“What?” you say, “I thought Rome was shamed into giving up plenary indulgences after Luther published the Ninety-Five Theses in 1517.” Not so fast. “Well, surely we were to think that Rome quit this sort of thing after Vatican II.” Wrong again. Rome has been issuing plenary indulgences non-stop since before the Reformation.
What’s an indulgence? Here’s how Canon Law defines them:
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.
What this means is that, if you meet the conditions stipulated in the indulgence, you are pardoned from “temporal punishments.” What are they? Purgatory. When you fail to propitiate the divine wrath perfectly by failing to perform your assigned acts of penance and you add to your time in purgatory. If however, you keep your part of the covenant (according to Rome), you can get out of purgatory free.
What are the conditions? According to the decree, the “usual conditions” include “sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father” but they have to be met “in the following way:”
A) “If between December 8, 2007 and December 8, 2008 they visit, preferably in the order suggested: (1) the parish baptistery used for the Baptism of Bernadette, (2) the Soubirous family home, known as the ‘cachot,’ (3) the Grotto of Massabielle, (4) the chapel of the hospice where Bernadette received First Communion, and on each occasion they pause for an appropriate length of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, … and the jubilee prayer or other Marian invocation.”
B) “If between February 2, 2008 … and February 11, 2008, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and 150th anniversary of the apparition, they visit, in any church, grotto or decorous place, the blessed image of that same Virgin of Lourdes, solemnly exposed for public veneration, and before the image participate in a pious exercise of Marian devotion, or at least pause for an appropriate space of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, … and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
The great thing is that, if you can’t meet these conditions, as long as you can in your heart “spiritually visit” them if you can do it “with the soul completely removed from any attachment to any form of sin….”
The decree concludes by recalling that faithful who “through sickness, old age or other legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes, may still obtain the Plenary Indulgence … if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the usual three conditions, on the days February 2 to 11, 2008, in their hearts they spiritually visit the above-mentioned places and recite those prayers, trustingly offering to God, through Mary, the sickness and discomforts of their lives.”
Hey, that’s not so hard. Just perform the visit in your heart without any sin whatever, oh, and you must “recite those prayers, trustingly offering to God, through Mary….” So, you must have the right intent and it has to be sinless.
Come on you slacker, what’s so hard about that?