When we sin and then seek God' forgiveness, we are freed from the guilt of that sin. But, it's temporal effects remain. In other words, since my sin has introduced disorder into the world, I need somehow to do penance for that. It is a matter of justice. Now, I will either do that penance here on earth through prayer, fasting, and works of charity or, I will do that penance in Purgatory after I die. Yes, there is a purgatory.
Because the Church has power to bind and loose both in heaven and on earth, the Church sometimes grants what are called "indulgences." Basically, what the Church is saying is that because there is an infinite amount of merits gained by Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary (who had no need to do works of penance) and all of the other saints, those merits can be applied to us or to the dead. So, for a little, tiny, minuscule effort on our part, we can gain a plenary indulgence between this evening (August 1) and tomorrow evening (August 2). A plenary indulgence means that either we ourselves or somebody who has died whom we offer the indulgence for are completely freed from all of the temporal punishment due to our past sins. How awesome is that? A clean slate!
This particular indulgence is connected to St. Francis of Asissi. The Portinicula is a beautiful chapel where St. Francis died and where St. Clare professed her vows. Because so many beautiful graces were given by God at this chapel, during his lifetime St. Francis asked the pope to grant a plenary indulgence to anyone who visits this chapel and performs certain meritorious acts. The pope agreed.
So, if you visit this chapel today in Italy, you can get the indulgence. Oh, you can't go to Italy today? Oh, that's too bad. I guess you are out of luck. No, no, no. See, the Church is not the bad guy everyone paints her out to be. The Church wants people to have new beginnings. So, she has made this indulgence totally easy to obtain. Are you ready? Do you want to write this down?
You have to do the following:
You also need to be free from all attachment to mortal and venial sin. If you are not free from all attachment, then the indulgence can still be obtained, but it might be partial and not plenary (full).
That's it. For that little bit of effort, all of the punishments that are due to my past sins will be remitted and I can start fresh. Or, if there is somebody I know who has died, I can offer it for that person. So, that's what I'll be doing. Want to do it with me?"
Yep, that's what I bet your day at work is going to be like today. You are probably going to have that conversation a hundred times. Or maybe it would be easier just to email a link to this blogpost to those people or google the Portiuncula Indulgence and send some other link to them. Might as well share this good news. No worries. The merits of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints are infinite, so you can tell as many people as you want. They'll still be plenty for everyone!