Dear friends in Christ, I would like to share with you
my first Spiritual Experience
in the year of Jubilee, the New Millennium.
St. Thomas Aquinas in Sugar Land, Texas, was having a mission on Evangelization to kick off our “Disciples in Mission” program. Our pastor strongly encouraged all parishioners to be there. Our guest speaker was Father Bruce Nieli speaking on 'Evangelization in the Spirit of Jubilee 2000."
The first night, I felt like I had to drag myself there because my day had been full of demands and the next day didn't appear to be any lighter. To be honest with you, I went specifically because I didn't want to disappoint my pastor. Father Nieli presented his teaching during the homily of the mass. He also offered to hear confessions after mass. I really wanted to go to confession but the line was too long, and I needed to get home. So my plan was to be first in line the following night.
The next night, I came even though I was exhausted from my day. I attended with an excited expectancy to hear what Father Nieli had to say and also to celebrate the Eucharist. I thought, “If only the rest of our parish knew what they were missing they would surely be here too.” It wasn't just Fr Nieli's presentation, but the whole evening. We had worship, teaching and the Eucharist. What a feast! You can't beat that. After mass, as I planned, I made sure I was one of the firsts in line for confession. There was something on my heart I needed to take care of.
The last night, I knew I wouldn't miss no matter what. It was encouraged that all the Middle School and High school youth be at church along with their parents for the final presentation. I wanted my children to be there with me, but due to academic reasons my daughter was unable to attend. Later, my daughter wished that she had gone and trusted that the Lord would help her complete her school work My son however, did not have school work, so I decided to take him along even though he was unhappy about it.
The evening was different than I expected, but it was excellent. At the closing, Father Bruce Nieli announced that he had been given the authority by the Pope to give an apostolic blessing to all those attending the mission and those attending would receive all the indulgences attached to this blessing. Well, to my surprise as he lifted his hand in blessing, I had a very tangible experience of something actually wiping my heart clean. It was as if I had been given a clean slate. I was ecstatic that I received a gift I wasn't expecting. My son, being there out of the act of obedience, also receives this apostolic blessing.
Indulgences have been a part of the church throughout church History. Indulgence is a removal of temporal punishment due to sin. I don't understand how it works, but I don't understand the Trinity, it is a mystery and yet I believe it. I don't understand electricity and yet it exists. I do not fully understand what happened but I know I felt as if someone scrubbed my heart clean that night. I touched the young lady in front of me and excitedly told her what happened and she too felt something. There were several people that had some experience.
As a comparison, I will give an example. We had an experience in our home just a week earlier that might help understand indulgence. My son-in-law was playing ball in our home and it hit one of my nice pictures and the glass broke. He asked me for forgiveness and I forgave him, but the glass still needed replacement. Well, to me the blessing of indulgences is similar, not only is my son-in-law forgiven, but it would be like if I would tell my son that I would pay to have the picture fixed. His slate was wipe clean. How can I not do this after what the Lord has done for me? My sins have been forgiven but also through the apostolic blessing not only are my sins forgiven but also by the blood of Jesus Christ my debt was lifted. That saving grace was applied to me that night with the gift of the apostolic blessing and reception of indulgences. Please, look up indulgence in the Catholic Catechism and in the Early Church Fathers Writings. It will help explain it to you more clearly. Also, please, look further in this site about the opportunities in the Dioceses of Galveston and Houston to gain special graces in this year of Jubilee.
Father Bruce Nieli led us in a renewal of baptismal promises and commitment to follow Jesus as Lord, to study the word of God and the teachings of the Church. This is the apostolic faith that has been handed down to us for 2000 years.
When I arrived home the last night of the mission, I felt like I've just been baptized and washed clean like a newborn baby. I remember thinking; "Lord if this is as clean as my heart is going to get then take me home now before I get all cluttered up again." I did tell Him "I'm not quite ready yet, there is plenty I feels need to do, but You know the future better than 1, and I want to go when my heart is clean." I know something happened and only in eternity will I be able to understand it.
This is the year of Jubilee, don't be robbed of your faith inheritance because of the pressures and responsibilities of life and daily living. Avail yourself to as many graces as you can this year through the sacraments, devotions and opportunities the church has set up for you to receive.
Check an the Internet for the occasions of grace to receive special blessing and indulgences. Don't let the worries and cares of this world distract you from receiving your indulgences this year.
Is there someone in your life you still hold unforgiveness to or still angry with, give them the grace of the Jubilee and set them free and in the process set yourself free.
God bless you,
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