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March 2016

February 2016

Indulgences and Sin: The Holy Door

Wednesday, March 2nd,  7:00 PM        St. Joseph Room, Church downstairs


Join us in the St. Joseph Meeting Room on Wednesday, March 2 for a discussion on the meaning of indulgences in the Catholic Church. We'll take a look at the history of indulgences back to the time of the Crusades and the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. We'll spend a time looking at the reform of the indulgences just after Vatican II and their modern revivification beginning with John Paul II. We'll conclude with a look at the meaning of the indulgence offered by Pope Francis during the Year of Mercy.

It would help if you would like to read the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on indulgences before we meet, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

X. Indulgences

1471    The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

What is an indulgence?

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”81

“An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.”82 The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83

The punishments of sin

1472    To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84 (1861, 1031)

1473    The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”85 (2447)

In the Communion of Saints

1474    The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God’s grace is not alone. “The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.”86 (946-959, 795)

1475    In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.”87 In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

1476    We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.”88 (617)

1477    “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.”89 (969)

Obtaining indulgence from God through the Church

1478    An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.90 (981)

1479    Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted. (1032)


Sweden May Ban Commercial and Altruistic Surrogacy

One of my favorite sources of contemporary issues in Bioethics, Bioedge reports that Sweden may ban both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. Surrogacy, as you may know, is the practice of a woman giving permission for implantation in her womb of an embryo from In-Vitro-Fertilization, carrying the baby to term and birth, then surrendering the child to the person(s) with whom they made the agreement. 

Fear that women may be pressured to become surrogates along with the fact that under Swedish law, the birth mother is the legal parent of the child were the two primary reasons to ban the practice according to a report given to the country's legislative body.

Kajsa Ekis Ekman, a Swedish journalist and author wrote a scorching commentary in support of a ban on both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. She mentions many difficulties with surrogacy, beginning with the famous Baby M case, in which the birth mother surrogate changed her mind about giving up the baby, but was forced by court order to relinquish the child. Deaths of surrogate mothers, demands of biological parents that defective or excessive embryos be aborted, and the bizarre case of a Japanese businessman who "ordered" 16 babies from clinics in Thailand are just some of the thorny dilemmas which arise from allowing surrogacy. Ekman writes:

Surrogacy may have been surrounded by an aura of Elton John-ish happiness, cute newborns and notions of the modern family, but behind that is an industry that buys and sells human life. Where babies are tailor-made to fit the desires of the world’s rich. Where a mother is nothing, deprived even of the right to be called “mum”, and the customer is everything. The west has started outsourcing reproduction to poorer nations, just as we outsourced industrial production previously. It is shocking to see how quickly the UN convention on the rights of the child can be completely ignored. No country allows the sale of human beings – yet, who cares, so long as we are served cute images of famous people and their newborns?


The teaching of the Catholic Church on surrogacy was clearly stated in Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987:

Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.


The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke

The books, The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, by Donald Senior have arrived at the Parish Office. They are also available from Amazon and from the publisher, The Liturgical Press.

Call the parish office to reserve a copy if you would like one of ours. The requested donation covers the cost of the book, $ 20. There is no Kindle or e-book version. 

We will discuss the book                         March 9         Preface, pp. 40-104

                                                                March 23       pp. 105-160




New Memorial Brochure


A revised memorial brochure has been posted online. It can be downloaded by clicking it on the icon in the column on the right.

The brochure has been updated to include some of the needs we have postponed from the original capital campaign. They are substantive gifts but items which will be important  for the liturgical life of the community and the safety of our new home.

Please consider a donation in full or in part for one of the requested items.

Thank you.


Holy Hour for the Family Wednesday 7:00 PM


Join us in prayer for the family at 7 PM, Wednesday Feb. 24th. The Holy Hour is being sponsored by the Diocese of Trenton as part of a series of pilgrimage Holy Hours at each of the churches in the diocese privileged to have a Holy Door of Mercy.

Media, lobby groups and legislative initiatives assault the traditional family on all sides. Moreover, the frantic pace of overly scheduled lives, the increasing burdens of long-term illness and the changing economic landscape can exacerbate tensions inside the home.

Drawing strength from the Holy Family and with support from like-minded believers, our families can not only survive, but thrive as living witnesses to the power of faith lived in a broken world. Let us join together and pray for God's help.



Adult Faith Formation

Thank you to those who came to the viewing and discussion of the film Jerusalem held in the St. Joseph Meeting Room. There was good attendance and  the streaming media ran on our new OLED TV screen perfectly. The photography was stunning and even those who have been to the Holy Land gained a new insight into the geography and layout of the Holy City.

There is no meeting next Wednesday to make room for the Diocesan sponsored Holy Hour for Families being held in each parish which is fortunate enough to have Holy Door of Mercy.

Please join us next Wednesday at 7 PM for an hour of prayer and reflection in the church.



Adult Faith Formation During Lent



Here is the schedule for Wednesday night Adult Faith Formation meetings, Faith Seeking Understanding.  All meetings will begin at 7:00 PM in the St. Joseph Meeting Room in the lower level of the church.

The text for the Passion narrative of Luke with be the book by Donald Senior. We have ordered 10 copies. Depending on its delivery date, we will begin the discussion on March 9th and conclude it on March 23rd (during Holy Week). If the book does not arrive in time for March 9 (it is back ordered) we will defer the discussion until 23 March.

Please note there will be NO meetings on Ash Wednesday, February 24th or March 16th. 

Please feel free to join us for one or all the meetings. The book The Passion Narrative in Luke will be available for purchase in the Parish Center, or at the Wednesday meetings when they become available.


Lent - Prepare


I like the former practice of counting down the days before Lent two weeks before Lent starts. Two weeks of violet vestments to get us in the mindset that Lent is coming and we’re not suddenly surprised by the need to find our dried out palms branches for burning and begin the observation of the Holy Season on Ash Wednesday.

Anyhow, surprised or not, snowstorm or not, Lent is coming. This Lent and Holy Week will be a wonderful opportunity to derive benefit from our beautiful church and its liturgical environment. What a spiritually nourishing time we pray this Lent provides.

Our Wednesday night Adult Faith Formation, Faith Seeking Understanding, will be held the Wednesdays of Lent (except NOT on Ash Wednesday evening).

The full schedule will be published next week, but plan on joining us in the St. Joseph Hospitality Room in the lower level of the church for a viewing and discussion of the award winning film, Jerusalem. Some of the staff enjoyed the movie at the IMAX theatre in the Franklin Institute. It is a beautiful and informative look at the importance of the city for three of the world’s major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Wed., February 18th    7:00 PM               Jerusalem   (a 2014 National Geographic IMAX film)

Two printed resources will be available at Church this year: the Magnificat Year of Mercy devotional and the Magnificat Lenten Companion.

Church Work For Lent

We are moving forward with a few items which have been mired in punch list and construction cost discussions. These will be accomplished outside the project itself, which paperwork and permanent CO will hopefully be closed out in a few weeks.


  • Especially with Lent coming, it's important to have our Stations of the Cross in the church. We have the drawings locating the reinforced back plates in the wall for anchoring them and they will be installed in time for Stations of the Cross on the first Friday in Lent.
  • The Holy Cross shrine will be repaired and erected in front of the doors on Ward Avenue according to plan.
  • Our gold crosses will be mounted atop the church, first the eastern cross on the steeple, then the cross on the west exo-narthex facing the parish field.
  • A TV monitor will be installed in the vestibule just inside the main doors for announcements, parish updates, etc. It will be similar to the monitor which was in the vestibule of the old church.