“It can be achieved by attending a pro life Rosary event”.
What is an Indulgence? An indulgence is the remission of the temporal
punishment due to sins already forgiven (generally in the Sacrament of
Confession) granted by the Church.
To understand an indulgence we must understand the consequences of sin.
Grave sin (mortal sin) involves our turning away from God, and separates us
from His grace, depriving us of eternal life with Him. This is called “eternal
punishment” or hell. Even a lesser sin (venial sin) involves a lessening of our
love for God, and deprives us of life with Him for a certain period of time. This is
called “temporal or temporary punishment” or purgatory.
When grave or mortal sins are forgiven, communion with God is restored and
there is the remission of the eternal punishment of sin. Temporal or temporary
punishment, however, remains. This entails a purification of soul, either here on
earth or after death in the state called Purgatory.
As we strive for purification the Church aids us by urging us to works of devotion,
penance, and charity, and by dispensing and applying with authority its spiritual
treasury. This treasury contains the infinite merits of Christ our Redeemer, as
well as the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary and those of all
the faithful who make up the communion of saints. Thus the Church grants us
indulgences from this treasury. They are applied to the remission of temporal
punishment. Since the faithful departed in purgatory are members of the
communion of saints, we can help them achieve eternal life by offering our
indulgences for them.
There are two kinds of indulgences:
1. Plenary, which removes all of a person’s temporal or temporary
punishment due to forgiven sin, and
2. Partial, which removes part of a person’s temporal or temporary
punishment due to forgiven sin.
In order to gain an indulgence one must be baptized, not excommunicated, and
in the state of grace. Only one plenary indulgence can be gained per day,
except at the moment of death, but you can many partial indulgences per day.
What works can one perform in order to gain a plenary indulgence?
The Apostolic Constitution Doctrine of Indulgences issued by Pope Paul VI in
1967 and still in effect, gives special mention to:*
1. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one-half hour.
2. Devout reading of the Sacred Scriptures for at least one-half hour.
3. The exercise of or making the Way of the Cross before fourteen
stations lawfully erected (fourteen crosses are required, to which it is
customary to add fourteen pictures or images, which represent the
stations of Jerusalem). A movement from one station to the next is
required, unless it is made publicly, and it is not possible for all taking part
to go in an orderly manner. In this case the leader should go from station
to station. Nothing more is required than a pious meditation on the
Passion and Death of the Lord, not necessarily on the individual station.
4. Vocal recitation of the Marian Rosary of at least five decades recited
continuously, with devout meditation on the mysteries. It must be
recited in a church, public oratory, family group, religious community or
pious association. In public recitation the mysteries must be announced.
*Other works are listed but they refer to specific churches, places, dates, or
prayers and can be performed too infrequently to be mentioned here.
What six conditions must be fulfilled in order to gain a plenary indulgence?
If any of the following conditions are not satisfied only a partial indulgence is
1. Have the intention of gaining a plenary indulgence.
2. Have a disposition of mind and heart in which all attachment to sin,
even venial sin, is absent. Therefore, say the Act of Contrition (which
forgives venial sin) immediately prior to performing the work.
3. Perform the work. (See works under “What works can one perform…”
on previous page.)
4. Receive Holy Communion. It is proper to do this on the same day the
work is performed.
5. Pray for the intentions of Our Holy Father, the Pope. One Our Father
and one Hail Mary suffices. It is proper that this be done on the same day
the work is performed.
6. Go to confession. One confession suffices to gain a number of plenary
The information provided is from the Enchiridion of Indulgences (1968) and the
Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (1471 through 1479)
Most Reverend John C. Favalora, D.D., S.T.L., M.Ed.
Archbishop of Miami
May 3, 2001
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