Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Praised be Jesus Christ, our merciful Saviour, the face of the Father’s mercy!
One of the features of a Jubilee Year is the possibility of gaining Indulgences.
Through indulgences, God’s mercy which has already forgiven our post-baptismal sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation extends even to their remaining negative consequences in us. Healing this far is possible because we are part of the Communion of Saints, where what belongs to the strongest in holiness can be shared with the weakest.
As Pope Francis explains: “God’s forgiveness knows no bounds… God is always ready to forgive, and he never tires of forgiving… Nevertheless, all of us know well the experience of sin. We know that we are called to perfection (cf. Mt 5:48), yet we feel the heavy burden of sin. Though we feel the transforming power of grace, we also feel the effects of sin typical of our fallen state. Despite being forgiven, the conflicting consequences of our sins remain. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God forgives our sins, which he truly blots out; and yet sin leaves a negative effect on the way we think and act. But the mercy of God is stronger even than this. It becomes indulgence on the part of the Father who, through the Bride of Christ, his Church, reaches the pardoned sinner and frees him from every residue left by the consequences of sin, enabling him to act with charity, to grow in love rather than to fall back into sin” (Misericordiae Vultus 22).
The Church has the authority to establish certain symbolic actions by which we access this grace of fuller healing. The saints and the whole Church accompany us as we do them.
In the Year of Mercy, a Jubilee indulgence can be gained:
– by entering, with a desire for conversion of heart and in hope of God’s mercy, through an authorised Door of Mercy;
– by performing one or more of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.
At the same time, we must seek God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive Holy Communion (either on the day of the action or soon after), profess our faith through recitation of the Creed, and pray for the Holy Father and his intentions by way of an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.
Those unable to travel to a Door of Mercy, such as the sick, elderly, the housebound and those in prison, may gain the Indulgence by participation in the Sacraments and by reciting the above prayers in their homes or local chapels.
The Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased.
In the diocese of Aberdeen, Holy Doors will be found at St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, at Pluscarden Abbey, Elgin and at St Mary’s, lnverness.
“Let us live this Jubilee intensely, says Pope Francis, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful ”indulgence”.”
Yours devotedly in Christ,
+ Rt Rev. Hugh Gilbert, OSB , Bishop of Aberdeen