Can you please do a detailed post on Divine Mercy Sunday? My father is under the impression that his "slate" is wiped clean on that day after attending Mass and if he were hit by a bus walking out the church doors he would go immediately to Heaven.
Wait, I think there's also something about attending Mass for the next seven Sundays or something like that.
I have a hard time believing a person can stand on his left leg, jump three times on three consecutive Sundays and then be granted immediate entrance to Heaven.
Please clarify. Thank you in advance.
I am thrilled that you asked!
Your father is more correct than you might imagine. That's part of the reason I was pleased to point out that next Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Now for those details. How we love details!
First, let's start with the part where your father is right. Check out the name of this feast day: DIVINE MERCY. This feast is a shout out to the worst sinners and regular old sinners alike that God's Mercy is boundless. That means without boundaries.
God will forgive anyone for anything as long as the person is truly sorry for their mistake, even if 'mistake' is just euphemism for heinous crime, debauchery or mayhem. This is God's mercy, not ours. It's what Jesus came to tell us about, which is why the Pope stuck it onto the second Sunday after Easter. God's Divine Mercy rather sums up just about everything Jesus wanted you to know.
Jesus appeared to a nun named Sister Faustina, and told her all about God's Divine Mercy. He sent an angel to take her on a tour of hell so that she could be very specific when she talked about what people might avoid by seeking God's Mercy. Then he gave her a plan, and a nice portrait of Himself, to guide people to receiving God' Mercy.
So, your father is absolutely correct that by participating in the second Sunday of Easter devotion to Divine Mercy, he could walk out of church, get hit by a bus and go straight to heaven.
So....let's talk about two more things:
1. What it means to participate.
2. What is a plenary indulgence.
PARTICIPATION: Your father can't just skip to my Lou into church on Sunday and skip back out and expect to get a plenary indulgence. He'll have to also go to confession, receive Holy Communion, pray for the Pope and stay sin free until the bus hits him. He'd better jolly well go to Mass for the next umpteen Sundays and every Sunday after that, because if you are an able bodied person, it's a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday.
PLENARY INDULGENCE: People have a major problem with the idea of indulgences. I think that a lot of people don't know what they are. At all.
Once you confess your sins and are forgiven, you still have to pay the piper and be punished for your sin. An indulgence is a pass on the punishment portion of sins
At the risk of dredging up the complaints of Martin Luther, I will make an analogy. You go to the hospital very sick, they do all kinds of things to you to make you better and you actually get well.
That would be the confession part.
But now you have a big fat hospital bill to pay. The sicker you were, the bigger the bill.
That's the punishment for sin part.
Now suppose the hospital waived your bill, or part of your bill.
If they waived part of the bill, that would be an indulgence. If they waived the whole thing, that would be a plenary indulgence. A complete waive of the punishment due for your sins that you just confessed (and one's you forgot to confess as long as you actually forgot and didn't "forget").
A plenary indulgence is what you get for your participation in the Divine Mercy devotion next Sunday. That means you actually have work to do. You have to go to confession. You have to have no sin in your heart. You have to go to Holy Communion. You have to pray for the Pope.
And the indulgence, even the plenary indulgence, is only good until you sin again. Going with our hospital analogy, you got sick, got well in the hospital, the hospital waived the whole bill and then....you get sick again. Maybe you have the same illness, maybe you have something new, maybe it's just a little glitch, a slight complication, but how you're sick again. AND even after you're well again, you're going to have to deal with a new bill.
That means that your father could being walking out of church, have a sinful thought about Mrs. Sheffield lumbering out the door in front of him and when the bus hits him there at the curb, he will find himself in Purgatory with a bill to pay. Let's hope he doesn't manage to commit a mortal sin on the way out the door or he will be doing more than touring Hell.
I hope the news that your father is on the right track doesn't upset you too much. Perhaps reading through this old post from a while back will ease your mind.