Monday, April 14, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday: An Opportunity to Obtain a Plenary Indulgence

A photomontage of Divine Mercy image with St. John Paul II and Sister Faustina
The Divine Mercy image, Saint Pope John Paul II,
and Sister Faustina Kowalska
Today's post builds upon and is a continuation of my previous post, Divine Mercy Sunday: The Message of Mercy From Jesus. The message of mercy from Jesus is a beautiful expression of Our Saviour and Redeemer's love for us. It is a love so great that we can not fully comprehend it, but He has made it known, in part, through Divine Mercy Sunday which comes with it an opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence. 

Jesus communicated this wonderful gift of a plenary indulgence to Sister Faustina Kowalska, the young Polish nun who wrote a diary of several hundred pages, documenting all that Jesus communicated to her about His message of mercy. Part of that message was concerning the plenary indulgence, which was noted as follows: 
On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy...(Diary 699)
An important point to note regarding the Divine Mercy Devotion is the requirement that we strive not only to properly prepare to receive mercy from Jesus, but we must extend His mercy to others through our deeds. Jesus was very specific about this as noted in Sister Faustina's diary:
Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)
A plenary indulgence is the full remission of temporal punishment due to sacramentally forgiven sins. This is granted by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints. There are two kinds of punishment attached to sin, eternal and temporal. Sacramental confession absolves us and forgives the eternal guilt of sin, but it does not necessarily remove the temporal punishment. It depends on our degree of sorrow, which may result in the expiation of all the temporal guilt of our sins. For what ever is lacking in our sorrow and with it any remaining temporal punishment, we must expiate through prayer, penance and other means. What temporal punishment remains after death must be made up for in Purgatory.

The Divine Mercy Sunday indulgence is an opportunity for the complete remission of all temporal punishments resulting from our sins. Dependent upon this, in part, is our openness to God's grace. It is important that we perform the conditions of the Divine Mercy Sunday indulgence in a proper manner; that is, with true devotion and sincerity in our desire to receive the indulgence.

It is also important that we be detached from our sins; that we truly detest our sins. In doing so, we orient our will away from creatures and direct it toward God. This is a necessary condition that must be satisfied to receive the plenary indulgence. In this way, we open our will to God's mercy flowing into our souls, which alone is able to effect the complete remission of all temporal punishment. 

To receive a plenary indulgence, the following are the usual conditions:
  • Sacramental Confession, within about 20 days before or after
  • Eucharistic Communion, preferably on the day, or the days before or after
  • Prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff (the pope)

The specific conditions that must be satisfied, in addition to the usual conditions, for the Divine Mercy Sunday indulgence:
  • in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!")

f any of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence is not considered a plenary indulgence, but a partial indulgence. 

As a friendly reminder, Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

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