What role do Indulgences play in your spiritual life?

*See thread title :slight_smile:

Another optional question: what role do you think indulgences should play in our spiritual life?

*“Those who pass away from the world after having received indulgences with perfect charity and true contrition are absolved not only from their sins but also from their punishments; for I, God, will not only grant My saints and chosen ones what they ask for but will give twofold and a hundredfold out of charity.” *

  • Jesus to St. Bridget (Bk 6, Ch 102)


To answer both questions: the remission of temporal punishment for my sins and those of others, and for the glory of God.

I don’t really see what other answer there is; that’s what indulgences are for.

Indulgences play a large role in my spiritual life.

When I started pursuing regular plenary indulgences I was primarily concerned with shortcutting purgation and proceeding directly to the beatific vision (I hope) upon my death.

After a few years of regularly pairing some indulgenced act with biweekly confessions, I became less concerned with the effect of the indulgence and more concerned with the process of giving my time and love to God by way of the act, which I see more and more as an act of His grace in bringing me to want to perform the act in the first place.

Long story short, indulgences have helped me grow and, for me, have moved from a focus on avoiding purgatory to a real appreciation of the experience of performing the act and the realization that it is all grace. I ask that the effects be applied in accordance with His will, either to myself or a holy soul in purgatory. His choice.

What role should they play? There is only one way to find out what role they should play for any individual. I suspect the simple desire for extinguishment of temporal punishment for forgiven sins is why most start though.

Praying for thos in purgatory makes me look beyond my own needs and at the needs of others. Indulgences are the vehicle for that.

I never really thought about them.

As a candidate in RCIA entering the church on Saturday, I have never really “learned” about indulgences. Frankly, I am confused about them! So right now they don’t play a part in my spiritual life but I am curious. Now that I will be able to receive the Eucharist as of Saturday I have a feeling that I’ll be able to take part in them more fully :slight_smile:

They don’t play a huge role for me.

I see every action we take toward God as aiding or purging of the temporal consequences of sin. I try to live my life that way and don’t get to caught up in the formulations for indulgences.

That said, I am no way opposed to the practice and happily participate from time to time, particularly if I am planning on doing something I know an indulgence can be attached to (i.e. A Holy Hour).

I’ve always wondered about indulgences. So after you go to confession, pray for the pope, and do the work, you are supposed to be without any attachments to sin. Does this mean no attachments to previous sins? If so, and let’s say you commit a sin you tried to get an indulgence from 10 years later, would the indulgence be lost?

I’ll explain what “without any attachment to sin” means.

It means that at the moment you are doing the indulgenced work, you must not be “attached to”, or desire, a sin. This usually manifests in habitual sins, such as swearing. Or it could manifest for a person who often commits sexual sins. These things are hard to let go of. In order to obtain a plenary indulgence, you must be completely free of any desire to be attached to or to commit one of these sins again.

Now, it is nearly impossible for anyone to be completely detached from sin at all times. What is important is that you are not attached at the moment you do the indulgenced work. You should ask for that grace, that is, to be liberated from all attachment to sin at the moment you are attempting to receive the plenary indulgence.

I don’t understand this question. One does not get indulgences to stop from committing sins. Perhaps the previous part of my post answered this. If not, clarify and I’ll gladly try to answer.

The easiest explanation was given to me by a priest years ago.

A son is told by his father not to throw stones. However, the son goes outside and begins throwing stones. He ends up breaking a window and then recalls his father’s words about not throwing stones. The son is sorry and so goes to his father, confesses is offense and apologizes, asking for forgiveness. The father in his mercy, forgives the son. However, the window remains broken and must be repaired. So, the father has the son do extra chores to pay for the cost of the glass, and has the son help in replacing the glass in the window.

This is the way indulgences work.

When we become aware of our sin, we feel sorry for offending God our Father. So we turn to Him and ask for forgiveness. In His mercy, he forgives us.

However, the damage we did to our soul remains and has to be healed. Indulgences are a way of receiving God’s healing grace and moves us toward perfect union with Him when we die, but also now.

I never look at purgatory as punishment from God where we have to satisfy a tyrannical god’s temper in order to go to heaven.

Rather, its a place where we go to be healed of the imperfections that remain on our souls due to our ego-driven faults.

God is a God of love and mercy. He is also a just God, but his justice is not retributive justice, but restorative justice.


Thanks for the reply! You actually answered my last question with the first sentence in your response.

Indulgences have a big role in my spiritual life. I state my intention to receive all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and to the good works I shall perform that day every morning. Throughout the day, I say many prayers with indulgences attached, such as the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, the De Profúndis, or the rosary. I also try to receive a plenary indulgence weekly. I try to receive as many indulgences as I can because I know that I must have a lot of temporal punishment to remit and I don’t want to leave it all to Purgatory or earthly punishments from God. I don’t forget to help the Holy Souls with indulgences, though, since they need it more than I do.

The Baltimore Catechism might help you understand indulgences.

Two punishments are due to actual sins: one, called the eternal, is inflicted in hell; and the other, called the temporal, is inflicted in this world or in purgatory. The Sacrament of Penance remits or frees us from the eternal punishment and generally only from part of the temporal. Prayer, good works, and indulgences in this world and the sufferings of purgatory in the next remit the remainder of the temporal punishment. There is a double punishment attached to actual sins, because in their commission there is a double guilt: (1) Of insulting God and of turning away from Him; (2) Of depriving Him of the honor we owe Him, and of turning to His enemies.

An Indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to sin. An Indulgence is not a pardon of sin, nor a license to commit sin, and one who is in a state of mortal sin cannot gain an Indulgence. There are two kinds of Indulgences – Plenary and Partial. A Plenary Indulgence is the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. A Partial Indulgence is the remission of part of the temporal punishment due to sin. In order to gain an Indulgence we must be in the state of grace and perform the works enjoined, and it is necessary for the gaining of an Indulgence to have at least the general intention of gaining it.

It is not easy to gain a Plenary Indulgence, as we may understand from its great privilege. To gain a Plenary Indulgence, we must hate sin, be heartily sorry for even our venial sins, and have no desire for even the slightest sin. Though we may not gain entirely each Plenary Indulgence we seek, we always gain a part of each; that is, a partial indulgence, greater or less in proportion to our good dispositions.

The Church, by means of Indulgences, remits the temporal punishment due to sin by applying to us the merits of Jesus Christ, and the superabundant satisfactions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints; which merits and satisfactions are its spiritual treasury. By the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin and the saints, we mean all the satisfaction over and above what was necessary to satisfy for their own sins. As their good works were many and their sins few – the Blessed Virgin being sinless – the satisfaction not needed for themselves is kept by the Church in a spiritual treasury to be used for our benefit. Lesson 21 - On Indulgences & Lesson 14 - On Baptism

Thanks for all the responses!

St. Alphonsus says that, to become a saint, it suffices to gain as many indulgences as we can. I think there is a lot of wisdom in this, but I also agree that every good deed has a kind of “indulgence” attached, as Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich says.

Personally, I like to make use of aspirations, which are indulgenced. It is such an easy, concrete and fruitful practice.


My sentiments, exactly! … I’m guessing you are devoted to St. Therese… :slight_smile:

Here are some excellent reasons to gain indulgences (and to offer them for the Holy Souls in Purgatory):

"Father Faber, in his beautiful book “All for Jesus,” enumerates six advantages which accrue to us, from our giving over our Indulgences to the holy souls in Purgatory.

First, it considerably increases our merit, and consequently our claim to glory.

Next, it lays the soul that we release under a particular obligation to us, both because of the singular benefit it receives from entering all the sooner into glory, and also because of the tremendous sufferings from which it is delivered.

Moreover, it gives us the consolation to think that those whom we have released from Purgatory, are doing for us in heaven the great work of loving, praising, and glorifying God on our behalf.

Again, it adds fresh joy to the Church triumphant, from the fact that to the heavenly hierarchy a new citizen is added who can sin no more, whilst to the Church militant it brings comfort from the gain she has made of a new advocate.

Besides, it secures a prompt application of our Indulgences, which, in the possible case that we were in no want of them for ourselves, might remain for many years buried in the treasury of the Church.

And last of all, it entitles us to a speedy discharge of our own debt in Purgatory; for, if temporal alms are satisfactory above most other good works, much more will spiritual alms be so. And if he who gives up anything for God receives a hundredfold, we may have a security that, to recompense us for our generosity. He will so deal with us, that we shall need
little Purgatory, or He will inspire devout souls to pray for us."

  • ‘Indulgences: Their Origin, Nature and Development’

Pax Domini!

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