Ten churches in diocese open for St. Joseph pilgrimages

The faithful may visit nine churches in the Diocese of Wichita named in honor of St. Joseph and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita for a plenary indulgence during the Year of St. Joseph. (Advance graphic)

The Vatican has approved a request from Bishop Carl A. Kemme and has granted a plenary indulgence to those who, during the Year of St. Joseph, visit churches in the Diocese of Wichita named after St. Joseph. The grant also allowed Bishop Kemme to include the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita as an additional pilgrimage site. Altogether there are 10 pilgrimage sites in the diocese.

The year honoring the foster father of Jesus began on Dec. 8, 2020, and will end on Dec. 7, 2021.

During this Year of St. Joseph, the faithful may visit the sites as often as they wish, but a plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. An indulgence may be gained for the penitent or the souls in purgatory, but not for another living person.

Plenary indulgence explained

As Christians, our vocation is love – to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Sometimes our love falls short and we wound and damage our union with God and his church through sin.

In true sorrow, we take these sins to the confessional and receive the abundant mercy and forgiveness of God. Our sincere confession wipes away (remits) the eternal punishment that is our due and we are brought into communion once again.

However, just as when a parent forgives for a broken window but expects some form of restitution to be made, so too, we are bound to pay the penalty due for the wounds we inflict. Our soul remains in need of purification because of the consequences of our actions. Purification is needed, either while on earth or afterward in purgatory. This is called temporal (for a limited time) punishment.

With the authority given by Christ “to bind and loose,” the church dispenses and applies the spiritual goods of its “spiritual treasury.” This spiritual treasury is the infinite, inexhaustible value that Christ’s merits have before God and their manifestation in the saints who followed in his footsteps. In other words, the act of love of one brings about good for the others, the sacrifice of one profits the others, and the holiness of one member is of benefit to the others.

To dispense from this spiritual treasury, the church attaches to certain actions an indulgence (a pardon – either in full or in part) which releases one from the temporal punishment due. Christ himself, acting through the church, brings about the healing of the consequences of sin when a person, with sincerity and devotion, fulfills the indulgenced action.

How to gain the granted plenary indulgence for the Year of Saint Joseph

To gain the indulgence you must have the following: the capacity, the proper disposition, fulfill the necessary conditions, and complete the action or work, such as a pilgrimage. To have the capacity to receive the indulgence a person must be baptized and be in the state of grace, that is, free of mortal sin (at least by the completion of the work). To have the proper disposition means to have at least the general intention of gaining the plenary indulgence. Certain required conditions must be met to gain the plenary indulgence:

• One must be free of all attachment to sin – even venial sin. In other words, the desire to commit sin must be absent.
At least 20 days before or after:
• Make a Sacramental Confession (a single confession suffices for gaining several indulgences)
• Receive Holy Communion for each plenary indulgence (preferably the day the work/action is fulfilled)
• Pray for the intentions of the pope for each plenary indulgence. An Our Father and Hail Mary is suggested, preferably the day of.

Complete the work or action

This means making an actual pilgrimage and offering the prescribed prayers:

• Visit one of the churches dedicated to Saint Joseph or the Cathedral and, while there, participate in Mass; or at least pray before an image of Saint Joseph for a sufficient amount of time, particularly pleading for:
• The United States to be faithful to its Christian vocation
• Vocations to the priesthood and religious life
• The defense of the human family
• Conclude your visit with the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and invocations to the Holy Family, for example, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us.”
The plenary indulgence is granted when, with true devotion, the indulgenced work is fulfilled in the time and manner prescribed (as described above). If anything is lacking, the indulgence granted will be partial.

One final note

The elderly, the sick, and all who are legitimately impeded are also able to obtain a plenary indulgence. They must:

• Have a firm intention to gain the indulgence, and reject every sin.
• When possible, fulfill the three usual conditions: Confession, Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father
• Spiritually join themselves to the jubilee pilgrimages and, through Mary, offer the prayers, sorrows, and sufferings of their life to our merciful God.