Rorate Caeli

A Reminder on the Jubilee of Mercy

Much has been written or posted, in this blog and elsewhere, about the unsettling circumstances attending the declaration of the Jubilee of Mercy. We have every reason to expect that under the cover of this Jubilee many things will be said and done even by the highest-ranking prelates that will only worsen the climate of heterodoxy in the Church as a whole. Rorate will continue to provide coverage of the intensifying attacks on orthodoxy that, we expect, will be perpetrated in the name of "Mercy". 

At the same time, it would be a mistake to allow our indignation and anger at the crisis in the Church and its enablers to prevent us from making use of the graces of the Jubilee. In many dioceses, the Jubilee is being marked with increased opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Penance. In this Holy Year we have almost unlimited opportunities for obtaining the Jubilee indulgence that were granted by Pope Francis on the first of September: passing through any of the numerous Holy Doors that have been opened throughout the world and the performance of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, plus the special opportunities for indulgences granted to the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned. (Speaking of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, Francis said that "each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence".)

There is nothing novel or "lax" in seeking to obtain as many indulgences as possible in the course of the day. St. Alphonsus Liguori, for example, advocated that Catholics form every evening the intention of gaining all the indulgences within their power. It is salutary to seek, at every turn, the remission of the temporal punishment that we deserve because of our sins; this constant purification of our souls can only lead us to greater holiness and union with God. There are also the souls in purgatory, who will certainly appreciate the indulgences that we will offer for them. (As most of our readers surely know, a plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day, but there is no harm done in taking multiple opportunities to gain this daily plenary indulgence.)

At this point we would like to recall the advice given by Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, during his interview with DICI that was published late last month

Then can the faithful devoted to Tradition participate without risk of confusion in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year decreed by the Pope? Especially since this Year of Mercy intends to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II, which is supposed to have knocked down the “walls” in which the Church was enclosed…

Quite obviously there arises the question of our participation in this Holy Year. In order to resolve it, a distinction is necessary between: the circumstances that bring about a Holy Year or Jubilee and its very essence.

The circumstances are historical, connected with the major anniversaries of the life of Jesus, in particular of his redemptive death. Every fifty years, or even every twenty-five years, the Church institutes a Holy Year. This time around, the point of reference for the opening of the Jubilee Year is not just the Redemption — December 8th is necessarily connected to the redemptive work begun with the Immaculate Mother of God — but also the Second Vatican Council. This is most unsettling, and we reject it forcefully, because we cannot rejoice in, but rather must weep over, the ruins caused by this Council: the precipitous drop in vocations, the dramatic decline of religious practice, and above all the loss of faith described by John Paul II himself as a “silent apostasy”.

Nevertheless the essential components of a Holy Year remain: it is a special year in which the Church, upon the decision of the Supreme Pontiff, who holds the power of the keys, opens wide her treasures of graces so as to bring the faithful closer to God, especially by the forgiveness of sins and the remittance of the punishments due to sin. This the Church does in the sacrament of penance and by indulgences. Such graces do not change; they are always the same, and only the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, has power over them. We might also note that the conditions for obtaining the indulgences of the Holy Year are still the same: confession, communion, prayer for the intentions of the Pope — which are objective and traditional, not personal. Nowhere in the reminder of these habitual conditions is there any question of adhering to the conciliar novelties.

When Archbishop Lefebvre, with the whole seminary of Écône, went to Rome during the Holy Year of 1975, it was not to celebrate Council’s tenth anniversary, although Paul VI had mentioned that anniversary in the Bull of Indiction. Rather it was an opportunity to profess our Romanitas, our attachment to the Holy See, to the Pope who, as the successor of Peter, has the power of the keys. Following in the footsteps of our venerable founder, during this Holy Year we will concentrate on the essential components of it: repentance so as to obtain divine mercy through the intermediary of His one Church, despite the circumstances that some have thought necessary to invoke as requirements for celebrating this year, as was the case already in 1975 and again in 2000.

We could compare these two elements, the essential and the circumstances, to the contents and the packaging that surrounds them. It would be detrimental to reject the graces belonging to a Holy Year just because it is being presented in defective packaging, without considering the fact that this packaging does not alter the contents, unless the circumstances were to absorb the essentials, and unless, in the present case, the Church no longer had at her disposal the graces proper to the Holy Year because of the damage done by Vatican II. But the Church was not born fifty years ago! And, through the grace of Christ who is “the same yesterday, today and for ever,” (Heb. 13:8) it remains and will remain the same, despite a Council open to a world of perpetual change…

Photo source: BBC.