The last Jubilee was declared by the Church in the year 2000. In this year, a new set of indulgences has been declared for this Jubilee and future ones (the next one likely to be in 2050). With the new indulgences, we can do a great deal to help release the holy souls from Purgatory. It is not known where the word Jubilee came from but it may have originated from the Hebrew word yobel, which translates to “rams horn”. A rams horn was used by the Jews for proclaiming a celebration or a time of rejoicing.
The year of the Jubilee began in the Old Testament times. In Leviticus 25:10, we read “you will declare this fiftieth year to be sacred and proclaim the liberation of all the country’s inhabitants”. Every fifty years, God had commanded the Israelites to return to their own ancestral lands and leave any properties they owned outside of it. They had to sell the land (at a reasonable price) to their ancestral owners. The Jews were also required not to harvest their lands during that year. They were to eat whatever their fields would produce. Slaves were also to be released at this time and debts were to be forgiven. In short, the Jubilee was a time of remission or universal pardon. Truly, this was a time for rejoicing. God had promised great blessings (Leviticus 25:18-19) for those who fulfilled their Jubilee obligations.
The Jubilee today is a spiritualized form of the Old Testament version. The first Christian Jubilee was started in 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII. While the original Jubilee dealt with material things, the new Jubilee was about the remission of personal sin, and of course, indulgences which can be used to help the souls in Purgatory. The type of indulgence received is a plenary indulgence and this can completely free the recipient of the punishments due to their sins. They can apply it to themselves or to someone in Purgatory. The Decree of the Sacred Penitentiary On the Conditions for Gaining the Jubilee Indulgence (presented in Rome at the Apostolic Penitentiary on November 29, 1998) stated that applying a Jubilee indulgence to someone in Purgatory is “an outstanding act of supernatural charity, in virtue of the bond which, in the Mystical Body of Christ, unites the faithful still on pilgrimage here below and those who have already ended their earthly journey”. A plenary indulgence given to a soul in Purgatory would instantly free them and allow them to enter Heaven.
In order to get the indulgence, the following requirements must be fulfilled: sacramental confession, receive communion, perform the indulgenced act (i.e. pilgrimage, charity, penitence, etc.), and prayers for the Pope’s intentions (usually an Our Father and a Hail Mary). Also, you need to be in a state of grace, you must be a baptized Catholic and not excommunicated from the Church, the intention must be there to try to gain the indulgence, and here’s the difficult part, you need to be free from all sin including venial sin. A holy state is necessary to get a plenary indulgence. Even though this may be difficult to do, you should try anyways. If you don’t get the plenary indulgence, a partial one will be gained which can also help the holy souls. You can get one plenary indulgence per day and you can receive an unlimited number of partial indulgences each day. You don’t have to receive communion or go to confession each day to get the Jubilee indulgence. Communion can be received several days before or after the indulgenced act, and confession can also be made within several days of the indulgence. What does several days mean, well, with confession it is generally thought of as eight days.
The main way to receive the Jubilee indulgence is through a pilgrimage to a religious shrine. For those who are in Rome, they can make their pilgrimage to one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas (the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour at the Lateran, and the Basilica of Saint Paul on the Ostian Way). Once there, they can take part in a Mass or some other pious devotion (Stations of the Cross, Rosary, etc.). The other shrines in Rome are the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence in Campo Verano, and the Christian Catacombs in Rome.
If you are in Israel, you can make your pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, or the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
A pilgrimage can also be made to your local Cathedral or other churches designated by your bishop. Another thing that you can do is visit the needy (people who are sick, elderly, disabled, imprisoned, etc.) and do this as if making a pilgrimage to Christ within them.
Those who are in religious orders and cannot travel in a pilgrimage can visit the chapel in their residence or if this is not possible, they may unite themselves with those making a pilgrimage and offer their prayers and sufferings to God.
A pilgrimage is not necessary to gain the indulgence. It can also be attained by fasting (giving up food, smoking, etc.), donating money to the poor, helping a religious or social cause, or any other type of personal sacrifice.
The requirements for the Jubilee indulgence here have been summarized and you should contact your local parish for more information on how to receive the indulgence. In any case, we have been given another opportunity to help the holy souls and we should take full advantage when the Church declares a year to be a Jubilee.