Plenary Indulgence

A Note from Father Tom

Dear fellow parishioners:

This past weekend the Gospel was of Jesus healing the man born blind. The story wraps Jesus healing physical and spiritual sight into a reflection on sin’s power to make us unable to see Jesus before us.

Serious health threats raise worries about one’s mortality, and in that, one’s hope for immortality. Jesus would not want it to blind us to any of our reasons for hopefulness and confidence He is with us!  Jesus left the Sacraments of the Church as powerful encounters with Him. Eucharist, Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick bring us as directly before Jesus the healer as was the Man Born Blind.

But what if those Sacraments are unavailable because COVID-19’s contagiousness means 2 weeks quarantine for the priest? The Lord who entrusted the Sacraments to the Church also entrusted her with the Keys of the Kingdom for applying Christ’s power over sin in other ways. The Plenary Indulgence published Friday by the Church for those dealing with COVID-19 is another of those ways.

When I want God’s forgiveness and worthily receive Reconciliation or Anointing of the Sick, I am assured of God’s forgiveness for my sins. The Plenary Indulgence is the Church’s statement that you can rely on a similar forgiveness and remission of what your passing through Purgatory would address when one dies. God’s mercy does this—as always—in partnership with our desire for it. 

We express that desire by having:

  • a spirit of detachment from any sin (like saying “I hate sin”); 
  • the intention to go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Pope’s intentions as soon as possible; (like soon after the Covid 19 emergency is past.)

and partner with God’s grace in one of the following ways:

  1. participate (even via the media) in the celebration of Holy Mass, or the Rosary, or the Way of the Cross, or if that isn’t possible, to recite the Creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
  2. make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or read Scripture for at least 30 minutes, or pray the Rosary, or make the Way of the Cross, or recite the Divine Mercy chaplet for the following intentions: an end to the pandemic, relief to those afflicted, and eternal salvation for those who have died.
  3. a plenary indulgence is granted to people at the moment of death, when they are unable to receive Anointing and Viaticum. The only conditions are that the person be properly disposed, have recited a few prayers during his/her lifetime, and at the moment of death to hold or look at a cross or crucifix, if possible.

The Church offers this consolation to those who rightly value the freedom from sin and peace that come from the Sacraments, but who cannot receive them as desired because of the Covid 19 emergency. God’s mercy takes that desire and intention to receive them when one can as all that is needed. All God ever asks is a drop of our participation with the ocean of God’s mercy to bring forgiveness.

Rest assured that in desiring to do one of the indulgenced actions above, you respond to God’s desire to forgive you. Rest assured that you are ready for heaven if God calls you home. 

Peace and Strength to you In Christ Jesus,
Fr. Tom, Fr. David & Fr. Paul