Hello 6th Graders,
Last week, we learned about a good number of things. Here’s a quick overview…
We began with lighting our Advent wreath. On the third Sunday of Advent, we light a rose colored candle. The third Sunday is called Gaudate Sunday, which literally means Rejoice Sunday. Why do we rejoice when Advent is supposed to be a time of penitence? Because the season is coming to an end! It’s time to intensify our efforts as the coming of Christ is right around the corner!
We also learned that this new year has been proclaimed as the Year of Mercy by Pope Francis. Normally, these “jubilee” years only take place once every 25 years, but he took us “off schedule”. Hey, why wait 25 years to give and receive more mercy?
Pope Francis began the year by pushing open the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. What is a Holy Door? Anyone who makes a pilgrimage and enters a Holy Door receives a Plenary Indulgence. Do you remember what an indulgence is, why they are important, and how to get one? Let’s give you a quick reminder.
When we receive Christ Himself in the Eucharist in a state of grace our venial or minor sins are wiped clean. Done. Gone. But to enter into a state of grace, we must to Confession – and confess well. How do we confess our sins well? We think deeply about how we’ve hurt others, ourselves and God, and we go to confession with as much sincerity and sorrow for what we’ve done, confess all that we can remember, and really try and hope to leave behind our desire to repeat that sin again.
So what does a good confession have to do with an indulgence? Confession forgives the sins that we have committed and can restore us back into a state of grace, but it does not guarantee to remove the punishment – or justice – that is due to us. There is still Purgatory to further purify us, should we not leave this world without making some atonement. The example we gave was breaking a window. We might be sorry that we did it, but justice demands that some ‘reparation’ is made to restore the window. An indulgence is an abundant outpouring of God’s grace, and has the power to erase some or all of the justice that we might have coming to us. Equally important, they also give you the spiritual muscle to fight temptation, and increase your desire to show mercy to others. When you receive mercy, you will discover a greater desire to show mercy to others. Without much effort, you will discover that you have become a new and better version of yourself!
A partial indulgence erases some of your time in Purgatory and a plenary indulgence erases all of your time in Purgatory from the time you receive it, all the way back to your birth (but not going forward, so keep being good!)
So how hard is it to receive an indulgence? You only need to complete four simple things.
- Some prescribed effort or set of prayers set forth by the Church. Some examples include praying the rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, reverently praying the Stations of the Cross, going on a pilgrimage, renewing your baptismal promises during Easter Vigil Mass, going through Holy Doors, and many others.
- Go to confession, and confess from the heart – leaving with no desire to repeat the offenses you confessed.
- Receive the Eucharist – especially now that you can receive Him in a state of grace!
- Pray at least one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope. (I heard that six is traditional)
No matter what cool thing you do for number one, you still need to complete steps 2 through 4.
Speaking of Holy Doors, Pope Francis has done something which I believe has never been done before. He is permitting all bishops throughout the world to name a Holy Door within their diocese. For us, these are at St. Patrick’s, Holy Redeemer, and the Shoenstatt Founder Shrine, all of which are here in Madison!
Not so bad, right? And again, once you accomplish all that, you will experience a great weight lifted off of you, and you will discover that having received God’s mercy, that you’ll want to share some of the mercy that you received!! I can tell you this from my personal experience. You will want to experience this for yourself! 🙂
So now, how do you give mercy? There are seven (7) Spiritual Acts of Mercy, and seven (7) Corporal – or physical – Acts of Mercy. We only had time to talk about the Corporal Acts of Mercy, and I shared a story to help you remember all of them much easier. Do you remember the story? Well, in any case, here they are.
- Visit the Sick
- Feed the Hungry
- Give Water to the Thirsty
- Harbor the Harbour-less
- Cloth the Naked
- Ransom the Captive
- Bury and Pray for the Dead
Since we’ve just passed Gaudate Sunday, let’s double up our efforts on doing one of these each day as we prepare our hearts and our world for Jesus!