confessionalA Holy Year encourages believers to participate in and experience the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Along with confessing our sins and receiving absolution, we may also receive a “plenary indulgence,” which lessens the effects of our sin here on earth. Pope Francis explains: “To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church, who bestows upon all the fruits of Christ’s redemption, so that God’s love and forgiveness may extend everywhere. Let us live this Jubilee intensely, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful ‘indulgence’” (MV).

Traditionally, the five conditions for baptized Catholics to receive a Jubilee indulgence are:

  • experiencing the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • receiving holy Communion
  • praying for the pope
  • rejecting all attachment to sin
  • passing through a Holy Door

In essence, a Plenary Indulgence granted by the Church allows baptised faithful who have confessed, taken communion and completed all acts required of them to cancel the debt of “temporal punishment”. [Indulgentiarum Doctrina] As Pope Francis wrote in his formal Letter outlining the Jubilee Year of Mercy Indulgence, “It is important that this moment [of walking through a Jubilee Holy Door] be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation [Confession] and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.”

Even if you cannot visit a Holy Door, Pope Francis has granted the Jubilee Indulgence to those who engage in spiritual and corporal works of mercy:

“I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity.”

From: Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis According to which an INDULGENCE is Granted to the Faithful on the Occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy 

For a comprehensive explanation of the Plenary Indulgence and the specific requirements for obtaining one, we invite you to read an excellent article here.

Plan your pilgrimage to St. Mary’s to coincide with our parish’s regularly scheduled Confession time–Mondays at 5:00 pm. Also available upon request depending on priest availability. Please call ahead 716-372-4841 Mon- Fri 9am-4pm.


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