I’ve written about the indulgences available for the dead in purgatory during the year of Mercy by passing through the designated holy doors and my quest as a daily mass attendee to obtain as many as possible while thru mid November.

Yesterday for the first time during Pope Francis’ declared Year of Mercy circumstances I found myself attending mass at a designated Church of pilgrimage rather than simply passing through the doors either before or after attending mass at my own parish to obtain the available indulge for a soul in purgatory.

The parish St. Joseph’s in Fitchburg which was built in an area once populated by the French Canadian population that came down during the thriving factory days of the city, was once much smaller but the building was expanded after World War 2 and now has the largest capacity of the remaining churches in the city, but even with the consolidation was less than half full for mass yesterday.

However even with that lesser crowd as a sat in the “Old” church with the priest’s back to me (the layout is a Cross with the altar at the center of the “t”) It occurred to me that every person receiving Holy Communion at that mass had automatically fulfilled most of the requirements for a year of Mercy indulgence, meaning that there were hundreds of potential indulgences dispensed at that mass, several times for all the masses each week at St. Joseph’s.

That meant that the congregation at St Joe’s had the potential to easily secure indulgences for every person buried at St. Joseph’s cemetery down the road during the course of the Year of Mercy with plenty to spare with almost no alteration to their regular routine, all that would be necessary was sacramental confession once every two weeks!

That was a comforting thought that was followed by a sobering question: How many of those in attendance were actually bothering to do so?

That question nagged at me, and it reminded me of a sad story concerning a wonderful charity named Angel Tree that obtains Christmas gifts for the children of those in jail.

There was a fellow in prison who had six children by six different mothers who had not heard of Angel Tree. He was informed of it by a fellow inmate who had heard about it through the prison ministry. He was told that all he had to do was go and fill out the forms and each of his children would receive a Christmas gift that year.

Weeks passed and nothing happened and the deadline was upon them. His fellow came up to him on that last day saying that if he wanted gifts for his kids he would have to come to the service that evening and fill out the paperwork otherwise it would be too late.

He declined, opting for a card game. His kids got nothing.

Right now in every Catholic diocese in the word there is a Holy Door. In the United States there are hundreds of them. If you are in the congregation at the designated church containing that door you have the potential to earn the indulgence for a soul in purgatory on a weekly or even daily basis.

The year of Mercy ends November 20th meaning that as of today if you go to daily mass you can secure potentially 168 indulgences between now and then. If you attend mass weekly at once of those locations you have the potential to earn 24 indulgences before the year closes.

I submit that it’s a horrible waste to not take advantage of this time and even more so if you attend one of the churches on that list. In the words of James T. Kirk

Take the time and earn one of those indulgences. A soul in purgatory will thank you

This post is going to sound a tad unusual.

As you might have noted from a previous post this year, the Holy Father has for the year of Mercy (which runs from Dec. 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception to Nov. 20, 2016) declared several available indulgences (under normal conditions) including one for going through any of the designated Holy Doors at multiple locations around the world.

It so happens that one of said doors is in my city so this year I have been taking advantage of this situation to the point where I have literally gone though every dead relative and friend or parents of friends that I can remember to obtain, by the grace of God, indulgences for them. Given I come from Sicilian parents born in the 1920’s that’s no easy feat but as I regularly go to daily mass and weekly confession obtaining daily indulgences has been less complicated than for most.

With over 150 days to go in the Holy Year I thought about going through the rotor for them all again (after all any attachment to sin turns a Plenary indulgence into a partial one so it’s can’t hurt to do it again) but I thought I’d do something different.

I am literally opening up the floor to readers. Do you have a dead relative or friend that you would like me to pray for and by the grace of God obtain an indulgence for? Simply leave their name in comments and I will make it a point to do so during this year of mercy.

I’m limiting the number to the first 100 names simply because I can’t guarantee that I will be in a position to go through the holy doors every day as I’ll be traveling a few times during this period and don’t know if there will be another Holy Door available nearby. Furthermore as one must be in a state of grace to earn an indulgence I can’t guarantee that I won’t succumb to temptation and thus lose days before obtaining sacramental confession and I don’t want to be in a position that I can’t do something I’ve promised.

Don’t worry BTW if you are not Catholic or your departed loved one was not, the existence of Purgatory is not dependent on either your or their beliefs in its existence. Furthermore if a person I’m praying for is either already in heaven (thus not needing the indulgence) or already in Hell (thus unable to benefit from it) said indulgence will go to the deposit of faith which will be used to good effect.

Finally if you want notification of when said indulgence was earned leave that information in your comment.

So start sending me the names and I’ll get praying and get though those doors for them.

And remember check with your local diocese, it’s very probable that such a door exists in your area as well, take advantage of it while you can as the next scheduled holy year doesn’t come until 2025.

FYI if you want to know the conditions to earn an indulgence the details are below the fold

Continue reading “Open Indulgence Request Call”

Mr. Scratch: A soul? A soul is nothing. Can you see it, smell it, touch it? 

The Devil and Daniel Webster 1941


Yesterday at the end of Mass our Pastor informed us of a special local event for the year of mercy. There will be a 24 day of prayer and mercy taking place at St. Joseph’s Church in Fitchburg stating at 3 PM EST including confessions being heard round the clock.

What jumped out at me about the announcement was the designation of St. Joseph’s as a place of pilgrimage for the holy year.  This means that if a person meets the usual conditions (1. receiving holy communion, 2. Praying for the Pope’s intentions, 3. Confession either within seven days before or after ) they can receive an indulgence which can be applied to themselves or someone who has died , by simply entering the church any time during the Holy Year. (A Full Plenary indulgence if you have no attachment to sin, a partial if you do)

It is quite possible or even probable that your local bishop has designated a place of pilgrimage in your area.  If he has then you will also have this opportunity to earn this indulgence regularly.

This should be cause for excitement & joy for faithful Catholics.  If it’s not then today’s first reading from morning’s mass about Naaman the Syrian is made for you:

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.

Now the Arameans had captured from the land of Israel in a raid a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.  “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,” she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his lord just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said. “Go,” said the king of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments. To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.” Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”

But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”

So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.

2 Kings 1-15AB

There are few things that better illustrate that most deadly sin of pride than this reading.

Consider Naaman.  Here is a guy who has come to Israel because he’s been told in such a way that he believes it, that he can be cured of his leprosy by this trip.  This is not an easy trip.  He is traveling by caravan from Damascus to the king of Israel with his servants and a bunch of valuable goods in an age when the fastest mode of land conveyance is a horse or camel, and he’s doing it at a time when even Roman roads are far in the future.

His party has to stop to eat, to water and rest their beasts of burden.  The closest thing they have to headlights are torches fueled by oil so they are likely only traveling by day.  Since they’re carrying valuables they have to post guards at night and depending on how many are in the caravan might even be securing their camp with stockade.

Maybe,  if they’re very lucky,  he’s averaging making 3-5 MPH during the travel time from Damascus to the Capital of Israel where he delivers his letter.  That’s 135 miles as the crow flies but God knows how many miles via the trails available at the time, 150 miles?  200 perhaps?

Given all that let’s say he and his people traveling 10 hours a day make the trip in 5 days to a week if nothing goes wrong.

After all that time, all that trouble to get down there in the hopes of being cured of this horrible disease, what does the  prophet do?  He tells him:  Go wash in the local river and you’ll be fine.

And that’s when Naaman gets pissed off!

How DARE he not have me go on a heroic quest.  How is it possible that I don’t have to slay a dragon, climb the highest mountain,  storm a heavily maned fortification through a rain of arrows or recover the lost Ark of the Covenant (rumor has it that’s it’s in a pit somewhere in Egypt)  Naaman the warrior is thinking:  Cripes If all it took is a bath I could have taken one back home and saved the trip.

Some thing never change.

Fast forward to today.  Think of the sacrament of confession.  All you have to do is show up, wait your turn (and it’s not a long wait these days) confess your sins, be sorry, do your penance,  usually just a few prayers and BOOM!  You’re forgiven!

You don’t even have to go to your own church if you’re embarrassed to do so, and in my experience most priests will consent to hear your confession outside the normal hours if you just ask.  How hard is that?  It’s a piece of cake!

So why don’t Catholics go?   The church and Christ offers them the gift of a clean soul practically any time a person wants it and most people don’t bother.  Yet if those same people were given a card unlimited washes at any car wash of their choice they’d be driving through once a day and twice on Sundays.

That’s what confession is, an unlimited car wash coupon for your soul people don’t use it, why?  Usually Pride, I don’t do anything that wrong, and anyways God will forgive me.  Why should I bother confessing to a priest?

Even though Christ tells his disciples directly in the Gospel of John :

“Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

It’s the same with the Holy Doors and the indulgence.   Even if you’re a person who only goes to Church on Sundays it means that once a week you can earn an indulgence to shorten or eliminate your time in purgatory either for yourself or a loved one , a parent, a friend, a spouse a child simply by taking the extra time to drive to a particular church and walk in?  Here is a chance to completely or partially remove the temporal punishment for forgiven sins and yet how many people are doing it?  I mean if a policeman said, all you have to do is walk though a door and you’d be excused of a Traffic ticket or fine you’d do it in a second.

We look at the story of Naaman and laugh at the idea that he is so offended by the simple task that Elisha give him to be cured.  Yet all over America Catholics are doing the same thing turning down the forgiveness of Christ out of pride.  And remember, if Naaman’s had refused Elisha generous offer the consequences for Naaman’s would have lasted a lifetime.  When you refuse Christ’s generous offer of forgiveness, the consequences.

Naaman was lucky he had servants with a lot of guts willing to challenge his pride saying to him in effect:  Cripes why are you upset that he’s making it easy for you?  Just do it!  Thanks to them he finally consents to bathing in the Jordan and washed clean of his illness.

When pride keeps us from accepting the mercy that Christ & his Holy Catholic Church offer, will we have the wisdom to hear the voice of those telling us, Just do it and have our souls washed clean of our sins?


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Benjamin Martin: Aim Small Miss Small

The Patriot 2000

A letter writer to Father Z asks if one is wasting their time trying to be a saint he answers with the Story of St. Mary of Egypt, a peek

St. Mary, at the age of twelve, ran away from her family to Alexandria, where she began to live a life of great dissolution. She became a prostitute, but it is said that she often refused money for her sexual acts because she enjoyed her sin so thoroughly. After nearly twenty years of this life, she accompanied a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but not out of any pious motive. No, she went in the hopes of drumming up some business for herself among the pilgrims, hoping in her heart to entice some of holiest and most devout pilgrims away from their piety and into her sinful way of life.

You’ll have to read the rest to find out how she progressed from here to sainthood.

If she can do it, so can we all.

Realize that with actions that come from our passions we must treat them as a deep wound that take a long time to heal.

Sr. Lisa Marie Doty

Earlier today we talked about love is not going along with a sin by giving into what is called weaponized empathy because if a Christian does so and helps a person to eternal death you are actually doing the opposite of love.  One has to tell the truth about sin, or you can’t combat it.

But having acknowledging that one must always lead with truth brings up another point.  Once you’ve established truth, you have to follow-up with mercy.

The best way to explain it is to tell the story of how my parents quit smoking.

For those of you too young to remember there was a time when a cigarette in a person hand was as common as a smartphone, in fact even more so.  And when the surgeon general’s report on the link between cigarettes and cancer came out it was a long time before most people were able to walk away.

My father was not one of them.  Although he had smoked since he was a kid, as soon as he found out about the cancer risk, he took every single cigarette he had and tossed them.

My mother was a different story.

She had also smoked since her youth but she wasn’t as anxious to quit as my father, so after waiting a year he decided to motivate her.  Whenever he found her cigarettes he tossed them.  My mother being who she was responded by buying more and smoking them.

This went on for several years until my father went to my mother one day and said he gave up, if she wanted to smoke he wasn’t going to stop her.  The moment he said this she took every cigarette she had and tossed them herself.  It looked a lot like the big climax between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man:

Now Dad was right in thinking that it would have been healthier for his wife to stop smoking at once.  He wasn’t pushing her to quit because he wanted to dominate her, because he thought himself better or smarter than her, he did what he did because he loved her and wanted to protect her and save her from something that was deadly.

But in his zeal to save her he attempted to impose his will and this is simply not the way to go.

This is the same principle when you’re dealing with someone trying to break the cycle of habitual sin.  If you’re going to be of any help you have to show mercy and patience.  Here are some excellent rules to remember along those line:

Everyone isn’t the same:

Some people can do things cold turkey, some have to do things gradually.  Some people will believe something they are told, some need time to process things. people can’t.  Some people have to work themselves toward a goal others can just dive in.  In terms of helping someone away from long term sin, as long as you aren’t either sinning yourself or encouraging others to do so, the method is less important than the goal.  Helping them along whatever path they take to conquer their sin, that’s mercy.  Forcing them along a particular path, that’s not.

It’s not about you:

Never forget that if you are helping someone away from long term sin it’s not about getting kudos for yourself as my 8th grade teacher Sr. Janet used to say: “Pin a rose on me”.  It’s about helping that other person.  The moment you make it so you become the Pharisee in the Temple:

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

If you focus on helping them get through their issues, it’s about mercy.  If you make it about you then you jump into the sin of pride, and whose going to be there to help you out?

There are going to be failures along the way:

Any person who goes to confession knows that it’s not uncommon to be confessing the same sins over and over because those are the sins you are working on, vulnerable to, and tempted to.  A person working themselves away from serious sin is very likely to have setbacks.  You don’t toss out the person who has setbacks, you don’t excuse failure, you help someone overcome it.  That’s mercy.


In the end they have to make the choice:

Despite all the prayers, all the help and all the effort, all the doors the spirit opens and all the graces Jesus & Mary make available in the end a person has to exercise their free will, recognize the truth and accept the mercy Christ offers.   It doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse, your kid, your friend, or a stranger no matter how much brush you clear away from the narrow path, they have to choose to walk it. 

Bottom line:  Truth without mercy is a trap both for the sinner and those counseling them.   For the Counselor, truth without Mercy leads not just to the same result of mercy without truth,  the sin of pride,  but what Screwtape describes as “that most beautiful of the vices” Spiritual Pride.  For the sinner in question it’s even worse.  While mercy without truth keeps a person in their sins, Truth without mercy has a great potential to lead to self loathing and despair.  A cycle as frightening as the base sin itself.  Remember part of forgiveness is being able to forgive oneself and that requires mercy from within which grows from mercy from without .

Or put simply  Truth + Mercy = Love.

That’s God all over.



The MSM is breathless and laughing my head off:

I suspect Ed Morrissey has reached a point where this ignorance doesn’t phase him as much

none of this should be terribly newsworthy anyway. The Catholic Church teaches that all sins can be forgiven through Christ for those who truly repent and intend to refrain from that sin in the future. That’s true of murder, abortion, and all sorts of other sins. That does not alleviate people from the temporal consequences of sin, but it does allow the truly penitent to offer up their sins to Christ and rejoin the path of salvation. The sacrament of reconciliation exists to bring those who stray back into communion with the Church.

This isn’t just basic Christianity it’s Bible 101

(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20:21-23


Ed Further notes in an update that this “big change” isn’t as big as you might think, particularly in the US

My friend Father Z’s post from June 2014 confirms that the procedural change on abortion is mostly an affirmation of what’s already taking place in all American dioceses, under a grant from St. John Paul II:

But the tone of the MSM suggest they are completely surprised that the sin of Abortion can be forgiven. This is this is such basic first grade knowledge that it prompted this tweet from Mollie Hemingway:

Yes Mollie they can in fact their ignorance and desire to support this meme causes them to miss the real groundbreaking news in this announcement, all that is except for John Allen who should hold a symposium for journalist so they can ask him questions about Christianity & the Catholic Church & he can educate them.

The pontiff also decided that any Catholic who confesses his or her sins during the year to a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist breakaway group not approved by Rome, will nevertheless be considered licitly forgiven.

Francis expressed hope on Tuesday that a rupture with the society may be overcome “in the near future,” seeming to style his opening as a prelude to broader reconciliation.

That is HUGE news and Father Z expands on it further (emphasis mine):

Along with this, the fact of Pope Francis’ move, together with the wording, confirms what I have been saying all along about the priests of the SSPX: they do not and have not had the faculty validly to absolve sins! The fact that this is being granted for the Year of Mercy bears out what I have been saying.

That said, if the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy? I would like to think so!

Next, this concession also underscores a point I have been making all along. If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX!


A million souls brought into full communion with the church? Sounds like a winning idea to me!

However I suspect that the media couldn’t tell the difference between the SSPX and the SPCA but if they did know it I suspect they would be horrified at the idea that the Pope is reaching out to them.

If you want to read the bulletin yourself (and you should) it is here, but there is one solid message vital to your eternal existence that the Pope is promulgating, a message that the media wants you to ignore:


Closing thought:

My protestant friends insist that there is no need or purpose for sacramental confession so I would ask them this:

 If Christ didn’t want us to seek forgiveness from within the church why did he explicitly give the Apostles as a whole the capacity to both forgive sins and to hold them bound?  Does that not suggest the need for someone to independently judge is one is truly contrite or just mouthing the words and the need for someone wracked with the guilt of sin to explicitly hear the words: “You are forgiven”?  

It’s one thing to believe you are forgiven, it’s another to hear it spoken aloud like this:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

You can not comprehend the comfort those words bring to one who needs to hear them.


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