WINNIPEG — As part of the centennial year jubilee celebrations in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Archbishop Richard Gagnon invites all of the faithful to partake in the gaining of a special Indulgence.
“Some people today may ask: What is an indulgence? I thought that the church did away with indulgences before the Second Vatican Council?” writes the archbishop in a message to the people of the archdiocese. “In answer to these questions,” Gagnon continues,” it is important for us to know that the modern church continues to teach the great spiritual value to be found in this devotional practice.”
Gagnon explains that in the Scriptures the term “jubilee year” had a specific spiritual meaning. “Every 50 years the people of Israel would celebrate a special time of remembrance of the Covenant and a turning to God in a spirit of faith and repentance. This has also become part of our Catholic faith. A jubilee year indicates a special year of faith and grace where the People of God seek holiness of life through faith and repentance. A jubilee year is a year to seek holiness in our lives and I encourage everyone of us to return to the sacraments in a deeper way, enkindle our life of prayer and seek to do works of charity especially for those most in need.”
The jubilee indulgence can be gained several times each day during the jubilee year. To gain the jubilee indulgence, four churches in the archdiocese have been designated as pilgrimage sites: St. Mary’s Cathedral in Winnipeg; St. Augustine’s Parish Church in Brandon; Saint-Francois Xavier Church in Saint-Francois Xavier, Man., just west of Winnipeg, and Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish Church in Camperville, Man., 420 kms north of Winnipeg on the western shore of Lake Winnipegosis.
The classical-baroque church in Camperville, built in 1910 under the guidance of Oblate missionary Rev. Charles Camper, is also known as the Cathedral of the North. Schedules for church visits can be found on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website.
For those physically unable to travel to a pilgrimage church, one can gain an indulgence by visiting their parish church, or a chapel of a religious house, or, if one is unable to leave their home, the indulgence can be gained by, writes the archbishop, “spiritually uniting oneself with those carrying out the conditions for the indulgence, offering one’s sufferings and discomforts to God and praying the jubilee indulgence prayers.”
Those prayers are the Our Father, the Creed, and a prayer of one’s choice in honour of the Blessed Virgin. The prayers are to be offered up for the intentions of the Holy Father.
When visiting one of the designated churches, either individually or in a group, one must assist at mass or participate in another liturgical celebration such as the Divine Office, a devotional service (rosary, stations of the cross, etc.), or spend time in meditation before the blessed sacrament. The visit is completed with the indulgence prayers.
The jubilee indulgence is also gained by visiting the sick, poor, imprisoned, those suffering disabilities, and offering up the prayers. Finally, the jubilee indulgence can be gained by fasting for a period of time and offering the money saved through the fast to the poor.
The archbishop advises that in each of these different ways of gaining the jubilee year indulgence, “we are to have the intention to gain the indulgence, say the prescribed prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions and be in a state of grace, that is, having received the sacrament of reconciliation near to the day and having received the eucharist on the day or near to it. In making the jubilee year indulgence a regular part of our spiritual lives throughout this year, one should practice regular confession during the year.”
Gagnon explains that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was known to say, “It is not important how much we do but how much love we put into our prayers and actions. In the same way, the graces present to us through an indulgence, are not tied to the devotional act we do, but rather to the disposition of our hearts when we participate in the conditions attached to an indulgence. Through indulgences the church offers us a way of effectively participating in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”
Gagnon’s full message for the centennial year jubilee indulgence can be found on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg website.