What's an indulgence? Do you think you might like one?


’ thought we might get this term straight. ’ bin hearing it a lot on the threads. ’ wonder if anyone has any experience with it.



The way I always looked an an indulgence is like this…

If a Sin is something that offends God, and thus something that earns some form of condemnation, then an Indulgence is nothing more complicated than something that Pleases God, and, likewise, reduces the amount of Condemnation…

However,** One cannot use Indulgences to ‘Earn’ your way into heaven**. (I bolded it for those that want to say indulgences are bad because they think it implies that we can earn our salvation, which is of course, impossible)

Very Watered down, but generally speaking an easy way to understand it.

The Opposite of Sin is an Indulgence…

In Christ


In my understanding, and indulgence is the waiving of temporal punishment due to sin. When you sin there is the forgiveness of the LORD which is our personal absolution in confession, but there is also the pennance necessary to reverse any damages due to this sin. For instance, if you break a window you must say, “Sorry,” be forgiven, but also pay for the window. But if the cost of replacing the window is also forgiven that’s an indulgence.

Usually we do pennance given to us by our confessor priest, which is typically to say some prayers in contrition.

LOVE your neighbor as yourself.


Keep an eye on THIS website. In the next couple of days there will be an outstanding podcast about indulgences, under Season Three. :smiley: It’s just going through final editing right now.

In the mean time, there is an article in the Detroit Free Press about the taping of this particular show HERE



Sure! Can I have a Plenary Indulgence please? :slight_smile:


To make it all more clear…

a sin is like the act of breaking a window… to make it right you must:

  1. be contrite
  2. Appologize be forgiven (confession)
  3. Pay for/Make the situation right again (penance, indulgences, purgatory)

Forgiveness and salvation are independent of indulgences. One is saved solely by the Grace of God, which is brought on by faith, which is made living by our christian works (including contrition for sins and desire to sin no more).

Indulgences fall under the category of MAKE IT RIGHT. Penance and time in purgatory serve the same function… essentially to make sin right is to clean our souls of the lingering effects sin has on us. This does not require suffering, but it DOES require sacrifice. Indulgences come (among other things) when someone has sacrificed their time and money to a worthy cause and as such an indulgence remits ONLY the time someone must spend in purgatory AFTER they have already been deemed saved.


*]Anybody have any idea on what forms indulgences took over the centuries?
*]What about now?
*]How can a poor person make an indulgence?
*]How can a sick person make an indulgence?
*]Is money pleasing to God?[/LIST]
Oh, I know, I know. I asked too many questions. I just don’t seem to be able to stop asking questions. Ok, one final question:

*]Why is the sky blue?[/LIST]
I lied. I have one more question after my last question:

*]CM, what is a plenary indulgence? :D[/LIST]


A plenary indulgence wipes the slate clean – all that temporal punishment you’ve racked up is gone. It’s also pretty easy to get one; last I checked, receiving the sacraments of confession and the eucharist and saying a rosary for the Pope’s intentions count for one.


*]Anybody have any idea on what forms indulgences took over the centuries?

Indulgences have not changed. The form which the church gets flack over was monetary payment for indulgences. HOWEVER, accepting money for an indulgence was never the problem, it was the STEALING of this money for personal use by local priests which caused the scandal.

*]What about now?

Indulgences are still available in all historically valid forms to this very day.

*]How can a poor person make an indulgence?

Indulgence is not gained by ammount paid but rather by sacrifice made. 10$ from someone who cannot afford it is worth more than 10,000$ from someone who has millions to spare.

*]How can a sick person make an indulgence?

Service, money, certain acts… Same ways as a healthy person, more or less.

*]Is money pleasing to God?

sure, when used in His service.

*]Why is the sky blue?

I have a bachelor of science in physics, do you really want to know?

*]CM, what is a plenary indulgence? :smiley:


you can look it up there… it’s basically an indulgence so great that it removes ALL temporal punishment of sins.


Indulgences are obained for us all for the glory of God. With this mindset, we should *want *to obtain them for ourselves because with temporal punishment removed we become that much closer to God and our ability to intercede on the behalf of others when we are in heaven will become that much more effective. That’s my take on wanting them.



An indulgence that can remove all the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin. No one but God knows for certain when a plenary indulgences is actually gained, because only he knows whether a person’s dispositions are adequate.

One norm for such dispositions is that “all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.” If these dispositions are in any way less than complete, the indulgence will only be partial.

The same provision applies to the three external conditions necessary to gain a plenary indulgence: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope.

If these conditions are not satisfied, an otherwise plenary indulgence becomes only partial. These conditions may be satisfied several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work, though preferably Communion should be received and the prayers offered for the Pope on the same day as the indulgenced work.

A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day.


What kind of ‘work’ satisfies the ‘work’ part of the indulgence?

I know reading the Bible is an indulgence.

Anything else? Thoughts?


Maybe a “real-world example” might help… imagine your teenager just did something that got him/her grounded for a month. Now imagine that about halfway through the “grounding” you decide, based on his/her actions, that the penalty should be reduced to “time served”. You’ve effectively just granted an indulgence, since the temporal punishment was for a full month!


There’s a handbook - the Enchiridion of Indulgences. Latest version was published in the 1990s sometime, it’s also available online.

There are four really easy plenary indulgences that one can do on any day (many others are tied to particular feasts). You need only pick one - it’s only possible to gain one Plenary Indulgence in a day anyways:

  1. Pray the Rosary (five decades in one sitting) either in a group or in a church.

  2. Pray the Stations of the Cross (must be in a church and actually move around the stations praying and contemplating the Passion). There are many different prayers one can say - do an internet search to find one you like. This is (can be) probably the quickest of the four.

  3. Half an hour of Adoration (whether the Eucharist is exposed or reserved in the Tabernacle)

  4. Half an hour of scripture reading.

Don’t forget the other conditions for a Plenary Indulgence though - 1) confession within about two weeks before or after the Indulgenced act or prayer 2) communion on the same day and 3) prayer for the Holy Father and his intentions (usually an Our Father Hail Mary and Glory Be is sufficient.)

If you’re wanting to gain the Indulgence for yourself as opposed to a soul in purgatory (can’t gain 'em for other living people) there is also a condition of ‘complete lack of attachment to all sin, mortal and venial’.

It is disputed what this means. To me I think it means you can’t have any recurring habitual sins and must truly detest even the venial sins you’ve committed. But in any event you will gain a partial Indulgence for the above acts even if you don’t meet this requirement, so it’s worthwhile trying.

Certainly I do try as often as I receive Communion (since I sometimes am able to get to daily Mass) to also do one of the above. Since the Bible reading is the only one that doesn’t require you to be either in the church or in a group I find it handy - sadly a lot of churches around here will be shut except for ten or fifteen minutes before and after Masses.


Sure, go to church and say a rosary. Works every time, I hope. :wink:



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