Extraordinary gift of Indulgence. Many have heard that Pope Francis is making this Year of Mercy a time of reconciliation. Individuals who have been away from the Church (for whatever reason), have the opportunity to have the two meet in a spirit of harmony, settlement and reconciliation. This year allows priests and local authorities to have the ability to act for the good of the souls who find resolution “cutting through” preserved red tape and formalities.
The Year of Indulgence is kind of like the character played by Lucille Ball (if I remember correctly), who was filling out an employment application. When she came to the line marked “age” she hesitated for a long time. Finally, the personnel manager leaned across his desk and whispered to her, “The longer you wait, the worse it gets.” Before the opportunities run out…just do it!
Isn’t it strange and rather sad that most of us do not seriously consider a reform in life and turning our backs on our sins until our backs are against the wall? The alcoholic usually will not go to AA and take the first step toward change until his or her spouse has left them or is very close to it, or perhaps they have been fired or close to it. Some people will not stop going too far on financial statements until they think that this is the year they might have an IRS audit. I suppose this is because most of us are like water and like to seek the path of least resistance.
Sin is the great liar of life. It tells us it is easier to follow it as a path than righteousness (at least while we are sinning). Unfortunately, the sins we sow begin to reap consequences and draw us deeper and deeper into bondage until the choice is clear – either repent and change or die in one way or another. I always think of the two men who were adrift in an open boat and it looked bad for them. Finally, one of them, frightened, began to pray: “Oh Lord, I’ve broken most of the Commandments. I’ve got some pretty bad habits—I drink a lot, I curse most of the time, I steal things from work, I treat people like dirt. But if my life is spared now I promise you that I will change, that I will never again curse, that I will never again steal, that I…” Then, suddenly, his friend cried out to him: “Wait a second, Joe. Don’t go too far. I think I see another ship coming.”
This Year of Mercy also gives the faith the traditional opportunity for Plenary / Partial Indulgence for The Year of Mercy (December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016).
Those who make a pilgrimage to and pass through the Holy Door/Door of Mercy at…
- Peter’s Basilica in Rome or any of the other Papal Basilicas in Rome;
- Any Shrine or Jubilee Church in which the Door of Mercy is open; or
- The Holy door in every Cathedral or church designated by Bishop Swain.
(The designated pilgrim churches in the diocese will be given in a future bulletin.)
(When it comes to Plenary Indulgences – the requirements of confession, Communion, prayer for the Pope and freedom from all attachment to sin are required…more on this later as well.)