Photo: Felix Carroll
The Holy See has taken note of a historic moment for the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
To mark the Golden Jubilee (1960-2010) of the Shrine, Pope Benedict XVI has granted a plenary indulgence for all Shrine pilgrims throughout 2010.
The Shrine, administered by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, is the spiritual home of the Association of Marian Helpers. The plenary indulgence is the highlight for the yearlong celebration marking the Shrine's 50th anniversary and extends from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010, the opening and closing of the Golden Jubilee.
Shrine Rector Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, explained what pilgrims must do to obtain the plenary indulgence, which grants remission of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.
"To gain the indulgence," Fr. Anthony said, "pilgrims must receive sacramental confession within a month of their visit (before or after), receive Holy Communion, offer prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father, and commit themselves to a complete detachment from sin."
Father Anthony continued, "The understanding of indulgence harkens back to the Old Testament, where God asked His people to celebrate their relationship with Him in a special way every 50 years. All debts were forgiven during a jubilee year. It represented renewal. I see in that a profound connection with the message of Divine Mercy. Through God's mercy, we can have all our debts cancelled before Him."
Read the full text of the plenary indulgence granted by the Holy See.
Father Anthony hastens to add that those who cannot make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine due to old age, serious illness, or other serious cause may venerate the image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy. They must fulfill the other conditions as listed or at least have the intention to fulfill as soon as it is possible.
The Marians, who have been official promoters of The Divine Mercy message since 1941, began planning to build the Shrine when they first arrived on Eden Hill in Stockbridge in the early 1940s. After a decade-long construction project, the Shrine was solemnly dedicated on May, 30, 1960.
Since that time, it has accommodated the needs of the faithful from around the world. In particular, the Shrine has nourished them with the life-changing message of The Divine Mercy.
In addition to the plenary indulgence, the 50th anniversary year will be celebrated throughout the year. Highlights include Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend (April 10-11), the Shrine's Golden Jubilee celebration (May 29), and the New England regional event of the North American Congress on Mercy (Oct. 10). Check the Shrine's schedule for more information.
"In closing, whenever you come to celebrate with us in 2010, may you experience jubilee renewal — the fruit of God's mercy," said Fr. Anthony.