By Chris Sparks
The Church is responding to the problems we all face as a result of this pandemic with great seriousness and generosity. The Holy Father is throwing wide open the doors of the Church’s storehouses of grace for the faithful, making it as easy as possible for all of us to be assured of the graces we need to speed the sick and the dying through Purgatory, and to be assured of the graces needed for salvation at the moment of our deaths.
Spread the news of these special graces to every Catholic on the front lines of facing this disease that you know. Make sure they know how to make use of these graces.
New Plenary Indulgence
Because of the pandemic, anyone who, with “the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible,” recites the Divine Mercy Chaplet with the intention “to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself,” can receive a plenary indulgence each day.
This great news was announced in an official decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary on March 20, 2020.
There are other ways to gain this special plenary indulgence, as well:
the faithful suffering from coronavirus and subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes, with a spirit detached from any sin, can gain the plenary indulgence if they “unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.
“Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.”
“This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.”
And here’s a crucial concession to us all, in case we can’t receive the Anointing of the Sick during this period of pandemic and quarantine:
“The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).”
Divine Mercy graces and promises
And more: Make sure they know of the special graces promised to us by our Lord through St. Faustina. Make sure people know that we can obtain unimaginable graces for ourselves, for those suffering as a result of this coronavirus, and for the whole world as we groan beneath the burden of this pandemic.
Jesus told St. Faustina of a number of ways to help people make sure that their final destination is Heaven.
Jesus made extraordinary promises for praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet:
At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the pardon is the same. When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God’s anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul, and the very depths of My tender mercy are moved for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of My Son (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 811).
… 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).
He also made extraordinary promises for veneration of the Divine Mercy Image:
Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary, 47 and 48).
Jesus made extraordinary promises for those who trust in Him.
The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is — trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive (Diary, 1578).
My daughter, know that My Heart is mercy itself. From this sea of mercy, graces flow out upon the whole world. No soul that has approached Me has ever gone away unconsoled. All misery gets buried in the depths of My mercy, and every saving and sanctifying grace flows from this fountain. My daughter, I desire that your heart be an abiding place of My mercy. I desire that this mercy flow out upon the whole world through your heart. Let no one who approaches you go away without that trust in My mercy which I so ardently desire for souls.
Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, 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).
Jesus also made extraordinary promises to all those who spread the message and devotion of Divine Mercy:
Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire lives as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior. At that last hour, a soul has nothing with which to defend itself except My mercy. Happy is the soul that during its lifetime immersed itself in the Fountain of Mercy, because justice will have no hold on it (Diary, 1075).
Turn to Our Lady
So during this pandemic, let’s thank God for the tremendous graces He’s made available to us through the Holy Father and through St. Faustina. Let’s make sure we spread the word of God’s merciful love, and make regular use of the devotions He’s given to us with such exceptional promises. And let us join the Holy See in asking the Blessed Mother for her special help now:
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, help suffering humanity, saving us from the evil of this pandemic and obtaining for us every good necessary for our salvation and sanctification.
Pray for me; I’ll pray for you.
Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.