Powerful Help

Apostolic Pardon Prayer

http://www.sign.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/prayer.jpgThe Church provides powerful help to persons who are dying. Most importantly she obliges her children to seek the grace of the sacraments of Penance, Holy Communion (Viaticum), and the Anointing of the Sick. And she obliges her priests to see to it that the faithful in their care are not deprived of an opportunity to receive them.
In addition to these, there is a little-known, but important, plenary indulgence that is granted to the dying. If it is administered by a priest, it is called the“Apostolic Pardon” or “Apostolic Blessing.”
In the old instruction manual Father Smith Instructs Jackson, Father Smith is asked, “Has the Church any other help for the dying [in addition to the sacraments]?” Father Smith responds: “Yes. The Church empowers the priest to impart a plenary indulgence by what she calls a ‘last blessing.’”
These words of Father Smith’s to Jackson are entirely in accord with the present-day teachings of the Church.
The current ritual of the Anointing of the Sick states that the priest “may add the apostolic pardon for the dying” after the penitential rite or after the sacrament of Penance. When Viaticum is given within Mass, “the apostolic pardon may be added after the final blessing.”
And The Handbook of Indulgences puts it more forcefully: “Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence.”
The Apostolic Blessing has two forms in the ritual for the Anointing of the Sick. Both are short and easy to memorize. Form A: “Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may Almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”
Form B reads as follows: “By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, (+) and of the Holy Spirit.”
The question, of course, arises: “What if there is no priest present when a person is dying?”
The Handbook of Indulgences reassuringly stipulates that “If a priest cannot be present, holy
mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime.” Note the two conditions. The dying person must be “rightly disposed” and have “regularly prayed.”
Being rightly disposed means to be in the state of grace and without attachment even to venial sin. This is required in the gaining of any plenary indulgence. But what does it mean to have “prayed regularly in some way during their lifetime”?
The Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina,promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1967, puts it this way. If one of the faithful in danger of death is unable to have a priest to administer the sacraments and to impart the apostolic blessing, “the Church, like a devoted mother, graciously grants such a person who is properly disposed a plenary indulgence to be gained at the hour of death. The one condition is the practice of praying for this all during life. Use of a crucifix or cross is recommended for the gaining of this indulgence.”
The one condition necessary in such a situation, then, is that the dying person should have desired this indulgence – and prayed for it! No doubt, this can be accomplished in many ways; but one of simplest and clearest ways would be to ponder prayerfully the words of the Apostolic Pardon itself.
To that end, my friends and parishioners Bud and Barbara Kehew have provided us with an attractive presentation of those very words.
More information on the Pardon Prayer can be found here
Pardon Prayer cards can be purchased here

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