Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

November AD 2007
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory
Is it Possible for Christians to Sin?
What are the Various Changeable Parts of the Mass?
Why is Catholic Worship so Elaborate?
Have Indulgences Changed?


Indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory

    INDULGENCES: At any time we may gain a partial indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory, by reciting the verse, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace" (Enchiridion, #46). Those devoutly visiting a church or an oratory on All Soul's Day may gain a plenary indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory. The visit may be made any time after noon on All Saints day and must include the recitation of the Our Father and the Creed (Enchiridion, #67). Those visiting a cemetery and praying for the faithful departed from November 1st to November 8th (inclusive) earn a plenary indulgence applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory. At other times the indulgence is partial (Enchiridion, #67).

    There are numerous other indulgenced prayers and works, all of which may be applied to the Souls in Purgatory. For example: A visit to the Blessed Sacrament: a partial indulgence; plenary if the visit lasts a half hour or more. (Enchiridion, #3) The recitation of the Angelus (or Regina Cæli during Eastertide): partial. (Enchiridion, #9) Praying five decades of the Rosary: a partial indulgence; plenary if recited in a church or oratory, or with a family group, religious community, or pious association. (Enchiridion #48) Making the Sign of the Cross: partial. (Enchiridion, #55)

    Under current law, no more than one plenary indulgence may be gained in a day. Normally, partial indulgences may be gained more than once a day. The "usual conditions" for gaining a plenary indulgence include Sacramental Confession and Communion, and prayer for the Pope (at least and Our Father and a Hail Mary) within eight days before or after performing the indulgenced work. One must be in the state of grace to gain an indulgence for one's self, but there is probable opinion among theologians that one not in the state of grace may gain an indulgence for the souls in purgatory. (H. Davis, SJ, Pastoral and Moral Theology (London: 1935) Vol III, page 428;    Bouscaren and Ellis, Canon Law (Milwaukee: 1931), page 389.)

Is it Possible for Christians to Sin

    Question: A friend says that once a Christian has been saved, it doesn’t matter what he does in life, for he is incapable of sin. He cites Romans vi and 1 John iii.

    Answer: This is a case of “snippet theology” wherein the reader takes a small section out of the large volume of Scripture, and latches on to it because it “proves” what he wants to believe.

    To begin with, one is not saved by making a one time statement of belief, or even through the Sacrament of Baptism. These are important beginnings, but under normal circumstances being saved requires the remaining lifetime be spent seeking God’s graces and trying to keep His Commandments. That is why our Lord instituted the Sacraments, why He admonished sinners to “sin no more,” and demanded that we treat the less fortunate with all the care that we would treat Him.

    In the Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul speaks of “justice” and “justification.” This is not the same as salvation. “Justification” prepares one to live the spiritual life-a necessary first step, but no guarantee of perseverance until the end. Saint Paul also refers to the avoidance of sin as necessary to salvation. Note that, in all cases, he is writing to people who have already accepted the Faith of Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians ix: 24-27.

Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receives the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that strives for the mastery refrains himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

2 Corinthians: 6:1-7.

And we exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed. But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, In chastity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, In the word of truth, in the power of God: by the armor of justice on the right hand and on the left:

Ephesians v: 1-5

Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becomes saints: Or obscenity or foolish talking or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know you this and understand: That no fornicator or unclean or covetous person (which is a serving of idols) hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Galatians v: 16-21

I say then: Walk in the spirit: and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh: For these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

In the verse cited by the questioner, Saint John says:

1 John iii: 3-9

Everyone who has hope in [God] makes himself holy, just as He also is holy. Whosoever commits sin commits also iniquity. And sin is iniquity. And you know that he appeared to take away our sins: and in him there is no sin. Whoever abides in him sins not: and whoever sins hath not seen him nor known him. Little children, let no man deceive you. He that does justice is just, even as he is just. He that commits sin is of the devil: for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God commits not sin: for his seed abides in him. And he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    Clearly, there are baptized Christians who do sin. Saint John is merely saying that, in sinning, the believer alienates himself from the spiritual life of a child of God, and makes himself an ally of the devil. If he sins persistently, he will make this loss of God permanent. It is absurd to think that God will overlook a lifetime of deliberate sin by a “believer.” But God has mercy on our weakness if we are contrite and hope to do better in the future. The very same Saint John records the words of our Lord to His Apostles:

John xx: 21-23

He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

    The Church encourages us to read the Sacred Scriptures (at least since the time of Pope Leo XIII (1898) an indulgence has been granted for doing so), but the Bible is the Church’s book and we must bow to Her interpretation of It. Our reading must be comprehensive, and we must never feel that a matter is settled by a “snippet” we find appealing to our fancies.

Prayers of the Mass Propers

    Question: In my (Maryknoll) missal, for most days of the year there is a listing of prayers for that day. The Epistle and Gospel are obvious, but what are the other prayers? Why does their number vary? Why are some given in both Latin and English, while others are in English alone?

    Answer: The parts proper to Mass on any given day can be divided into three groups: the chants proper to the congregation or choir, the prayers or orations which the priest directs to God, and the readings from Scripture. This division is more obvious at a High Mass than at a simple Low Mass wherein the priest reads all of these things himself.

    The chants are musical interludes, often verses from the Psalms, which are sung by the people while the clergy are moving from place to place. The first of these, the Introit, is intended to be sung as the priest and clergy enter the church in procession. The second, called the Gradual is sung as the deacon goes in procession to the place where he will sing the Gospel-in penitential seasons, the Gradual is replaced with a Tract-during Eastertide it is replaced with a verse containing a number of “allelujas.” The third chant is rendered while the priest offers the bread and wine. The last chant is an interlude as the people receive Holy Communion and as the priest rinses the vessels afterward. In actual practice, the choir director may choose to augment the chants with additional Psalm verses or with hymns.

    In the Maryknoll missal, the chants are given in both English and Latin to facilitate the congregation singing them at High Mass, or saying them with the priest at a recited Mass. The other prayers and readings pertain to the priest and clergy, and it was more economical to print them only in English. The Saint Andrew and the Father Lasance Missals give all of the parts in both languages.

    The orations are prayers said by the priest alone. They are all prayers directed toward God, perhaps through the intercession of the saint of the day if there is one. The first oration is the Collect, which often sets the tone of the Mass; a petition for this or that.. The second is called the Secreta, or “prayer over the gifts” after the Offertory, asking God to accept them as worthy offerings. The third oration is the Postcommunion, asking God to make our reception of Holy Communion fruitful.

    Every Mass has a Gospel chanted by the deacon or priest, or simply read at Low Mass. At least one reading, usually from the epistles, is chanted by the subdeacon or priest, or simply read by the priest at Low Mass. A few Masses, notably the Ember Day Masses, have additional readings that are taken from the Old Testament-these are chanted by lectors in minor orders, or by the subdeacon, ore merely read aloud by the priest.

    So why might a missal not have all of these prayers for each and every Mass? Actually, they are all there-you just have to know where to find them. The missal will often refer you to a section called the Common of Saints (or simply the Common), where you will find the missing parts. If you look, you will see a notation like “everything is taken from the Common of Virgin Martyrs (page 1234), except for the prayers printed below.” Sometimes the directions a little more complicated, so it is wise to arrive early and mark the necessary pages with ribbons. A missal that printed everything for every Mass would be far more expensive, and would be too bulky to be handled conveniently.

Why is Catholic Worship Elaborate

    Question: Why is Catholic worship so much more elaborate than that of other religions? Couldn’t we do without things like vestments, statues, Latin, chant, incense, bells, candles, and so forth?

    Answer: The customs of the Catholic Church have been developing for two thousand years-and longer if you count the numerous customs we inherited from the Temple and the synagogue. The vestments, for example, are more or less what Mediterranean people wore at the time of Christ. Candles hearken back to the time when Mass had to be offered in the underground cemeteries known as catacombs. Latin was the language spoken throughout the Empire-as a first language for many, and a universal language of trade and scholarship for the remainder. It remained universal until a few centuries ago, and still has the benefit of being a relatively unchanging vehicle for expressing the unchanging truths of the Faith. Chant and incense go back as far as the meeting tent in the trek across the Sinai.

    People are reluctant to part with customs they associate with the sacred. There is a similar degree of elaboration in most religions with a long history-visit an Orthodox Jewish synagogue and you will experience very similar cultural artifacts-visit a Greek or Russian Orthodox church and the similarity will be greater and more intense-even most Protestant churches have retained some of the culture of Christian antiquity. Even secular cities and nations tend to pride themselves on keeping the artifacts of their history on display in their public offices and buildings.

    Could these things be done away with? Of course they could, but would people come away more holy or more edified? Probably not. We have a number of stories about Mass offered in concentration camps, from memory, with little more than a crust of bread and few drops of raisin wine-the stories are often inspiring, but few people would chose to worship that way each day. One of the great culture shocks of the post-conciliar Church was the “wreckovation” of Catholic Churches to accommodate the Novus Ordo. Churches that had been warm and lovely were reduced to an unspeakable barrenness as tabernacles, altars, statues, paintings, draperies, and other decorations were removed. Vocal and even sometimes violent protest accompanied some of these church wreckings-particularly if the parishioners got wind of what was to happen before it did.

    One can eat steak from a paper plate with plastic utensils in a room lit with naked light bulbs, and wash it down with a drink out of a can. But most of us would prefer to have that steak on a china plate, with silver and glass ware, napkins, tablecloth, soft lighting, and a little music in the background. The steak is the same, but the experience is quite different.

    Most people are accustomed to traditional church-like surroundings when they gather for worship. Congregations that start off in a rented hall “chomp at the bit” until they can acquire a space to move into permanently and “make it look like a church.”

    There are obviously matters of taste in the furnishing of any church. Some folks like the elaborate baroque churches of northern Europe-the ones where even the door knobs are decorated with sumptuous art work-others like the functional simplicity found in a little country church or a Trappist monastery. Probably the central question for finding the appropriate mean is whether the furnishings are there for the glory of God, or because someone likes to be seen in elaborate clothing and surroundings. If the answer isn’t “for the glory of God,” then it all needs to be re-thought.

Have Indulgences Changed

    Question:  In my missal I often find that the indulgences for various prayers are often stated differently from what you print in the Bulletin. How could such things change? Can I still gain the indulgences in my book?

    Answer: Until 1967 partial indulgences were described in days, quarantines (forty days), or years. This meant that the indulgence reduced the temporal punishment in Purgatory by as much as doing rigorous penance for the time period specified. It was not a statement that one would get out of Purgatory so many days or years sooner. Until 1967 it was possible to gain more than one plenary indulgence each day

    However, on 1 January 1967, Pope Paul VI issued an Apostolic Constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, revising the regulations by which indulgences are granted. Only one plenary indulgence can be gained in a given day. Indulgences other than plenary are said to be partial, with no mention of a time period. The partial indulgence is essentially a matching arrangement in which the Church matches the reduction of temporal punishment that an individual himself gains through his own action.

    A revised list of indulgenced works, prayers, and articles was issued in 1968-it is this list which we consult in mentioning indulgences. One can only gain the indulgences granted by the Church under the conditions specified by the Church. One might liken the situation to the Sears Roebuck catalog. A 1945 edition of the catalog might be worth something as a collector’s item, but you can hardly expect to order the things in the catalog at the prices then quoted.. They no longer sell boats, guns and ammunition, and even if they did, the prices would be different!


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