Problems with some Indulgences in relation to Purgatory

I feel disrespectful even raising these questions.

Souls are in Purgatory are to be cleansed of the wages of sin. So if it becomes too easy to get souls out of Purgatory, wouldn’t it be defeating the purpose of being in Purgatory?

Also, how do you determine which Indulgences are current/genuine and which are not? Most ordinary indulgences are say for 300 days off Purgatory for a relatively simple prayer and then it usually references the Pope that granted whatever particular Indulgence.

In the case of the famous Prayer of St Gertrude for the souls in Purgatory a short prayer is enough to release 1000 souls in Purgatory. This was promised by the Lord according to small ‘t’ tradition in a vision during the 13th century. The only endorsement for this Indulgence I can find was by Cardinal Pahiarca of Lisbon, Portugal on March 4, 1936. If this extraordinary Indulgence was authorized wouldn’t the Pope be exhorting us to recite this prayer as often as we could and empty Purgatory?

I hope I haven’t offended anyone but I am curious about these issues.

Yours in Christ,

Rove

The numbers are not to be taken literally, they just mean many souls will be released and relieved and are meant to encourage us to pray for the Church Sufferings. All indulgences are current, the treasury of the Church is always is.

I often wondered about indulgences as well. I used to say a pray a certain prayer ever day with an indulgence attached to offer that indulgence for the souls in purgatory but heard you could not do that, we just have to pray and put our prayes in that hands and Mercy of Jesus. I pray every day for the souls in pugatory, after all with hope, love, and mercy of Jesus I dare to hope I could be in pugaroty, and if my prayers were even a little bit good enough some soul I prayed for might just be in Heaven and pray for me.! :slight_smile:
I understand about a Plenary indulgance, say granted by the Pope on special accasions.
You get confession and communion. do a good deed, and pray for the Popes intensions .
In my Catechism it says the Church grants indulgences to assist our weakness, and to supply our insufficiency in satisfying the Divine Justice for our trangressions.
The Church in granting indulgences offers to God the infinite and superabundand merits of Christ together with virtues and the good works of His Virgin Mother and of all His saints.
To gain any indulgance you need confession, communion and good works, such as fasting, prayer, and alms giving.
So really it is only my opionion, but I think there is a little more to it than just saying a prayer and getting 300 days off,
I am sure that some one else come along and give a great answer, to a question which I have wondered about myself.
Thank you for bringing the subject up :slight_smile:
God bless

The older ‘300 days’ and so forth, are indications of the merits of the indulgence as compared to types of penances typically done by the living on earth in the past.

For example the normal penance from the very beginning of the Church even up to near recent times, for adultery, was a penance of a number of years – St. Charles Borromeo gives it at seven years – that’s in this life, performing a tough penance, for that long.

You should see the penances for young children who disobey their parents! That aside. . .

In purgatory if one had not completed such a penance it would not be the equivalent of what it was on earth, but something more difficult on an entire different order of magnitude. It could be anything, in measure of time and pain, though it would likely relate in some way too.

That in these times we rarely do long penances, does not mean that they are not still at times needful but that this is an age of people who do not realize the need for penance or would be driven away by long penances – not having the will to accomplish them. And so, for a variety of reasons good and evil (not driving people away because of long penances = good, no longer believing in penance = heresy) it is not often done, and generally only done voluntarily rather than as a requirement. A great number of people will be, if they manage to get as far as purgatory, spending a long, hard time there because of this. To compensate for this problem of lack of penance, there have been great offers of mercy from God for the saying of certain prayers and performing of certain acts of devotion, and calls for penance.

So the ‘300 days’ and so forth have nothing to do with the time spent in purgatory, they only mean how much time one might’ve spent on earth in a penitential act to gain the same merit towards remission of temporal punishment.

The St. Gertrude prayer is a beautiful and wonderful prayer, but it is only a part of private revelation. I personally believe in it. How do you reconcile the ease of it compared to other acts in regards to the holy souls? One does not have to understand everything - one can normally do many different devotions for the sake of one’s penance and for the holy souls, and make this a primary one. One can count on God’s mercy and consider that the merits of the Passion outweigh the merits of all other meritorious acts which is one solution. One could speculate that there are souls perhaps waiting specifically for this prayer to be said. We do not have to understand everything, we can trust there is great help through prayers with promises and offering up the Passion.

The old indulgences were all wiped out, despite the many many different Popes showing which prayers and acts of devotions they most approved of through them – this was done by Pope Paul VI, the great eraser of past tradition. However, he also instated a new book of indulgences, which at least covers broadly many acts of devotion and sometimes the indulgenced prayers and acts of the past.

You can read the ‘Raccolta’ (the old indulgenced prayers) and ‘The Enchiridion of Indulgences’ which has the new norms so you will know what is indulgenced in modern times. They are downloadable for free.

In general now indulgences are ‘partial’ or ‘plenary’, the partial put in an equivalent amount of merit to the merit of the act itself on your part, the plenary are complete remissions of temporal punishment. These, one should strive to be in the spiritual state to receive through hatred of all sin, mortal and venial, for the sake of the love of God alone. :smiley:

that’s a good question actually :wink: I can see where you are coming from. It all has to do with God’s mercy, I think. See when we get indulgences for ourselves or for souls in purgatory, we are appealing to the Cross, to Mary’s virtues, to the merits of the Church… now the souls STILL get purified, just faster :slight_smile: you might say…they are given additional graces. So yes they still become perfect for Heaven, it’s just less slow/painful for them.

also remember that purgatory is not for mortal sin, only venial sin and temporal punishment. The souls there are saved and forgiven of mortal sin.

Also, how do you determine which Indulgences are current/genuine and which are not? Most ordinary indulgences are say for 300 days off Purgatory for a relatively simple prayer and then it usually references the Pope that granted whatever particular Indulgence.

don’t look at the number of days. This does not refer to how long you’re in purgatory. Many people think so but it’s NOT true. What the numbers actually refer to is early Church penances.

I’ll explain… this is what indulgences are based on:

let’s say you’re living in the early Church. Let’s say you did a horrible sin and the Church gives you a penance of 100 days. What you can do, is ask a Christian imprisoned for their faith to pray for you. If they do, your Church penance gets lessened by a particular amount.

That is where the concept of indulgences are from. The numbers were* never *applicable to purgatory.

we know that we can help souls get out of purgatory faster but we don’t know by how much, that’s up to God…

In the case of the famous Prayer of St Gertrude for the souls in Purgatory a short prayer is enough to release 1000 souls in Purgatory. This was promised by the Lord according to small ‘t’ tradition in a vision during the 13th century. The only endorsement for this Indulgence I can find was by Cardinal Pahiarca of Lisbon, Portugal on March 4, 1936. If this extraordinary Indulgence was authorized wouldn’t the Pope be exhorting us to recite this prayer as often as we could and empty Purgatory?

I think there has been some debate about this particular indulgence.

there is a Church approved book with all the different indulgences listed in it. Maybe you can find it in a Catholic bookstore.?

I hope I haven’t offended anyone but I am curious about these issues.

Yours in Christ,

Rove

no prob :slight_smile:

God bless.

The St. Gertrude the Great prayer is a promise from private revelation, rather than an indulgence I believe. I don’t know of any instances where God has directly promised indulgences to people, that as a rule is more for the Pope – God may promise the equivalent to one, but not an indulgence per se.

Being a promise rather than an indulgence, revisions have no effect.

There is nothing worth doing that is a matter of how hard it is. It matters how well it is done. You can break your back all morning at cleaning your garage, but if I can get it just as clean in 20 minutes with less strain, it is just as clean.

This case is a bit different, of course, because it is a soul, not a garage, that is being cleaned and healed. Still, you know of cases where you have struggled with some grudge or petty problems for months, sweat bullets trying to overcome the effects of your soul’s habit of sin, and then someone comes along and by the grace of God the problem is solved and you are a different person about it.

Purgatory is about perfecting souls for Heaven, souls that want to be with God but do not have the rest of the package, so to speak. The “punishments” of Purgatory are not God finally getting back at us for our transgressions. It is the process of clearing up the natural consequences of what sin has done to us and, I suppose, to all of the rest of Creation.

It might be easy or it might be hard, but this depends on God’s purpose in doing it a particular way for us…and by “us”, I mean in the plural, the Body of Christ. So by the economy of grace, it is entirely possible that God would send a person along who could do great things for someone else by virtue of a* seemingly* small cooperation with God’s grace.

oh that is true, I think :slight_smile:

I read someplace that the Church’s jurisdiction only extends to the living. While it is good to pray for them and apply indulgences to their benefit, the Church does not control the effects. They are in the Hands of God.

The “punishments” of Purgatory are not God finally getting back at us for our transgressions. It is the process of clearing up the natural consequences of what sin has done to us and, I suppose, to all of the rest of Creation.

This is not quite accurate. It is true that part of purgatory is interior change, but the other part is in fact direct, painful punishment for sin.

It is justice of course, not any juvenile ‘getting back’.

This used to be the purpose of prisons in society, I will note. Rehabilitation took the back place – in a proper prison, they are both balanced.

‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’. And yes, that is the point.

‘It is unlawful to desire vengeance considered as evil to the man who is to be punished, but it is praiseworthy to desire vengeance as a corrective of vice and for the good of justice; and to this the sensitive appetite can tend, in so far as it is moved thereto by the reason: and when revenge is taken in accordance with the order of judgment, it is God’s work, since he who has power to punish “is God’s minister,” as stated in Romans 13:4.’

St. Thomas Aquinas

‘For this reason it is that no one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution.’

St. Cyprian of Carthage

Indulgences are alive and well.

It’s unfortunate that through ignorance or lack of instruction we aren’t as aware (if at all) of them as we should be. It may be due in part to the fact that in certain circles Purgatory is not mentioned frequently enough.

We have more power than we imagine when we gain indulgences.

I own a copy of the Handbook of Indulgences, Norms And Grants, Catholic Book Publishing Co., N.Y. 1991 . It’s a wonderful tool in helping me become better informed.

The third edition of The Handbook of Indulgences (1986) is similar to it. Probably what Monica 4316 had in mind, but without the trip to the store because this version can be read online at holyjoe.org/indulgences/

St. Faustina’s devotion to the Divine Mercy focuses on indulgences too. Pope John Paul II spent years working on her cause for canonization, then :

"Mere months before being named pope, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, after years of exhaustive work, succeeded in having the ban on Faustina’s writings lifted.
Since that time, Pope John Paul II has promoted Divine Mercy and championed the cause of St. Faustina and her writings. He’s become known as ‘The Mercy Pope’ ".

holyspiritinteractive.net/features/divinemercy/fmiracles.asp

Here is an excerpt from her diary - a quote from Jesus, concerning indulgences which is used as a meditation for day 8 of the novena to the Divine Mercy:

Eighth Day

“Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory,
and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.”

There is also a new plenary indulgence which can be gained on the Feast of The Divine Mercy ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/feast.htm

We need to be careful not to allow God’s Mercy to be confined to the limits of our intellects. Here is what Jesus told St. faustina about His Mercy:

Divine Mercy in My Soul
Diary - Sr. Faustina
Notebook 2; 699

“My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy.”

saint-faustina.com/Diary/DMIMS14.shtml

That would refer to a plenary indulgence, but if any of those conditions are lacking, a partial indulgence would still be gained. In large part, to gain a partial indulgence attached to any prayer or work, one only need have the general intention to gain it. We can gain a partial indulgence simply by making the sign of the Cross.

Indulgences show us how God wants to share his power with us .There is a prayer said inaudibly when the deacon or priest mingles the drop(s) of water with the wine during the preparation of the gifts during holy Mass:

By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

Indulgences, while accessing the fullness of God’s Mercy for the Church suffering and for ourselves, also have the effect of leading us in the direction of detachment to sin.

Don’t leave home without them. :slight_smile:

If it has to be ‘hard’ to get to heaven then why did Christ go through His passion to make it easier for us?

Besides which, we are commanded to pray for each other - and given the example of the Our Father, in which we pray for collective needs (OUR daily bread not MY daily bread, forgiveness of OUR sins, not just MY sins and so on).

Of course our prayers for others may make life (not just purgatory) easier for them - and that’s exactly how God wants it since His son taught us to pray for each other!

I would like to thank each and everyone who has taken the time to answer my query. I was moved by several answers but all replies had solid reasoning and research behind them which I appreciate very much. I read each reply very carefully and now have a lot more to think about. Thank you so very much.

I’m still a bit troubled by the indulgence attached to the very lovely Prayer of St Gertrude. It does not appear to be in the Raccolta or Enchiridion (or updates).

Whatever the above case, I am determined as a result of the thoughtful replies to begin a regime of prayers for the souls in Purgatory as part of my daily prayers. I don’t know why I didn’t do this before. I did offer up my suffering in the past for the Church Penitent, so I’d better get praying now.

God Bless you all.

Rove

Just to note that there is a new Enchiridion - it is available online in Latin, though not in English. The USCCB came out with a transaltion (a bit strange in some of the wording, for people used to traditional titles in the litany and so forth)

Such ‘promises’ rarely are. I would like to say such things are mediaevel, but even in recent ages, and still in modern times, often people feel the need to ‘advertise’ with a bit of extravagance, or no one will do it. Ergo, such and such takes so many souls out, and if you say this novena for X nuber of days, you’ll release these many souls, St. so-and-so appeared and related that this prayer is the most efficacious and dearest to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, etc., etc. I would suggest just looking at the words and meaning of the prayer, and how it fits in with your Catholic spirituality and leave things like numbers to God.

The old indulgences were all wiped out, despite the many many different Popes showing which prayers and acts of devotions they most approved of through them – this was done by Pope Paul VI, the great eraser of past tradition. However, he also instated a new book of indulgences, which at least covers broadly many acts of devotion and sometimes the indulgenced prayers and acts of the past.

I’ve not fully developed my thoughts on this issue but I don’t think sometimes that it is such a bad thing to do away with things like the ‘reserved blessings’ and different grants and subsume them under more general categories. The reason being then that half of the time, people and even religious orders are promoting “their” prayers and sacramentals. It can be legitimate to a certain extent, but I think it can also digress quite easily into a form of spiritual commercialism, where we start reciting prayers to “gain” this or that, instead of viewing prayer more holistically.

Thanks for starting the thread roveau. :thumbsup: We all come away more edified by everyone’s contributions and it’s good to be reminded of these particular things.

Concerning that particular prayer given to St. Gertrude, you might like to know that some fellow members here at CAF also find it lovely…lovely enough to have prayed it more than 1500 times since last November… can have a look here : forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=295601&page=101

God Bless you too :slight_smile:

I agree with you, but would argue that it helps to realize that when God administers justice, the necessity of interior change and punishment for sin are part of the same thing. Our sin does the damage, the sin digs the pit from which we must suffer in order to emerge, and there are aspects in which we need to make amendment, because the involvement of our will, our action, and our direct experience is a necessary part of our cure, even though our cure is wrought by God. There is a work involved in our rehabilitation which must come from our will, but the difficulty of which (I believe) is mostly compounded by our own resistance. I think that, in death as in life, the work of penances and sacrifices accepted on behalf of others works by mutually breaking down our resistance to love and be loved without counting the cost.

I also believe that any part of the sewing up of what our sin tears that can be done by God is done by God. God provides the strength, the grace, the atonement. By the same token, the amendment of others that is our lot to cooperate with is also part of our own amendment. We are wholly unprofitable servants. Our service to God is our freedom, a basic expression of our need to love. God is not the beneficiary of our service; we are.

I think, though, that we tend to grossly underestimate the damage that our sin does, both to ourselves and to the rest of creation, and the distance we have to cover in order to reach the perfection Heaven requires in order to be Heaven. I mean that if we are not a certain kind of being–that is, a being entirely in submission to the demands of love–then no place can be Heaven, if we are there. I don’t think we have an inkling of how far short we fall.

I also mean that while the justice of men is always, in some sense, arbitrary, because we lack wisdom and knowledge of what each soul lacks or the damage any one soul has done, the justice of God is never arbitrary. It always accomplishes some good purpose, rather that providing arbitrary satisfaction. Punishments from God, who is love, are always the necessary consequences of sin. God never inflicts punishments for vengeance in the sense that humans often mean it. There is no hatred, no harm wished, no desire to inflict suffering for sufferings’ sake. There is, as you put it, no juvenile “getting back”. Neither bitterness nor indulgence of bad feelings are part of God’s correction. God’s correction is always a kindness, even if when is painful to experience.

OTOH, the only thing we know is that indulgences do work, whether or not our ideas about how they work is correct.

Jesus did not make getting to Heaven easier. He made it possible.

Still, I agree with you: What God can do to get us into Heaven, God does. What is left for humanity to do is that which free will–that is, the gift that we have a free choice to love which give our chosen actions real consequences–dictates that only humanity can do.

Some good stuff here that is pleasant to hear. :slight_smile: :smiley:

Thanks. You guys in various ways really have answered my question… and then some.

It’s probably unfair that claims are made like 1,000 souls will be released from Purgatory because people will take that literally (an perhaps they should?). I can’t take it literally because if I belived it in my heart I would definitely spend as much of my free time continually saying that prayer to get hundreds of thousands of souls out per day - that would actually be easy to do.

Anyway I now dedicate my daily Rosary to the neglected souls in Purgatory and this morning before Mass a couple of decades (Feast of St Benedict) and will look into a daily devotion I can do in this regard. I still try to remember to offer up my suffering to the Poor Souls… when I’m out running or at the gym torturing myself in the name of good health.

With many thanks for your thoughtful answers,

Rove

Christ didn’t make it easier, He made it possible for us to get to heaven by his death and resurrection.

That would actually be easy to do.

Truly? Why don’t you give it a try then.

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