Tag Archives: saints

Mary Magdalene and Me

July 22, 2014

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I suppose it is fitting that I write a post on this day – July 22.  Mary of Magdala is my patron saint and today is her feast day.  She is the saint name I took for my confirmation.  When I was in fourth grade as to what name I was to take for my confirmation name – I said Mary.  My confirmation instructor praised me for choosing Mary – the mother of Christ but I quickly retorted and said, “Oh no, I want to be the bad Mary.” I am not sure if this speaks to the bad preparation I received in my catechesis and confirmation prep or if it speaks of the bad idea of having 4th graders confirmed.

Through the years and through my reconversion to the faith, I have come to love Mary Magdalene and embrace her as my patron saint.  She is often associated with the woman caught in adultery, (John 8:1-11) but there is no biblical reference that the woman was Mary Magdalene.  She is mentioned as the women whom Jesus has cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9) and of course she was one of the women who stayed at the cross of Jesus even when others fled. Maybe the most important role she played as the apostle to the apostles is to be the first to witness Jesus after the resurrection!

Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’

Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She turned round then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ — which means Master. (John 20:15-16)

I love this narrative – I often joked that Mary Magdalene must have been a blonde! I mean really, how can someone be looking right at Jesus and think he is the gardener? But, if I am honest, how many times have I been looking at Jesus and not seen Him? And how many times have I been looking at a gardener and think he was Jesus.

Following Jesus in the steps of Mary Magdalene is very fitting for me.  I am a sinner.  I have my seven demons and I believe Jesus is casting them out one by one.  And even if the biblical figure of the woman caught in adultery isn’t Mary Magdalene, I know Jesus forgives me  like the woman caught in adultery.  I also know that Jesus defends me even when I have no other advocate (John 8:7).

So today I celebrate my Saint Day and be reminded that my sins are forgiven, that Jesus defends me and that he loves me through the most difficult times.

 

'Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb', artist unknown

‘Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb’, artist unknown

A Prayer to St. Mary Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.

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Pray With Us

October 23, 2013

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Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Praying Together for Our Church

Below is a letter from Jeff Cavins to the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute inviting us to pray.  Let us all join in this beautiful novena.

In times of difficulty I have learned to turn to Mary.

For those of you who do not know of the Catechetical Institute – I urge everyone to look into it.  I am an alumni. Go C.I.

Thank you Jeff.

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We would like to invite you to something very special that those associated with the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute are doing in response to recent news in our archdiocese.

 

As many of you know, the Catholic Church is going through some extremely difficult times. As graduates and current students, you know that we, at the Catechetical Institute, are not only learning “what” to believe, but we are learning how to “live out” what we believe. It is difficult times such as these that call us to live what we have learned—to truly live as disciples of Jesus Christ, as witnesses to the Gospel, as Christians. This is not an easy task.

 

As Catholics, we are blessed to follow in the great biblical tradition of the heroes of faith, men and women who responded to trials with prayer, praise and thanksgiving. As a united Catechetical Institute, we are doing just that and extending an invitation to our CI community to pray together for every member who makes up our archdiocese; for, the archdiocese is not the structure, it is the people, all of us together. We are inviting you to join us in praying for the entire body of Christ and all who are suffering right now during this arduous time.

 

We are beginning an extraordinary novena, one that happens to be a favorite of Pope Francis. The novena is called, “Mary, Undoer of Knots” and has a beautiful and rich tradition.

 

This novena will begin on Wednesday, October 23rd and conclude on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. If you do not own the small booklet that explains and walks you through the novena, you can find the daily prayers at http://www.cistudent.com.

 

As mature Catholic believers, we must always ask ourselves, “What is the responsible, charitable and right way to proceed?” No doubt, many people have asked you questions about what they are hearing in the media. Our response does not merely represent our own opinion, but it represents the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ, and as such we need to always ask, “What would Jesus do?”

 

Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to season all our words with love, mercy and compassion. This is not only our response to our fellow Catholics, but also the response to those who appear to be attacking the Church. The guilty, the innocent, the accused and the accusers should all be treated with dignity and love. This is what it means to truly live the faith. This is what it means to be a Christian.

 

Thank you for uniting your prayers with ours at the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute. Let us together turn to Mary, Undoer of Knots, invoking her to ask her Son to grant us pure, humble and trusting hearts.

 

In Christ,

 

Jeff Cavins

 

 

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Canonize Lino Rulli? His new book shows how we’re all saints in the making

September 28, 2013

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photoThe Catholic Church calls each and every one of us to answer the call to holiness and strive toward sainthood — even in light of our obvious weaknesses and everyday struggles with sin.

It’s a daunting task for most, but Lino Rulli is up to the challenge. In fact, the St. Paul native and host of Sirius/XM Radio’s “The Catholic Guy” show would like to get there a little faster than the rest of us. In his new book “Saint,” he makes the tongue-in-cheek case for why the Church should canonize him today. (After all, why trust your friends to push your sainthood cause after you die when you can do it yourself?)

In all seriousness, however, the book has a deeper purpose: to encourage you to focus on your spiritual growth and help you “to realize that you might not be as big a sinner as you think, and that, with God’s help, you might just become a saint.”

“Saint” is a follow-up to “Sinner,” Lino’s first book of short, humorous and inspiring stories aimed at encouraging us to live out our faith despite our imperfections. In “Saint,” Lino turns once again to short stories about his life — some funny, some painfully honest, and many with a short nugget of reflection about lessons he learned along the way.

At the end of one story, for example, about an instance when he successfully resisted what can be described as a “temptation of the flesh,” Lino writes: “A saint isn’t someone who has never been tested; a saint is a person who has been tested and, with God’s help, has passed — or, with God’s help, has gotten up the next morning and tried again.”

Saints you can relate to

While Lino was in town yesterday to talk about his book, I asked why he would invest the time and energy to remind people about the call to sainthood. Here’s what he said:

“I guess the reason people like [‘Sinner’] is because a lot of them could relate to it. But, the other side of that coin is the fact that we do need to be reminded that we’re not just a bunch of miserable losers because we fail. For whatever reason, God loves us and we’re still called to holiness. It’s sort of a contradiction in our lives, but it’s the reality of our lives.”

And where can average Joes like myself draw that affirmation and inspiration, other than from Lino and the stories of people who already have a place in the Church’s catalog of saints?

“I get inspired by the average person in church. When I see the mom and dad in church Sunday morning with kids running around like maniacs and you’re going to lose your mind, it inspires me. They don’t have it all together, but they know it would be ten times worse if they didn’t try to go to church. . . . Those are the saints who inspire me: the guy who says I went out Saturday night but I’m still waking up and going to church Sunday morning. Or the single mom. Or even the older people who have their own problems and struggles. I really do look around and I go: We’re all called to be saints, but we’re all saints in the making.”

Chances are future generations won’t be reading about St. Lino in the Church’s official catalog of saints. But he — and the rest of us — should always be striving to be counted eventually among those in heaven.

“Saints” concludes with these wise words:

“Sometimes you chase me, Lord. Sometimes I chase you. But the only time I’ll quit running, the only time I will finally feel at peace, will be when I’m at home with you: there in heaven. That’s when I’ll truly be called a saint.”

Read more about Lino and his new book on his website. You can also order the book from Servant Books.

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The Beatitudes – The roadmap to sainthood

November 1, 2012

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The month of November begins with one of the most important holy days of the entire year, All Saints Day, November 1, when we honor those who have gone before us, lived good and holy lives, and been taken to heaven where they are gathered around God’s throne and can see God as God really is.  While it is proper to remember the great faith and good works of these outstanding men and women, this feast is also a reminder to each of us to live good and holy lives ourselves so that one day we might join the saints in perpetual light.

The journey from this life to the next can be long, with many twists and turns, ups and downs, and it is imperative to stay on the right road.  Fortunately, Jesus has given us a roadmap to guide us on the way, the Beatitudes, the eight spiritual ideals that point in the right direction.

The first sign on the path to holiness reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who trust completely and totally in God and are detached from material possessions.  The second extols mourners, those who endure hardships and losses with courage, learn compassion, and console others who have suffered misfortune with kindness.  The third commends the humble, meek, or lowly, those who have set aside all inclinations to selfishness and pride, are alert and sensitive to others, would prefer to serve rather than be served, and are delighted to help shoulder the burdens and lighten the loads of their neighbors.  The fourth advises “hunger for righteousness,” those who have an intense desire to know what God wants, are glad to obey God’s will, keep themselves free of all wrongdoing, fearlessly speak the truth, and uphold justice.

Jesus goes on to highlight the merciful, those who are patient, slow to anger, do not rush to judgment, give the benefit of the doubt, are not eager to punish, able to grant pardon, and willing to associate with and serve those who have made bad choices.  Next, “the single-hearted” are those who are undivided, who devote themselves exclusively to God, or put another way, “the clean of heart,” those who strive to lead a virtuous life, wish to be in the state of grace and remain pure and innocent, blameless and undefiled.  Peacemakers are those who help to reconcile differences, foster harmony, and build the common good.  Finally, “those who are persecuted for holiness” are willing to suffer for doing what is good and right.  These spiritual ideals serve as the roadmap for traveling through our life on earth as we continue toward our final destination, sainthood in heaven with almighty God.

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New saint on October 21, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

October 20, 2012

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Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be raised to sainthood by Pope Benedict VXI on October 21.  She is affectionately known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” the first Native American to be canonized a saint.  While this is a great moment for the Church across North America, it is particularly significant for Native American Catholics who number approximately 600,000 from 300 tribes in the United States and Canada.

Kateri’s path to sainthood has gone through a number of steps and a lengthy process.  She died in 1680.  Over the next two and a half centuries devotion to her has steadily increased and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession.  Her cause for canonization was opened in 1932; she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943; beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980; approved for canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in December, 2011; and 332 years after her death, she will be formally canonized a saint on October 21, 2012.

Kateri was born in 1656 in Auriesville (Osserneon), New York, on the south bank of the Mohawk River.  Her mother was a Christian Algonquin.  She was orphaned at the age of four when her mother, father, and baby brother all died in a smallpox epidemic.  Kateri also contracted smallpox, survived, but was severely weakened, partially blinded, and face disfigured.

Kateri was then raised by her uncle who hosted three Jesuit missionaries.  They instructed her in the faith and she was baptized on Easter, 1676, at the age of 20.  The Mohawks bitterly opposed her conversion.  They tried to force her to marry, but she refused.  She would not work on Sunday and was branded as lazy.  She prayed the rosary and was taunted as crazy.  She was mocked mercilessly and ostracized by family and neighbors.  When her life was threatened, she fled to Caughnawaga, a small town near Montreal, Canada.

Kateri lived in a cabin where she could practice her faith freely.  She prayed long hours, attended daily Mass, taught children their prayers, visited the sick and elderly, made crosses that she placed throughout the woods, and made a perpetual vow of virginity in1679 at the age of 23.  She suffered recurrent headaches, fevers, stomach aches, and weight loss, much due to her severe self-inflicted penitential practices.  She died on April 17, 1680.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the patron saint of Native Americans, the environment, those who are persecuted for their faith, orphans, and World Youth Day.  Her feast day is July 14.

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St. Clare of Assisi, Virgin and Religious

September 8, 2012

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St. Clare was born in Assisi, Italy, the same hometown as St. Francis, in 1193, twelve years after Francis was born.  Both came from upper class, wealthy families.

When Clare was 18 she listened to a Lenten sermon preached by St. Francis, and she was so moved that on Palm Sunday evening, 1212, she left family and friends to be a religious sister.  Her hair was cut.  She gave up her possessions for a sackcloth robe and a life of simplicity.  At first she went to a Benedictine convent where she received her formation in religious life.

Francis invited Clare to return to Assisi to live in a small house near the San Damiano church, and joined by a number of other women from local families, she took up residence in 1213.  Two years later Francis appointed Clare as the abbess or the religious superior of the new community, a role that she reluctantly accepted, and she lived inside the convent for forty years.  Her sister Agnes entered at the age of 15, and her mother Hortulana, widowed, and her sister Beatrice followed sometime later.

Clare embraced a rigorous, austere life.  The nuns were supported by the work they did inside the convent and donations brought from the outside.  They observed a strict fast every day except Sundays and Christmas.  They abstained from meat entirely.  At night they slept on the ground, while during the day they wore no shoes, socks, or sandals, and observed major silence, forgoing conversation for hours at a time.  As a penitential practice, Clare wore a hair shirt, a coarse, bristly, abrasive undergarment, an aggravating irritant to her skin, and during Lent she lived on bread and water alone.

Both Francis and the bishop viewed these practices as too harsh and asked Clare to soften them.  Not only did Clare comply, but she asked the other sisters to moderate also.

Clare was deeply saddened by the death of Francis in 1226.  She lived another 27 years, most of them in poor health, often confined to bed.  When she was able to work, she sewed altar linens and vestments in her room.  She spent much time in prayer, and she had a special devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist.

Two great miracles are credited to Clare.  The city of Assisi was attacked twice.  Because of her reputation for sanctity, the townsfolk carried her on a mat to the city walls along with a pyx that contained the Blessed Sacrament.  In each case the hostile forces retreated, both attributed to her intercession and the miraculous power of Christ.

Clare founded the Order of the Poor Ladies, now known as the Poor Clares.  She was the first woman to write a Rule of Life that was formally approved by the Church.  Their special charisms are intense prayer, both private and communal; radical poverty and simplicity; as well as cloistered living in a residence secluded from the public.

Clare died in 1253 and was canonized two years later by Pope Alexander IV.  She is the patron saint of embroiderers, and in 1958 Pope Pius XII named her the patron saint of television.

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Do you pin? We do too.

August 3, 2012

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The Catholic Spirit is on Pinterest!

Here is a favorite board:

Saints

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January 21, the Memorial of St. Agnes

January 18, 2012

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St. Agnes stained glass at St. Nicholas in Belle River, MN.

St. Agnes (292-304 AD) is one of the most revered and famous saints of the early Church.  Her courageous martyrdom was so inspiring to early Christians that her name was inserted into numerous litanies of saints, and she is included on the list of apostles and martyrs in the Roman Canon, today known as Eucharistic Prayer I.

Agnes was born in Rome into a wealthy family sometime around 292 AD during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD).  Christianity was not legal.  Undeterred, she became a devout believer already as a young girl.  She had a deep, abiding love for God and considered herself espoused to Jesus alone, and she steadfastly upheld her purity and maintained her virginity.  She died a cruel martyr’s death at the age of twelve or thirteen.  The details of her life are clouded in history, more legend than fact.

As the story goes, Agnes was a beautiful young lady who consecrated herself exclusively to God.  She attracted a great deal of attention from many young men, all competing to court her.  She rebuffed them one by one.  Infuriated by her refusals, her prospective suitors, all pagans, in retaliation revealed her identity as a Christian to the governor.  He interrogated her, and she replied, “I have no spouse but Jesus Christ.”  He threatened her with fire, iron hooks, and the rack, but she scoffed at them all.  She was ordered to offer incense to pagan gods, but she made the Sign of the Cross instead.

Enraged by her defiant attitude, the governor commanded that Agnes be sent to a house of prostitution where lust-filled men could violate her, but his plan was foiled.  When she arrived, those who intended to accost her were overcome with her aura of holiness and decided to respect her, all except one.  When this solitary individual advanced toward her, filled with wicked desires, he was struck blind.  The sightless man’s companions, awestruck by Agnes’ courage and faith, brought their friend to Agnes who offered a prayer and healed him.

Because of the cure, Agnes was accused of witchcraft and returned to the governor who, fuming with rage, condemned her to death by beheading.  She was taken to the Stadium of Domitian; the same location as today’s popular tourist attraction, the Piazza Navona.  St. Ambrose later wrote, “She went to her place of execution more cheerfully than others go to their wedding.”  It was there that she was beheaded by the sword.

St. Agnes has two symbols:  a palm branch, the symbol of martyrdom, and a lamb, because her name is so similar to the Latin word agnus which means “lamb.”  She is the patron saint of young girls, the Girl Scouts, purity, and Christian virtue.

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Why the saints are in a good position to pray for us

October 25, 2011

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The Trinity Adored by All Saints (detail), Spain, early 15th cen. Photo/clairity Licensed through Creative Commons

Every day people post prayer intentions on a board outside my church’s perpetual adoration chapel in hopes that adorers will take those needs to prayer.  And every Sunday Catholics pray for the Church, their communities and the world.

Christians pray for others–and it makes sense that they’d continue to pray in heaven.

As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, it’s worth considering who the saints are and why we ask them to intercede for us.

The Catechism defines a saint as, “the ‘holy one’ who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life.” That’s what we’re all aiming at.

Heroic Virtue

A holy person who has died becomes a saint with a capital ‘S’ when the Church canonizes or beatifies them after common repute and conclusive arguments prove they’ve exercised heroic virtue during their lives.

One of the biggest objections to asking for a saint’s intercession (We don’t pray to them but rather we ask them to pray with us.)  is the scripture passage stating that Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity. (I Tim. 2:5)

However, those who are with the Lord are in a good position to offer Him our petitions:

“Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. … [T]hey do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquire on earth through the one mediator between  God and men, Christ Jesus. … So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” (CCC 956)

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, we can pray two ways. First, to God alone “because all our prayers ought to be direct to obtaining grace and glory which God alone gives.”  But secondly, “we pray to the holy angels and to men not that God may learn our petition through them, but that by their prayers and merits our prayers may be efficacious.”

Scriptural Basis

Scripture contains many references to the effectiveness of intercession on earth and in heaven. Rev. 5:8 and 8:3-4 describe the prayers of the saints as like incense before God.  Job 42:8 speaks of the intercession of Job and Gen. 20:7 and 17 to that of Abraham.  Also, Phil. 1:3-4 and Rom. 15:30 emphasize the importance of intercession.

During their lives the saints like St. Cyprian encouraged us to give our petitions to Christians in heaven:

“Let us be mutually mindful of each other, let us ever pray for each other, and if one of us shall, by the speediness of the Divine vouchsafement, depart hence first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord, let not prayer for our brethren and sisters cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father.”

Maybe when we post our petitions at church we should also ask as some powerful Christians in a better location to pray, as St. John Chrysostom  encourages:

“When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies … but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power.”

 

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What are indulgences and why do we need them?

September 7, 2011

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kids climbing

Indulgences give us the chance to receive a "hand up" from Christ and the saints as we seek remission of punishment for our sins. Photo by Jo Guldi. Licensed under Creative Commons.

What if the government worked out this solution to the personal debt crisis:  All Americans would contribute everything they made, beyond their personal needs, to a common treasury. The wealthy would put in their billions, and everyone else in lower tax brackets would put in what they had.

A trustworthy administrator with authority would give those who had maxed out their credit cards the opportunity to pay off their debts from the common pot if they showed remorse and determination to learn better financial habits. The treasury would always be full because of one super contributor and because others were constantly adding to it.

This may sound like a great socialist scheme but in reality, it’s an image that helps describe how indulgences work in the Church. By drawing on the merits of Christ and the saints, an indulgence enables us to obtain remission of the temporal punishment (which has a beginning and end, unlike eternal punishment) we incur when we sin.

When we confess our sins to a priest in confession, receive absolution and do the penance we’re given, our sins are forgiven. But just like sincere contrition alone wouldn’t fix a rear-ended car, forgiveness of sin alone doesn’t satisfy God’s justice, according to Church teaching.

All sin, including venial sin, involves unhealthy attachment to creatures, from which the sinner must be purified before entering heaven (CCC 1472). That purification of temporal punishment happens either on earth or in Purgatory.

Inexhaustible storehouse of merits

Typically combining works of piety, prayer and the sacraments, indulgences are granted by the Pope, who presides over the Church’s treasury of satisfaction: her inexhaustible  storehouse of the merits of Christ, the Blessed Mother and the saints.

Indulgences are not permission to commit sin, pardon of past sin or forgiveness of guilt. They suppose that sin is already forgiven. They’re not an exemption from any law or duty but a more complete payment of debt owned to God.  And above all, they’re not an attempt to purchase pardon in order to secure salvation or release a soul from Purgatory.

“He who gains indulgences is not thereby released outright from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it,” wrote St. Thomas Aquinas.

Besides being in the state of grace, those who seek indulgences must do the works prescribed for the indulgence, love God, place their trust in Christ’s merits and believe strongly in the great assistance they receive from the Communion of Saints, Pope Paul VI wrote in his Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences.

There are two types of indulgences: A plenary indulgence removes all temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven. To obtain it, a Catholic must do the work attached to the indulgence, go to confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions (at least one Our Father and one Hail Mary).  A partial indulgence removes part of the punishment and requires that the act attached to the indulgence be performed contritely.

Facts about indulgences

  • A Catholic can obtain one plenary indulgence per day, but more than one when at the point of death.
  • It’s possible to gain more than one partial indulgence per day.
  • The faithful can obtain plenary indulgences quite easily at least twice a year, once for their church’s titular saint day and for Portiuncula (August 2), the first plenary  indulgence granted in the Church.
  • A plenary indulgence, applicable only for the dead, can be acquired on November 2.
  • See the Catholic Answers website for more information on how to obtain indulgences.

Knowing the great wealth Christ and the saints have deposited in our Church’s treasury of satisfaction–and how much we need it–we have good incentive to take the grace of indulgences seriously.

 

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