Seventh means of relieving the souls in Purgatory – Indulgences
– How precious they are –
Our sins are so serious and grievous, our reparations so slight, that we could not acquit the temporal debt of these sins in this world if the Church did not assist our weaknesses by opening up the treasure chest of indulgences.
This is an immense, inexhaustible treasure, consisting of the abundant merits of Our Lord Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints of Heaven. The key is entrusted to the Pontiff of the Church.
After Holy Mass and Holy Communion, there is nothing more admirable or valuable, for the living or for the dead. It is, in a sense, Divine Mercy’s last effort for the salvation of souls.
Through indulgences, which are so numerous, easily earned and within the reach of everyone, we have the means of appeasing Divine Justice. We can comfort souls who are dear to us and who expiate in terrible flames the faults of their past life.
Consider that multitude of indulgences, which the Church grants so freely, as a marvelous mist which quenches those who are thirsty, as the consolation of those who weep, as the beatific joy of those in captivity. Eternal and paternal invention! What a treasure!
Let us hasten to acquire those spiritual riches, more precious than gold, more abundant and diverse than ever. Let us earn many and often. What encouragement there is in this thought: they are for my dear relatives, for the most needy souls, for the souls that suffer the most! These merits will comfort those whom I love and whom I mourn!
– How we must earn them –
Three conditions are needed to earn indulgences.
First we must be in a state of grace; before we aid others. God wants us to close the gates of Hell behind us. In fact, any deed accomplished in a state of sin is a dead deed, deprived of all merit.
Next, it must be our intention, at least in general, to obtain indulgences. It is thus most important for us to renew every morning, the desire to earn indulgences, which are attached to the pious deeds of the day.
Finally, we must accomplish the prescribed works completely. These are usually very easy to accomplish, take no time to complete and are accessible to all the faithful: a short prayer, a small offering, a mortification or a communion…
Dear Christian souls do not neglect obtaining those easily earned treasures for the faithful departed. Could your neglect be excusable today, especially when you realise how numerous and easily obtainable they are?
Yes, it is your responsibility to help your suffering brethren and it costs so little.
If you earn partial indulgences for them, you shorten their time of atonement; if you are so generous as to earn a plenary indulgence for them, the soul to whom you’ve applied it will probably be freed of all debt. Heaven will open up to that soul where it will rise radiantly, carrying eternal gratitude for its benefactor which it will lay at the Lord’s feet. St. Louis added this last recommendation in his testament, My son, remember to earn the Church’s indulgences.
(It is possible for us, with the recommended conditions, to earn plenary indulgences during certain pilgrimages, such as at St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, at Collevalenza, at La Scala Santa in Rome and during a holy year when the Pope grants such indulgences).
– Example –
A Franciscan priest had just finished sermon on charity and had granted his congregation 10 days of indulgence, given with the authority granted him by the Pope.
A high-society lady, who had lost everything except the fear of openly admitting her present misery, went to see the priest to expose her secret privately. That good shepherd used the same words that St. Peter had used on the crippled man in Jerusalem, I have neither gold nor silver but what I do have I give you. I repeat my assurance that you have earned ten days of indulgences by attending my homily this morning. Go and see the banker who, to date, does not give importance to gathering spiritual treasures and offer him the merit of the indulgences you’ve received in exchange for whatever alms he may offer. I am certain that he will help you out.
The poor woman went to the banker in all simplicity and full of faith. The man greeted her with kindness. He asked her with some amusement what she expected to receive for the ten days of indulgences. As much as they weigh on the scale, she told him.
Here is a scale, he told her. Deposit the slip of paper with the intended indulgences and I will deposit a coin.
Surprise! The platter with the coin did not descend. It did not do so after two, ten, twenty, one hundred coins had been deposited. It did not do so until the exact sum the woman needed was deposited on the platter. At that moment, the two platters levelled off. It was a precious lesson for the banker on the value of celestial interests.
The poor souls in Purgatory understand this even more: they would give everything they have for the slightest indulgence. It is up to us to give in their stead as much as possible!
Let Us Pray
You know of my need, Oh Jesus! In excess of Your Mercy, with the treasure of your merits and your satisfactions. You have willed for me to find the means of acquiring all that I am lacking. I will come every day to obtain from this treasure the precious indulgences, which will erase the debts of my deceased loved ones. Oh Jesus! Be their Conciliator! May they rest in peace!
Let Us Pray
Lord, hear the prayers we will offer up to you every day of this month for the consolation of our deceased brothers and sisters and grant them a place of refreshing light and peace! Hear also the prayers which those souls will offer up to you for our intention that we might ultimately obtain, through their intercession, the graces for which we pray for.