The Holy Father has granted a Plenary Indulgence because of the pandemic sweeping the world. I am grateful to him for doing this. Lent is a time when we get a spiritual wash job. It is a time of deeper conversion and getting clean from our sins.
The normal ways we do this have been truncated by the exigencies of fighting this pandemic. Life saving is the order of the day. It’s easy to overlook the necessity of soul-saving repentance and a closer walk with Jesus which Lent is designed to provide for us.
The gift of this Plenary Indulgence gives us an opportunity to find a bit of that same spiritual renewal by another means. We can walk out of this Lent closer to Jesus than we were when we entered into it. For most of us, our Lenten Penance is staying home maintaining an even strain. It is an ideal time for prayer and reflection, for drawing closer to God and immersing ourselves in the Passion of Our Lord in a concentrated way that we normally can’t.
This can be our holiest and most deeply converting Lent ever. It is simply a matter of opening ourselves to God’s grace and letting Him heal us and draw us closer to Him.
The Holy Father’s loving gift of a plenary indulgence for all who suffer in any way from this virus, including by staying home, is a wonderful opportunity to experience God’s healing gift of salvation. It is the wash job of Lent, all in one sweeping indulgence.
I plan to take full advantage of it because I know I need it. I need it so much I have no words.
I also know that I will run into my usual sinful self when I do it. Plenary Indulgences are difficult for me. I’ve tried many times to get one, but I don’t know that I have ever succeeded. I am so welded to some of my sins. I don’t know how to calculate or understand what it means to be “detached” from them.
I don’t know how to detach from my fears, angers and resentments. I don’t even know what this “detachment” I’m seeking means and if I have actually achieved it. If achieving it means that I am free of these emotions, that I am as loving and innocent as a baby, playing with its first rattle, then I can assure you that I have never gotten there.
I can, at least for a while, give up the sins I commit. I can certainly rebuke them and want to never commit them again. But there are some things that have been done to me that never stop prodding me because they continue to be done to other people. I have no idea how this sense of outrage and anger fits with “detachment” from sins, but I assume that I am not able to earn a full-on plenary indulgence even though I try.
This is just me, I’m not giving advice. I’m just talking about myself. But when I attempt to gain an indulgence, I always end up praying that if I haven’t done it right, that God will give me whatever indulgence I have gained.
In the end, my prayer is always, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, be merciful to me a sinner.
I cannot, even with the Church’s grace, get to God on my own. God has to come to me, which is exactly what He did in the Incarnation, what He does in the Eucharist, and what He does every day as the Holy Spirit. I rely on Jesus and His mercy, not my own sanctity. The mercy of Christ is my only hope.
That might sound hopeless, but it’s not. It might sound insecure. But it is absolutely sure and solid. His mercy is all any of us needs. We can rely on it.
Part of His mercy is that He left us with a visible and enduring place we can go to for easily-accessible and clear-cut ways to know that we are in His Grace and saved by His Mercy. That visible and enduring place is the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis, by granting this indulgence in his full authority as pope, has manifested the Church’s purpose in the world. The Church is a conduit of grace. It is not the only way to Jesus. But it is the sure and simple way that anyone can access.
I’m grateful to Pope Francis for this indulgence, and I certainly intend to take advantage of it, not in spite of my own sinful weakness, but because of it. I need it. I urge you to do that same thing because I imagine that you need it, too.
The most important good that could come from this crisis is if we walk out of it with an increased sense of our reliance on God’s mercy and sincere gratitude and love for Him because He extends it to us. The Church, for all its failings, truly is what it calls itself, which is the repository of God’s grace.
I urge everyone reading this to partake of this offer of a Plenary Indulgence. Let the Pope gift you with a Lenten wash job that will help make you ready for heaven.
We would be lost without Christ’s mercy. But we are not lost. His mercy prevails.