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[Our Lady Queen of Purgatory]

Our Lady Queen of Purgatory

Indulgences are a largely neglected treasure of the Church, but they are an amazing grace and should certainly be a part of our daily spiritual lives. Not only do they remit the punishment for our sins which will have to be paid in Purgatory, if we do not gain Indulgences on Earth; they can also keep us in communion with the Church Suffering in Purgatory. Imagine getting to Heaven and meeting a grateful soul for whom you gained a Plenary Indulgence!

 

What’s more, it’s not difficult to gain an Indulgence… you can get one just by making the Sign of the Cross! The question is not, “What can I do to get an Indulgence?” but rather, “Can I also get an Indulgence for the things I do?”. There are so many things in our daily lives enriched with Partial Indulgences! If only we would ask for them, we could release twice as much grace from our prayer & sufferings, for ourselves or for the souls in Purgatory who cannot help themselves. In this article, I hope to lay out some simple ways we can take advantage every day of these gold mines of grace and mercy.

All the information for this article I have taken from the Church’s official Enchiridion of Indulgences, issued on 29 June 1968, where you can find more details, more Scripture and more indulgences!

What is an Indulgence?

If you need an answer to this question, this article is not for you just yet! If the word still conjures up images of corruption and abuse, there are many good resources to help us sift myth from reality, which are just a ‘Google’ away (eg. Primer on Indulgences and Myths about Indulgences or Fr Martin J Scott’s explanation). But since they are part of the Church’s infallible teaching, I will assume that we are all fairly comfortable with what she really teaches. And if even then it presents a problem to us, it may be one of those things which we accept with obedience to the Church’s wisdom, and pray that we would come to understand in time.

“You were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.”
Psalm 99:8

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:18

Some “ground rules” for Indulgences…

From the “Normae de Indulgentiis”, which clarifies the details. The main ones are here, but you can view them all in the Enchiridion.

  • You can gain an indulgence for yourself, or for someone who has died; however they cannot be applied to another living person.
  • You cannot gain an indulgence by something you are obliged to do anyway, except if you are given a penance in Confession to which an indulgence is also attached – in which case, the one action can both satisfy the penance, and gain the indulgence.
  • Plenary Indulgences (a total remission of all punishment due to sin) are limited to one per day, but Partial Indulgences (a remission of some punishment) can be gained as many times as possible during the day.
  • An indulgence attached to a prayer can be gained by speaking it aloud, alternately with another, reading it mentally to yourself, or following while another is speaking it.

Partial Indulgences

A Partial Indulgence remits some of the punishments due to sin, depending both on the action and on the piety with which it is performed.

Dispositions necessary to obtain a partial indulgence…

  • Must have the intention of gaining the indulgence
    This is important. You can’t get an Indulgence ‘by accident’. However, the Enchiridion does suggest that if you have the intention to gain the Indulgence every time you do a certain action, and never retract that intention, this counts.
  • Must be a baptised Catholic
    Else the Church has no authority over you.
  • Must be in a state of grace
    So go to Confession & confess all your mortal sins in number and in kind!
  • Must have a truly contrite heart
    Be sorry for your sins.

Three “General” Grants of Indulgences…

Of these three very general aspects of the Christian life, the Enchiridion says that, ‘should anyone be so zealous and fervent as to make such acts frequently in the course of a day, he would justly merit — over and above a copious increase of grace — a fuller remission of the punishment due for sin and he would in his charity be able to come to the aid of the souls in Purgatory so much the more generously.’ Each of these is explained with many references from Scripture, and the Second Vatican Council, in the Enchiridion.

  1. ‘OFFERING IT UP’ – “A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who, in the performance of their duties and in bearing the trials of life, raise their mind with humble confidence to God, adding — even if only mentally — some pious invocation.”
  2. ACTS OF SERVICE – “A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who, in a spirit of faith and mercy, give of themselves or of their goods to serve their brothers in need”.
    The Enchiridion points out that, ‘not all works of charity are thus indulgenced, but only those which “serve their brothers in need”.’ Perhaps the Corporal & Spiritual Works of Mercy are a good guide.
  3. FASTING – “A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who in a spirit of penance, voluntarily deprive themselves of what is licit and pleasing to them.”
    We are encouraged to have authority over our passions by fasting, so to conform ourselves to Christ’s poverty. The Enchiridion also reminds us that self-denial is more precious when it is united to charity (eg. Donating  money saved).

Some more ways to gain a Partial Indulgence…

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and a little research will reveal many more ways to gain Indulgences. I have just selected a few which strike me as simple and achievable on a regular basis.

  • Make the Sign of the Cross, saying the words: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
  • Piously spend time in mental prayer.
  • Read Scripture.
    (Plenary if for more than half an hour.)
  • Pray the Rosary.
    (Plenary if recited in a Church. Plenary if recited in a group.)
  • Visit and adore the Blessed Sacrament.
    (Plenary if the visit lasts more than half an hour.)
  • Devoutly use an article of devotion – Crucifix or Cross, Rosary, Scapular or Medal – properly blessed by any priest.
  • Make a spiritual communion.
  • Learn or teach Christian Doctrine.
  • Visit a cemetery and pray for the dead.
    (applicable only to the souls in Purgatory; this becomes Plenary between 1 Nov – 8 Nov).

Prayers to which are attached a partial indulgence…

Including a link to each prayer. These are my list of common or short prayers. The full list of indulgenced prayers is here.

[St Teresa interceding for Souls in Purgatory]

St Teresa of Avila interceding for Souls in Purgatory

Plenary Indulgences

Plenary Indulgences remit all punishment due to sin. They are therefore a slightly more serious undertaking…

Additional conditions necessary to obtain a Plenary Indulgence…

  • Receive the Sacrament of Confession
    A single Sacrament of Confession suffices to gain several indulgences within a few days (remember, one per day!) 

  • Receive Holy Communion
  • Pray for the intentions of the Pope
    Our Father & Hail Mary are suggested as a minimum 

  • It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.
    Yep, your eyes are not deceiving you! But do not be discouraged; note that it’s attachment (love of) the sin that must be absent… we are not, of course, expected to be sinless!

If any of these three conditions is not fulfilled, the indulgence will be only partial. Holy Church recommends that these actions take place on the same day as the indulgence, but if this is not possible, they can be done within a few days before or after.

Ways to gain a Plenary Indulgence…

  • Visit and adore the Blessed Sacrament for at least half an hour.
  • Pray the Rosary in a Church or in a group.
  • Read Scripture for at least half an hour.
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross, before any “legitimately erected” stations.
    (ie, there must be fourteen crosses, to which it is customary to also present images of each station). There should be some physical movement from station to station, unless this is for some reason impeded. It is often helpful to use prescribed meditations & prayers, but all that is required is a personal meditation on each station.
  • Receive your First Communion, or assist at a First Communion ceremony.
  • VISIT a Church on the Feast Day of the saint to which it is dedicated, and there pray an Our Father and a Creed. (Or a religious order, on the Feast Day of their founder).
  • ON ALL SOULS’ DAY: Visit any Church, piously, and pray an Our Father and a Creed for the dead (applicable only to the souls in Purgatory).
  • 1st – 8th NOV: Visit a Cemetery and pray for the dead (applicable only to the souls in Purgatory).
  • ON GOOD FRIDAY: In the Liturgy, adore & venerate the Cross by kissing it.
  • AT THE EASTER VIGIL: Renew baptismal promises.

Conclusion

So how can we integrate all these opportunities for Indulgences into our lives? I would suggest a few steps…

  1. Read about and meditate upon how merciful God is, how horrible sin is, and Purgatory & the souls suffering there. Try to be mindful of this often forgotten part of the Church  (and remember, they can also pray for you, if you ask them!).
  2. If you do not make (m)any of the above prayers or practices, incorporate them into your day, and watch the grace begin to flow.
  3. If you do, declare your intention to gain the Indulgence from them. The intention declared once, if unretracted, suffices for every time the action is done (though of course it’s good to keep remembering…)
  4. Make sure you fulfil the other necessary dispositions listed above. Daily examination of conscience and regular confession keep us in a state of sorrow for our sins and humble knowledge of our need for grace.
  5. Work on renouncing all attachment to even venial sins, so that you can pick up those Plenary Indulgences!
  6. Thank God for His mercy, and for establishing the Church!

Thank you for reading, please pray for me, and may we all meet the other side of Purgatory and thank God for His great merciful love!

If you have time, have a look at this YouTube video about how to conceive of the 10th Dimension…

If you do not have time, the gist is that as you climb through the dimensions, we begin to see our own experience of time as just one line or point on a graph which traverses increasingly infinite possibilities about what may have happened had events gone slightly differently, even had the Universe been designed with different physical laws and so on… until we reach the 10th dimension, which contains within a single point every possible Universe that could have been created, and everything that could have possibly ever happened within each, and every possible ultimate consequence of all those. Somewhere within that is us. And at that point, I muse, is God.

Now my first thought on learning all this was that God’s mind is very, very big. He is omniscient, and therefore has all these possibilities contained within Him.

My second thought was, does this help to answer the problem of reconciling God’s omniscience with human free will? The problem basically is that human beings are meant to be free, but if God knows exactly what the future will be, then that suggests that our actions are in some way determined.

Well, even if you just look at 6 dimensions, it suggests that every possible use of yours or others’ Free Will is in a sense determined. So God knows every possible outcome, from every possible event or decision that could happen at any moment of time. He knows of some pathways where a soul is lost, others where a soul is saved. The exact unfolding of which pathway through the 7th dimension we will take is determined by our Free Will exercised in the 4th!

In short, we always have to keep reminding ourselves that God is infinitely bigger than we could possibly imagine! He is a 10-dimensional being, who stepped down into the 4th, in order to influence the 6th, save the 7th, and lead us to glories which exceed even the 10th! Blessed be His Holy Name.

The Truth is a Mystery

“The Catholic understanding is that the ultimate Truth is a mystery beyond human expression.”

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, here.

Fr. Dwight goes on to say, however, that God has revealed something of that Truth to us, and that it can be expressed in human language, albeit in a very limited way. The limitation of human language does not mean at the Truth is not objective and real. Consider also this quotation from Dorothy Day…

“Once a priest told us that no one gets up in the pulpit without promulgating a heresy. He was joking, of course, but what I suppose he meant was the Truth was so pure, so holy, that it was hard to emphasize one aspect of the Truth without underestimating another, that we did not see things as a whole, but through a glass darkly, as St. Paul said.”

Servant of God Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

But isn’t the Church meant to have all the answers? Don’t Catholics think they know it all? It seems to get more disconcerting as Fr. Dwight continues…

“We believe that God’s Truth is spread out across creation, across the expressions of all human religions and across the entire sweep of history and philosophy and learning and the arts. Catholic Truth is one part of that whole vast Truth–we don’t contend that it includes all Truth–there is still much to be learned and much to be gathered wherever God’s Truth lies it is Catholic Truth and we embrace it.”

Wait, across all religions?? The entire sweep of history?? Doesn’t this sound like the “There are many roads…” idea I criticised in a previous post? No; what is being said here is what the Catholic Church believes about other religions… ie, that they may well contain certain elements of the Truth, but they’re wrong about other things. For example, Islam believes in one God (tick), but it denies that Jesus was the Son of God, and instead hails Muhammad as the great prophet (not tick).

My understanding is that if something is true then it is Catholic, almost by definition. What we believe as Catholics is true, but that doesn’t mean we know everything. As Fr. Dwight states, the Truth has been spread out across all Creation, and it is like the Church is on a mission to go find it & proclaim it. That includes everything from supernatural Theology to the ever-advancing discovery of Physics.

But even if we found everything there is to find in all Creation, it would still not be the whole Truth. Why? Because the Universe, and our lives, are finite. God, and therefore Truth, is infinite. That’s why Heaven will be an infinite discovery of the infinite depths of Truth. I can’t wait!

Strength in Truth

[Archangel slaying the Devil]

We cannot do anything against the Truth.
1 Corinthians 13:8

The Truth is unshakably strong.

You may be physically stronger than me, you may be more powerful than me, perhaps you could knock me to the ground in a fight, or give an order which would take away from me everything I have. But if I speak the Truth, then I am unshakably strong.

You may be able to take away my dignity, or even my life, but you cannot take away the Truth of my words.

You may have your strength for now, but age will strip you of this, whilst a true word stands forever.

You may silence me, but you will not have beaten me.

The Truth cannot be overcome. It is unshakably strong.

He will repay the evil to my enemies. Destroy them in Your Truth.
Psalms 54:5


Guide me in Your Truth, and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation, and I wait for you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

Understanding of Truth is not something we come to alone, but a gift which we must humbly ask for, and wait patiently for, because the Truth is deeper than any Ocean, and surely could not be fully comprehended in this lifetime, by even the wisest and holiest of souls, let alone us little ones!

I Believe in Truth

[Image]Welcome to Truth Blog.

Most people nowadays subscribe to some degree of relativism…….

“If it works for you, then great…” or, “You have your beliefs, I have mine… so what?” or, “There are many roads, but all leading in the same direction…” and even, “it’s all the same God!”.

But Truth Blog is here to say No! There is such thing as Truth, and it is important!!

Many people are looking for “The Answer”. But the Truth is not knowable like the answer to an equation is knowable. Rather, the Truth is God, and God is the Truth. This means that the Truth is discovered through relationship. Just as when we enter into a relationship with a person, we come to know them on ever deeper levels, and come to recognise their voice & characteristics, so as we discover more and more of God, we come to recognise the Truth ever more clearly, even in uncertain circumstances.

This is why I can say honestly that I have fallen in love with the Truth. Believing in the Truth is not a disappointment; it is not a case of being narrow-minded, or dogmatic for its own sake; neither is it an immature need for security by feeling “in the right club”. The Truth is beautiful and captivating, and seeking it is exhilarating and liberating.

Yes, I would give my life for the Truth. But there are other daily sacrifices which must also be made… I would rather lose my friends and family, the affirmation and respect of those around me, my job, my money, anything… I would rather lose anything than my integrity. In a world devoid of justice, it is the most I can possess.

The fullest measure of God’s truth has been given to, and guarded by, the Catholic Church. So, within this blog, I hope to reflect upon a few deposits from the Gold mine of Truth that is the Church’s 2,000 year history, stemming from the Jewish Tradition before it. Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary, may we all be brought to the fullness of love and Truth in her Son, Jesus Christ, who is Lord and God for ever and ever. Amen!

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