Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI Announces Plenary Indulgence for 150th Anniversary of Lourdes Apparitions

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that a plenary indulgence is available to Catholics who travel to Lourdes during the coming year, for the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions there.
The indulgence is available to those who, under the usual conditions, make a pilgrimage to Lourdes between December 8 of this year and the same date in 2008. The pilgrimage should include visits to the famous Massabielle grotto at Lourdes where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, the Soubirois family home, and the places where St. Bernadette was baptized and received her First Communion.

A plenary indulgence is also available to those who venerate an image of Our Lady of Lourdes at any church or chapel between February 2 and February 11 of 2008, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The indulgences were announced in a decree made public on December 5 and signed by Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and his deputy, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti. [The exact terms of the decree are reproduced below.]
For those who are unable to make a pilgrimage because of ill health or some other reason, the indulgence may be obtained if, under the usual conditions, they "spiritually visit the above-mentioned places" and offer their prayers on the days February 2 through 11, 2008.

The decree indicates that Pope Benedict wishes to "draw increased fruits of renewed sanctity" from the anniversary celebrations at Lourdes. It notes "the innumerable series of prodigies through which the supernatural life of souls and the health of bodies has drawn great advantage from the omnipotent goodness of God" at Lourdes over the years. The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence are sacramental Confession and reception of Holy Communion within a week, prayer for the intentions of the Roman Pontiff, and freedom from attachment to sin. The particular terms of the indulgence announced on December 5 are:

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.
Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes
Day 1
O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petition and secure for us a favorable answer to the request for which we are making this novena. (make your request)
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.
Our Lady or Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
Some information about indulgences:
Indulgences: What And Why?

Eternal punishment for mortal sin cannot be removed by indulgences: only the infinite power of Christ can do that in the soul of someone who is truly contrite. It is the non-eternal punishment that is the subject of indulgences, and here, even the non-infinite contributions of our older siblings can contribute.

An "indulgence" means taking away the after-effects of sin when the guilt is already forgiven. An indulgence is an action on the part of the Church to spread the treasury amassed by Christ and by our older siblings to the less fortunate members of the family of God.

Why does the Church want us to gain indulgences? First, they help us to expiate our sins. Second, they encourage us to do works of piety, penitence, and charity. Third, when we gain an indulgence, we are admitting that by our own power, we cannot adequately remedy the harm we have done to ourselves or to God’s world by our sins. Finally, indulgences remind us of the enormous liberality which God gives to those who love him: we can honestly say that we are taking advantage of blessings which God is still pouring out on people who loved him centuries ago.

Indulgences make me truly feel like a member of the Church.

Pennies From The Youngsters: The Holy Souls

Indulgences show how closely knit we are as the family of God. They remind us of the good lives which our older siblings lived. And although these older siblings are much richer than we will ever be, nevertheless, the doctrine of indulgences does not by any means sneer at the little we can contribute. What we have to offer may seem like pennies compared with what the giants of the Church have contributed. Just as in a human family, the youngest members cannot come up with much spending money when they want to buy Christmas presents: but family spirit is built up when even these youngest members contribute what they can. So it is in the Church: we who are alive today, the youngsters in the family of God, can gain indulgences to help the holy souls, our suffering brothers in purgatory. When we do this, we are practicing charity in what Pope Paul calls "an outstanding way."
How to Gain a Plenary Indulgence
Plenary indulgences can be gained in several ways. For example, by spending at least one half-hour in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or in reading the Scriptures with the veneration due the Divine Word; reciting the Rosary in a church with pious meditation on the mysteries; praying the Stations of the Cross. These indulgences are available at all times of the year. Certain practices carry plenary indulgences only at certain times of the year. For example, each day from November 1 to November 8, a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in Purgatory is granted to the faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the dead. On All Souls Day, a plenary indulgence, also applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, is granted to the faithful who piously visit a Church and recite one Our Father and the Creed. Other feasts of the Church on which plenary indulgences can be obtained include the Sacred Heart, Christ the King, Pentecost, Lenten Fridays, and the Easter Vigil.
Conditions for gaining plenary indulgences
While it is true that indulgences are gifts to those of us who are members of Christ’s Catholic Church, there are certain conditions for gaining them. To gain a plenary indulgence, the indulgenced practice must be performed, and the following conditions must be fulfilled: (i) sacramental confession; (ii) Eucharistic communion; (iii) prayer for the Pope’s intentions (Our Father and one Hail Mary). Further, it is necessary to be free from all attachment to any sin at all, even venial sin.

Why should we pray for the Pope’s intentions? Because we have access to indulgences through the generosity of the Church, of which the Pope is the visible head on earth.

The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the indulgenced work has been performed. One sacramental confession suffices to gain several plenary indulgences. But for each plenary indulgence, communion must be received, and prayers for the Pope’s intentions must be said.

No more than one plenary indulgence can be gained in one day, except on the day of death.

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