Indulgences, by Leah Cathey, Guest Blogger
The definition: The remission of temporal punishment due to sin, granted to the faithful who recite specified prayers, visit a specified place of pilgrimage, or engage in a specified act of charity. (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 2006.)
What that means: When we sin, we must make amends with punishment either in this life or after death. This punishment is temporal meaning it lasts for a time. An indulgence is a pardon of the punishment due for sins confessed.
What they are: Prayers and devotional, penitential, and charitable works chosen to urge the faithful on to a more fervent charity. (Handbook of Indulgences Norms and Grants, 1991.)
How: Punishment is remitted through the power of the Church and in the mutual exchange of goods, particularly the merits of Christ and the saints. (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 2006.)
“Indulgences come from the Church’s treasury. The treasury contains all the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God.”
Who: The Pope is given power to grant indulgences.
In the Gospel Matthew chapter 16, Jesus says to Simon Peter, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” ( New American Bible 1991).
Why: The purpose intended in granting indulgences is not only to help the faithful to pay the penalties due to sin, but also to cause them to perform works of devotion, repentance, and charity. (Handbook of Indulgences Norms and Grants, 1991.)
Two types of indulgences: Plenary and Partial
- frees a person from all temporal punishment due to sins.
* may be gained only once a day
- frees a person from some of temporal punishment due to sins.
* may be granted several times a day
An indulgence can be applied to yourself or to the dead. You may NOT apply your indulgences to other living persons.
To gain an indulgence a person must:
-be baptized - not be excommunicated
- be in the state of grace at the time the works are completed
- have the intention of gaining the indulgence
- perform the acts in the manner required
* Beside the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and the fulfillment of three conditions:
1) sacramental confession
2) Eucharistic communion
3) prayer for the pope’s intentions
Prayers for the pope’s intentions: pope’s intentions.
* If the three conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will only be partial.
The Our Father and Hail Mary are recommended, however, you have the option of choosing one suited to your own devotion.
The three conditions may be carried out several days preceding or following performance of the prescribed work. However, it is more fitting that the communion and the prayer for the pope’s intentions take place on the day the work is performed.
*Several plenary indulgences may be gained on the basis of a single sacramental confession, however, each one requires a Eucharistic communion and prayer for the
Prayers for partial indulgences can be used several times a day, unless otherwise stated.
+ Prayer for All Occasions
- Act of Faith, Hope and Love + Act of Contrition
- Hidden Here before me, Lord
- Prayer for Meetings
- Prayer to Saint Joseph
- Prayer of Thanksgiving
- + Prayer to Guardian Angel
- The Angelus and the Regina Caeli
- (Recited at dawn, noon, and evening)
- Soul of Christ
- Act of Spiritual Communion
- Apostle’s Creed
- Nicene Creed
- Office of the Dead (morning prayer or evening prayer)
- Psalm 130 + Glory Be
- + Prayer at the Beginning of the Day
- Prayer before a Crucifix
- + Prayer for the Household
- Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart
- Act of Dedication to Christ the King
- Prayer for the Dead
- Prayer for Benefactors
- Hail Holy Queen
- + Mary, Help of Those in Need
- Invocation to Saints Peter and Paul
- Ancient Prayer to the Virgin
- Secret Past Imagination
- You are God: We Praise You
- Come, Creator Spirit
- Come, Holy Spirit
- A Night Prayer
- Canticle of Mary/ Magnificat
- + A Child’s Prayer to Mary
- + Some of Leah’s favorites written out.
- All prayers are listed in the Handbook of Indulgences
More prayers for partial indulgences
- Litany of the Sacred Heart
- Litany of the Precious Blood
- Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Litany of Saint Joseph
- Litany of the Saints
A partial indulgence for taking part in a publicly celebrated novena before the solemnity of:
- Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Little Office of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- Little Office of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Little Office of the Immaculate Conception
- Little Office of Saint Joseph
Prayers for plenary indulgencesPrayer before a Crucifix -
On any Friday during Lent a plenary indulgence is granted the faithful who, after communion, devoutly recite the prayer before an image of Christ crucified. (The Handbook of Indulgences , Norms and Grants, 1991.)
Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart
A plenary indulgence if recited publicly on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Act of Dedication to Christ the King
A plenary indulgence if recited publicly on the solemnity of Christ the King.
A plenary indulgence is granted when the rosary is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted in all other circumstances.
* The recitation of a third of the rosary (five decades) is sufficient for obtaining a plenary indulgence, but the five decades must be recited without interruption.
* Devout meditation on the mysteries is to be added to the vocal prayer.
* (In groups) To gain indulgences it suffices to recite the prayer alternating with another person or to follow it mentally as another recites it. (The Handbook of Indulgences , Norms and Grants, 1991.)
Secret Past Imagination
A plenary indulgence given on Holy Thursday after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
You are God: We Praise You
Plenary if publicly recited on the last day of the year.
Come, Creator Spirit
Plenary if recited publicly on January 1 and the solemnity of Pentecost.
Prayer for All Occasions
Lord, may everything we do begin with your inspiration and continue with your help, so that all our prayers and works may begin in you and by you be happily ended. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer to the Guardian Angel *
Angel sent by God to guide me, be my light and walk beside me, be my guardian and protect me,
on the paths of life direct me.Prayer at the Beginning of the Day
Almighty God, you have given us this day, strengthen us with your power and keep us from falling into sin, so that whatever we say or think or do may be in your service and for the sake of your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Leah’s favorite prayers for partial indulgences
Prayer for the HouseholdHear us, Lord, and send your angel from heaven to visit and protect, to comfort and defend
all who live in this house. Amen.
A Child’s Prayer to Mary *
Mary, mother whom we bless, full of grace and tenderness, defend me from the devil’s power and greet me in my dying hour. Mary, Help of Those in Need Holy Mary, help those in need, give strength to the weak, comfort the sorrowful, pray for God’s people, assist the clergy, intercede for religious. May all who seek your help experience your unfailing protection. Amen.
* Children’s prayers
New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Psalms, 1991.
Taken from The Word Among Us July/August 2011 p. M152.
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 2006, Washington D.C.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, pp. 244, 516.
indulgences.pdf A ministry of Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio.
The Handbook of Indulgences Norms and Grants, 1991, New York, Catholic Book Publishing Corp.