On the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines, the Vatican tells that Filipinos can gain plenary indulgence by visiting Jubilee churches from the Easter Sunday of 2021 until the Easter Sunday of 2022. In this article, we answer frequently asked questions about these.
• A JUBILEE YEAR •
WHAT IS A JUBILEE YEAR?
It’s a celebration that is observed on certain special occasions. It’s also a year of remission of sins and pardon.
WHAT ARE JUBILEE CHURCHES?
A Jubilee Church, is a parish selected where pilgrims can visit and pray to gain plenary indulgence.
• INDULGENCE •
• WHAT IS AN INDULGENCE?
In the Rite of Penance (OP), guilt for sins forgiven is taken away, but temporal punishment due for sins may be remitted through indulgences. The faithful receives this remission through the ministry of the Church, which dispenses in an authoritative manner the treasury of satisfaction earned by Christ and the Saints. As for the rest, the faithful must have the proper disposition and fulfill certain conditions. The work that is indulged receives its effectiveness by the attitude and manner in which the task is completed and by how perfectly it is done. Indulgences may be gained for oneself or for the poor souls. In other words, indulgences are the remittance of temporal punishment due to sin for which sorrows has already been expressed and forgiveness received. This cancelling of punishment comes from the treasury of Christ’s infinite merits and the saints’ participation in his passion and glory. In the early Church, the intercession of those awaiting martyrdom could reduce severe penance imposed on repentant sinners.
• WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLENARY AND PARTIAL INDULGENCE?
A plenary indulgence remits all temporal punishment (a punishment which will have a definite end, when the soul is purified and is permitted into heaven), whereas a partial indulgence removes only a part of it. Plenary indulgence can be acquired but once a day, and three conditions are necessary besides the actual work itself, namely,
a) Sacramental confession,
b) the reception of communion,
c) and prayer for the intention of the Pope, which can be satisfied by one Our Father and Hail Mary, one may choose another prayer out of piety or devotion. When Anointing of the Sick takes place in conjunction with Viaticum, a plenary indulgence may be given by the priest after the Penitential Rite. Though some indulgences are attached to objects, gaining the indulgence is dependent upon the action of the faithful. No longer is an amount of time attached to partial indulgence.
• HOW IS INDULGENCE A WAY IN WHICH THE CHURCH HELPS ITS MEMBERS DO PENANCE?
To understand the origins of penance, it helps to recall that very early the Church distinguished between the forgiveness of sins committed before and after baptism.
1. The ritual cleansing with water in baptism was believed to signify the effect (by the power of Christ’s death and resurrection) a rebirth involving forgiveness of all past guilt as well as all punishment due to it. For neither was there need to the penance after baptism. Not to be repeated, baptism was supposed to be followed by a life in which future sin is avoided. but even the New Testament (v.g. 1 Corinthians 5:1-6) attests to the fact that this ideal was not realized (cf. Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (110-30 cc).
2. A triple conviction grew with regard to those who sin after baptism:
a. They are brought to forgiveness by God’s grace but not without personal engagement in a process of prayer and self-denial. Other Christians can help them because of the solidarity existing between the disciples of Jesus.
b. Other Christians can help them because of the solidarity existing between the disciples of Jesus;
c. Through the ministry of the Church such repentance after baptism leads to divine forgiveness of guilt as well as pardon with regard to eternal punishment deserved for serious offenses or “mortal” sins, but with the possibility or even likelihood that penance must yet be done before the forgiven sinner can be united with the Trinity in heaven. Indulgence arose as a way in which the Church helped its members who needed to do a kind of penance (known as temporal punishment).
In other words, that Christians who committed certain serious sins after Baptism should undergo a ritual of Reconciliation gradually became normative. After Baptism and Reconciliation, Christians continued to experience both temptation and sin. To resist this call to sin, they prayed and performed penitential works. They also prayed and fasted for each other. These prayers and fastings were seen as helpful because of their connection to Christ. Thus, 1) the Christian belief in the abundance of God’s forgiving love through Christ and 2) the unity of all Christians in a communion of saints form the major foundation of the theology of indulgences.
•WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL POINTS OF ST. PAUL VI'S REFORM OF INDULGENCE?
At Vatican II (1962-1965) a reformulation of both theology and practice of indulgence was requested. Cardinal Döpfner called for an aggiornamento (update) of the Church’s teaching and discipline regarding indulgences.
St. Pope Paul VI wrote a response, Indulgentiarum Doctrina (AAS, 59, 1967)
- He presented the Church’s teaching in a manner calculated to allay suspicions that indulgences involve a quasi-commercial exchange in which the saints in heaven help people on earth when the latter call on them for intercession. He tried to avoid any commercial overtones.
- He substituted the term “treasury of satisfactions” for “treasury of merits.” The latter had been used by Pope Leo X in 1518 even though Luther had objected to it in his ninety-five theses of 1517 and Cajetan in reply had—as would St. Pope Paul VI and the 1983 Code of Canon Law later—proposed satisfactions rather than merits as the treasure dispensed in indulgences.
- The limited availability of indulgences so that they can scarcely be at the center of piety even for those who might be inclined to seek and acquire them as often as possible. In other words, he marginalized indulgences as they related to Christian spirituality.
- As for plenary indulgences (those remitting all temporal punishment) he stipulated that the disposition required to receive them excludes even the slightest affection for what is even venially sinful in other words, plenary indulgences are connected with one’s deliberate rejection of all sin, even venial.
- After commending indulgences as part of the Church’s heritage, he says it belongs to the Christian liberty of the Church’s members whether they wish to acquire same or not (AAS 967) 11-2,20,22). In other words, the use and non-use of indulgences is completely voluntary.
• WHAT ARE THE THREE GENERAL GRANTS OF INDULGENCES?
So as to encourage the faithful to inculcate the true Christian spirit in many actions that they perform daily, three general grants of indulgences are given by Saint Pope Paul VI in the Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences. (Indulgentiarum Doctri here are three partial indulgence that are most fitting in our present milieu.
- The first is granted to those who in their regular duties and in enduring the trials of life say some pious invocations even mentally.
- The second goes to the faithful who out of charity and mercy give of themselves or their goods to help those in need.
The third helps to bolster self-denial when people voluntarily deprive themselves, in a spirit of penance, of thing licit and pleasing to them
• WHAT IS THE ENCHIRIDION OF INDULGENCES?
A handbook of indulgences, listing the prayers and other good works to which indulgences are attached and containing the official Church teaching about indulgences. It was published in Latin as Enchiridion Indulgen edition appeared in 1969, edited by Rev. Fr. William Barry.”
• PLENARY INDULGENCE FOR THE 500TH YEAR IN THE PHILIPPINES •
• IS THERE A PLENARY INDULGENCE FOR THE QUINCENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE EVANGELIZATION IN THE PHILIPPINES?
Pope Francis, in a decree issued on February 25, 2021 to the CBCP, has granted a jubilee year with the inherent plenary indulgences for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
The document signed by the head of Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, said the celebration, which opportunity to increase the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
• WHERE IS THE DECREE?
Apostolic Penitentiary decree Prot N. 25/21/I
MOST HOLY FATHER
Romulo G. Valles, Metropolitan Archbishop of Davao, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, respectfully explains that from 4 April 2021 to 22 April 2022, the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippine will be celebrated.
In truth, the most desired end of this celebration is the increase in the virtues of faith, hope and charity, which is reflected in practices that conform to the laws of the Gospel. This will certainly be attained more easily if the faithful are aided by indulgences that can cancel in them even the consequences of sin, which must be expiated through temporal punishment.
In this regard, His Excellency confidently requests Your Holiness the gift of the indulgence according to the practice of the jubilee.
25 February 2021
The Apostolic Penitentiary, by mandate of the Holy Father Francis, gladly grants a jubilee year with the accompanying plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff). This is granted to the Christian faithful, who are truly penitent and moved by charity, and may also be applied by them, by way of suffrages, for the souls of the faithful detained in purgatory, if in union with the spiritual goals of the Year of St. Joseph, they will go on pilgrimage to a “jubilee church” in the Philippines that has been listed and identified in the request letter, and there, devotedly take part in the solemn rites, or at least, they will devote themselves for a suitable period of time, to pray to the Lord for the fidelity of the Filipino people to their Christian calling, for the increase of priestly and religious vocations and for the defense of the family, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the profession of Faith, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The elderly, the sick and all those who, for a serious reason, are unable to leave their home, can likewise obtain the plenary indulgence, if – with the expressed renunciation of every sin and with the intention of fulfilling the three usual conditions as soon as possible – they join themselves spiritually to the celebrations, offering their prayers and sufferings, or the inconvenience of one’s own life to the merciful God through Mary.
So that, therefore, the access to the attainment of divine mercy through the keys of the Church could become easier for the sake of pastoral charity, this Penitentiary strongly requests that diocesan penitentiaries, cathedral clergy, parish priests and other priests, endowed with appropriate faculties to hear confessions, offer the celebration of penance in the jubilee churches, with a ready and generous spirit, and also bring holy communion to the sick.
The present decree is valid only for this occasion. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
(Sgd) Mauro Card. Piacenza
(Sgd) Krzysztof Nykiel
• WHO RECEIVES THE PLENARY INDULGENCE DURING THE 500 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY IN THEPHILIPPINES?
1. The faithful when they make a devotional pilgrimage to one of the designated “Jubilee Churches” from April 4, 2021 to April 22, 2022.
2. Amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the gift of plenary indulgence is also extended to the sick, the elderly, and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leaver their homes. They too can obtain the plenary indulgence if they are detached from any sin and have the intentions of fulfilling the three usual conditions (Confession, Communion, Prayer for the Intentions of the Pope) as soon as possible—”they join themselves spiritually to the celebration, offering their prayers and sufferings, or the inconvenience of one’s own life to the merciful God through Mary.
• WHO RECEIVES THE PLENARY INDULGENCE DURING THE 500 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY IN THEPHILIPPINES?
To receive the plenary indulgence in the celebration of the 500th year of the Christianization of the Philippines, starting April 4, 2021:
1. Make a devotional pilgrimage to one of the Jubilee Churches in the Archdiocese of San Fernando:
- Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando in the City of San Fernando
- Parish Church of San Agustin in Lubao
- Parish Church of Santiago Apostol in Betis, Guagua
- Parish Church of Inmaculada Concepcion in Guagua
- Parish Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Macabebe
- Parish Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria in Porac
- Parish Church of Santa Lucia in Sasmuan
- Parish Church of Santa Monica in Mexico
- Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia in Mabalacat
- Parish Church of San José Obrero in Floridablanca
- Parish Church of San Guillermo Ermitaño in Villa de Bacolor
- Parish Church of San Luis Gonzaga in San Luis
2. Go to confession.
3. Receive communion.
4. Pray for the Pope’s intentions and:
- for the fidelity of the Filipino people to their Christian calling;
- for the increase of priestly and religious vocations, and
- for the defense of the family (the domestic Church, the basic ecclesial community par excellence, the basic unity of society.)
- Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer, the Profession of Faith and an Invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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