Archive for June, 2012

June 24, 2012

Flee to the Divine Mercy as Individuals

Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you have done… now is the time to flee to His Divine Mercy.  Please do not delay this one single more day

Some of you have committed great sins; the remorse over them dominates your life and drains you of any hint of the joy that seems now like nothing but a faint memory in the most distant recesses of your soul.  To you I say that all the bad you have done taken together is nothing but a miniscule drop in the vast ocean of His mercy, and you need only raise your eyes to Him to see that He is right next to you, waiting for you, with open arms.

Jesus, I Trust in You

Some of you have spent your entire life seeking meaning and have gotten nowhere; and in this pursuit you have exhausted hordes of self-help books, self-professed gurus, 12-step programs, diet regimens, fitness regimens, pills, self-esteem buildup workshops, and anything and everything that seems like it might provide the epiphany and renewal you crave. To you I say that this thirst of your soul can only be quenched by the one who created you and desires to give Himself entirely to you as you give yourself entirely to Him.

Some of you have nobody, have nothing, and see no light at the end of the dark tunnel you tread; and just to see happiness in others only deepens your depression because it reminds you of what you now believe will never be yours. To you I say that whoever has Christ lacks nothing; and he who has the whole world but has not Christ, has nothing.

Some of you are torn apart by a promiscuous lifestyle; perhaps this takes the form of impurity with yourself, pornography, fornication, contraception, adultery, homosexuality, or any number of the behaviors that detract from the beauty for which God created you.  To you I say that this most amazing and powerful physical faculty, your sexuality by which you are granted the unfathomable privilege of being able to participate in God’s creative act, has the potential to enrich your life or destroy your life.  If used in accord with its design; in a lifelong holy marriage, it will fulfill you.  If used against its design; in anyway separated from its power to procreate and unify husband and wife, then it can do nothing else but utterly destroy you.

Some of you, in seeking the spiritual leadership that is so lacking today, have turned to guides that cannot give that for which you truly yearn; whether it is Oprah Winfrey, Deepok Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, or any other modern leader who claims access to supernatural or life-fulfilling truths outside of God’s revelation of  Himself to us in Christ.  To you I say that the rays of truth that these people provide in order to draw you in inoculate you to the misleading error mixed in with it, and that any good you may perceive in your life as a result of their leadership is nothing but a fleeting wisp of pleasure compared to the infinite ocean of mercy and joy to which you have access in Christ.

Some of you suffer from wounds so deep that you cannot bring yourself to anything but despair; perhaps a divorce, an abortion, an abuse, a lost loved one, or an offense committed against you that you cannot bring yourself to forgive.  To you I say that for those who love God, any and all bad things in their lives are permitted to occur only because God is going to use them to bring about a greater good than they could imagine.  You need only flee to His mercy and eagerly await with great joy the day that God has ordained for your vindication.

Some of you have fallen victim to a pseudo-intellectualization of reality that only sows confusion, error, and ultimately desperation in your mind; perhaps you turn to pop psychology, evolutionism, the re-writing of historical events (Dan Brown, etc.), postmodernism, reductionism, Freudianism, Feminism,  Subjectivism, Skepticism, Agnosticism, or any field of study that proposes either to provide the answers that only True Religion can give, or to reject the answers that True Religion does give.  To you I say that the time will soon come when the self contradictions in these philosophies become so evident that it will be as if the stool on which you now comfortably sit and live your days has been yanked out from underneath you.  When that time comes, I beseech you to find that solid foundation of the only One who is Himself the Truth; Jesus Christ.

Some of you have grown so moored to an only half alive existence that you have forgotten there is so much more outside your now draining daily grind; maybe it was detrimental relationships, legal pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, alcohol, sports, hobbies, stocks, TV Dramas, sitcoms, cars, golf, politics, or any number of the endeavors that draw away the zeal and interest that belongs alone to heavenly things.  To you I say that you ought not wait for the inevitability of old age to reveal to you the frivolity of these pursuits, and their inability to give you meaning or satisfy your soul.  Turn your focus now to the One who created you and to Whom you draw closer, by your approaching death, every minute of the day; He is not only your beginning and your end, but the only One Who even now can give you happiness.

Some of you choose to disbelieve in God; perhaps because you see Him as incompatible with science, as an outdated myth on par with ancient pagan “gods,” or simply as an unneeded concept that has caused more harm than good.  To you I say that your senses and intellect are each day flooded with irrefutable and absolute evidence of His existence, and He is patiently awaiting the day when you,  his beloved child, will finally choose to see Him; especially His presence in your brothers and sisters.

Some of you, in seeing how low modern society has sunk, have reverted to ancient errors; whether paganism, bhuddism, hinduism (and Karma thought), Gnosticism, Stoicism, or anything of the sort.  To you I say that what failed to produce their desired effect in ages past will especially fail to do so now that they stand in contrast to God Himself having taken on flesh for our worship and given us a Church as our mother.

Some of you, in fearing what true devotion might do to your life, have chosen milquetoast religion; perhaps at the encouragement of “health and wealth gospel” preachers, a “progressive” Church, or your own personal interpretation of Scripture; this is the religion that denies the reality of Heaven & Hell, the full Divinity of Christ, the inerrant Truth of the Bible, the necessity of a deep prayer life;  or religion that encourages illicit behaviors like contraception, promiscuity, homosexuality, and divorce.  To you I say that this deprives you of the grace and joy that an uncompromising submission to the Truth provides, and you must free yourself of these shackles that, even though masquerading as wings, serve only to bind you.  You have the key to these shackles– that ever relevant, infinitely potent, never bland Holy Gospel — use it.

Some of you, in seeking greater meaning than the modern reductionistic world provides, have turned to the New Age Movement; and try to find the fulfillment that only Christ can give through yoga, astrology, veganism, reincarnation theories, “energy” or vitalistic healing methods, channeling, fortune telling, pseudoscience, pantheism, “A Course in Miracles,” the “Law of Attraction”, occultism, divination, magic, witchcraft, or the like. To you I say that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and although you are right in seeking more than what the materialists posit, you forget that there are also evil spirits (who love to appear as angels of light to deceive us), and only the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ can protect you from them, and only obedience to His authority and commands can prevent us from straying into dangerous, soul destroying spiritual pursuits.

There is one answer to all these problems: Jesus Christ.  And there is one superior path that leads to Him far above all others (for it is that same path by which God chose to first give Him to us): His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. You may find yourself among one or several of these groups to whom I here speak. No matter.  She is still your mother, and she is the one to whom you must flee. She will show you the Divine Mercy of her Divine Son.

She is so easy to come to.  Gaze with veneration upon this image.  Turn your heart to hers.  Fly to her patronage-

Of course, it is not only through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that we ought to flee to the Divine Mercy!  We should also directly address our loving God in each of His three persons; the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

June 12, 2012

The Daily Plenary Indulgence

The Daily Plenary Indulgence

It seems that few Catholics have really understood (or are even aware of) this awesome privilege.  The Plenary Indulgence: by obtaining one, a practicing Catholic is blessed with the ability to easily receive, each and every day, the complete remission of all temporal punishment (in other words, purgatory “time”) due to all of his sins (and to offer this up for the souls in Purgatory)!

Of course, let us not become scrupulous, superstitious, or legalistic.  These indulgences have nothing to do with eternal salvation itself, and indeed depend upon a genuine disposition of heart.  Nevertheless, let us be grateful sons and daughters of the Church by reacting with joy and zeal to this astounding gift.  Let us all strive to receive, every day, this unfathomable blessing.

To receive a Plenary Indulgence, one must 1) Perform the Indulgenced act, 2) Go to Confession (applies to “several” Plenary Indulgences), 3) Receive Communion (applies to one Plenary Indulgence), 4) Pray for the intentions of the Pope, and 5) Be detached from all sin.

Simplest Plenary Indulgenced Acts that can be obtained any and every day:

  • Praying the Rosary (5 decades) either
    • In a Church (or a public oratory – for example, a chapel at a hospital, prison, seminary, etc.)
    • With a religious Community
    • With a pious Association of the Faithful, or
      • Canon 299 permits “private Associations of the Faithful” merely by agreement among members, needing no ecclesial knowledge or approval. It is uncertain whether these qualify as “pious Associations,” under the terminology in the Enchiridion on Indulgences, but it appears that they do indeed qualify. (Meaning, for example, your local pro-life association’s communal Rosary outside Planned Parenthood would suffice for a Plenary Indulgence.)
    • in a family group
    • This prayer must involve pious meditation on the corresponding mysteries.
  • Reading Sacred Scripture for 30 minutes
  • Praying the Stations of the Cross
    • Must involve physically moving from station to station (unless you are in a group and only the leader is doing that since for all to do so would be disorderly) and at least meditating on each station.
    • The stations must be legitimately erected – 14 crosses with 14 pictures or images (e.g. statues). Some argue that “legitimately erected” means blessed by the Bishop; i.e. in an official Church, which of course would make an informally erected stations in your yard not count.
  • Adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for at least 30 minutes
    • Find a Perpetual Adoration Chapel near you
    • It does not appear that the Blessed Sacrament must be exposed in the monstrance, but rather it seems that even if it is reposed in the tabernacle, this will still suffice for a plenary indulgence.

The Requirements:

A State of Grace

If you have made a good confession, and since then have not returned to mortal sin, you are in a state of grace.  To this end, please examine your conscience.

Prayers for the Pope

We must pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary (and, usually also one Glory Be is said) and before doing so, announce “For the intentions of our Holy Father Pope ______…”

Communion

Receiving Holy Communion once suffices for one and only one Plenary Indulgence.  Attending daily Mass then, of course, is ordinarily (i.e. excepting the sick who have Communion brought to them daily) required for obtaining the daily plenary indulgence.

Confession

One confession can apply to “several” Plenary Indulgences.

I do not know, nor can I find anyone who knows for certain, if there is a specific number attached to the word “several.” But in the year 2000, the Apostolic Penitentiary described “several” in the context of how many days before or after the indulgenced act one may receive sacramental confession; and the verdict was twenty. Therefore it seems most logical to interpret the same word as the same number here, and ensure that we go to confession at least once every twenty days, as this will ensure that we have accumulated no more than twenty plenary indulgenced acts seeking the benefit of one confession.

Detachment from all Sin

Needless to say, this is the hardest requirement; yet you need not actually have arrived at a life free from all committed venial sins to satisfy it!  Plenary Indulgences are not reserved for those few perfected saints with which each age is blessed. Rather, you must not be content with any of your sins (even venial); you must not intend to commit them again; you must not have formally incorporated them into your life’s daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routine; thereby implicitly carrying in your heart the intention to continue in them.  You must strive to, and be willing to, give up each and every one of them, and earnestly beseech almighty God for the grace to do this.  You must not obstinately refuse to avoid occasions of sin that you are perfectly capable of avoiding.

Therefore I recommend reading a thorough Examination of Conscience, and being honest with yourself as you examine your life and ponder what sins you may be in the habit of committing.

I recommend one more step. Immediately after receiving Communion (during those 15 minutes where His physical presence remains inside you), make an Act of Renunciation of All Attachment to Sin.

Act of Renunciation of All Attachment to Sin

Eternal Father; in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His most Precious Blood, poured out from His most Sacred Heart, and now physically coursing through my very own veins,

and begging the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the angels and saints; especially St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, my guardian angel and patron saint,

I hereby renounce, rebuke, and forever cast aside any and all attachment to sin; mortal and venial. I earnestly desire and intend to never once again offend you by the smallest violation of Your law.

I truly intend to never again, either in thought, word, or deed, commit even the slightest exhibition of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, or pride; and not only that, but to replace them with prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and love.

I am heartily sorry for having ever offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins, not so much because of Thy just punishments; but because I have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and worthy of all my love.  I love Thee above all things, and I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. I firmly believe all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed it, and I hope to obtain life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ, My Lord and Redeemer.

Other Points:

  • The indulgence attached to a prayer may also be gained by following the prayer mentally as somebody else recites it out loud.
  • Even if a plenary indulgence is carried out in such a way as to not have each requirement fully met, you will still usually at least gain a partial indulgence for your efforts.
  • Only one plenary indulgence can be received each day, and may also be offered up for a soul in purgatory
  • To gain an indulgence for oneself, one must have at least “a general intention to gain them…” Manual on Indulgences N17.2 (Meaning the requirements themselves, even if undertaken, may not result in the granting of the indulgence if the person undertaking them has no idea what an indulgence is and has no intention to receive one.  This is why it is so important to spread knowledge about indulgences.)

Links:

Ponder, dear brethren, how eagerly we can await our death, being in a State of Grace and obtaining each day a plenary indulgence! Our Lord does not desire that we go to Purgatory, and through the Church He gives us the means to avoid that place where, though temporary, nonetheless pains exceed all those of this life. Let us not neglect this great grace so that we may, as we ought, rejoice at the near approach of death! And let us take this opportunity to free countless souls from Purgatory!