On Christmas Day the Church allows us to receive the great gift of the plenary indulgence through the Solemn Benediction ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the City of Rome and all the world) by the Holy Father. This indulgence removes ‘all the temporal punishment due to sin’ making us appear holy and pure before God, as on the day of our Baptism. By implication, if we were to die shortly after (obviously without committing any further sins) we would go straight to heaven like the good thief beside Our Lord on the cross. This gift that we receive at Christmas, also Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, is that we can tri- annually clean our souls in preparation for that moment when we finally meet the Lord when we die. It is like the way we prepare our homes for Christmas each year, cleaning them, decorating them so that they are ready for the celebrations. So too with our souls, with this practice we prepare ourselves to receive this great gift and it also prepares us for the greatest gift of all, eternal life in the presence of the Lord!
Alternatively, the indulgence can also be applied to a loved one who has died. This is a great act of charity for the Holy Souls in purgetory who depend on our prayers.
To receive the gift of the plenary indulgence, it is necessary to fulfil three conditions:
Sacramental confession – within at least one week (before or after) of the granting of the indulgence,
Eucharistic communion on the day,
To pray for the intentions of the Holy Father – usually by saying the Creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary on the day.
The Urbi et Orbi benediction is a particular Solemn Benediction that the Holy Father grants to the whole world and all people. We can receive the great gift of the indulgence by (in addition to the three conditions mentioned above) listening to the Pope’s message and benediction at St Peter’s Square when it is imparted or also through T.V, radio or the internet some time on the day. This tradition was lost in the midst of time originally being confined to those actually in St Peter’s Basilica but subsequently, through the wonders of modern communications, has been extended to all the world.
Below is a very loose English translation of the words of the benediction that will be read by the Holy Father from the Benediction Loge in St Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Day:
‘… that the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, on whose power and authority we confide will intercede for us to the Lord. AMEN
By the merits and intersession of the Most Holy Ever Virgin Mary, of the Archangel Michael, of St John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints, we pray that Almighty God will have mercy on us and pardon our sins through Jesus Christ and lead us to Eternal Life. AMEN
The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant us the indulgence, the absolution and remission of all our sins, the tome for a true and fruitful penance, a life changing contrite heart, the consolatory grace of the Holy Spirit and final perseverance in our good works. AMEN
The Benediction of Almighty God, Father + Son + and Holy Spirit + descend upon you and remain with you for ever!’
Have a holy Christmas
Missionaries of Divine Revelation