A Plenary Indulgence is the remission of all temporal punishment due to our sins. Wow! That means the Church teaches that one who dies immediately after gaining a plenary indulgence goes right to Heaven. In other words, do not stop at Purgatory, do not collect $200. Go straight to Heaven! How can this be? We have the words of Jesus Christ in Luke 23: 42-43 where Our Lord forgave the good thief, granting him instant forgiveness of all his sins.
With that kind of assurance, you would think Catholics would be "piling up" all the Plenary Indulgences they can; but it doesn't work that way. In fact, only one Plenary Indulgence can be gained a day even if the prescribed work, prayer or visit is performed more than once a day. But all is not lost for we can gain a Partial Indulgence for these deeds, but more on that later. The usual conditions ordinarily prescribed for a Plenary Indulgence are: Confession, Holy Communion, a visit to a particular church or oratory, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope. Speaking of the Pope, he is the only one who can grant a Plenary Indulgence or indulgences for the universal Church such as Jubilee Indulgences. These usual conditions are in addition to the works prescribed for a particular indulgence. The first usual condition, Confession can be made within an eight day period following the day which the Indulgence was designated followed by, within a day, Holy Communion. More than one Plenary Indulgence can be gained within that same time frame as long as it adheres to one a day, thus seven to eight indulgences can be gained provided other requirements are also met. An exception is made here for Jubilee Indulgences, which the Holy Father is granting; for these individual Confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist are required each time a Plenary Indulgence is to be gained. In other words, one cannot "pile up" seven or eight at one time unless one goes to Confession and Communion daily. The second usual condition is visiting a particular church or oratory such as St. Peter's in Rome and the many churches and shrines the Pope is designating for such during the Jubilee year, some of which have been designated already in the Holy Father's recent Papal Bull and more to be released later. The third usual condition is prayers for the intention of the Holy Father. These usually refer to matters for the welfare of the Church and include exaltation of the Church, for erasing heresies, peace among nations - especially among Christian ones, for propagating the faith, and finally - for the conversion of sinners. Also, these prayers must be said vocally, they cannot be prayed "mentally." In addition, they must be accompanied by an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be. It sounds like these rules are fairly strict but they have to be set in stone as such in order for the penitent to gain the maximum merits of the Plenary Indulgence. Consider the fact that in the early Church, canonical penances were very severe. For a grave sin such as apostasy, a chastised penitent was to be punished for seven years, a time in which he was separated from the rest of the faithful. He would have to kneel at the entrance to the church asking those who entered for their prayers. Talk about a lesson in humility! He could only attend the Liturgy of the Word, having to leave before the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. He was also restricted from receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion. On assigned liturgical days, the penitent had to fast on bread and water. The only way a penance of this nature could be shortened was if the penitent was granted an indulgence through the intercession of others in the state of grace. So you can see we've got it pretty good today! But sincerity of heart and trust that we have fulfilled all the requirements are essential. No, we don't have someone human looking over our shoulder, but we know the Almighty is aware of everything in our heart and, after all, it's what God says that truly counts!
A Partial Indulgence is the remission of part of the temporal punishment due to our sins. Unlike a Plenary Indulgence this only partially remits sins, which means we might have to spend time in Purgatory - days, months, years, and for some, even centuries. It depends on the state of our soul and how many graces and merits we have built up here on earth. We have to understand also that only God can determine the amount of time one must spend in Purgatory for neither the Church nor man can determine this. Temporal means only the time built up on this earth. For example, take an indulgence of 300 days. This does not mean 300 days in Purgatory, but rather the maximum the Church can grant to one individual through the spiritual treasury built up. For Partial Indulgences, which can be granted by archbishops and bishops for their own respective archdioceses and dioceses, one must also be in the state of grace and be a baptized Catholic. One must have the intention of gaining the indulgence. In other words, one must be aware of the indulgence and want it. One must perform the works or requirements asked according to what the Church has designated, fulfilling all conditions and meeting the time frame requirements. Just as with Plenary Indulgences, prescribed prayers to gain a Partial Indulgence must be said vocally - aloud, not to oneself, if that is one of the requirements. For certain invocations or ejaculations, one can recite these mentally if it is permitted for gaining an indulgence.
Finally, it must be mentioned that priests with special faculties from the Holy Father, may attach indulgences to objects they bless such as rosaries, religious items, medals, etc. Everything the Pope blesses automatically have the apostolic indulgence attached to them. In the next installment we will talk about Indulgenced Prayers and Objects and how we can gain indulgences for others.
Catholics must remember that the Catholic New Year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. We must remember that Advent, the four weeks preceding the birth of Christ, is a season of penitential preparation for the coming of Christ. It parallels, in a way, the season of Lent in that all festivity is avoided. Traditionally during Advent, all vestments worn were of purple (except on Gaudete Sunday), and the "Gloria in excelsis" omitted from the Mass. At one time there existed the law of fasting and abstinence during the season. Later this was mitigated to consist only of the three "Ember Days" and Christmas Eve which were days of fasting. In short, the season is one in which the focus is on ourselves, and our special preparedness of soul for the coming of Christ. We are commanded to "love our neighbor as ourselves", and such a teaching implies that we must FIRST love ourselves insofar as our prime responsibility is our own soul and our standing before the Lord. The mind of the Church and her traditional spirit suggests that we still keep this season in some way according to that penitential spirit. Christmas really begins on Christmas Day, the 25th, and extends until the feast of the Purification on February 2nd. This is the time of celebration! Some countries have the laudable practice of giving presents to their children on January 6th, the Epiphany, pretending that such gifts were brought to them by the Three Kings during the night!
We may rightfully complain that the world is little by little taking Christ out of Christmas and turning it into a commercial season where we feel obligated to spend lots of money to buy gifts for so many people. There is no such obligation, strictly speaking. It is quite unfortunate that such has become the custom. Now Catholics have been so caught up into the practices of the world that they spend most of their Advent time worrying about finishing their Christmas shopping rather than what they are supposed to be concerned with!
That which helps to turn Christmas into a season of "humanistic cheer" is the statement we are bound to hear: "on earth peace, good will toward men". One may ask, "Doesn't this come from the Bible?". No, it is a mistranslation found in many unauthentic versions of the Bible. The authentic quote from the Gospel of St. Luke (2:14) says, "on earth peace to men of good will." The mistranslation suggests that peace comes to the earth by pleasing our fellow man. The Catholic, and authentic, quote clearly reveals that peace comes to those men who have a "good will". And what does this "good will" consist of; what must we do in order for us to gain peace for ourselves? St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians (6:7) - "With a good will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men". Thus our primary concern should be with pleasing the Lord, and not man. Let us try to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.
The time has come, dear children, for all who wish to persevere in the Truth to be gathered beneath my Mantle, which is the key to the Sacred Heart.
I solemnly tell you the time of fulfillment has come. If you tarry, you shall not be filled with the Holy Spirit. I solemnly tell you the Hour of Persecution begins now for all my faithful army.
Now must they remain firm and united. Now must only Love of my Divine Son and a pure, humble heart exist in you. I call you, my little army, to refuge! Let the Holy Spirit guide each of you. For, I, your Heavenly Mother shall not abandon you in these last days, though soon I shall no longer be among you as God has permitted for these many years.
Seek refuge as you are led. Be steadfast and loyal to one another. Support, comfort and console one another. Do not quarrel, gossip, or judge. The Holy Spirit will fill each of you with Divine Truth.
O! Honor, reverence and adore my Divine Son in the Blessed Sacrament. This is absolutely vital in this moment. He is your Light, the Truth, the Way and your True Food. Do not lose Him!
Thank you for responding to my Call!
Today, be with Me, your God. Recognize your nothingness. Perceive that I am All. Then rush into My outstretched arms and receive My Mercy and Forgiveness.
But do not forget that I am God, Who demands all homage and respect. Beware the tepid, lukewarm souls which abound. Trust Me. Love Me. Cling to Me. I am your Refuge. Stay with Me on Calvary to be My comfort, for I love you!
Death of Saint Begga who married Ansegilius,the son of Saint Arnulf. By the couple they had a son named Pepin who would be the founder of the Carolingian dynasty of rulers of France. She died in the church and convetn she had built at Andenne on the Meuse River.
Death of Saint Sturmi, monastery founder and religious who is known as the "Apostle of the Saxons." He was the first abbot appointed by Saint Boniface at Fulda. He became the first German to be a Benedictine priest and was befriended by Charlemagne the Great. He was canonized in 1139 by Pope Innocent II.
Death of Pope Gregory VIII, 173rd successor of Peter, at the age of 77. Born in Benevento, Italy around 1110, he was elected on October 25th and his papacy lasted less than two months. He was highly thought of by German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and would without doubt have succeeded in solving the grave disagreements between the Church and the Empire had his pontificate been longer. He assisted in every way the Christians in the Holy Land.
Death of Saint John de Matha, French hermit and founder of the Trinitarians, the Order of athe Most Holy Trinity which received papal approval in 1197 from Pope Innocent III. The Order was established to ransom Christian prisoners and hostages of the Saracens which John did, dispatching many of his missionaries to North Africa and throughout France, England, Spain and Italy.
Pope Clemens VII publishes his decree Cum ad zero which officially announces the formation of the Roman Inquisition in an attempt to stop the rebellion and heresies by those breaking away from the Church in droves in what would be called the Protestant Reformation.
Pope Paul III formally excommunicates King Henry VIII of England. Once hailed as "Defender of the Faith" he is now handed the bell, book and candle and he doesn't handle it well as the selfish, egotistical king seeks to usurp all Catholic property in England and make all clerics subject to him rather than the Pope.
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