Question About Indulgences


I was reading some material about indulgences and I came across this:

To gain a plenary indulgence you must perform the act with a contrite heart, plus you must go to confession (one confession may suffice for several plenary indulgences), receive Holy Communion, and pray for the pope’s intentions. (An Our Father and a Hail Mary said for the pope’s intentions are sufficient, although you are free to substitute other prayers of your own choice.) The final condition is that you must be free from all attachment to sin, including venial sin.

Pretty easy to understand, for the most part. I am wondering, though, what it means by being “free from all attachment to sin?” I think I have a vague idea but can someone be more specific? Thanks.

Here is the whole article:


Basically if you take the indulgence with a cynical attitude that “here’s my fifty quid so I’ll go and sin a bit to make sure I get the value of it”. It won’t work.

No one can be free of all attachment to sin. Not since Adam.


I have looked and been unable to find an official Church teaching of what “free from all attachment to sin” means. To me, it means that at that time of the indulgence, I have no desire to sin in any form, in my thoughts or words or actions. It does not mean I will never sin again or that I cannot be forgiven if I do; it refers specifically to the state of my heart, mind and soul at the time I am seeking to earn the indulgence by my actions.

Here is another interpretation from:

"The greatest hurdle is the last. Making a good confession is not particularly difficult, and going to Communion and praying for the Pope’s intentions are easier still. It’s being free from all attachment to sin that’s hard and it’s quite possible that even evidently good people, who seek plenary indulgences regularly, never, in their whole lives, obtain one, because they are unwilling to relinquish their favorite little sins.

There is an account of St. Philip Neri, who died in 1595, preaching a jubilee indulgence in a crowed church. A revelation was given to him that only two people in the church were actually getting it, an old char-woman and the saint himself. Not exactly encouraging, huh? But don’t worry. If you aren’t perfectly disposed and can’t get the plenary indulgence. you’ll at least come away with a partial."And there is also an article from “This Rock” magazine:

For me, the bottom line is this: No one but almighty God knows the state of my mind, heart and soul. If he grants that I may earn a plenary indulgence so be it. If he grants that it be a partial indulgence, so be it. Even the slightest partial indulgence from God is greater than anything this poor human can obtain on their own.


Basically it means you have to (at very least) be willing to be **detached **from all your sins, even veinal.

Detachment: the withholding of undue affection for created things for the sake of the Creator.
Catholic Dictionary


Thanks to everyone who responded. I think I now have a pretty good idea of what it means.


how about confession? Can it be within 20 days before or after the indulgenced act?


Can one simply ask Jesus to remove your attachment to sin? Granted, it may (and probably will) return due to original sin.


That sounds like an excellent idea.
I try to get as many plenary indulgences as I can. For example, on the feast day of saints that are patrons of local churches I go to visit there. Also, in Lent there’s a prayer to say every Friday that gives a plenary indulgence.

I figure that even if I don’t get the full indulgence (I hope I’m not attached to sin but it’s hard to know for sure), then the indulgence still counts for a big chunk of reparation.

Also, I think confession has to be done 8 days before or after the action.


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