Apostolic Blessing / Pardon

Dear friends,

This is my very first letter to Catholic Answers, and I have a question that’s kind of a stumper. If I could easily access Fr. Corapi, I know I’d have the correct answer in a matter of minutes, but since that’s impossible, I’ll have to ask you fine people.
I have always had a dear love for the Souls in Purgatory. In the last few years I’ve devoured pretty much EVERY book Susan Tassone has published (if you know who she is). Without a doubt she is America’s (and maybe at the present time - World’s) biggest “evangelist” for teaching about helping the suffering Souls in Purgatory. This whole thing about indulgenced prayers really interested me. I wanted to know if there was a book that had ALL the officially indulgenced prayers in it. There is: “The Handbook of Indulgences , Norms and Grants”. As I read the book I saw that to gain a plenary indulgence (the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sin) you basically had to do a few “prescribed works”: go to confession 8 days before or after trying to gain the indulgence, receive holy communion, and then either 1)say the Stations of the Cross in a prescribed church /setting, 2) spend half hour adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, 3)say the rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament, 4) say the rosary in a family setting (“the family rosary”). Seems simple enough if you really put your mind to it.
But something amazing caught my eye when I was leafing through this Handbook of Indulgences. I saw something in there labeled “At the Approach of Death”. I read it, then re-read it, then re-read it about 5 more times because I literally couldn’t believe my eyes! I quote- "Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with it’s attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained “in articulo mortis”, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetimes. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence.
In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition “provided they regularly prayed in some way”.
The Christian faithful can obtain the plenary indulgence mentioned here as death approaches (in arcturo mortis) even if they have obtained another plenary indulgence that same day.
This grant, number 28, is taken from the apostolic constitution “Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 18.”
You read that right. If you’re in a life-and-death situation (say a plane going straight down) and you’re “rightly disposed” (“Jesus, I wish to obtain that Apostolic Blessing NOW!”) you gain a full remission of all your sins and temporal punishment, provided “you regularly prayed in some way during your life”. Talk about a straight shot to heaven.
I have to admit that I was slightly more than “tiffed” that I’d never heard of such a tremendous blessing at any time in my entire life. Can the clergy be THAT misinformed? I guess so.
But enough of that. My question is simply this: Are “Last Rights / Annointing of the Sick” different from this Apostolic Blessing? The reason I ask is that when my mother was dying 2 years ago, I asked the priest in the hallway at the hospital if he had given my mother an Apostolic Blessing. He was kind of vague and kept insisting that he gave my mother “a blessing”. I asked him to his face if he knew what an Apostolic Blessing at the time of death was, and all I got was a reassuring, smug smile in that he had given my mother “a blessing”.
I guess this sets a record for the longest initial letter ever sent into Catholic Answers! Any insights from anyone would be massively helpful. Thank you so much in advance! Larry

Last Rites are actually three sacraments all at once: Penance, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion. Anointing of the Sick can be recived many times during one’s life. As my priest has been known to say more than once, calling for a priest after the fact if something goes wrong is a bit late because sacraments are only for those still in this world. Ask for Anointing of the Sick before major surgery rather than after.

The Last Rites are only done when it’s pretty much a certainty that someone is dying very soon. The Apostolic Blessing, if given during Last Rites, does carry with it a plenary indulgence. And it’s true that the indulgence associated with the Apostolic Blessing does not require the three normal acts associated with a plenary indulgence (Penance, Holy Eucharist, and prayer for the intention of the Holy Father), because those three acts are not necessarily able to be performed between rececption of Last Rites and death. But a plenary indulgence also has another condition, one which is often overlooked because it’s not an act we can simply perform. That condition is that the recipient have no attachment to sin. If a plenary indulgence is received when one has some attachment to sin, even venial sin, then the indulgence is still received but is partial rather than plenary.

That’s part of what “…who are rightly disposed…” means. If we have attachment to sin, we are not properly disposed for a plenary indulgence. We are still properly disposed for a partial indulgence, however, as long as we’re not under pain of mortal sin.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking indulgences whenever possible. The Church encourages us to do so on a regular basis, and the actions associated with indulgences are good for us as well as those around us. May as well pay as much of the temporal punishment due to us now, rather than after we die. But we should perform such works for the sake of God or others, not simply because we want an indulgence. God determines the efficaciousness of any indulgence, after all, not us. An indulgence won’t do us much good if all we care about is getting out of purgatory faster. WHY we want to do that should be just as if not more important. Are we doing it out of love for God because we want to experience the Beatific Vision as soon as possible after we die, or are we doing it because we don’t want to suffer in purgatory? If the latter matters more to us than the former, we probably still have some attachment to sin that needs to be dealt with.

I assume all indulgences I receive, even plenary, are partial. That way if I go straight to heaven when I die, I’ll be pleasantly surprised :slight_smile:

Dear friends can anyone find purgatory in the Bible?I can find Heaven, Hadis, Hell,Gahenna,but No Purgatory,can any one tell me where the belief in Purgatory came from?yours in Christ Mark
And is not praying for the dead forbidden in the Bible?please read deuteronomy 18:9

Praying to God for the repose of the souls of those who have gone before us is rather clearly found in 2 Maccabees 39-46 as a holy and pious act. The fact that such prayers are considered worthy gives support for the concept of purgatory without ever using the word purgatory, as do verses such as Matthew 5:26, Matthew 18:34-35, and Revelation 21:27. It’s the same as the verses in both the Old and New Testaments which are used to show implicit support for the concept of the Trinity without the word Trinity ever being used. The concept came first and then the specific word to reference the concept came after.

If you wish to debate those topics (or why the book of 2 Maccabees is missing from your Bible, if you can’t find it), you would probably be better served posting such questions in one of the apologetics forums instead of this one.

Hi Mark,

The word ‘purgatory’ is not in the bible nor is the word ‘bible’ or the word ‘trinity’ but the verses which the Church used to come to the understanding of what She termed ‘purgatory’ or purification are in the bible.

You might like to check out this link: Is Purgatory found in the bible?

Deuteronomy 18:9-11.

"When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, 11 or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

These verses don’t forbid prayers to the dead they forbid asking the dead to foretell the future.
In revelation we read of prayers of the people on earth being taken by the righteous ones in heaven (saints) to God.
Revelation 5:8
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Another thing to remember is that nowhere in the bible does it say that everything we have to know regarding how to live our lives and what we have to believe to be with Jesus in Heaven has to be found in the bible.

I can’t find “computer” in the Bible so I guess you can’t be using one to communicate with us!

The belief in purgatory comes from the fact that nothing impure can come into God’s presence. We can imagine purgatory as a place where this purification happens to the soul after death. But we know that ‘purgatory’ isn’t really a place since the soul is spiritual and not bodily. We can’t say that this purifying takes a certain amount of time, like an instant or 100 years, because there is no ‘time’ in eternity. All we know is that God does purify us before we come into his presence and that this is possible because of Jesus’ work of redemption on the cross. We can’t be ‘saved’ after we die but we are purified. It’s like a lump of ore being thrown into the furnace and all the impurities are burnt away and only the gold is left.

Since we are all members of the body of Christ, we know that our prayers can help one another. So we pray/intercede for those who have died so that, if they are in purgatory, they may be quickly brought into God’s presence.

Did Yahoshua Jesus ever mention purgarory?is there any recorded prayer to a saint or the dead in the Bible NO.regard Mark

Intercessory prayer to those in heaven is found in many places in the Bible. Psalms 103:20-22, for example, reads as follows:

Bless the Lord, all you angels, mighty in strength and attentive, obedient to every command. Bless the Lord, all you hosts, ministers who do God’s will. Bless the Lord, all creatures, everywhere in God’s domain. Bless the Lord, my soul!

All creatures everywhere in God’s domain would include those in heaven, wouldn’t it? Unless you wish to claim that heaven is not in God’s domain…

And Psalm 148:1-2:

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens; give praise in the heights. Praise him, all you angels; give praise, all you hosts.

Are the angels not in heaven? Are the hosts of God not in heaven?

Let’s not forget Revelation 5:7-8:

He came and received the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.

The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth. This is only fitting as we are all part of the mystical Body of Christ.

The usual response at this point is to bring up something like 1 Timothy 1:5 and talk about Jesus being the one mediator between God and humanity. But if you read verses 1-5 instead of just verse 5 all by itself, you see a different picture:

First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human…

Placing ourselves between another person and Jesus when we pray on their behalf is not only not prohibited but encouraged. Praying for the repose of the souls of those who have gone before us is the same thing as praying for someone who is still here on earth. And asking those who have gone before us and are in heaven to pray to God on our behalf is the same thing as asking a friend or relative to do the same.

Or are those who have gone before us somehow no longer our brothers and sisters in Christ? Is God so limited that he cannot permit the saints in heaven to hear intercessory prayers which ask them to unite their prayers to God with our own?

Intercessory prayer is not a prayer for a saint to help us on their own. It’s a prayer for a saint to ADD their own prayer to ours. God is still the one who will answer the prayers, in whatever manner he sees fit. The saint no more answers our prayer than our brother or sister on earth does when we ask them to add their prayer to our own. As it says in James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.

What humans are more righteous than the ones who have persevered through the trials of life and are now in heaven with God?

And I would once more request that you post questions about Scripture or apologetics in a more appropriate forum.

I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong verse. Deut 19:9 says nothing about prayers for the dead.
BTW, you should know that prayers for the dead has been a practice of the Hebrew people. It definately not a pagan practice.

Back to the OP…yes, indulgences of all kinds are wonderful things to know about and to try and obtain. especially, if we ask Our Lady and Jesus to apply what ever indulgence we receive to those souls who are most in need.

I do think though, that you should have refrained from badgering the priest about the blessing your mother received. Continue to pray for the repose of her soul and for the priest who came to her bedside when she was ill. Pray for an increase in vocations, so that there will be priests enough to attend the bedsides of all those dying.

They are different. The Anointing of the Sick can be given to anyone who is sick, but the Apostolic Blessing seems to be reserved for danger of death.


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