The Medal of Saint Benedict
by Fr. Bernardine Patterson OSB
Note: Since this article was written in 1949, the Church has simplified the regulations concerning indulgences and links all indulgences more closely to the Sacrament of Penance. The teaching is summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (sec. 1471-79). All indulgences attached to particular orders, places, or things were abolished with the publication of "Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences" by Pope Paul VI, (January 1, 1967). The historical text below should be read in light of the Church's current teaching and practice.
It would take too much space to enumerate in detail all the indulgences with which the Church has enriched the Medal. In fact, such a complete list is not necessary, at least as far as the partial indulgences are concerned. To gain the partial indulgences all that is required, besides being in the state of grace, is that we make a general intention to gain all indulgences possible during the day. To gain a plenary indulgence, however, we are also required to go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray according to the intention of the Holy Father. There is a further requirement for the plenary indulgences attached to the Benedictine Medal, that of doing some good work each week. Since every practical Catholic already habitually performs some good work, such as reading Sacred Scripture, participating at Mass, saying the Rosary or other prayers, giving alms, exercising charity or observing the laws of the Church, we need not stress this condition.
In listing these plenary indulgences we must distinguish the two types of the Medal. The plenary indulgences attached to the Ordinary Medal are the following: one on each of the days of Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, Immaculate Conception, Annunciation, Purification, Assumption, All Saints Day, St. Benedict's Day. Holy Thursday; two on Easter Sunday. A plenary indulgence is also granted to the person who, being at the point of death, goes to confession and receives Holy Communion, if able (if not, at least makes an act of contrition). Devoutly recommending the soul to God the person invokes with the lips or, at least with the heart, the holy names of Jesus and Mary.
On the Jubilee Medal may be gained all the indulgences attached to the Ordinary Medal besides the following plenary indulgences: one on any day of our choice once a year; one on the feast of St. Maurus; two on the feast of St. Scholastica; three on the feast of St. Benedict (March 21); one on the solemnity of St. Benedict (July 11); one on the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Montecassino; one on the feast of St. Placid; one on the feast of St. Justina.
Such facts have made the Medal of St. Benedict dear to Catholic piety. Let us make a trial of it. The practical use of this sacramental, founded on the sole teaching of the Church, will strengthen our faith, that faith which distinguished our Catholic forefathers and which is the rightful inheritance of every Catholic Christian. "In our difficult times," says a Catholic writer on the Medal, "its diligent use is more than ever timely. Every hour, books, pamphlets, and newspapers, boldly set before their readers the deadly poison of false doctrines and impudent lies; every hour the progress of the arts and the sciences adds food to our vanity and evil desires and gives new impulses to wantonness and pleasure.
"The present is more than ever the time, in which we should purify our hearts by the sign of the Cross and throw far from us the poisonous draught which the world offers us. The world is fast returning to paganism; it denies Christ and rejects His light to follow the prince of darkness. Let us carry the Cross upon our breast, arm ourselves with prayer and good works, that we may escape the snares laid around us and have the courage to serve our Lord and Savior in the midst of a world that is becoming ever more forgetful of Him. To that end, let us ask the assistance of the great St. Benedict; may he whose life was so blameless and whose end so happy, assist us during our life and obtain for us a happy death!" 5
-- Fr. Bernardine, OSB
5 Veth, Martin, OSB, The Medal or Cross of St. Benedict, p. 40.
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