Technical questions about indulgences

Salvete!

I recently thought that I should take two aspects of the spiritual reality more seriously, i.e. reparation for my sins and the souls in the purgatory. Therefore it seems wise to me to make as full a use of indulgences, which our Mother so readily offers to us in Her generosity, as possible. Now I have some questions to you, wiser and more knowledgeable brothers and sisters:

It is my understanding that one can obtain plenary indulgence either 20 days (used to be 7?) after or before one’s confession. Correct?

During this time one can obtain plenary indulgance each time one receives Eucharist. Correct? So if I go to Mass twice a week then, in theory, I can obtain two plenary indulgences a week. Yes?

To do so I need to perform the work with an intention of gaining an indulgence either for the remission of temporal punishment for my own sins or the sins of a deceased person, be in a state of grace, have gone to confession within the aforementioned time period, have no attachment to any sin whatsoever and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. Correct?

As to partial indulgences:

I assume that one can gain many of them a day and although one needs to be in a state of grace one does not need to have gone to communion for any of them? So, for example, I can obtain any number of indulgences during the week even though I went only twice to Mass during the week and I have ‘used up’ those communions to gain other indulgences. Yes?

Does each action need to be consciously performed with an indulgence in mind?
Can I perform an action in one intention (for example pray for a friend) but offer the indulgence for a soul in purgatory or myself?

I also heard that for each indulgence one gains the Church offers another on top of that. So for example if I gain a partial indulgence by performing all of the acts above I also gain another one gratis? Is that correct? If so, does it apply to to plenary indulgences as well as partial?

Can one gain more than one partial indulgence for the same action on the same day? For example if Memorare is indulged and I pray it 3 times a day does this mean that I gain 3 indulgences? (and if the above is also correct, then 3 additional on top of that)

Sorry to be so technical about this, but I want to do as much for those souls (and for my own) as possible.

Deo Gratias!

I commend you for wanting to get indulgences, especially for the deceased. I have been trying to do a lot of this over the past 2 years too so I’ll try to share what I know and if I get something wrong I’m sure someone will correct me.

First off, you should follow this manual, the Enchiridion of Indulgences, for seeing what you might be able to earn an indulgence for, and for general guidelines. This is the full digitized version, not the “digest” version elsewhere on the web. Don’t go by any old versions especially pre-1968 because the Vatican updates these from time to time.

basilica.ca/documents/2016/10/Sacred%20Apostolic%20Penitentiary-The%20Enchiridion%20of%20Indulgences.pdf

I’ve actually seen various time limits, everything from a week to a month depending on which church or website is publishing the information. You want to refer to the manual (linked above) at page 9 where it talks about plenary indulgences where it lists the three conditions (note that Confession is just one of the conditions) and says Confession can be “several days before or after” the indulgenced work. I try to just go every two to three weeks to be on the safe side. I have quoted the section from p. 9 below:

*26. To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the
indulgence is attached and to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin. be absent. If the latter disposition is in any way less than perfect or if the prescribed three conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will be partial only, saving the provisions given below in Norm
34 and in Norm 35 concerning those who are “impeded.”
27. The three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work; it is, however, fitting that Communion be received and the prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff be said on the same day the work is performed. 27

(continued next post)

(continued)

During this time one can obtain plenary indulgence each time one receives Eucharist. Correct? So if I go to Mass twice a week then, in theory, I can obtain two plenary indulgences a week. Yes?

This is correct, except note that you are allowed to receive Eucharist twice in one day if the second time is at a Mass, but you can only get one plenary indulgence per day. I changed this after I wrote it because I think it may be possible under the rules if you receive twice in one day to apply the second Eucharist to an indulgenced work the following day, but the guidance says it is “fitting” to receive Eucharist on the same day you do the indulgenced work. Also take note that you will have to recite two separate sets of prayers for the Holy Father, one for each Plenary.

To do so I need to perform the work with an intention of gaining an indulgence either for the remission of temporal punishment for my own sins or the sins of a deceased person, be in a state of grace, have gone to confession within the aforementioned time period, have no attachment to any sin whatsoever and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. Correct?

Yes, you do these things in addition to Confession within a few days before or after, and one Holy Communion per indulgence. The Confession, Communion and other things you said are also listed in the Enchiridion (document that I linked). One thing I also learned is that the prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions has to be “recited” out loud. This has caused me to do a bunch of works that I did specifically to get indulgences for specific deceased people over again because I cannot remember which ones I actually recited the prayer out loud for and which ones I prayed silently for the Holy Father after Communion.

(continued)

As to partial indulgences:

I assume that one can gain many of them a day and although one needs to be in a state of grace one does not need to have gone to communion for any of them? So, for example, I can obtain any number of indulgences during the week even though I went only twice to Mass during the week and I have ‘used up’ those communions to gain other indulgences. Yes?

You can obtain more than one partial indulgence per day unless the Enchiridion specifically states otherwise for a particular work. See Section 3 at top of Page 9 of the Enchiridion that I linked.

Does each action need to be consciously performed with an indulgence in mind?

Yes, that’s my understanding. I like to announce the intention to get the indulgence and for whom at the beginning of my doing the work so the Lord knows my intention for sure.

Can I perform an action in one intention (for example pray for a friend) but offer the indulgence for a soul in purgatory or myself?

To my knowledge, yes this is allowed - for example the person you are praying for is perhaps alive but you want to offer the indulgence for someone deceased. I just state very clearly at the beginning my intentions and who I would like to get the indulgence, stating also of course that if it is not possible for my indulgence to help that person then God should just use it to help whoever He wishes.

I also heard that for each indulgence one gains the Church offers another on top of that. So for example if I gain a partial indulgence by performing all of the acts above I also gain another one gratis? Is that correct? If so, does it apply to to plenary indulgences as well as partial?

This is a new one on me. I didn’t know the Church had a “gift matching program” in this regard :slight_smile: I do know you can only get one Plenary a day so if you successfully earn the Plenary then you are not going to be given two of them by the Church matching it, to my knowledge.

Can one gain more than one partial indulgence for the same action on the same day? For example if Memorare is indulged and I pray it 3 times a day does this mean that I gain 3 indulgences? (and if the above is also correct, then 3 additional on top of that)

Refer to the instructions for the individual works and if it doesn’t say that you can only get the partial indulgence once per day I would assume you can get several partials for several repetitions of the same work, based on Section 3 guidance that says you can get more than one partial indulgence in a day.

If anyone sees an error in what I wrote please kindly point it out with a citation to the Enchiridion or canon law. I’m trying to “get this right” too.

Thank you, carissime! Do tell where you have heard that the prayer for the intentions of the Pontiff must be recited aloud. Most interesting, I must say. As for this ‘matching’ as you have called it I have heard about it in a sermon on YouTube channel Sensus Fidelium on the topic of indulgences. I think this is what is ment by point 6 of the norms in the document which you have graciously shared here:

  1. The faithful, who at least with contrite heart perform an action to which a partial
    indulgence is attached, obtain, in addition to the remission of temporal punishment acquired
    by the action itself, an equal remission of punishment through the intervention of the Church.

So it would exclude plenary indulgence, but it does speak of additional ‘matching’ remission beside the one which comes from the action itself.

Deo Gratias

Older editions of the indulgence handbook (I believe the Raccolta) specifically said the prayer for the Holy Father intentions should be spoken out loud.
Within the last week we had a discussion about indulgences on another thread and I asked if one had to still say the prayers for the Holy Father out loud or was mental prayer enough, as the explicit old language was no longer in the new Enchiridion. Someone pointed out that the applicable sentence from the Enchiridion states (paragraph 28 on page 9)

prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff must be
recited for the gaining of each plenary indulgence

and said that “recited” indicates one must say it out loud. This seemed correct to me. I also noticed that when praying the Rosary in a church group or pilgrimage group (for example at the current monthly Fatima devotions taking place at shrines and before pilgrim statues of Our Lady), prayers specifically for the Holy Father and his intentions were usually said out loud as a group either before or after the Rosary and I presumed this was to meet the indulgence requirement.

As for this ‘matching’ as you have called it I have heard about it in a sermon on YouTube channel Sensus Fidelium on the topic of indulgences. I think this is what is ment by point 6 of the norms in the document which you have graciously shared here:

  1. The faithful, who at least with contrite heart perform an action to which a partial indulgence is attached, obtain, in addition to the remission of temporal punishment acquired by the action itself, an equal remission of punishment through the intervention of the Church.

So it would exclude plenary indulgence, but it does speak of additional ‘matching’ remission beside the one which comes from the action itself.

Thanks for pointing that out. I remember reading that but I did not understand what it meant. I’ll have to check out Sensus Fidelium channel.

I also must admit I have been focusing on the devotions that might give plenaries, and not as much on the partials but I think perhaps I should pay more attention to the partials, since if I can help the poor souls with additional indulgences for prayers I might be saying anyway, then why not make the effort to help some souls who don’t have anyone else to pray for them.

Thank you for this, it is a most useful thing to know! I shall remember this and apply it. As for the channel, it is full of treasures. I think this particular thing was mentioned in the following video

youtube.com/watch?v=GaRNYH5t_Xc

They have a number of things on indulgences, so this should save you time.

Thank you once more

It’s a great thing to do, get indulgences for those in purgatory.

It doesn’t matter if prayers for the Pope are out loud or quiet. With each indulgence, attend Mass and the Priest says a prayer for our Holy Father. Pray along quietly and you are good to go. And an Our father and Hail Mary

It’s simply praying for the intentions of the Pope. There are those who cannot talk, or hear, that cannot recite aloud. It is the sincerity of the prayer and intention that counts.

Wiith indulgences the three easiest works that our Holy Father has listed are

  1. Praying a set of Rosary mysteries in a Church
  2. Stations of the Cross in Church
  3. Reading the bible for half an hour anywhere.

And contrary to another thread, it does not matter who we consecrate ourselves too, we are, by decree of His Holy Father- the Pope, fully entitled to earn indulgences , either for ourselves, or the dead.

It’s one of the things I try to do, get lots of indulgences for the dead.

Best of luck

We cannot get indulgences for people other then ourselves, who are alive.

There is only one plenary indulgence per day, no Church matching. A failed Plenary indulgence will still potentially become a partial indulgence. So go for a Plenary Indulgence.

That way if you don’t meet the totally free from sin thing, you still gain the Partial if conditions are right for a partial indulgence.

I sometimes name a deceased, and sometimes get them for those forgotten in purgatory

vatican.va/roman_curia/tribunals/apost_penit/documents/rc_trib_appen_pro_20000129_indulgence_en.html

General Remarks On Indulgences

  1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”.

  2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works (nn. 8, 9, 10 indicate those specific to the Holy Year).

  3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.

  4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

— have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
— have sacramentally confessed their sins;
— receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
— pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

  1. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.

  2. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).

  3. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.

n.6—A plenary indulgence can be acquired only once a day, except for the provisions contained in n. 18 for those who are on the point of death. A partial indulgence can be acquired more than once a day, unless there is an explicit indication to the contrary.

This is a good primer on indulgences

ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P6INDULG.HTM

From Pope PaulVI

Is he a saint yet?

Here is a link to a PDF of the enchildrion of indulgences.

google.com.au/search?site=&source=hp&ei=BklTWbukJsSA8gWejIPYDw&q=the+enchiridion+of+indulgences&oq=the+enchildrion+of+&gs_l=mobile-gws-hp.1.0.0i13k1l5.2207.17016.0.18239.24.22.1.4.4.0.402.6270.2-17j4j1.22.0…0…1.1.64.mobile-gws-hp…2.21.4605.3…0j5j41j46j0i131k1j0i46k1j0i22i10i30k1j33i160k1.M6gEBVGWmb8

Scroll down to the PDF link.

The fourth easy way to gain a Plenary Indulgence is in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for half an hour.

I recommend the link to the PDF I put above because it is a complete 1999 version.
The link you provided goes to a Google page which contains some versions that are old and one that is a digest version, which I found does not contain all the information (it states that it is a digest version).

The link I put above, posted by the Ottawa basilica, is the only complete version of the 1999 Enchiridion (not an earlier version) that I have found online.

See the second one down, its the pdf from st Patricks Basillica, weblink from 2016.

The Enchiridion Of Indulgences NORMS AND GRANTS Authorized English Edition Issued by the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, 1968 Formatted into electronic text June 2, 1998.

Its actually the same one as yours. In pdf , but from that google link you can also look at it as a book, if you dont have pdf. By clicking the book link below the pdf link. I posted in a hurry before the nightly CAF forum web server crash. I should have mentioned it could be viewed online as a book too.

Actually the 1999 Enchiridion in force addresses both of the situations you mention explicitly.

It uses the word “recite” over and over in the initial guidance and distinguishes it from purely mental prayer, example being Paragraph 33 on page 10:
*
33. To gain an indulgence attached to a prayer, it is sufficient to recite the prayer alternately with a companion or to follow it mentally while it is being recited by another. *

The situation where a priest or a prayer group leader is saying a prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions out loud and the group of people are following along mentally falls under “follow it mentally while it is being recited by another”.

The situation where a person cannot speak and must pray mentally can either be addressed by getting a commutation of the “recite” condition from one’s confessor as shown in paragraph 34, or if you are a deaf mute then you may follow the condition attached to paragraph 36:

*34. Confessors can commute either the prescribed work or conditions, in favor of those who,because of a legitimate impediment, cannot perform the work or fulfill the conditions. *
*
36. The deaf and dumb can gain indulgences attached to public prayers, if they devoutly raise their mind and affections to God, while others of the faithful are reciting the prayers in the same place; for private prayers it suffices, if they recite them mentally or with signs, or if they merely read them with their eyes. *

But it is not a good idea to just say “oh I don’t need to ‘recite’ such and such prayer because it’s the thought that counts”, at least not once one has become aware of the rule. The whole idea of getting the indulgence is that we try to fulfill the conditions and make our best effort, so it seems better, to me, to do it as the Vatican specifies in the latest enchiridion. Much of the time I am not saying these prayers with a group so I can’t just follow along with someone else’s recitation as there is only mine efore, :slight_smile: Therefore I “recite” the prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions, and any other prayers that need to be “recited”, out loud, although often it’s in a whisper so as not to disturb others at prayer, but it still counts as “reciting”.

Yes, that one from St. Patrick’s Basilica is the same one I posted as PDF. basilica.ca/documents/2016/10/Sacred%20Apostolic%20Penitentiary-The%20Enchiridion%20of%20Indulgences.pdf
I suspect maybe my browser just isn’t accepting your book link, but we are on the same “page” with respect to which one to use, as there are lots of outdated and incomplete versions of indulgence manuals on the web.

Yes we are :slight_smile: Its the go to. Wouldnt it be wonderful if people tried for indulgences for the dead several times a year !

I was inspired to do so by a very devout priest from Africa who serves one of my parishes. He gave a great homily on either All Saints Day or All Souls Day (I forget which) about it being a very good thing to pray for the dead. As my mother had just died I decided to take it up as a sort of service project. I was further inspired by reading stories about Padre Pio and his many prayers for those who had died. I remember growing up my mother would always say to offer such and such up “for the poor souls in Purgatory” but I rarely hear anyone say that any more.

I have another question: does one prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff suffice per day? Say I gain more than one indulgence in a day (lets say one plenary and 3 partial) does one prayer cover them all, so to speak, or is it necessary to pray for the intentions of the Pope each time?

I believe the prayer for the intentions of the Pope is a condition only for the Plenary Indulgence, which you can only get once per day, so one instance of praying for the intentions of the Pope per day is sufficient. If you did it a second time it would have to be for a plenary on a different day. See paragraph 26 of the linked document.

I make it easy by just doing the prayer for the Pope’s intentions after the Communion I receive for the Plenary, then I take care of those two conditions together.

If for some reason I am doing two Communions in one day planning to apply one to a work for a Plenary the next day (let’s say I am planning to say my Rosary in a church the next day but won’t have time to go to Mass/ Communion on that next day because of my work), then I also do the second set of Pope prayers with the second Communion so I don’t forget the next day. And I just tell God I am planning to use this Communion and set of prayers for tomorrow’s plenary indulgence.

Hello, carissimi, thanks to God and to the information here gained I have been graced with opportunities to gain (hopefully) few plenary indulgences and many partial ones.

I have another question as to partial indulgences:

Is it enough for simply to carry out an indulged action with an intention to obtain an indulgence and to be in a state of grace? No prayers for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff required? No other conditions?

Deo gratias

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