So. Is it the “Year of the Priest” OR the “Year for Priests”? From what I gather it is, in Latin, “Annus Sacerdotalis”, in other words, the “Priestly Year”.
Any way, which ever it is, it is now on for young and old, lay and ordained. But what, as Blessed Martin might have said, does this mean for us – ie. the great un-ordained populace of non-priests? What are we supposed to be doing in this year?
Well, get your diaries out, because, there are a couple of dates on which you can do something really good for your soul (or for the souls of the departed faithful, lay or ordained) while at the same time supporting the ministry of our priests in prayer: INDULGENCES!
During the Year for Priests established by the Holy Father on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the gift of special indulgences is granted.
Shortly the day will come on which will be commemorated the 150th anniversary of the pious departure to Heaven of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d’Ars. This Saint was a wonderful model here on earth of a true Pastor at the service of Christ’s flock.
Since his example is used to encourage the faithful, and especially priests, to imitate his virtues, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has established that for this occasion a special Year for Priests will be celebrated, from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010, in which all priests may be increasingly strengthened in fidelity to Christ with devout meditation, spiritual exercises and other appropriate actions.
This holy period will begin with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day of priestly sanctification on which the Supreme Pontiff will celebrate Vespers in the presence of the holy relics of St John Mary Vianney, brought to Rome by the Bishop of Belley-Ars, France.
…May priests commit themselves, with prayer and good works, to obtaining from Christ the Eternal High Priest, the grace to shine with Faith, Hope, Charity and the other virtues, and show by their way of life, but also with their external conduct, that they are dedicated without reserve to the spiritual good of the people, something that the Church has always had at heart.
The gift of Sacred Indulgences which the Apostolic Penitentiary, with this Decree issued in conformity with the wishes of the August Pontiff, graciously grants during the Year for Priests will be of great help in achieving the desired purpose in the best possible way.
BULLETIN no.. 0328-12.05.2009
A. Truly repentant priests who, on any day, … [we'll skip this bit on the assumption that a. priests know this stuff already, b. you, dear reader, are a layperson - a thoroughly gratuitous assumption, but there it is...]
B. The Plenary Indulgence is granted to all the faithful [ie. you, dear reader] who are truly repentant [nota bene - that's the the important bit] who, in a church or in a chapel, devoutly attend the divine Sacrifice of Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, for the priests of the Church, and any other good work which they have done on that day, so that he may sanctify them and form them in accordance with His Heart, as long as they have made expiation for their sins through sacramental confession and prayed in accordance with the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions: on the days in which the Year for Priests begins [forget it, if you are reading this today, you have missed it] and ends [plenty of time to plan, you are looking at June 19, 2010], on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious passing of St John Mary Vianney [ie. August 4, 2009], on the first Thursday of the month [there you go...first opportunity Thursday July 2nd] or on any other day established by the local Ordinaries for the benefit of the faithful…
Lastly [something you can do everyday if you like!], the Partial Indulgence is granted to all the faithful every time they devoutly recite five Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorias, or another expressly approved prayer, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to obtain that priests be preserved in purity and holiness of life.
This Decree is valid for the entire duration of the Year for Priests. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 25 April, the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 2009.
Cardinal James Francis Stafford
+ Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv.
Titular Bishop of Meta, Regent