Does Temporal Punishment ever go away by penance and self sacrifice?

Im still trying to wrap my mind around Temporal punishment and how it still remains after confession. How do we know exactly if and when we become free of this temporal punishment? Unless its jubilee year and we walk through the holy doors of our basilica or cathedral I dont see any other way other than acts of penance and self mortification. How does one ‘remove’ the temporal punishment. Is it trying to right the wrong of the sins we did?

You can get indulgences for yourself all day every day to remove temporal punishment. You don’t have to sit around waiting for a Jubilee Year to walk through holy doors to get a special indulgence. There’s a whole manual of indulgences that’s like more than an inch thick.

And right now the Vatican is even offering easier-to-obtain plenary indulgences related to COVID:

Alternatively, you can give all your indulgences to the Poor Souls in Purgatory and place your trust in God to provide for you at the hour of your death. The Manual (Grant 12, “At the point of death”) provides that when you’re about to die, either the priest will show up and give you an apostolic blessing with a plenary indulgence for people at the point of death (AKA the “Apostolic Pardon”), or else if the priest isn’t available, then you can get a plenary indulgence at the point of death if you’ve been in the habit of saying some prayers during your lifetime, without even needing to fulfill the other conditions of communion/ confession/ and prayer for the Holy Father.

So there is really no need for you to worry about your own temporal punishment if you are generally praying, following Catholic teaching, and avoiding sin.


skimming through it and I see literally anything we do is an indulgence, Even praying to our guardian angel, or even listening in on sacred preaching :open_mouth:

but this is all contingent on being in the state of grace correct? Otherwise it wont do much benefit to ones self?

Bear, any way you can summarize that? I read some of it and my eyes glazed over and my brain shut down. It’s like reading a legal document, or an insurance bill.
I admit it, I don’t understand what it’s saying. :woozy_face:

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There are conditions necessary to get an indulgence.

First, yes you have to be in the state of grace, so if you fall out of the state of grace, you have to go to confession in order to earn indulgences again.

Second, you have to have the general intention of earning indulgences. If you don’t know what an indulgence is or you weren’t intending to get one, then you don’t get one.

Third, if you want a plenary indulgence, then usually you are required to 1) receive one Holy Communion per plenary indulgence, 2) go to confession within 20 days before or 20 days after the day you do the indulgenced work, 3) pray for the Holy Father’s Intentions, and 4) have no attachment to sin. In some cases the conditions may be dispensed, like when Communion or Confession was not available during the pandemic the Pope excused people from needing to do that, but they had to have the intention of receiving Communion and going to Confession again when they were available. If you don’t fulfill a condition and it’s not dispensed by the Pope, your bishop, or your confessor, then you just get a partial indulgence.

The Manual of Indulgences, or the Vatican document?

If you’re looking for a simplified version of the Manual, there really isn’t one. You need to read it. Believe me, it’s immensely more user-friendly now than the older editions from the 1960s and pre-Vatican II (the Raccolta) were.

But people who just want to get plenary indulgences can read one of the easy “how to” guides posted by Fr. Heilman online (specifically the sections on “Conditions” and “Doing the Work”, you can skip the others as they are part of a private devotion promoted by Father), or described by Susan Tassone in her popular books on how to get plenaries for the poor souls in purgatory.

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The Vatican document specifically. (But I have read some things about indulgences and found them to be difficult to get through. But that’s just me. I am someone that cannot meditate on the mysteries while saying the rosary either. :confused:)

Ah, thanks for the links that just popped up! :wink:

The only true indulgence comes free without prerequisite religious actions through the mercy and grace of our Lord.

Re the Vatican document, it provides for the following:

  1. Special indulgences for those who have COVID-19. If you’re not sick with COVID-19 you can skip that part.

  2. Special indulgences for those who care for those with COVID-19. If you’re not a caregiver, either in hospital or nursing home or in a family situation, you can skip that part.

  3. Special indulgences for those of us who don’t fall in 1) or 2), namely:

This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

For those of us who regularly do indulgence practice, the important things to note about this are:

  1. You need to offer your indulgenced work for the COVID-related intentions listed at the end of the paragraph.

  2. The Pope has plenary-indulgenced the recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet. Normally, that chaplet doesn’t carry a plenary indulgence. Since it only takes about 6 minutes to say, it’s a really easy plenary.

  3. The Rosary doesn’t seem to have the usual other conditions that are normally required for a Rosary plenary. Normally one has to say it in a group, or if alone, you have to say it in a church or oratory. It appears these were waived because a lot of the churches were locked. Presumably the Way of the Cross could also be done at home during this time; it normally requires you to visit “approved stations” which are normally in a church. Although I would think if you are allowed to visit “approved stations” in a church or outdoors, and you’re physically able to do so without fear/ risk of disease, then you should visit the “approved stations”.

  4. A “Visit to the Blessed Sacrament” is now plenary indulgenced if offered for the COVID intentions. This would appear to include visits shorter than the normally required half hour of Adoration that is usually needed to get a plenary.

Also, the document indicates that if you can’t fulfill the conditions of communion (normally 1 per Plenary), confession (normally within 20 days before or after), or prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions (normally once per indulgence) then you can get the plenary without doing those as long as you have the will to do them when you are able. Presumably if one is not lying in bed very sick, one can pray for the Holy Father’s intentions, all you need to do is say an Our Father and Hail Mary. Confession was not available everywhere, so if a person couldn’t go, or couldn’t go out due to fear of illness, then they were excused. Same for communion.


The Church has the power to grant indulgences via its binding and loosing power which was granted to it by God. God may also of course choose to be merciful when and if he wants, but you are incorrect that God has not delegated any power to the Church to also grant indulgences. He certainly has, and if you are a Catholic you should not contend otherwise as you would be speaking contrary to Church teaching.

Unless you receive a special revelation, you can never be sure as to whether you become free of teh situation of temporal punishment.

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This is true. Also, even if you received a revelation that you were free of it, the next day likely brings more sins (since even a just man sins 7 times a day) and more temporal punishment.

Temporal punishment results from attachment to sins for which the guilt has been forgiven. Attachment to sin is not detesting a sin. To detest is to dislike intensely. One can be attached to mortal or venial sin.


1473 … While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”

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