Dear friends in Christ
We are at the mid-way point of Lent this weekend and there is a lighter tone to the liturgy which is seen in the use of rose as the liturgical colour, flowers and the organ playing! The Gospel itself relates to us the best short-story ever told: the joy of the repentant son and merciful father. Each of us is that Prodigal Son. Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father’s house. We return through sorrow, through that conversion of heart which means a desire to change. It means a firm decision to improve our lives, a decision which is expressed in sacrifice and self-giving. We return to our Father’s house by means of that sacrament of pardon in which by confessing our sins, we put on Jesus Christ again and become His brothers and sisters, members once more of God’s family.
As we are in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, it would be important to keep in our minds all of the riches of God’s mercy that are opened-up for us at this time and of which we could avail ourselves. One of the practices of the Jubilee Year is a pilgrimage to a holy place, such as Rome or Lourdes. All Cathedrals around the world are also places where the Jubilee Indulgence may be gained, including our own Cathedrals in Brentwood and Westminster; here you will be able to pass through the specially opened Holy Doors. A Plenary Indulgence is the complete remission of sin. To obtain the Plenary Indulgence we simply follow the norms laid-down by Pope Francis: To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Ideally, one would go to confession, receive Communion and perform the indulgenced works all on the same day, but it is sufficient that these sacraments and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayers for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the Faithful, but an Our Father and a Hail Mary are customary. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence. Exceptions can be made by confessors for the sick and the homebound. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.
Let us be generous with ourselves and the Holy Souls in Purgatory, by visiting these holy places and trying to gain the Indulgence; Lent is the perfect opportunity to undertake this beautiful work of charity. God bless you in your resolutions and good works during this second-half of Lent!
Msgr Kevin Hale