Now is the time for mercy. This is a special time of mercy.
Why is this a time of mercy?
It’s pretty obvious that our country has recently reached a new level of upheaval and unrest. Amidst the barrage of media, politics, and protests, I’ve been focusing on protecting my peace and meditating on mercy.
“In the Church today, there’s a lot of talk of the ‘time of mercy,’ a time of great grace and blessing. Why? Simply put, it’s because the times are so evil,” as Fr. Mike Gaitley says in “33 Days to Merciful Love” (see Rom 5:20.)
Furthermore, on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, inaugurating the Jubilee of Mercy. And that Jubilee Year of Mercy is now coming to a close this Sunday, November 20th, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
(If you haven’t been following along in this Year of Mercy, there are some cliff notes at the bottom to catch you up to speed.)
There is an opportunity to receive a special kind of mercy before the Holy Doors close, on this Saturday (some Holy Doors have already closed) in many places around the world. This mercy can be received in the form of a Plenary Indulgence.
What is a Plenary Indulgence?
“An indulgence is 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”. [Source: Code of Cannon Law + CCC 1471]
What’s all this about remission of temporal punishment?
Think of this as a clean slate, in the fullest sense.
In the Sacrament of Baptism not only is the guilt of sin remitted, but also all the penalties attached to sin. In the Sacrament of Penance the guilt of sin is removed, and with it the eternal punishment due to mortal sin; but there still remains the temporal punishment required by Divine justice, and this requirement must be fulfilled either in the present life or in the world to come, i.e., in Purgatory. An indulgence offers the penitent sinner the means of discharging this debt during his life on earth. [Source: New Advent]
How do I get a Plenary Indulgence in the Holy Year of Mercy?
Most folks should have a few more days to obtain this special Jubilee Plenary Indulgence, so here’s the simple breakdown:
For more info, check out the Vatican site.
Where are the Doors of Mercy?
Here is a map of the Doors of Mercy found around the world.
NOTE: Some Holy Doors have already begun to close, so please contact the church prior to making your visit. All Holy Doors will be closed before the Pope officially closes the Year of Mercy on November 20, 2016.
What is a Jubilee Year?
The practice of a jubilee year has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition and evidence for it can be found in the Old Testament (for example, see Leviticus 25). The jubilee year was called every fifty years and was a time for forgiveness. It stood as a reminder of God’s providence and mercy. The dedication of a year for this emphasis provided the community with a time to come back into right relationship with one another and with God. As the practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, these themes of mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity continued. [Source: USCCB]
So, when was the last jubilee year? It was in 2000, during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, and was called “the Great Jubilee.” In 1983, the Church held the last extraordinary jubilee year, celebrating 1,950 years since the death and resurrection of Christ.
What is the Holy Door?
Each diocese will have the opportunity to open a Door of Mercy in their diocese, all members of the faithful will have opportunity to make a pilgrimage to their local Holy Door during the Jubilee. This pilgrimage is to be a journey of walking closer with God and discovering “moment[s] of grace and spiritual renewal” (MV, 3. . . ). These doors are symbols of God’s mercy, open to welcome everyone into the compassion of God’s love that Christ proclaimed. [Source: USCCB]
“To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them,” Pope Francis said.
May the end of your Year of Mercy bring you into a deeper encounter with the mercy of God, and a desire to be the face of mercy to others.