Holy Year of Mercy
This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".
A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
—have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
—have sacramentally confessed their sins;
—receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
—pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff (Apostle Creed, One Our Father, One Hail Mary, and One Glory be to the Father…
The traditional norm for going to confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the intentions of the pope, in order to gain a plenary indulgence, was 8 days before or after doing the prescribed work (counting the day of the work). In the Great Jubilee Year 2000, the Apostolic Penitentiary relaxed this norm to "several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act" (Gift of the Indulgence, General remarks, 5). The question often arises whether this norm of about 20 days applied only to the Great Jubilee Year Indulgence, or whether it remains in effect.
In an answer to a question posed by this author, the Apostolic Penitentiary responded that this norm of "about 20 days" remains in effect, since it was contained under the "General remarks on indulgences," and not under those specific to the Jubilee Indulgence.
To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in St. Anthony of Padua, Brampton designated by our Cardinal Thomas, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion.
Holy Year of Mercy
The Jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on the 8 December 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception and 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. The Jubilee will conclude on 20 November 2016, Christ the King.
Pope Francis has spoken often and with great warmth about the need for the Sacrament of Penance. He gave a magnificent testimony to how important making a good confession is when, last year, again in the context of a penance service; he made his own confession at one of the confessionals in St. Peter’s Basilica. Here at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Bishop J. Boissonneau will preside over the Opening of the Holy Door and the Holy Mass on Sunday Dec. 13/2015 at 12:30 PM.
A very important symbolic act performed by each pilgrim has been to pass through the Holy Door. Christ identified Himself as “the door.” The Holy Door evokes the passage from sin to grace which every Christian is called to accomplish. Jesus said, ‘I am the door’ in order to make it clear that no one can come to the Father except through Him. This designation which Jesus applies to Himself testifies to the fact that He alone is the Savior sent by the Father. There is only one way that opens wide the entrance into this life of communion with God: This is Jesus, the one and absolute way to salvation. To Him alone can the words of the psalmist be applied in full truth: ‘this is the door of the Lord where the just may enter’ (Psalm 118:20).”
To pass through the door is to confess with firm conviction that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Lord, and the Savior who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. With great courage, a person freely decides to cross the threshold leaving behind the kingdom of this world so as to enter the new life of grace of the Kingdom of God.