What Is the Role of Intent in An Indulgence?


#1

Can one receive the benefits of an indulgence without intending to?

For example, if one has been in the habit of going to confession, praying the rosary in a church group, attending mass, and saying a prayer for the pope’s intentions every Saturday, does one receive a plenary indulgence each time even though the concept of an indulgence is completely unknown?

Does intent play a different role for partial indulgences than for plenary indulgences? For example, a Catholic makes the sign of the cross several times each day as a part of prayer. Is a partial indulgence received each time even though the Catholic may be completely unaware of the concept?

Also, are partial indulgences quantifiable? Do a certain number of partial indulgences equal a plenary indulgence?


#2

According to the Norms for Indulgences, “Actually to gain indulgences the person must have at least the general intention of doing so and must perform the acts enjoined at the time stipulated and in the manner required according to the tenor of the grant” (The Handbook of Indulgences, pg. 22, No. 22).
Remember that by granting indulgences, the Church is encouraging us to remain in grace and grow in grace by going to confession and communion and by doing pious acts and devotions. For those who are already doing these things without this additional incentive of an indulgence, they are receiving enormous graces already. Exactly how these graces are applied is up to God, but nothing that we do for the glory of God goes to waste!
For your other questions about indulgences, please go here.

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