When we go to Confession, our sins are forgiven. However, it does not mean that the temporal punishment as a result of our sins is removed: we still need to do penance through prayer and works of mercy to purify and make reparation for our sins. In other words, should we die in a sin free state the day after having contritely confessed all of our sins in Confession, we will more than likely need to spend time in purgatory to purify ourselves before entering heaven. However, if we make use of the Doors of Mercy in this Extraordinary Jubilee Year, as declared by Pope Francis, we will obtain a plenary indulgence, which is the “cancellation” of all temporal punishment due to our sins. In this instance, should we die soon after in a sin free state, we will not need to purify in purgatory for our sins confessed.
What is particularly special about this Jubilee Year of Mercy, which is an opportunity of a lifetime, is that we can not only obtain a plenary indulgence for ourselves but can also do so for souls in purgatory and get them released into heaven. This is a wonderful way to show love for our deceased family, friends and anyone else we may choose to help, named or unnamed. Make no mistake, by performing such acts of love, these deceased souls will be praying for you until your entry into heaven.
Below are the steps on how to obtain this plenary indulgence:
Step 1: Make a contrite Confession. This means being genuinely sorry for and confessing all of your sins, with the intent to not do them again and making amends or reparation for your sins. Click here for more insight on examining your conscience and the graces that a good Confession brings.
Step 2: Soon after this, receive Communion worthily, i.e., in a state of grace. Attending Mass is preferred but if this is not possible, then receiving Holy Communion is sufficient.
Step 3: Walk through a holy Door of Mercy, bringing your mercy petition to the Lord. Holy Doors are located in every cathedral around the world or in churches designated by your diocesan bishop. For those whom, through sickness or suffering, are unable to make the pilgrimage, in Pope Francis’ words, “For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving Communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence.” And for prisoners who cannot get to a Holy Door, “They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.”
Step 4: Say a prayer for the pope’s intentions. I would recommend saying at least the Apostles Creed, an Our Father, a HaiI Mary and a Glory Be for Pope Francis’ intentions. Even better: offer a Divine Mercy Chaplet or Rosary for Pope Francis’ intentions.
Step 5: Do works of mercy. In Pope Francis’ words, “Rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence.” Works of mercy include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead, instructing the ignorant, counselling the doubtful, admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving offences willingly, comforting the afflicted and praying for both the living and the dead.
This process can be repeated until the Feast of Christ the King on 20 November 2016. I encourage you to make the pilgrimage to a Holy Door for yourselves and after this, to take the time to assist some of our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ who no longer have their physical bodies to make sacrifices for themselves and are relying on our prayers and sacrifices on earth to release them into heaven. No doubt, our Lord in his infinite mercy will also give graces to the living on whose behalf you may pass through the doors for and for whom you are praying, as he does to those whom we offer up Masses to.
You will truly be blessed for this act of love.
Amen and God bless
Alpha Omega Mission Representative