From Friday, 6 to Saturday, 7 December 2019, the faithful of Uromi Diocese had a unique period of spiritual renewal and growth at the Marian Pilgrimage Centre, Emu. It was the Annual Marian Pilgrimage of the Diocese, a spiritual exercise many eargerly look forward to each year. The attendance was impressive; about 4,911 pilgrims participated at this year’s pilgrimage.
At the beginning of the holy Mass, celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Bishop of Uromi Diocese, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun noted that the annual Pilgrimage is a special occasion in the life of the Diocese when we gather as sons and daughters of God, sons and daughters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, brothers and sisters of Christ the Redeemer who gave us his mother to be his mother. The gathering was a special occasion to celebrate God’s love for us and to thank God for his blessings. It was also a manifestation of our filial love for Mary our Mother who gave us Christ our Saviour whose coming to us as man we celebrate at Christmas.
During the Mass, the Bishop granted Plenary Indulgence to the Pilgrims who had gathered for the Pilgrimage which is a special occasion for the Diocese and who satisfied the necessary conditions for the reception of Plenary Indulgence (Sacramental Confession, reception of Holy Communion, and Prayer for the intention of the Holy Father). Indulgence “is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1471).
To better appreciate the need for us to strive to avoid sins and to set ourselves free from its effect through indulgence when we sin through human frailty, we need to always keep in mind that sin has consequences both temporal and eternal, depending on its gravity. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God, the communion God desires to have with all of his beloved children. This is the purpose for which he made us. Loss of this communion makes us incapable of eternal life; it is eternal damnation. Other less grievous sins, no matter how little, rub us of sanctifying grace. The purpose of grace is to sanctify us; to make us holy. Grace “is a participation in the life of God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1996). Every sin is a self withdrawal from this participation in the life of God. Through the various prescribed spiritual exercises through which we obtain Indulgence we deliberately return to God. By so doing, the temporal punishment, partial detachment from God through unhealthy attachment to creatures is removed. Indulgence brings about purification. This purification in turn frees us from the temporal punishment of sin. This is why indulgence can also be applied by the living to the suffering souls in Purgatory undergoing purification. One of the very beautiful things about Indulgence rests on this, that is, the merits obtained through it can be applied to the self or to the dead. (Cf Code of Canon Law, can. 994).
May the fruit of this pilgrimage continue to abide in our lives. Amen