You Can Still Get the Divine Mercy Indulgence, If You Do This...
With churches closed and Communion unavailable, can we still receive the graces and promises of Divine Mercy Sunday?
That is the question most people are wondering about and asking since it appears we can’t fulfill the two conditions for the promise Jesus made concerning the particular way to participate on Divine Mercy Sunday or the conditions for the plenary indulgence attached to Divine Mercy Sunday granted by St. John Paul II in 2002.
Not to worry.
“Even though churches are closed and you cannot go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, you can receive these special graces this Sunday, April 19, Divine Mercy Sunday,” stresses Father Chris Alar of the Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in print and video messages.
Which way? We’ll answer in a moment, but first, a quick review of what the promises and indulgence entail if life in the world and the Church was “normal.”
Remember, Jesus revealed the promise and its two conditions thorough St. Faustina: I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy (Diary, 1109).
Father Alar emphasizes what he calls “arguably the most important passage in St. Faustina’s Diary, when Jesus tells St. Faustina”:
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet (699).
“Jesus promises that the soul that’s been to Confession and receives Holy Communion will be completely wiped away of the two stains that are on our soul,” he said.
According to Robert Stackpole, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, “The most special grace promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday is nothing less than the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul: ‘complete forgiveness (remission) of sins and punishment.’”
Then to make this “official,” so to speak, John Paul II declared Divine Mercy Sunday a universal feast of the Church in 2002 and also attached a plenary indulgence to it which ties to the promise.
First there are the usual standard three conditions of sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff.
Next, the specific conditions or “work” required: “On Divine Mercy Sunday...
- “in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy
- or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (such as, ‘Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!’).”
All Still Available!
Again, not to worry. Either way, you’ll get the promise and the indulgence, the forgiveness of sins and remission of all punishment.
Father Alar explains the way. “Do these three things on Divine Mercy Sunday with the intention to turn away from sin in your life” —
- Make an Act of Contrition.
Some parishes are able to make Confession available while others cannot. If you can’t get to Confession, Father Alar points out the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1451) states, “Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is 'sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.’” You’ll thereby “be completely forgiven of all sins, even ‘mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible’ (Catechism, 1452).”
- Make a Spiritual Communion.
Again, with churches not open, you can’t receive Communion. The answer? “Make a Spiritual Communion instead,” explains Father Alar, “asking God to come into your heart as if you received Him sacramentally — Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.” (See one Spiritual Communion prayer below.)
He also makes clear to “do this act of trust with the intent to return to the sacrament of Holy Communion as soon as possible.”
- Pray this or a similar prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ, You promised St. Faustina that the soul that has been to Confession [I’m unable, but I made an Act of Contrition] and the soul that receives Holy Communion [I’m unable, but I made a Spiritual Communion] will receive the complete forgiveness of all sins and punishment. Please, Lord Jesus Christ, give me this grace.”
Similar for the Indulgence
Again, don’t worry. Trust Jesus. The official plenary indulgence from the Holy See with John Paul II’s approval also makes provisions when people cannot get to a church or receive Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday.
First, keep in mind these provisions do not remove the three conditions that have to be fulfilled to receive the plenary indulgence, but we’ll see how they’re worked out. They are sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff (all “in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin).
So as Father Alar notes, make that act of Contrition and make the Spiritual Communion. Pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Here’s the official Holy See explanation of why, even in spite of not being able to get to church, you can get the plenary indulgence:
“For those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill” such as and including “the countless brothers and sisters, whom the disasters of war, political events, local violence and other such causes have been driven out of their homeland; the sick and those who nurse them, and all who for a just cause cannot leave their homes or who carry out an activity for the community which cannot be postponed, may obtain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday, if totally detesting any sin, as has been said before, and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, will recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus and, in addition, pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).”
That’s it. It can’t get easier. Or does it?
The decree even adds: “If it is impossible that people do even this, on the same day, they may obtain the Plenary Indulgence, if, with a spiritual intention they are united with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the Indulgence, in the usual way, and offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.”
“There is no doubt, that Pope St. John Paul II was guided by the Holy Spirit when he established this, very, special plenary indulgence, with every possible provision, so that everyone can obtain the incredible gift of the total forgiveness of all sins and punishment,” writes Robert Allard, director of Apostles of Divine Mercy in Florida.
Father Alar strongly reminds that “this extraordinary promise of Divine Mercy Sunday is for everyone.” Tell non-Catholics about it. And while the normal requirement means for the punishment due to sin to be remitted, the person has to have absolute perfect contrition, for the promise, “unlike a plenary indulgence, there is no requirement of having perfect detachment from sin. In other words, as long as we have a desire for this grace and intention to amend our lives, we can be completely cleansed with grace similar to our original Baptism. It is a way to really start over in our spiritual life! … Jesus told St. Faustina, Divine Mercy is mankind’s last hope of salvation (Diary, 998). Please don’t let this grace pass you by.”
Please recall some of what Jesus told Faustina —
Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice… (1146)
Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy. (1588)
Let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them. (848)
My Heart rejoices in this title of Mercy. (300)
Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul.
Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
As though You were already there,
I embrace You and unite myself to You;
permit not that I should ever be separated from You.