking the Holy Spirit and offered to buy the power of the Holy Spirit to which Peter soundly rebuked him, verifying that if one's heart is not right before God, they cannot obtain grace or indulgences. In short, they cannot be sold! There was a dark time in Church history when many bishops and a few Popes did sell indulgences, an embarassment to all faithful, but those culprits were dispelled and the Church has flourished. Since the late 1400's this has not been done. The precautions against simony are backed up in Canon Law with extremely stiff penalties. And believe us, Pope John Paul II is doing nothing of the kind when he is accused of "selling indulgences." Rather he is enforcing his authority as Sovereign Pontiff to dispense Plenary Indulgences. In fact, only the Pope can dispense these and they are dispensed, not sold. Also, an indulgence is not a licence to sin. In fact, a plenary indulgence cannot be attained if one is not in the state of sanctifying grace as Peter affirmed in Acts 8. This is another reason blessed things cannot be sold for more than their original value; in other words, they do not and cannot become more valuable just because they are blessed. This kind of sacrilege is the closest we have seen to simony and those unscrupulous vendors have, for the most part, been weeded out.

          After Vatican II, indulgences seemed to go the way of the Rosary, lost in the shuffle. But, thanks to the Holy Father, they are being brought back for they are good and worth attaining. The Church has build up a spiritual treasury of the infinite merits of Jesus Christ through His Passion and Death and the superabundant merits of His Blessed Mother Mary's Sorrowful Heart which bore the pain of seeing her Divine Son suffer so and be rebuked; along with the Church Triumphant who offered their penances and sufferings up while they were members of the Church Militant. Jesus left this spiritual treasury to be used by the Communion of Saints which includes the souls in Purgatory - the Church Suffering. Because of this, a penitent, who gains an indulgence, receives from the Church some of the dividends gathered in the spiritual treasury from the merits of the Two Hearts and the saints. This can be traced back to when Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16: 19, "Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth sahll be loosed in Heaven.". He later reiterated the same thing in the upper room to all the Apostles. Since Our Lord granted the Apostles the authority to forgive sins, thereby freeing man from hell, the syllogism follows that He also gave them the lesser authority to free sinners from the temporal punishment due to sin, and shorten or eliminate their time in Purgatory. Just as a governor can grant a pardon to a prisoner, so also the Pope can grant a pardon to sinners with a Plenary Indulgence just as the Bishops are allowed to grant Partial Indulgences. As we mentioned in our editorial, all indulgences are intended for past sins, not ones we might commit. Therefore, remaining in the state of grace is essential to achieve the maximum reward of the indulgences.

          God's Justice requires that an exact reparation be made for every sin we have committed; and there are few out there, we would assume, who have not sinned often. After all, we were born with Original Sin. While the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation remits most of our sins, the small penances we receive from our confessor are not sufficient to wipe away all of our sins. Therefore, God, through His Church has granted us another outlet to slowly-but-surely wipe away the rest of the past sins through indulgences. It is, in a sense, withdrawing from the great spiritual treasury so we can balance our account with God. For some that means a large withdrawal, for others several smaller ones, for others maybe a few as needed, and for others, maybe it means constantly visiting the spiritual ATM.

          Indulgences are nothing new. In fact, they have been in existence from the very beginning. Saint Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2: 10-11 on how his penance had been remitted for the sins he had committed against the Christians as Saul when he said, "Whom you pardon anything, I also pardon. Indeed, what I have forgiven - if I have forgiven anything - I have done for your sakes, in the person of Christ, that we may not be defeated by satan; for we are not unaware of his devices." But satan is truly aware of indulgences and, through his deception, has managed to keep these merits under wraps for nigh these past thirty years. But, thank God His Holiness has resurrected them as we near the third millennium and the evil one knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that his time is very, very short. That's one reason he has been so active during this last part of the 20th century for his 100 years he was granted by God are up and the eleventh hour beckons. Therefore, since misery likes company he will try to take with him into the everlasting abyss as many souls as he can. The Pope is hoping to foil those plans with his solid teaching and shepherding of souls. Though the shepherd can do everything possible, if the sheep do not respond, there's nothing else he can do but to pray. Now, in order to peak interest in indulgences and what a Jubilee year means and prompt a spiritual reawakening of the importance of the age, the Holy Father is granting Plenary Indulgences for various acts performed if in the state of grace. His action reminds all of that time in the Church when martyrs offered up their lives in reparation for the sins of others, and when confessors and saints incerceded on behalf of heretics, apostates and non-Christians and, by pleading to the bishops, these violators' time of penance was shortened. Thus an "indulgence" was granted to them by the recognized authorities of the Church from the wealth of spiritual dividends built up by those who interceded for them. In the middle ages penances were so harsh, few could fulfill them unless they possessed saintly qualities. Most did not and so the Church relaxed the sentences, making penances easier. Rather than imposing public penances, the penitent was allowed to make atonement for his sins through alms-giving, certain prayers, crusades, pilgrimages, visiting certain places, fasting, good acts or using specified sacred objects for the honor and glory of God, such as relics or blessed Rosaries, etc.

          The Holy Father is reinstituting "Jubilee indulgences" for 2000. This was first established by Pope Boniface VIII seven hundred years-ago when, because pilgrims could no longer feel safe traveling to Jerusalem, he allowed that anyone who visited St. Peter's Basilica in Rome for 15 successive days would receive the same plenary indulgence as if he were making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And that is another purpose of John Paul II's emphasis on jubilee indulgences, to make us cognisant of the merits of indulgences and help us become accustomed to performing these specified functions so that they become a part of our spiritual life, helping us reap dividends not only during our time here on earth, but also in Purgatory so that we can all achieve Heavenly glory sooner.

          In the next installment we shall explain the two kinds of indulgences we can gain - Plenary Indulgences and Partial Indulgences, their differences and benefits.

December 10, 1998       volume 9, no. 239


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