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December 10, 1998
SECTION ONE vol 9, no. 239
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO
Clearing up the misconceptions on Indulgences in light of the Holy Father's most recent Papal Bull Incarnationis Mysterium
Today we begin a segment on Indulgences, both Plenary and Partial in conjunction with the Holy Father's most recent Papal Bull Incarnationis Mysterium for the Pope says in the bull, "Another distinctive sign, and one familiar to the faithful, is the indulgence, which is one of the constitutive elements of the Jubilee. The indulgence discloses the fulness of the Father's mercy, who offers everyone His love, expressed primarily in the forgiveness of sins." Today we delve into what an indulgence is and who can attain them and what the penitent gains. We also trace the origin of indulgences and the Divine authority passed down to the Apostles and what the abuses against indulgences are called. For the Eighty-seventh installment of this on-going megaseries, click on WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM?.
The Thirty-Ninth Clarion:
"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.
"Now I solemnly tell you that I have come and I announce to you the Advent of His Coming again, when satan shall be crushed and His Sacred Heart will reign in all hearts - bringing one flock, one fold."
Those words from the Blessed Mother Mary in message #310 and followed up with message #311 on the eve of her Feast of the Annunciation in March 1993 indicate the importance of all she imparts to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart. Our Lady warns us of satan's wiles which throw her children into a state of confusion and division, only playing into the evil one's hands and further thwart her Divine Son Jesus master plan. That is why He has sent Mary to announce to all the great dangers inherent in not heeding the Divine Will and to be the clarion for the Second Coming of her Divine Son, but only after she has crushed the serpent beneath her heel. Then, and only then, will there be one flock again. She calls on all her faithful ones to remain united so that we can reap the Divine dividends. For messages 310 and 311, click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."
Messages Three Hundred-ten and Three Hundred-eleven
Message Three Hundred-ten, March 22, 1993
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
Beloved Hidden Flower, I bless you. I say to all of my children be on your guard. Satan and all his demons seek to destroy the Truth. Satan is clever. He, the father of all lies, of half-truths has sent all demons of confusion, chaos and division among all men. Everywhere false accusations rain down upon the innocent. The prince of darkness has closed the hearts of many gathered beneath my Immaculate Mantle, thus closing them to the truth. In many places the True Words of God given to my chosen ones are being set side-by-side with the words of the evil spirit, who mocks God and whispers half-truths.
If you are to persevere make no judgment based upon your finite reasoning. Rather, come to the Font of All Wisdom, the Holy Spirit and beg the grace of discernment and enlightenment. The Holy Spirit is Truth and you will not be deceived.
The Feast of my Annunciation is coming. Reflect upon this sublime mystery when Love became Incarnate in my Virginal womb that through me, a mere creature, He might come to His people.
Now I solemnly tell you that I have come and I announce to you the Advent of His Coming again, when satan shall be crushed and His Sacred Heart will reign in all hearts - bringing one flock, one fold.
There will be great purging of all the earth. Therefore, pray and be consecrated to my Divine Son through my Immaculate Heart. Here is your refuge and all you shall need shall be given unto you.
Pray, watch and wait. The moment is at hand. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Message Three Hundred-eleven, March 24, 1993
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart)
(Eve of the Feast of the Annunciation)
Beloved Hidden Flower, I love and bless you. I thank you for your willingness to unite all to my Divine Son's Passion.
On this the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation I ask all of my children
to humbly kneel before God and to surrender themselves to Him, Who is All. I ask each one of my little ones to renew their consecration to my Divine Son through my Immaculate Heart.
Dear children, from my apparition at LaSalette, at Fatima, at Medjugorje and countless other apparitions I have announced to the world both God's Justice and the plans of the evil one.
You have heard my words, but you have not truly understood my warnings. O! As you kneel with me, your Heavenly Mother, will you not give to God your fiat as I continually gave mine throughout time and now in eternity?
O, little children, how swiftly the world heads for the abyss. So few of my little ones desire to be saved and work to be one with the Divine Will. To them has been given great understanding, Divine Wisdom, and my Son's Peace.
If you would have these graces you must surrender self daily and come and kneel with me as I gave God my 'YES'. In this way you shall have the strength to bear your cross unto Calvary. There shall you endure all in union with my Divine Son.
Therefore, I announce to all the world the fulfillment of all my words, the fulfillment of Sacred Scripture.
Pray, pray, pray! Thank you for responding to my Call!
LITURGY OF THE DAY
Today is the Second Thursday of Advent as well as tomorrow being the Second Friday of Advent along with the Feast of Pope Saint Damasus I. For today and tomorrow's liturgies, meditations, and story of Pope St. Damasus, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY.
Thursday, December 10, 1998
First Reading: Isaiah 41: 13-20
Psalms: Psalm 145: 1, 8-13
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11: 11-15
Friday, December 10, 1998
Friday December 11:
Second Friday of Advent and
Feast of Pope Saint Damasus I
Violet and White vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 48: 17-19
Psalms: Psalm 1: 1-4, 6 and John 8: 12
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11: 16-19
December 10: Feast of Pope Saint Damasus I
Though born in Rome around 304, Saint Damasus I was of Spanish descent by his mother Laurentia. His father Lorenzowas a priest, this being before celibacy was the mandate. Under his tutelage he became a deacon. On October 1, 366 he was elected the 37th Pope; however he faced a violent resistance from those who supported the antipope Ursinus. He retaliated by storming the Julian Basilica and massacring the Ursinian followers. The violence of Rome was not reserved only for the Roman Emperor who was Valentinian at that time. He waged a constant witch-hunt against the Christians and when the Ursinians counterattacked Damasus and his followers, the Pope asked for the Roman Prefect's assistance in stemming an inevitable slaughter. Valentinian intervened, the first in Church history when the Church asked for help from the state in a fight with an adversary, and exiled Ursinus. The latter's followers plotted on how to discredit Damasus, accusing him of adultery. Again, because Damasus had gained favor with the Roman court, he was acquitted of the accusation. Though he was ruthless against those who threatened the Church, he held the torch of truth high proclaiming the true doctrines against the heresies of Arianism, Donatism, Novatianism, Macedonianism, Priscillianism, and Apollinariansim. It was Damasus who first used the term "Apostolic See" in referring to Rome and its primacy, of which evolved the phrase:"Where Peter is, there is the Church." Because he was so rigid and faithful to this Roman primacy, he did not gain favor with the Eastern Church where Saint Basil the Great was striving to keep things afloat. Rather than acquiesce to detente between the East and the West, Damasus clung stubbornly to the primacy of Rome, thus paving the way for the eventual permanent split of the Churches six centuries later. Damasus' greatest claim to fame was, as a Biblical Scholar, the chance to publish the canons of Holy Scripture which specified the authentic books of the Bible the Council had decreed in Rome in 374. He befriended and took as his protege Saint Jerome who he made his personal secretary, commissioning him to translate the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin as the Vulgate Edition. It was another strong instance of him distancing Rome from the Greek Church. Though St. Basil and St. Damasus fought vehemently amongst themselves in favor of their sides and infringed on each other's territory, both became saints in Holy Mother Church. Some of Damasus' other accomplishments were restoring the catacombs, shrines and the tombs of the early martyrs as well as encouraging pilgrims to venerate these sites. Through his influence the Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Catholicism the state religion of pagan Rome in 379 as Constantine had promoted nearly 50 years earlier. Damasus died a peaceful death around the age of 80 in Rome on December 11, 384.
PRAYERS & DEVOTION
For the special Novena Prayer for this day during this time of preparation during Advent, click on ADVENT
ADVENT NOVENA PRAYER
O Triune Divinity, we come to you through the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin, and St. Joseph, her chaste, holy spouse. In this season of Advent we desire to obtain the grace of purity of intention, that through our obedience to Your Heavenly Will, we, too, can transform our poor, miserable lives into the resplendent stable at Bethlehem where You Only-begotten Son was born.
Through the intercession of Mary, and all the hosts of Heaven, we beseech You, through the merits gained for us by Jesus Christ, Your Only-begotten Son, to help us convert our hearts, to live the messages of Your Mother, and to ardently beseech You to bring about the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart now, that the Reign of the Sacred Heart might be upon the world.
Heavenly Father, we trust in Your goodness and beseech You to hear us, not because of our worthiness, but because of our willingness to be Your little children who kneel in adoration to their God. Come, let us adore Him!
PRAYER for December 10: Second Thursday of Advent
St. Joseph, you labored each day, trying to earn enough so that the necessary clothing and food might be available for your spouse Mary, and the Child soon to come. Help us, through your intercession, to understand that we must labor first for the Kingdom of God, and then in trust depend upon our Heavenly Father to care for us. We must put aside the worldly pleasures and inordinate spending which we are prone to at this time of year, in order to come more fully into the spiritual joy of this blessed season.
November 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message
Dear children! Today I call you to prepare yourselves for the coming of Jesus. In a special way, prepare your hearts. May holy Confession be the first act of conversion for you and then, dear children, decide for holiness. May your conversion and decision for holiness begin today and not tomorrow. Little children, I call you all to the way of salvation and I desire to show you the way to Heaven. That is why, little children, be mine and decide with me for holiness. Little children, accept prayer with seriousness and pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call.
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE
PROVERB OF THE DAY
"Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am cleansed of my sin?'"
Proverbs 20: 9
Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
December 10, 1998 volume 9, no. 239 DAILY CATHOLIC