Blog Post

Pope Officially Opens Pauline Year

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer On June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI officially inaugurated the Pauline Year, a year for Christians to listen and learn anew from St. Paul, who he called a great “teacher, apostle and herald” to the world today. During a prayer service in the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where the remains of St. Paul have been kept for centuries, the Pope addressed Catholics as well as representatives from other Christian denominations. “Paul is not simply a figure of the past, who we remember with veneration,” he said. “He is also a teacher, apostle and herald of Jesus Christ for us as well. . . .(W)e are therefore gathered not to reflect on a past history,” because “Paul wants to talk to us today. That is why I have desired to convoke this Pauline Year: to listen to him and to learn from him today, as our teacher of ‘the faith and the truth’ in which are rooted the reasons for the unity of the disciples of Christ.”  “We ask ourselves: ‘Who is Paul? What is he telling me?’” Pope Benedict went on to answer these questions with a quote from the letter of the Apostle to the Galatians: “I live in the faith of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me” (Gal 2:20). “Everything that Paul does starts from this core,” the Pope explained. “His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a completely personal manner. His faith is the recognition of the fact that Christ has confronted death not for someone unknown, but for love of him, Paul, and that, since He is Risen, He loves him still.  “But what most deeply motivated him, was the fact of being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to transmit to others this love. Paul was someone capable of loving, and all his laboring and suffering is explained only from this core.” The Holy Father then explained what he said was one of Saint Paul's key words: Freedom. “The experience of being loved to the core by Christ opened his eyes to the truth and to the way of human existence. It was an experience that totally embraced him. Paul was free as a man loved by God, a man who, by virtue of God, was capable of loving with Him. This love is now 'the law' of his life and therefore the freedom of his life.” “Freedom and responsibility are here united in an inseparable way. Because there is responsibility in love, he is free; because he is someone who loves, he lives completely in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as a pretext for arbitrariness or selfishness.” According to the official Vatican Decree, the Church is offering a plenary indulgence to “All Christian faithful - truly repentant, duly purified by the Sacrament of Penance and restored with Holy Communion.” In order to gain this indulgence, the faithful must “undertake a pious visit in the form of a pilgrimage to the papal basilica of St. Paul on Rome's Via Ostiense and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff” to be “granted and imparted Plenary Indulgence for the temporal punishment of their sins.” Those who are unable to make a pilgrimage to the basilica can receive the indulgence by participating in a celebration for St. Paul. “Christian faithful from the various local Churches, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) and completely unattached to any form of sin, may still obtain the Plenary Indulgence if they participate devotedly in a religious function or in a pious exercise held publicly in honor of the Apostle of the Gentiles: on the days of the solemn opening and closing of the Pauline Year in any place of worship; on other days determined by the local ordinary, in holy places named for St. Paul and, for the good of the faithful, in other places designated by the ordinary.” Those Catholics who are suffering from sickness or are unable to fulfill the necessary requirements for a legitimate reason “may still receive a plenary indulgence even if they are unable to leave their homes. In these situations, the faithful must fulfill three conditions: While striving to refrain from sin, the person must “spiritually unite themselves to a Jubilee celebration in honor of St. Paul, offering their prayers and suffering to God for the unity of Christians.” The Plenary Indulgence will be valid throughout the Pauline Year which will run from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009. If all the conditions are fulfilled, Plenary Indulgences remove all temporal punishments that afflict people as a result of their sins. The scriptural roots of indulgences are found in Matthew 16.   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.