For our last meeting on Thursday, November 9th, our Father Director, Fr. Bill Lucas, instructed us on the subject of indulgences, particularly those connected with membership in the Confraternity of Christian Mothers. It was a wonderful, insightful, and practical talk.
He explained the difference between the spiritual punishment for sin, which is cleansed from our souls by the Sacrament of Penance (Confession), and the temporal punishment for sin, which is the damage that all of creation suffers in consequence of our sins, and which we must atone for either in this life or in Purgatory. One way in which the Church richly helps us to do this is through the granting of indulgences, which are connected to pious actions, such as praying the Stations of the Cross. These indulgenced acts are meant to bring about true conversion in us, turning us away from sin.
Father also spoke about the difference between partial indulgences, which free us in part from the temporal punishment we owe for our sins, and plenary indulgences, which, if sought under the usual conditions and with the proper disposition, remove our temporal punishment entirely.
The “usual conditions” necessary in order to receive a plenary indulgence are to make a good Confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (for example, an Our Father and Hail Mary may be offered). Also, in order for the indulgence to be plenary, we must be free from attachment to sin of any kind.
Members of the Confraternity who fulfill the usual conditions and renew, at least privately, their promise to be faithful to the rules of the association, may receive a plenary indulgence on the following days of the year:
- The day of her solemn reception, and the yearly anniversary of her solemn reception
- The Feast of the Holy Family (Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity)
- The Annunciation (March 25th)
- The Queenship of Mary (August 22nd)
- Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th)
- St. Gerard Majella (October 16th)
- The Feast of Christ the King
- St. Elizabeth, Mother of St. John the Baptist (November 5th)
Father stressed to us that indulgences are not a matter of magic; they are meant to heal the consequences of our sins through true piety and conversion of heart. They are meant to change us, bring us closer to God and closer to holiness. Let us take full advantage of this wonderful gift of our Holy Mother the Church to grow in holiness as wives and mothers!