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Thursday, May 14, 2009


I'm not exactly familiar with indulgences or at least I've never experienced one.  However, Father Z posted an announced Indulgences for the Year of Priests.  He posted it in Latin and I have an english translation:

[Indulgences for the Priestly Year, 
from June 19 2009 to June 19, 2010]

A. - To the truly penitent priests who, in any day, pray at least the morning Lauds or Vespers before the Most Holy Sacrament, exposed in public Adoration or in the Tabernacle, and, following the example of Saint John Mary Vianney, offer themselves with prompt and generous will in the celebration of the Sacraments, above all of Confession, a Plenary Indulgence is mercifully granted in God, which they may also apply to their deceased brothers in suffrage if, in conformity with the current norms, they go to sacramental confession and Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

A partial Indulgence is also granted to the priests, also applicable to their deceased brothers, every time they devoutly pray duly approved prayers to lead a holy life and to fulfill in a holy manner the duties assigned to them.

B.- To all the penitent faithful who, in a Church or Oratory, devoutly assist at the Divine Sacrifice of the Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ, Supreme and Eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, as well as any good work accomplished in that day, so that He may sanctify them and conform them to His Heart, is granted a Plenary Indulgence, if they have sanctified their own sins in sacramental penance and raised prayers for the intention of the Supreme Pontiff: on the days in which the Priestly Year is opened and closed, on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious death of Saint John Mary Vianney, on the first Thursday of every month, or on any other day established by the Ordinary of the place for the use of the faithful. ...

To the aged, the infirm, and all those who, for legitimate reason, cannot leave their house, with the rejection of every sin and the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three conditions, will also be granted in their own house, or wherever their condition retains them, a plenary indulgence if, on the aforementioned days, they recite prayers for the sanctification of priests and offer the infirmities and discomforts of their lives faithfully to God through Mary, Queen of the Apostles.

Partial indulgence is also granted to all the faithful every time they devoutly recite five times the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory be, or other appropriately approved prayer, in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to obtain that the priests may keep themselves in purity and sanctity of life.

Pretty cool, huh?  I've already marked my calendar for June 19th (2009, 2010) and August 4th is the anniversary death of St. John Mary Vianney.  I plan on going to daily Mass on these days as well as the first Thursday of the months in that year.  Couldn't hurt, right?

So, I looked up what is an indulgence, plenary indulgence and a partial indulgence.  The definition includes what it is as well as what it is not.  I will post part of what I found, it is quite an in-depth explanation (well worth reading as it gives precise directions and history!).

To facilitate explanation, it may be well to state what an indulgence is not. It is not a permission to commit sin, nor a pardon of future sin; neither could be granted by any power. It is not the forgiveness of the guilt of sin; it supposes that the sin has already been forgiven. It is not an exemption from any law or duty, and much less from the obligation consequent on certain kinds of sin, e.g., restitution; on the contrary, it means a more complete payment of the debt which the sinner owes to God. It does not confer immunity from temptation or remove the possibility of subsequent lapses into sin. Least of all is an indulgence the purchase of a pardon which secures the buyer's salvation or releases the soul of another from Purgatory. The absurdity of such notions must be obvious to any one who forms a correct idea of what the Catholic Church really teaches on this subject.

An indulgence is the extra-sacramental remission of the temporal punishment due, in God's justice, to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ and of the saints, and for some just and reasonable motive.

An indulgence is valid both in the tribunal of the Church and in the tribunal of God. This means that it not only releases the penitent from his indebtedness to the Church or from the obligation of performing canonical penance, but also from the temporal punishment which he has incurred in the sight of God and which, without the indulgence, he would have to undergo in order to satisfy Divine justice. This, however, does not imply that the Church pretends to set aside the claim of God's justice or that she allows the sinner to repudiate his debt. As St. Thomas says (Supplement.25.1 ad 2um), "He who gains indulgences is not thereby released outright from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it." The Church therefore neither leaves the penitent helplessly in debt nor acquits him of all further accounting; she enables him to meet his obligations.

An indulgence that may be gained in any part of the world is universal, while one that can be gained only in a specified place (Rome, Jerusalem, etc.) is local. A further distinction is that between perpetual indulgences, which may be gained at any time, and temporary, which are available on certain days only, or within certain periods. Real indulgences are attached to the use of certain objects (crucifix, rosary, medal); personal are those which do not require the use of any such material thing, or which are granted only to a certain class of individuals e.g. members of an order or confraternity. The most important distinction, however, is that between plenary indulgences and partial. By a plenary indulgence is meant the remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in Purgatory. A partial indulgence commutes only a certain portion of the penalty; and this portion is determined in accordance with the penitential discipline of the early Church. To say that an indulgence of so many days or years is granted means that it cancels an amount of purgatorial punishment equivalent to that which would have been remitted, in the sight of God, by the performance of so many days or years of the ancient canonical penance. Here, evidently, the reckoning makes no claim to absolute exactness; it has only a relative value. 

God alone knows what penalty remains to be paid and what its precise amount is in severity and duration. Finally, some indulgences are granted in behalf of the living only, while others may be applied in behalf of the souls departed. It should be noted, however, that the application has not the same significance in both cases. The Church in granting an indulgence to the living exercises her jurisdiction; over the dead she has no jurisdiction and therefore makes the indulgence available for them by way of suffrage (per modum suffragii), i.e. she petitions God to accept these works of satisfaction and in consideration thereof to mitigate or shorten the sufferings of the souls in Purgatory.

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