Monday, April 12, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday - homily

I’ve got a sweet deal for you all tonight. Today is a day of much celebration in the Church. It’s the second Sunday of Easter which the Church has been celebrating as Divine Mercy Sunday since 2000. It’s also the eighth day of the Easter octave; we’ve been partying it up celebrating Easter for eight days. As Catholics, we fast well and feast well! In the midst of all of this celebration, God offers us a great deal through the Church. On Divine Mercy Sunday, and Catholic can gain a plenary indulgence.

A plenary indulgence removes all punishment due to sin. Whenever we commit a sin, we need to be forgiven by God but also need to make satisfaction for the sake of justice. Making satisfaction for sin commonly means serving some type of punishment in Purgatory. Let’s use the example of someone committing the serious sin of skipping Mass on Sunday. Let’s say that this sin carries a punishment of 20 days in Purgatory. Now, a “day” in Purgatory might not be 24 hours, but it is some period of time. If someone skips Mass say, 5 times, in college that would be 100 days in Purgatory for that sin alone. (As we think of all the sins we commit, some of us can expect a really long time in Purgatory. But, I will take that because it means that I’m going to Heaven. It’s not a done deal that any of us will go to Purgatory and if we get there, it means we’re going to the Big Party forever).

A plenary indulgence wipes out all that time in Purgatory. It removes ALL temporal punishment due to sin. Sweet deal, huh! One student said that this “seems too easy”. On the one hand, she is right; it is too easy. God’s Mercy in general is too easy for us to obtain. But, that’s what Christ has done for us: He has made God’s Mercy easy for us. On the other hand, it is not that easy. There are three things we need to do to gain the indulgence, and each of the three takes faith in Christ and in the Church. We have one week to do these three things: 1) go to Confession, 2) receive Holy Communion, and 3) pray for the Holy Father. If we gain the indulgence, we can apply it to ourselves or to someone who has died. If we apply it to ourselves, then all of the punishment due to sins we have committed to this point is wiped away. If we apply it to someone else and they are in Purgatory, then they go straight to Heaven. I let a friend of mine from high school whose father just died that I gained a plenary indulgence for his Dad, and he and his family were beside themselves with happiness. The person you gain it for will be eternally psyched and grateful!

Indulgences are one of the many graces that God offers us through the Church. The Church is the treasurer of God’s graces and has given us specific ways to obtain God’s mercy for ourselves or others. The practice of indulgences is rooted in the Jewish custom of praying for the dead. It does take faith to gain an indulgence and that faith is rewarded in profound ways. It takes faith to believe in Confession. We just heard the Scriptural basis for Confession in today’s Gospel. If anyone ever asks you, “why do you Catholics believe in Confession?”, you can say, “John 20:20”. In John 20:20 (to 23), Jesus gives the first priests the power to forgive sins. Was this gift only intended for people who lived 2000 years ago? Of course not! Our Lord intended for people for the rest of time to have their sins forgiven; so the first priests passed down this power to the next priests who passed it down and so forth. My power to forgive your sins comes from the Apostles who receive it from Christ.

It takes faith to believe in Confession, it takes faith to believe in the Eucharist, and it takes faith to believe that the Pope is the leader of the Church that Christ founded. To sweeten the deal, I will give a simple penance for any confession I hear after Mass tonight or this week. My penance will be one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be for Pope Benedict XVI. Aside from the indulgence, I ask each of you to pray for the Holy Father this week. He is under tremendous attack right now from our Opponent through the media. These are vicious and unjustified attacks. He is a deeply holy and loving man who is the Vicar of Christ. He needs your prayers, support, and love.

Finally, all the parts of the deal coincide with what our Lord revealed to St. Faustina in the 1930s. He told her to tell the modern world of his Divine Mercy in specific ways. One quote from His apparition to her is huge for us: “When you approach the confessional, know this, that I myself am waiting there for you”. He says this to each one of us tonight. ‘It is really I myself who am waiting for you in the confessional. It is really I who am waiting for you in the Eucharist. It is really I myself who celebrates the Mass and Confession through Fr Greg and other priests. I offer you my Mercy as I offered it to people 2000 years ago. Come to my Sacred Heart and receive my love and mercy’.

1 comment:

Matt Shoemaker said...

For the interested:
Treasures by which Holy Church has granted a plenary indulgence if the faithful devoutly perform (not exhaustive):

-Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: If you do it for at least a half hour it is a plenary indulgence.
- Reading of the Sacred Scriptures: when devoutly read for at least one-half hour.
- Recitation of the Marian Rosary: plenary for those reciting in a church or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. must be done without interruption.
- Stations of the Cross: plenary for those who make the stations devoutly. must also move from station to station.
- Retreats: at least 3 full days of spiritual exercises during a retreat.
- Papal Blessing: receive the blessing by the Roman Pontiff to the City and the World or by a bishop to the faithful entrusted. this extends to radio and televised blessings.
- First Mass of Newly Ordained Priests: plenary indulgence granted a priest celebrating his first Mass with a congregation on a scheduled day. The same indulgence is also granted to the faithful who devoutly participate in that Mass.

Thanks for posting this Father Greg!