FEEDBACK: “This morning at seminary we were discussing….”

I am glad when I get feedback about how this blog has been useful for someone, especially in important matters having to do with the life of faith.

Today I received a note about something that happened in a seminary class room about a really important matter that someday could (please God!) affect us all!

I am a transitional deacon and would especially like to thank you for your post of 8th June 2011 on the Apostolic Pardon. I remember reading it at the time. This morning at seminary we were discussing the sacrament of anointing of the sick and the question of the Apostolic Pardon came up. The priest leading the discussion was not especially clued up as to it’s significance, so afterwards I e-mailed your post to our class and a number of them said how helpful it was. I just thought you would like to know that. Thanks for your continued good work.

We should all pray often that God will preserve us from a sudden and unprovided death, that is, death without the opportunity of the Last Sacraments, Penance, Anointing, Eucharist as viaticum, and, with them, the Apostolic Pardon.

I can’t tell you what what a grace and consolation it is for a priest to be able to administer these rites along with the Apostolic Pardon.  Surely it is also a great consolation to family members and to the dying person when they know what is taking place.

As I having written before, the Apostolic Pardon, or Benediction, forgives temporal punishment due to our sins, not the sins themselves.

If anything remains from our lives, provided we die in the state of grace, for which we have not done adequate penance, the temporal punishment due to those sins, if we have not done adequate penance in life, is forgiven us through the Apostolic Pardon.  This is why the Apostolic Pardon is often given after the Last Rites of sacraments of penance, anointing, and Viaticum.

This is a marvelous faculty, given by Holy Church to the priest so that he can grant this remission of temporal punishment and forgive sins.  Used in conjunction with the Last Rites a soul is well prepared to go on to judgment.  Well prepared.  We cannot force God and force souls, but we have confidence that God’s promises to the Church and the Church’s teaching to us are all true.

I am glad that this blog played a part in a classroom full of men to be ordained.  These are your future priests!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gerard Plourde says:

    I am always edified by your postings on the importance of Confession and the boundless mercy of God toward the repentant sinner. These are topics that bear constant repetition and are a part of your unique ministry.

  2. Jason Keener says:

    Unfortunately, when my mom passed away in June, the priest was unable to make it in time to give her the Apostolic Pardon. Thankfully, she did receive the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion a couple of days before her death, though she was never offered the Sacrament of Penance, which was somewhat baffling. I still feel bad about her not receiving the Pardon, but I prayed in her final moments that God would apply the grace of the Pardon to her.

  3. acardnal says:

    Thank you Fr. Z. Your social media apostolate IS bearing fruit.

  4. Grumpy Beggar says:

    It is “somewhat baffling” , as also reflected in the transitional deacon’s comments how the “priest leading the discussion was not especially clued up as to its significance.” – both exceptionally well expressed charitable criticisms – concerning a particularly serious subject.

    I believe Jason Keener’s response and trust in God’s Mercy , is precisely what the Church contemplates and recommends in those situations when a priest cannot be present (and when they say cannot be present , that is meant in direct reference to the imparting of the Apostolic Pardon [also referred to below as the Apostolic Blessing ] ). It is how we are to proceed any time the Apostolic Pardon shall not be made available (even in such a baffling way by one capable of imparting it actually being present, yet not especially clued in enough to do so).

    From the HANDBOOK OF INDULGENCES, Norms and Grants , Catholic Book Publishing Co,. 1991 ,

    “In Articulo Mortis
    At The Approach of Death
    Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence.

    In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way.

    The Christian faithful can obtain the plenary indulgence mentioned here as death approaches (in articulo mortis) even if they had already obtained another plenary indulgence that same day.

    This grant, number 28 , is taken from the apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 18 .”

    So the one hitch, might still be for some less fortunate souls facing death : “provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime.”

    What if they didn’t ? And what if they weren’t Catholic ?

    In these instances, as always, we still have the resource of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. One of the promises Jesus revealed to St. Faustina, was that when the Chaplet is recited in the presence of the dying – or for a particular person who is dying , we gain an indulgence for the dying person:

    “Encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you (1541) . . . “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death” (Diary 687) . . . “When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just judge, but as the merciful Savior” (Diary 1541) . . . “Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties [that is, insistent prayers], obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of My mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul” (Diary 1777) . . . “Every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same” (Diary, 811).

    Chaplet For the Sick and Dying , Divine Mercy

  5. rachmaninov says:

    Thanks to Fr Z’s post on this back in 2011, as a family, we always say as part of night prayers, a prayer asking to be granted the Apostolic Pardon at our deaths and a Glory Be in advanced thanksgiving.
    It is truly a treasure of the faith that must be proclaimed so much more .
    Thanks again Fr Z!
    Stephen Walford

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I’ve used some your posts the very same way.

  7. everett says:

    I teach a high school class on sacramental theology, and we just discussed this sacrament last week, including the apostolic blessing and the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. Your posts are regularly a valuable resource to me in my teaching.

  8. Mike says:

    This would seem an appropriate day to pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother that seminary formators become better versed in the operation and administration of the sacraments than your correspondent’s instructor may be. One is inclined to doubt that seminaries are anywhere near completely recovered from the damage inflicted on them and their students in the latter half of the twentieth century.

  9. Seppe says:

    In case anyone might be interested, Mr. Peter Bond at offers a beautiful Apostolic Pardon Prayer Card (printed in full color on super thick card stock with high gloss coating front and back) available here:
    These Prayer Cards would be great resources for those who visit the sick or who work in hospital ministry.

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