FOLLOWING 12:00 NOON MASS
The Church has learned from experience that authentic popular devotions are an invaluable means of promoting an increased love of God. The important role of popular devotions was discussed at the Synod for America and received particular mention in Pope John Paul II's post-synodal apostolic exhortation The Church in America (Ecclesia in America):
The Synod Fathers stressed the urgency of discovering the true spiritual values present in popular religiosity, so that, enriched by genuine Catholic doctrine, it might lead to a sincere conversion and a practical exercise of charity. If properly guided, popular piety also leads the faithful to a deeper sense of their membership of the Church, increasing the fervor of their attachment and thus offering an effective response to the challenges of today's secularization.
Popular religiosity is well oriented, above all by a pedagogy of evangelization, it is rich in values. It manifests a thirst for God which only the simple and poor can know. It makes people capable of generosity and sacrifice even to the point of heroism, when it is a question of manifesting belief. It involves an acute awareness of profound attributes of God: fatherhood, providence, loving and constant presence. It engenders interior attitudes rarely observed to the same degree elsewhere: patience, the sense of the Cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others, devotion. . . . When it is well oriented, this popular religiosity can be more and more for multitudes of our people a true encounter with God in Jesus Christ.
A number of popular devotions have indulgences attached to them. Indeed, the fact that a particular devotion has an indulgence attached to it is an indication that this devotional practice has proven itself within the Church to be helpful in bringing people closer to God. Because of the close association between popular devotions and indulgences, a clear understanding of the Church's teaching on indulgences is necessary to appreciate the role of popular devotional practices in the life of the Church.