For the current Jubilee Year of Mercy which started on December 8th, Pope Francis is declaring the ability to gain a special plenary indulgence. What exactly does that mean?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”.
In layman terms, if you do certain things, you can gain special graces that will erase your sins and give you a kind of spiritual credit.
For this special year, the following things need can be done:
1. Make a trip to your local Holy Door (a physical portal in your local cathedral, shrine or other designated Church) or to one of the Holy Doors in Rome. In my diocese, there are 5 churches that have this special designation.
2. Go to confession.
3.Receive the Holy Eucharist in the spirit of obtaining mercy
4.Make a profession of faith.
5. Pray for the pope and for his intentions.
Also for this year of mercy, Pope Francis encourages us all to do acts of mercy in our everyday lives. These can be the corporal works of mercy which include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, drink for the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and those in jail and burying the dead.
There are also spiritual works of mercy which are to counsel the doubting, educating the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, comforting the afflicted, forgive others, bear wrongs with patience and pray for the living and the deceased.
This special time of mercy was declared because Pope Francis realizes that our world is in dire need of mercy. There are so many wrongs in our world including selfishness, violence, greediness and terrorism. Sins are rampant and we all need a way to be forgiven and to forgive others. Let us use this Jubilee Year to show mercy and obtain mercy.