Partial and Plenary Indulgence

What is the difference between them?

I’d like to know this as well! :confused:

A plenary indulgence is remission of all temporal punishment due to sin.

A partial indulgence is remission of some of the temporal punishment due to sin.

For more info, see the Catechism: CCC 1471-1479

Thank you, Joe. :slight_smile:

Now, on to find prayers and which works that convey indulgences. (I only remember the post V2 Church, so I am not familiar with this at all.)

You’re welcome! :tiphat:

I would recommend picking up The Handbook of Indulgences. The intro is a great primer on the ins-and-outs of indulgences, and it lists all of the approved indulgences.

You can get indulgences for all sorts of things: reading the Bible, making the sign of the cross, praying a rosary, visiting a cemetary and praying for the dead, etc.

You can also check out this link:

This is from the 1968 book. I am not sure they change a lot from version to version.

I know you can get the latest information the handbook was taken from off the vatican website, however I believe it is only in Latin.

If you get a Baronius 1962 Latin Missal it will tell you which prayers provide plenary or partial indulgences.

It won’t necessarily be the most up-to-date, though (although I’m guessing not that much has changed since then in this regard). Which prayers and acts qualify for an indulgence is set by the Holy See and can change. That’s why I would recommend checking with the most recent list to make sure nothing has changed.

I’m a little confused about the manner of gaining an indulgence for an approved act. I have read in several places that when you do the act, in order to gain the indulgence, you have to have the intent of it being for gaining the indulgence.
From what I gather from that is that if you’re doing it simply out of faithful devotion it doesn’t count as an indulgence gained.
For instance, if you pray the rosary in the church but do it without intending it to be an indulgence you don’t gain the indulgence connected with that act. You have to willingly intend for it to be an indulgence.
If that’s the case, it seems to undermine the entire practice of the devotion whatever it may be.
Is this right or am I on the entirely wrong path?

Why would it undermine the practice of the devotion? Do you do devotions only to get something or do you do it to praise God? If you are doing a devotion only to get something, like a “get out of Purgatory free” card, then I would say that undermines the devotion more than doing it simply to praise God. If you don’t get an indulgence, does that make the devotion any less worth your while?

Remember for most plenary indulgences you have to be free from all attachment to sin (as my director reminded me last week). That means all venial sins and any attachment to any particular sin. If that is the case, then it seems as if a plenary indulgence might be pretty had to get.

Yes, my point exactly. :slight_smile: I do a devotion to praise God and develop my devotion to Him and all the Saints. I don’t do it because something is attached to it. I want to grow in Holiness with these devotions. I think it “cheapens” it a bit if one makes a mental note, “Okay, I am praying this to gain an indulgence.” However, from some of the things I’ve read that seems to be a requirement for gaining the indulgence in the first place before practicing the indulgence. You have to have the intention of the devotion meriting an indulgence.
I don’t want to perform a devotion simply to gain an indulgence. I want to perform a devotion out of reverence to God and growing in faith… if an indulgence is attached to it, so be it. I wouldn’t begrudge the “extra credit” that comes with it, but I don’t seek to make my devotional actions a gain of indulgences as a goal. So I’m wondering if what I understand about gaining an indulgence for a devotion is true and that you have to intend the devotion to be for an indulgence when you execute it.
Does that make sense?

I’ve also heard that you can offer up any indulgences to your family and friends who have passed from this life and may be in Purgatory, or for the Poor Holy Souls who have no one to pray for them to get them out of there.

When I make my morning offering, I add, “I wish to gain all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and the good works I shall perform this day.” That should take care of any intention requirements for gaining an indulgence that day.

This is true for a plenary indulgence only. Neglecting this aspect would basically turn a plenary indulgence into a partial one instead. In addition, from the Handbook of Indulgences:

“Beside the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and fulfillment of three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic communion, and prayer for the pope’s intentions.” (Handbook, Norms 23.1)

“If a person is not fully disposed or if the prescribed work and the three mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will only be partial…” (Handbook, Norms 23.4)

Thus, you still get an indulgence every time you pray the rosary. You just might not get a plenary one.

I’m not sure that’s accurate:
Norms on Indulgences, 22 § 2.
In order that one who is capable may actually gain indulgences, one must have at least a general intention to gain them and must in accordance with the tenor of the grant perform the enjoined works at the time and in the manner prescribed.

Ah, thanks for the correction. I was confusing the two (the intention to gain the indulgence and the three requirements for a plenary indulgence). I don’t have my copy of the Handook on hand, so I was going from memory. :blush:

That said, I think it’s worth discussing what “general intention” means. Does that mean that the person has to be familiar with the ins and outs of the theology behind indulgences and mention the word “indulgences” by name? Or could it simply refer to the fact that the person wishes to perform an act / say a prayer because they want to grow closer to God (something for which the removal of the temporal punishment due to sin is a necessary precursor)? I would tend towards the latter interpretation, but I’m open to hearing other thoughts.

I am pretty certain that “general intention” would mean that I know this is an action done out of love that pleases God and is good for the salvation of my soul. Its just not possible for everyone to understand the ins and outs of indulgences in the theological sense. We probably have received more “indulgences” than we realize. But be careful there is a big difference between devotion/Orthodoxy and militancy… Focus on Christ, nothing else.

I remember listening to Catholic answers live once and heard on the topic of plenary indulgences a Saint once had a vision is this huge Church that all of those present ( (out of hundreds) who met the complete requirement was himself (the Saint) and a little old lady. Chances are I have never received a plenary indulgence and in all likeliness most of you have not either. Our attachment to sin is too great.

“Beside the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and fulfillment of three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic communion, and prayer for the pope’s intentions.” (Handbook, Norms 23.1)

Thus we try to rack up as many partial uindulgences as we can to make up for it. :slight_smile:

Rack em’ up son. And keep on tryin’ for the plenary indulgences… who knows maybe you’ll get it. Divine Mercy Sunday is coming up… prepare your heart for Easter!

I recommend the Our Lady’s Warriors’ web site.

I think it means you must be aware of the indulgence: just making the Sign of the Cross, without knowing it is in indulgenced prayer, is not sufficient. You must make the Sign of the Cross with the intention of receiving the indulgence. In other words, you cannot accidentally receive an indulgence.

See, I think that is specifically in contradiction to what Norm 22 is saying. (Actually, Norm 22 is now Norm 18 in the 2002 (latest?) edition of the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum.) The norm states:
Ut vero subiectum capax eas lucretur, habere debet intentionem saltem generalem eas acquirendi…

In order that a capable subject may actually gain it, he must have at least a general intention to obtain it…
Filling in the pronouns and what-not, that means: “In order for the person who can gain an indulgence to actually gain it, he must have at least the general intention to gain it.” You must have the intention to gain the indulgence, not simply to perform the work related to the indulgence.

This is also found in Canon 996 §2, and in the old (1917) Canon Law as 925.

From this commentary on Canon Law: “it has been usual to recommend to the faithful that they have to have a general intention of gaining all indulgences available to them…” (p. 1177)

Also see this comment: “Also, you have to want and intend to obtain the indulgences. This is why it is so important that we all be aware of indulgences–and believe in them! If, after reading all this, you decide you just don’t believe what the Church teaches about indulgences, well, then you’re never going to obtain one. And that would be very unfortunate.”

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