On Wednesday, October 26, parishioners in my parish are invited to make a pilgrimage to La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, to pass through the Holy Doors of Mercy.
Why should we walk through the Holy Doors of Mercy? Because Our Holy Father has granted a special indulgence for those pilgrims who pass through the designated doors.
What!!!!!!! Are there still such a thing as indulgences? Didn’t the church do away with them?
Yes there are still indulgences. No the church would not do away with a tried and true way of forgiveness. God is always ready to forgive, especially for us sinners who go out of our way to seek God’s mercy.
Jubilee years are celebrations which have been well recorded in history. Slaves were freed and debts forgiven, during jubilee years. The pope is carrying on the tradition. Pope Francis explains this in his decree (Misericordiae Vultus.) Essentially, the decree states that through the mediation of the church the conflicting consequences of sin are forgiven. Yes, the sacrament of Reconciliation works—our sins are truly forgiven. However, those sins, though forgiven, have left negative thoughts. Haven’t you also forgiven spouses, friends and children, yet still feel the negative effects? Well, the mercy of God is stronger than sin. It becomes an indulgence from God, through the Church to pardon and free the sinner from all residues left by the consequence of sin. With an indulgence, we can freely grow more in love than fall into sin.
When pilgrims consciously pass through the Holy Doors of Mercy with the intent of gaining an indulgence, they gain God’s indulgent mercy. One must also be repentant and receive Communion, at least a spiritual communion, to wish to receive the indulgence.
For more information regarding indulgences visit the following references: Father Ron Rolheiser’s article in the Pilot, http://www.thebostonpilot.com/opinion/article.asp?ID=177488, http://www.catholic.com/tracts/myths-about-indulgences and http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm