Pope Francis has inaugurated a Jubilee of Mercy calling on all Catholics and indeed the whole world to reflect and build up a more merciful approach to our lives and to our world. To live a merciful life is to live the divine life as expressed through Christ on earth. As Pope Francis says using the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict, “The name of God is mercy”.
Pope Francis writes:
The Year of Mercy At St. Louis de Montfort Church
Here at St Louis de Montfort parish we have been blessed by the request of Archbishop Jose Gomez to be the northernmost Pilgrim Church for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This means that a Holy Door was proclaimed and opened on the 3rd Sunday of Advent and it is a church of indulgence. As Parish Priest, I formally blessed and opened the Holy Door at the Front of the Church and the whole parish walked through it, thereby symbolically starting our own pilgrimage of growth in the mercy and love of God the Father through his Son in the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Pictures from the blessing of the Holy Door can be seen here.
What Is An Indulgence?
It is a release from the temporal punishment of sins, to be undergone because of our sins and our attachment to them. It is not forgiveness; you have to receive the sacrament of reconciliation for that. Nor is it release from purgatory but it is an expression of God’s indulgent love for the truly penitent sinner. God works with us on the damages our sins cause in ourselves and on the ones we have sinned against, as well as on our attachment to sin.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM, describes it well with a story:
“I want to mention something about indulgences, which are often misunderstood. Indulgences are not forgiveness for sin but forgiveness for temporal punishment due to sin. I like to explain it to people with the following story: As a child, once I came home very late for dinner. My mother was very upset, and seeing how upset she was, I felt very repentant and I told her that it would never happen again. She told me she forgave me, but as my punishment I would have to do the dishes. So there was repentance and forgiveness, but there was still punishment. But, as I started doing the dishes, my nana came in and said, ‘I will help you.’ That is an indulgence”.
God loves us and he forgives us, but in His justice there is still some punishment for sin. The indulgence is when the infinitely loving merits and the redeeming sufferings of Jesus and the saints are applied to that punishment, and release us from it.
How Do We Go About Receiving An Indulgence?
We do it by encountering the grace of God’s merciful love through the making of a pilgrimage to a Church designated with a Holy Door of Mercy. When we are there we undertake sacramental moments of encounter with God our merciful Father and make a personal commitment to a renewed closer following of Christ His Son in the Church and a real desire to be free from sin.
1. Enter via the Holy Door
2. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (a priest may visit the homebound or ill)
3. Receive Holy Communion at Mass (the sick and home bound can just receive)
4. Pray the Creed
5. Offer prayers for the intentions and ministry of Pope Francis
(Note that it is preferable to do all these things on the same day. If however you cannot complete all of these elements then you can offer them within a short time, up to 20 days). So, for instance, if you can do everything but are not able to attend Mass and receive communion then you can go to Mass at another time or place, preferably not your normal Sunday observance ie make the effort to go to another weekday Mass)
Pope John Paul II stated that a Holy Door
“…evokes the passage from sin to grace which every Christian is called to accomplish. Jesus said, ‘I am the door’ (John 10:7) in order to make it clear that no one can come to the Father except through Him. This designation which Jesus applies to Himself testifies to the fact that He alone is the Savior sent by the Father. There is only one way that opens wide the entrance into this life of communion with God: This is Jesus, the one and absolute way to salvation. To Him alone can the words of the psalmist be applied in full truth: ‘This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter’ (Psalm 118:20).”
We return to Him with conviction
By Passing through the Holy Door we confess by our actions and physical presence our firm belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Lord and the Savior of all humankind who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation and also our desire to be close to Him who is all compassion and love. By crossing the threshold we freely decide to cross the threshold into the Kingdom of God and be enfolded in the grace of God’s loving mercy and leave behind the false kingdom of this world.
From a purely human point of view most of us approach this sacrament with some trepidation because it means that we are already recognizing that we are not perfect and have failed God (and ourselves and loved ones) in some way… and we’ve got to tell our loving Father that we’ve got it wrong again. No one really likes admitting that! However our essential life task, through our adoption into the family of God as a baptized Christian, is to be a faithful and true daughter or son of the loving Father by making him known in this world through the way we live our lives. Our fundamental option is to follow the teachings of His only begotten Son Jesus.
Sacramentally what happens is we go eyelash to eyelash (re-con- cilia-tion) with the love of Christ. We look God in the eye and be totally honest with him. Then by being truly repentant of our faults and failings – our sins – and making a really firm purpose of amendment to try not to fall again we go forward making reparation for our sins doing penance and to avidly work on breaking away from any particular attachments to sins. It is essentially a moment to “ ‘fess up and grow up”, to be brave in admission, courageous in amendment and trusting His mercy. In this sacrament if we really mean what we say (i.e don’t hold anything back) and are truly be sorry for what we have done wrong, we will be enfolded in the redeeming, forgiving arms of Christ on the Cross. We can then go out, shriven of sins that have tarnished the image of Christ we are meant to present to the world and with the courage of our convictions to go and do His work and no other.
Celebrating Mass and receiving Communion is the wonderful moment of real encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Eucharist. Eucharist means thanksgiving. We thank Christ for all the experiences of our life that lead us to a deeper love of Him. These experiences may be joy-filled or hard lessons of life which forge our faith ever stronger. Christ instituted a communal meal in which we enter into the once and for all sacrifice of God’s love for us, the death and resurrection of his Son to save us from sin and death. Christ took a simple meal, a most human action of families and friends, and reimagined it for us as a memorial of him to nourish us with his grace (his love) on the journey of life. So to receive Holy Communion at Mass on a pilgrimage is to reinforce our reconciliation with God with food for the journey of our lives of faith as we go back out into the world.
We enter into the celebration of the Mass as fully, actively and consciously as we possibly can. Essentially we celebrate with passion the sacrament of the redeeming passion of our savior Jesus Christ. We recite the prayers and response with fervor, we listen to the transforming word of God attentively and we contemplate His presence amongst us with devotion and nourish ourselves with his very self in the Communion. We then “Go out” to change the world by being His mystical presence in the world as his “instruments of mercy in the hand of God”.
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Creed taken from www.usccb.org.
Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be. We might also add the Pope’s prayer for the Jubilee Year of
Mercy. These prayers support the Holy Father with his universal ministry as successor of Peter to keep
the Church’s mission of bringing God’s compassion and mercy Christ to our troubled world.
Upcoming Events For The Year Of Mercy
Over the next year, St. Louis will host a number of events focused on mercy. Below are the general themes planned for each month. More information will be posted once details have been finalized.
Click on the titles in bold for event date & time.
January: Mercy, the Heart of the Gospel talk given by Fr. Aidan Peter
The Bible is the story of God’s merciful love
February: Encountering the Merciful Christ mission given by Fr. Aidan Peter
3 day mission: A Walk through the Mass
March: Reconciliation, Merciful Forgiveness 24 hr Vigil
24 Hours of encountering and praying reconciliation
April: Mercy the Antidote to the World’s Ills lead by our Youth team
Mercy, the antidote to the world’s ills
May: Developing a Spirituality of Mercy talk given by Bishop Robert Barron
Developing a Spirituality of mercy
June: Mercy, the Heart of Ministry lead by parish ministry leaders
Corporal and spiritual acts of mercy in action
July: Mercy and Womanhood presented by Sr. Catherine
Mercy, the womb like embrace of the God of love
August: No Event In the Month Of August
September: Handing on Our Mercy Faith
Teaching our children mercy with mercy
The examples of mercy lived by the Saints gains us glory
The parish wishes you well and the fullness of God’s mercy.
God bless you and your families,
Fr Aidan Peter, CJ Parish Priest
To download a PDF version of this information, click here.