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I don't understand why anyone would
easily accept the idea of clipping discount coupons or piling up free mileage
but suddenly recoils in horror at the word "indulgence"… I'm not like that at
all; I will happily and joyfully take any indulgence I can get! So when I read
that any faithful Catholic currently taking care of a sick person (and mind
you, the caring has to be done "with love") and willing to complete the other
two sacramental requirements (confession and communion) can get a plenary indulgence
on February 11, as long as they pray for the intentions of the Pope and as long
as they are doing all of this with the right intentions (which should be "an
expression of sorrow for one's sin" and in the spirit of "participating in Christ's
suffering"), I was truly elated.
I am forever grateful to the Church for helping me along the way to salvation and placing clear markers at regular intervals…. Clipping coupons implies a certain amount of researching which ones you truly need and carefully cutting them out and saving them for the right occasion. Piling up mileage with a specific airline requires a certain amount of loyalty to that airline and some planning and discernment when able to apply this free mileage outside of their blackout dates. All of these things are legit and all of them I have done in an effort to be prudent in managing my expenses. When it comes to salvation, prudence and discernment are very good assets.
But it sounds so petty and calculated, you say? Like a small merchant counting the coins in his cash register at the end of the day? Oh, Yes, I can see how you could misread this whole thing. But the truth is that love is in the details, and as Saint Therese taught me, great love is in the tiniest effort. Salvation is a gift from God and one plenary indulgence is a drop in the ocean of God's mercy but, this small drop, performed with faithful love and dripping with complete trust in Him, is the right thing to do for me at this very moment and I will gladly grab it, in all humility and simplicity.
Here is the article that got me so excited:
Vatican says Catholics can get indulgence for sick-day activities By Cindy Wooden - Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics who participate in events connected with the Feb. 11 celebration of the World Day of the Sick can receive a special indulgence, the Vatican announced.
Pope Benedict XVI authorized the indulgences in order "to enrich" the World Day of the Sick and to highlight Christian teaching on "the value and function of suffering" accepted as a way to express sorrow for one's sins and trust in the fact that Christ's suffering is a source of salvation, said the Vatican statement released Feb. 5.
The statement was signed by U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, head of the Vatican tribunal that deals with indulgences and with matters related to the sacrament of penance.
An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins he or she has committed.
A plenary, or full, indulgence is being offered to those who join the official celebrations of the World Day of the Sick in Seoul, South Korea, or in their own dioceses or parishes.
Plenary indulgences also can be obtained Feb. 11 by people who dedicate at least several hours that day to providing loving care for a sick person, especially one with an incurable or terminal illness, and by the sick themselves.
All those who want to receive the indulgence must go to confession, receive the Eucharist -- or promise to do so as soon as possible -- and pray for the intentions of the pope, all in a spirit of total detachment from the attraction of sin.
Cardinal Stafford said partial indulgences are being offered "between Feb. 9-11 to all the faithful each time they address, with a contrite heart, devoted prayers to the merciful God" on behalf of someone who is sick.