Monday, August 01, 2011


August 2 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels.  In the valley below the city of Assisi was an abandoned, tiny church dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels which Saint Francis loved because it was dedicated to the Blessed Mother and because it was small, abandoned and forgotten.  He called it "The Little Portion," or "Portiuncula" in Latin.  Saint Francis made it his spiritual home and eventually died there.

But before he died, Saint Francis was praying one day in the Portiuncula for the conversion of all men, when he beheld a vision of people from every part of the world converging on this little spot at the Portiuncula.  Jesus and Mary appeared in glory and asked what Saint Francis wanted them to do for the sake of sinners.  Saint Francis did not know what to say, but the words just came, to ask for a full pardon to all those who come to the Portiuncula and make a good confession. Jesus looked at Mary, who smiled and nodded to Saint Francis.  It was approved!

What was approved?  We know that all sins are absolved in a good confession, which can be made anywhere in the world.  But we also know (or should know) that absolution does not cancel the temporal punishments due to sin.  The sin is forgiven, the greater and eternal punishment of hell is cancelled, but the temporal punishments are not.  David repenetd of his adultery and the prophet Nathan said God had forgiven him, but there would still be a punishment :

It is the same with us.  We lie and cheat, repent and confess and are absolved, but suffer the consequences of our sin.  Because we lied and cheated, some people do not trust us anymore, or trust us less.  Our reputations are damaged.  There are several reasons why God allows these punishments, even though he forgives.  One is justice, another is as a remedy so that we learn from our sufferings.

This is why the priest gives us a penance.  Justice demands restitution, a righting of wrongs.  If these temporal punishments, and the penances that satisfy them, are not done completely on earth, we will complete them in purgatory, delaying our entrance into heaven.

Now the infinite merits of Christ, the great merits of Mary and the saints form a kind of spiritual treasury of good works.  They did more than what justice demanded.  Our Lord and Mary had no sin to make up for, yet they suffered and did good works.  The saints did more penance and good works than strict justice demanded.  So, the Church, which has the power of binding and loosening, can indulge in these spiritual treasury and apply the super meritorious works of Christ and the saints to us, under certain conditions, and reduce our temporal punishments.  A plenary indulgence is the full remission of temporal punishments, and a partial indulgence is a partial remission.  Only God knows how these are applied to each soul's spiritual state.  But it is wise to take advantage of indulgences.

Saint Francis went to the Pope with his request and shared the story how it came about.  The Pope was astonished since such a kind of indulgence was never heard of before.  Prior to this, the Church was very exacting in its conditions for obtaining an indulgence, and always a partial one. But since the Pope believed in Saint Francis and that Our Lord wanted this, the Pope granted it.

One of the conditions, that the person go to the Portiuncula, was hard to fulfill, so in time the condition was broadened to include ANY FRANCISCAN CHURCH OR CHAPEL.  This, of course, includes the CAPUCHINS.  So the 1st condition is to visit a Franciscan church or chapel on August 2.
The other conditions to obtain the Portiuncula Indulgence are :

-go to confession
-receive holy communion
-pray for the intention of the Holy Father
-say the Our Father and the Creed
-the Indulgence is Plenary if the person has no attachment at all to all venial sins
-the Indulgence is Partial if there is any attachment to any venial sin

Here on Guam, one can attend Mass at the Friary at 12 Noon or 6pm. Confessions will be heard prior to Mass.
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