Sunday, January 3, 2016


An Indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to those sins in which the guilt related to that sin has been forgiven. The faithful Catholic who is duly disposed of this temporal remission gains it only under certain prescribed conditions defined by the Catholic Church. The Church, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies these Indulgences with full authority, having the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.

In the Sacrament of Baptism, not only is the guilt of sin remitted but also all penalties attached to those sins.

In the Sacrament of Penance (Confession), the guilt of sin is removed as well as the eternal punishment due to mortal sin. However, Divine Justice necessitates that the temporal punishment remains with the requisite that it must be fulfilled either in the present life or in the world to come (i.e. in Purgatory).

As previously stated, the Church has the power to carry out the remission of any temporal punishment. This power was bestowed on to the Church by Christ.

Whenever the Church grants an Indulgence, she applies her treasure (the overabundant merits of Christ and the saints), for the remission of guilt. The Church is the administrator (not owner) of this treasure. She determines the amount and conditions for granting an Indulgence. She takes into account both God’s mercy and the requirements of Divine Justice.

Indulgences are possible due the communal effect also witnessed in sin (all sins committed affect the Mystical Body of Christ). Salvation has a communal dimension, too, and this is why we can pray for each other. The merits of Christ and the saints benefit us all due to our souls being closely united to Him in His Mystical Body.

To acquire an Indulgence, the sinner must comply with the requirements of a good confession, including completing the penance that the confessor imposes. Indulgences are extra-sacramental (i.e. not a sacrament) and it is necessary to receive the sacrament of penance first.

As previously stated, Indulgences can only remove the punishment of sin, and not the guilt attached to it. In order to remove this guilt it is necessary to make a good confession. No Pope or Council has ever granted Indulgences the power to erase guilt, as only a sacramental Confession can do this. Pope Clement V (1305-1314) condemned the practice of providing Indulgences that intended to absolve the guilt and punishment of sin (a culpa et a poena). Indeed, in the Council of Constance (1418), Pope Clement I revoked all Indulgences containing the formula “a culpa et a poena” (session XLII, n.14).

Many canonized saints have confirmed the doctrine of Indulgences. Recent examples include Pope St. Pius X and St. Padre Pio.


Partial Indulgence:
- Having the intention of acquiring an Indulgence.
- Performing the deed or saying the prescribed prayer.
- Being in the state of grace.

Plenary Indulgence:
- Having the intention of acquiring an Indulgence.
- Sacramental Confession.
- Eucharistic Communion.
- Praying an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the Pope’s intentions.
- Having no attachment to sin (not even venial sins).
- Visiting the site/observing that to which the Indulgence was granted.

A plenary Indulgence can only be acquired once a day (except at the time of death due to this allowing for another plenary Indulgence). In addition, to gain a plenary Indulgence, it is required to not having any attachment to sin, even venial sin. (If, however, due to attachment of sin, a soul cannot gain a plenary Indulgence, a partial Indulgence will be given.)

Moreover, though receiving Communion and praying for the Holy Father must be made on the same day the prayer or action takes place, Confession may be made eight days prior or after this occasion.


A plenary Indulgence, whether during a Holy Year or not, can be acquired by complying with the requirements already mentioned:

1. Having the intention of acquiring an Indulgence.

2. Sacramental Confession

Make a thorough confession either on the day or, as stated earlier, eight days prior or eight days after the event.

3. Eucharistic Communion
Receive Communion on the same day in which one wishes to acquire the Indulgence.

4. Praying for the Pope’s Intentions
An Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be must be offered up for the Pope’s intentions; these are:
-The exaltation of The Holy Church.
-The eradication of heresies
-The propagation of Catholic faith
-The conversion of sinners
-Peace and concord amongst Christian princes
-All other goods of Christian community

5. Removal of affection towards EVERY kind of sin, even venial and having the intention of avoiding sin.

In addition to the above, to acquire a Plenary Indulgence in a NORMAL year, one may perform one of the following deeds in substitution of Eucharistic Communion, complying with all the requirements previously stated:

a. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that lasts at least half an hour.
b. Visiting a cemetery/praying for the faithful departed. This Indulgence can only be applied to the souls in Purgatory, from 1 November to 8 November.
c. Adoration of the Cross, on Good Friday during liturgical celebration.
d. In First Communions, to those who receive it and who attend them devotedly.
e. Participants of spiritual exercises that lasts three days at least.
f. Saying the Rosary in a Church or public oratory before the Blessed Sacrament, even if it is not exposed but reserved in the tabernacle, or to say it in family or in pious association.
g. Reading the Holy Bible for at least half an hour.
h. Praying the Way of the Cross in front of the stations, legitimately erected.

Or any other deed disposed by the Church and in force.

NOTE: The deed to be performed for obtaining a plenary Indulgence related to the visitation of a church or oratory consists in piously visiting these places and praying an Our Father and the Creed, unless otherwise stated. The reason for reciting the Our Father is to affirm the dignity, that we received in Baptism, of being God’s children, and the Creed (symbol of faith) is recited to affirm Catholic identity.

You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

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