Divine Mercy Sunday has come and gone. Keep in mind as you read this blog, Sunday’s gospel is also called the Gospel of St Thomas. It illustrates Christ’s mercy towards Thomas’ lack of faith and more important still the institution of the Sacrament, Catholics call Confession. Christ breathes the Holy Spirit into the Apostles and directs them on the Sacramental Mystery, “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven. Whose sin you shall retain they are retained”. Like Thomas we confess our sins. One of the salutary effects of the day is the fulfillment of the Divine Mercy Novena on that day following Confession and a Holy Communion. The Church through the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary and all her saints has the power to grant full satisfaction for all temporary punishment due to sin,. This is called by us, a plenary indulgent. This follows the instruction by Christ to St Faustina Kowalski in the 1920’s. He gave and it is recorded and accepted in the Church this instruction, “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. The Feast of My Mercy has issued forth from My very depths for the consolation of the whole world and is confirmed in the vast depths of My tender mercies”.
The Church has therefore issued as she can and should a plenary indulgence in answer to Christ’s instructions.
The Christian world outside the church in their error-filled ways and after their own fashion does believe in what Catholics call a Plenary Indulgence. They too, believe that an altar call and use of the Name, Jesus is a conversion from sin and all is forgiven. Unfortunately, for these benighted people they do not accept the truth of God’s Mercy and gerrymander it to suit their beliefs. What is missing in their pseudo Christian beliefs, and it is a big obstacle to their eternal life is their unchanging beliefs in Faith Alone and the lack of a necessity of good works. In the case of a plenary indulgence, the good works are Confession, Holy Communion and a penitential rite or giving satisfaction to God for our errors. An active apology one might say.
These unfortunate and suffering souls cannot grasp, will not grasp the role of the Apostles and their successors as agents of Christ’s mercy and as the forgiveness of sins by His direct commandment. How dreadful is their spiritual life, they have a tremendous faith and their beliefs founded on false prophets impairs their rewards of eternal life. That is to say they have to do it the hard way and a very hit and miss way it is.
What I have never heard explained in the Church for a long time and in any way since is the great work of charity and the act made to claim indulgence can be if we direct it away from ourselves and towards others. A plenary indulgence is a personal act of redemption and salvation making a claim against all the merits stored spiritually in the Church, those charitable good works of others who have gone before us. The merits of Christ’s sacrifice are enough to suffice. Mary’s sacrifice of Her Son, with its consequent suffering and those of other members of the Church Triumphant praying eternally before God are more graces in the spiritual bank called Heaven. If when we obtain through personal good works and actions such a reward so easily received through the Mercy of God and direct it towards our relatives what does happen? First we surrender our place in heaven given if we expired at that moment and give it to some one else. We therefore assign our immediate place in heaven to them,whether they are living or dead. We surrender our state of perfect grace for their advantage. The greatest of charities we know is if we lay down our life for our brothers and sisters, this would include I believe our spiritual life given for the spiritually dead. I can assure you that although the Church teaches we can only donate this indulgence for our immediate relatives, I do not think this is necessarily correct. I believe no one can set limits on Christ’s infinite Mercy. Infinite always means unending but what is unending? It does not only mean in time but also no boundaries or limits. If we make even one act of mercy God cannot but make it more efficacious, that is God’s smallest way is larger and more powerful than ours in our sight. God will always do what is best. Personally I know that even if we offer our act of charity for someone else it still has the same value for us in God’s eyes. How can He our Lord because of His Mercy ignore this good work done by us for others.
Before you all jump on me remember for us in this world, sanctifying grace is only good until the next grave sin and as God indicates through His Son Jesus and through the Power of the Passion and Sacrifice that Christ gave the forgiveness of sins to His Apostles, later telling them to pick their successors. The forgiveness of sins in this manner contains the acts needed to make complete amends for the abuse of the Perfection of God. Could Luther, other reformers and their followers do likewise, in no way. There is no record of a covenant with them that is an agreement like other biblical covenants had. No one has recorded a new Pentecost for any reformed Church although they make numerous dubious claims of a new Pentecost, a false claim of an illumination by the Light of God. The biblical definition of a fire, that is symbolic of God’s signing.
By the way Christ, if you read the quotation again did say we can consign it as He did to the whole world.