By Harry Stevens
People may know that Saint Thomas said “My Lord and My God” after he doubted Our Lord’s resurrection (John 20:28). (1) People may not know that while viewing the elevations of Our Lord during Mass if these words were said privately a person used to be able to gain an indulgence. (2) Yes, I said used to.
I remember hearing my mother (may she requiescat in pace) say “My Lord and My God” during the elevations at Mass. She was suppose to say it silently–bless her heart. (2) Something changed in 1967-1968, and this indulgenced prayer was taken away from the faithful. I wondered why and by whom?
My original intent was to write this article about how to receive an indulgence during the elevations at Mass by saying this short prayer (14): “My Lord and My God! or Dominus Meus et Deus Meus!.” My research found that on May 18, 1907 Pope Saint Pius X granted an indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines (forty days) if a person looked at the Body and Blood of Christ and said “My Lord and My God.” (15) I further found that before 1968 this was an short indulgenced prayer for the laity, and not a Mass rubric for the priest.
I am going to review what I understand happened. I am not going to review what is and what is not an indulgence, for that I have included several references at the end of this article. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
My research eventually took me to the “Roccolta” (15) and the “Enchiridion of Indulgences” (6). The “Roccolta” was published between 1807 and 1950, and listed the indulgences granted by the popes. The “Enchiridion of Indulgences” replaced it in 1968. On page 51 #116 of the of the “Roccolta” I found that “My Lord and My God!” was included in the list of indulgenced prayers. I found that “My Lord and My God” under “Pius Invocations” of the “Enchiridion of Indulgences,” on page 42, line 15, while on page three of the “Enchiridion of Indulgengences” I found that Paul VI received the report, and ordered it “to be held authentic.” (6)
The Enchiridion goes on to degree
All general grants of indulgences, not included in this same Enchiridion, are hereby revoked. Revoked also are any ordinances concerning indulgences, not included in the Norms on Indulgences given below, whether in the Code of Canon Law, or in Apostolic Letters, even if issued “Motu proprio,” or in Decrees of the Holy See.” (6)
Reading further on page four, under Preliminary Observations, paragraph 3
In accordance with traditional practice, participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacraments is not enriched with indulgences. This is because of the surpassing “sanctifying and purifying” efficacy, which the Mass and the Sacraments have in themselves. (6)
And then in paragraph 4
In conformity with the changed conditions of present times, greater value is placed on the action (opus operantis) of the faithful. For this reason, instead of being a lengthy series of indulgenced works of piety (opus operatum), more or less extraneous to the daily life of the faithful, the number of indulgences now granted is relatively small. By these it is hoped that the faithful will be more effectively moved to live holier and more useful lives, thus healing “the split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives . . . by gathering their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God’s glory.” (6)
Interestingly on page 41
An invocation, as far as indulgences are concerned, is no longer considered a work, distinct and complete in itself, but as complementing an action, by which the faithful raise their heart and mind with humble confidence to God in performing their duties or bearing the trials of life. Hence, a pious invocation perfects the inward elevation; both together are as a precious jewel joined to one’s ordinary actions to adorn them, as salt added to them to season them properly. (6)
What happened? Firstly, the modernists spelled out their intent in paragraph 4: “In conformity with the changed conditions of present times.” Secondly, The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary (Latin: Paenitentiaria Apostolica, tribunal responsible for forgiveness of sins) during the Summer of Love in 1967-68, (or whatever you want to call it) took a simple indulgenced prayer of the faithful (as shown in paragraph 4 of the Enchiridion), and started calling it an invocation along with removing the indulgence. Why? My conjecture is to slowly erode the faith, as they did with the Sacred Liturgy during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. These prelates must have forgotten Saint Pius X’s “Oath against Modernism” (11) they took when ordained a priest. Oh, I forgot. These prelates rescinded the “Oath against Modernism” on 17 July 1967 (10) and substituted the Profession of Faith (11).
Lastly, I have perused the “Enchiridion of Indulgences” and have found other words to say at the Elevation. One may retort back: use Line 38, page 31 labeled Mental Prayer (Oratio mentalis). To this I say: balderdash. I will not use other words nor oratio mentalis, as this is not the point. I am a stubborn old man. I will follow my mother’s tradition. I will also continue to follow the “Oath against Modernism” and I will resist these modernists (or 68ers as they are known in one European country: the Rhine flows into the Tiber). I choose to follow Saint Pius X, not Paul VI.
¡Viva Cristo Rey!
The Raccolta is an abbreviation of its full title: Raccolta delle orazioni e pie opere per le quali sono sono concedute dai Sommi Pontefici le SS. Indulgenze (“Collection of Prayers and Good Works for Which the Supreme Pontiffs Have Granted Holy Indulgences”). The Raccolta contains, arranged in convenient order, the prayers, novenas, pious practices, etc. to which general indulgences have been attached, as well as the decrees and rescripts granting the indulgences, and the conditions requisite for gaining them. All the indulgences contained the Raccolta are applicable to the souls in purgatory. It is forbidden to publish a translation of the entire Raccolta without the approval of the Roman congregation (Decret. auth., nn. 351, 415). There is an approved edition of the Raccolta in English, especially adapted for the use of the faithful. Published between 1807 and 1950. (16)
The Enchiridion of Indulgences
This is a digest of the works and prayers listed in the Enchiridion of Indulgences. The Enchiridion recites each indulgenced prayer in full. Because most are recognizable they will only be listed by name. The un- translated Enchiridion lists each work and prayer in alphabetical order by their Latin names. The order shall remain the same in this listing. The descriptions of the works and details regarding obtaining the indulgence will be edited and abreviated in this listing. The following is not represented to be an exact reprint of the Enchiridion but an accurate digest of what constitutes an approved indulgenced work by the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. Replaced the Raccolta in 1968. (6)
Images by Alexander Anthony Choong, with kind permission.