Basic Catholic Rules On Indulgences

November 29, 2010

Bridegroom Press
November 2010

“I remember indulgences from when I was a kid!” Many people mention this, and the people who do always have questions.

Where Has The Time Gone?
When we learned about indulgences twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago, we remember how the nuns explained it to us: doing an indulgence got us time off purgatory. We didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it sounded like a good deal.

God bless the nuns, but they either deliberately misled us because they didn’t think we would understand the real explanation, or they didn’t know the real explanation themselves. Prior to Vatican II, all indulgences had a certain amount of time associated with them - saying this prayer or doing that deed was worth 300 days, or 10 years or somesuch. But the time listed was never meant to refer to time in Purgatory. It was a little more complicated than that.

Long, Long Ago…
You see, in the very early Church, the first 300 to 400 years, the sacrament of reconciliation was not celebrated as commonly as it is now. In fact, it was unusual to receive it as often as once every five or ten years. Everyone who entered the Church came in as adults - while the Church was happy to baptize children if the parents wanted, She spent most of her time teaching pagan adults the Faith.
If I were a pagan adult who was interested in becoming Christian, I would probably take between three and five solid years of instruction, being taught every day, practicing the Faith every day, having the community watch me practice every day. Everyone knew my name, and I would learn everyone’s name myself. Only after the whole community had seen me prepare and felt I was ready, only then would I be permitted to enter the Church.

The Church took this long because the bishop and the community wanted to make sure I really understood what I was getting into. They also wanted to make sure that I understood all the responsibilities I was undertaking. They wanted to see a real conversion in the way I approached the world, a real hunger for baptism and the washing away of sins.

Penance IS Purgation
What’s this got to do with indulgences? Well, once I was finally permitted to be baptized, the power of that baptism combined with the pre- and post-baptismal instruction was supposed to make me so solid in Christ Jesus that I would never commit another mortal sin.

Sure, I would be tempted - that went without saying. But I was not expected to commit any more mortal sins. I was an adult, I was giving my word to God that I had left that life of sin behind me, and God gave me His grace to empower me so that I would no longer succumb, so why would I sin?

And if I did commit a mortal sin, then I needed to show real remorse for it in order to demonstrate to the community that I had no plans to repeat the experience. So, if I had gone to confession in the early Church, this is the kind of penance I might receive: “Well, you’ve made a good confession,” the bishop might say, “so I will give you a light penance. For the next two years, you are not permitted to attend Mass or receive the Eucharist. Instead, you will spend every Sunday walking around the Church, praying the penitential Psalms while we are celebrating Mass.

Then, for the two years following that, you may attend Mass through the Gospel reading, but when all the unbaptized are ushered out of the Church after that Gospel reading, you will go with them and again walk about the courtyard praying the penitential Psalms.”

“If you do this faithfully, then for the two years following that, you are permitted to be present for the consecration, but you must be face down in front of the community, reciting the penitential Psalms.

And if all of this goes well and you continue to show true and deep remorse, then following this, you may be admitted to the Eucharist once again. Go in peace, my son.”

An eight or ten year penance was not at all uncommon. For certain sins, like murder or participation in abortion, you might be  told to perform penance for the rest of your life, not permitted to receive the Eucharist again until you lay dying.

A VERY Sweet Deal
So, the time periods associated with the indulgenced prayers were not meant to be time off purgatory after death, rather, they were indications that the Church had remitted the normal, early penance of 300 days or ten years in exchange for your saying this one prayer. She was promising to release to you the grace you would otherwise have had to spend a decade in prayer to win. Obviously, this was a pretty sweet deal. There was only one problem.

No one understood or seemed to remember the connection between the early penances and the current time values associated with indulgences. Instead, the faithful were getting a fairly silly understanding of how Purgatory and indulgences worked. Ultimately, after Vatican II, the Church threw up her hands and said, “Never mind the time periods. Every indulgence is just partial or plenary now. You can either win back for the world some of the grace you took out of it (partial) or all of the grace you took out of it.”

What Indulgences Count?
This leaves an obvious question. What do we do with all those old holy cards we have that say we get 300 days off? The Church also answered that question.
Since indulgences are matters of particular law, no prayer is indulgenced unless the Church says it is. Every generation or so, the Church releases a new handbook listing all the indulgences for which She opens the treasury of heaven.
These indulgences are listed in the Handbook of Indulgences, and that Handbook (aka Enchiridion) supercedes all previous rules. So, if you have an old holy card or book (like a Raccolta) that lists indulgences, none of those prayers carry the indulgence described unless that prayer also happens to be in the latest list from Rome.

And even if the prayer you are looking at is in the latest list, it no longer carries the indulgence the old list said it had. Now, it has only the indulgence - partial or plenary - that the Church has most recently assigned it. Don’t worry too much, though. All of the prayers have been retained with at least a partial indulgence. It’s only the plenary indulgences that may have been altered in a significant way.

So, if you want to do an indulgenced work or pray an indulgenced prayer, you have to have the latest handbook (currently, a translation of the 1999 edition) or you can use the prayers and acts conveniently described in the latest edition of the Beauty of Grace, Calendar of Indulgences 2010. We’ve gone through the book and laid out the rules in an easy-to-use calendar, so you don’t have to worry about all the details in the book. You can find it at www.bridegroompress.com

We hope you like it. We certainly enjoyed putting it together. Now, go and get some purgatory time out of the way.

Steve Kellmeyer
Bridegroom Press

Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Gabriel the Archangel, McKinney

November 7, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic) -  Until recently the Holy Spirit was a complete mystery to me.  It is very easy for us to understand the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity because their stories and roles are made so clear to us… but, who is this Holy Spirit that makes up the third and very important part of the Trinity?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 691 that “the Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son.  The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in Baptism of her new children.   The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.”

The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of complete intimacy with our Lord.  It is the very air that we breathe to survive.  The Holy Spirit is calling to us to say yes to our Lord and live our lives for Him, with complete love and accepting of His will.  St. Augustine told us that the Spirit is to our souls what our souls are to our bodies.

If you are longing for a better relationship with our Lord, want a better prayer life, and/or a better understanding of the role that the Holy Spirit plays in that journey you will not want to miss the “Life in the Spirit Seminar” at St. Gabriel the Archangel in McKinney, TX.

The Life in the Spirit seminar will be a two-day Mission, which will be presented by The Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ (www.dljc.org/english) and hosted by St. Gabriel’s Holy Spirit Prayer Group.  The seminar will be held on Friday, November 19th (7-9pm) and Saturday, November 20th (8am-4pm) followed by Mass at 5pm with music by the Praise Band, all our welcome!

This will be my first time attending so I have asked a couple of members of the Holy Spirit Prayer Group at St. Gabriel to tell us about their experiences attending the seminar.  Rob Karl, who attended last years seminar said,  “After attending the Life in the Spirit seminar it gave new meaning to Scripture, the Eucharist, and brought to life how the Holy Spirit works in and around us all the time.  The seminar is life changing and has helped me connect more with my Catholic faith and the prayer group that has formed from the weekend has been a source of joy and inspiration as well. This seminar should be done at all parishes.”  Rob’s enthusiasm was echoed by Tracy Stewart’s testimony as well, “The Life In the Spirit Seminar was a wonderful experience.  Not only did it educate me about the meaning of living a life in the Spirit;  it was also uplifting and fulfilling.  I truly felt the Holy Spirit was with us during the singing and praise and worship.  I would say that if you’ve never been to a Life in the Spirit Seminar, you should check it out because it can change your life.  If you have been, I’d recommend attending again to refresh yourself in the Spirit.  I’m personally looking forward to hearing the charismatic Franciscan nuns of the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ speak.  They have dedicated their lives to teaching about the Holy Spirit’s gifts and the charismatic life.  You don’t want to miss this one!”

So please come learn how to make the Holy Spirit come alive in your daily life.  If you’ve been to a previous Life in the Spirit seminar, please come again.  There is always more. The cost is $15 in advance and $20 at the door and includes lunch on Saturday.   For more information, please contact Steven or Rita Auguirre at 972-562-1781, email [email protected]. or visit www.stgabriel.org to register.

Mother Teresa never celebrated birthday, 100 years marked for God’s glory

August 27, 2010

Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News).- The day of her baptism was actually more important to Mother Teresa than her birthday. Although she may not have celebrated her 100th birthday herself, the day was marked by her order in Rome, and many other places,  “to give honor and glory to God.”

Many of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) sisters and brothers based in Rome came together at San Lorenzo in Damaso Church on Thursday to celebrate Mother Teresa’s Aug. 26 birthday. Two main events highlighted the afternoon, the inauguration of a nearby exhibit documenting Mother Teresa’s life and a Mass presided over by Cardinals Angelo Comastri and Marc Ouellet.

In the break between the events, CNA was able to speak to some of the members of the MC community in Rome about the significance of the day for them. According to their responses, the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth is important not so much for the fact that it’s her birthday, but, rather, as a celebration of her continued presence.

One sister thought that the foundress “would have been laughing” at all of the fuss made for the occasion.

Community members, however, didn’t let the opportunity to better themselves slip away, as Sr. Elia, who works in the office for Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization, told CNA.

She said, “For us, honestly, we prepared the celebration with great joy to give honor and glory to God, but the rest is actually to deepen our spirit, so that we are more faithful to the spirit that Mother left behind.

“That’s actually how we are trying to live (the day),” she said, “and really to follow Jesus more closely and to be more dedicated to what he has called us to do.”

As for Mother’s 100 years, Sr. Elia explained that Mother didn’t even celebrate her birthday.

“Everybody thought she was born on the 27th which was her baptism date, for which it is also the 100th anniversary, but I think it’s important for me … because it shows that life and what you make of your life comes from God . That (is what) you can see in Mother.”

The life she received, said Sr. Elia, she gave back totally to God. “And what a life God gave to such a small person!

Turning to the bigger picture, the young sister said that everyone today has the same graces that were offered to Mother Teresa, “the same Eucharist, the same Jesus, the same call,” and everyone is able to make a difference.

Of the centenary celebration, she concluded, “it’s not so much remembering the person that left,” rather, it’s about the fact “that you and I have the same call, the same God, the same grace and you can do something good for God, to do small things.”

As for Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization, Sr. Elia said, “keep praying for a miracle.”

Mother Teresa’s birthday was marked on Thursday with special celebrations taking place in Calcutta, India, her birthplace of Skopje, Macedonia and dozens of other cities worldwide

CARDINAL OUELLET, ENVOY TO CENTENARY MEMBERTOU BAPTISM

July 26, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 24 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Holy Father, written in Latin and dated 30 June, in which he appoints Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the baptism of Grand Chief Henri Membertou of the Mikmaq People, due to be held on Chapel Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 1 August.

Cardinal Ouellet, who when news of the appointment was made public was still archbishop of Quebec, Canada, will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Robert McNeil, episcopal vicar to the Mikmaq, and by Fr. Douglas J. Murphy of Holy Rosary parish. Msgr. Luca Lorusso, nunciature counsellor, will also form part of the mission.

USCCB Liturgist: Welcoming Catechumens into Church a Job for all Catholics

February 23, 2010

Prayer, participation in liturgies, welcoming spirit and witness are key

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - During Lent candidates for the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) experience final preparation to become members of the Catholic Church. The “Elect,” as they are called, rely on the whole Church to welcome them.Father Richard Hilgartner, assistant director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship at the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops offered ten things Catholics can do to welcome new members into the Church.

10 Things to Consider for the RCIA

1) Pray
Parishes post the names, and often times photos, of those preparing for baptism and reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church, so that the community can offer support. Parishioners can commit to pray for a particular member of the elect and let them know of this gift of prayer as they prepare for Baptism.

2) Listen
The journey of those in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) can be an example for all, as the Elect listen intently to the Word of God and take concrete steps to follow Him. Their steps can inspire, especially during Lent as Christians strive to follow the Lord more closely. Time spent hearing their stories and experiences can move listeners’ hearts.

3) Participate
The RCIA process includes a number of public rituals in Lent: the Rite of Election, the Scrutinies, and the Preparation Rites. Many of these take place at Sunday Masses in parishes. Attending those Masses is a way to show support for the Elect.

4) Attend the Easter Vigil
The Great Vigil of Easter is the “night of nights,” the liturgy for Holy Saturday declares. It is the night during which the Church keeps vigil for the resurrection of Jesus. It is during the Easter Vigil that the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are celebrated and new members are welcomed into the Church. This “most blessed of all nights,” as the Exsultet on Holy Saturday proclaims, celebrates in ancient rituals the central mysteries of the faith. This celebration is long, but it is the heart of the Church’s worship and speaks clearly to fill participants with the joy of the Resurrection.

5) Have a welcoming spirit
In the weeks after their initiation, the newly baptized, now called “neophytes,” look for their place in the Church community. Parishioners can make them feel welcome by encouraging them to be part of an activity, a group, or a ministry.

6) Witness
The RCIA reminds people that God is present and active, that He continues to speak to all. It is a reminder that how you act, what you say, and what you do can reflect the presence of Christ. Being “witnesses” (see Acts of the Apostles 1:8) of what Christ is doing in one’s life speaks to others.

7) Invite
As witnesses, Christians are called to share their faith in some way. Sometimes it means noticing others who are searching, who might benefit from encouragement or an invitation to learn more about the Catholic faith. Evangelization calls for a member of the Church to share one’s faith. Just inviting a friend or neighbor to Mass can be a powerful statement that allows the Lord to reach out through this gesture.

8) Get Involved
The RCIA has many facets. Each depends on dedicated parishioners (along with the clergy, catechists, and other staff members) to facilitate, teach, lead, and serve as sponsors. There are many ways to shares one’s faith and gifts to become involved.

9) Ongoing Conversion
In addition to those preparing for Baptism, the RCIA also includes those already baptized Christians who are preparing for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church. This can be celebrated any time. Those preparing for reception (and Confirmation and first reception the Eucharist) remind Christians that all are called to follow the Lord, who is always speaking and calling people to repentance— ongoing conversion and a change of heart— resulting in more authentic disciples.

10) Know Mystagogy is for all
After celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, the newly initiated continue their formation in the faith in the period called Mystagogy (which means “interpretation of mystery”), when they reflect on their encounter with Christ in the sacraments and learn more about their faith. This period is ongoing and essentially what all members of the Church do throughout our lives: grow deeper in faith and relationship with Christ, constantly discerning his will.

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