November 22, 1992
Brother John Raymond
Indulgences are little known in our present age. Yet, they are a
great treasure given to us by God through His Church. Also, they are
a wonderful way of gaining more graces from the prayers we already
pray every day.
What is an indulgence? It is the remission before God of the
temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven (as far as their
guilt is concerned). This remission of punishment is given to us by
the Mercy of God through the treasury of His Church, the graces won
for us by Christ and the Saints.
It is a teaching of the Church that sins bring upon us a
punishment. It must be expiated in this life through the sufferings
we endure or else after death in Purgatory.
The Church grants indulgences not only to expiate our temperal
punishment due to sin but also to encourage us to grow in our faith.
There are two types of indulgences. A partial indulgence removes
part of the temporal punishment due to sin. With this type of
indulgence the act performed has a certain expiatory value which the
Church doubles from its treasury of graces. We can gain a partial
indulgence, by having the intention to gain one, anytime we:
1. Raise our mind to God and, even if only mentally, offer some pious
2. Practice charity or mercy by giving of ourselves or our
possessions to help our neighbor in need.
3. Voluntarily perform an act of penance by denying ourselves
something which we can lawfully enjoy.
There is no limit to the number of partial indulgences one can
gain in a day.
A plenary indulgence, on the other hand, removes all of our
temporal punishment. It can be gained only once a day (except at the
moment of death). To gain one it is necessary to perform the work to
which the indulgence is attached, receive Holy Communion, pray at
least one Our Father and Hail Mary for the Holy Father's intentions
and go to Confession within eight days. Also, one must have no
attachment to venial sin. If any of the conditions are not fulfilled
the act becomes a partial indulgence. A single Confession suffices
for several plenary indulgences, while Holy Communion and prayers
for the Holy Father must be fulfilled for each one. An indulgence
cannot be gained for an act we are obliged to do.
The following works have a plenary indulgence attached to them:
1. Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament for at least half-an-hour.
2. Devout reading of the Sacred Scriptures for at least half-an-hour.
3. Making the Way of the Cross
4. The recitation of the Holy Rosary in a church, public oratory,
family group, religious Community or pious Association.
5. The faithful in danger of death, who cannot be assisted by a
priest to give them the Apostolic Blessing with its plenary
indulgence, who have been in the habit of reciting some prayers
during their lifetime and have no attachment to venial sin. (No
other conditions are required)
Any of the good works we perform along with the attached
indulgences can be offered for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Let us apply ourselves to gaining indulgences. Jesus offers us a
free gift through His Church. Let's build up our heavenly bank
account for ourselves and for others too.
More information on indulgences can be found in the "Enchiridion
of Indulgences" published by Catholic Book Publishing Co. This book
contains seventy popular Catholic prayers and practices with their
associated indulgences besides explaining the Church's doctrine on
indulgences. It can be ordered from: The Monks of Adoration, P.O.
2241 Englewood Road, Englewood, FL 34223 - $5.00 + $1.25 S&H.