The Catholic Church has an incredible treasure of graces at her disposal, built up by the superabundant merits of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. Our membership of the Communion of the Saints entitles us to call on this treasury of graces. This is what the Church calls “Indulgences”.
First and foremost, an indulgence can be Partial or Plenary. A Partial Indulgence does not remit all the punishment for sin, where a Plenary Indulgence remits ALL the temporal punishment of sin. That mean that if you were to die in a state of grace, having obtained plenary indulgence, and not sinned since obtaining the indulgence, you will go straight to Heaven.
It is important to understand that an indulgence is not permission to sin nor a pardon for future sins. It is rather the forgiveness of the guilt of sin
A Plenary Indulgence is an extra-sacramental remission that can only be obtained once a day. Indulgences can also be applied either to the individual themselves, or for the souls of the deceased, to aid in their entrance to heaven but cannot be applied to another living person.
In order to obtain a Plenary Indulgence, a person must:
- Have the intention of gaining indulgence
- Receive the Sacrament of Penance
- Receive the Eucharist
- Pray for the Intentions of the Pope
- Perform the prescribed action of Indulgence (ex: make a Pilgrimage to a Shrine, visiting the stational churches of Rome, visit to a Church etc.)
- Be free from all attachment of Sin
A Catholic Pilgrimage is a wonderful time to obtain a Plenary Indulgence as the actions to gain one will be taken while you are on pilgrimage, such as: Celebrating Mass daily, taking part in the Way of the Cross, Public and Private recitation of the Rosary etc.
1. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes
- Lourdes, France
- Available through July 15, 2020
- Also available virtually through the North American Lourdes Volunteers - http://lourdesvolunteers.org/virtual-pilgrimage-2015-schedule/
2. Portiuncula Indulgence
- Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi, Italy
- Available each year on August 2nd
3. Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome
a. Available any time throughout the year
4. Stational Churches of Rome
a. Available any time throughout the year
5. El Camino - Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James)
a. El Camino, Spain
b. Available on any year in which July 25th falls on a Saturday. 2021 is a Jubilee Year, however due to the pandemic, the Vatican is extending the Plenary Indulgence through 2022.
6. World Meeting of Families
a. Takes place every three years in a different city.
b. 2021 WMOF will take place in Rome – more information to come.
For a more in-depth look at Plenary Indulgence
WHAT IS AN INDULGENCE:
According to Canon Law (can. 992) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n 1471), Plenary Indulgence is defined as:
"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".
It is appropriate that the sacramental Confession, Holy Communion, and a prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed. 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, and 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.
For the sake of those legitimately impeded, like the elderly and infirm, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
Expert from, Italian Bishops' Conference, Adult Catechism, n. 710 Sin not only destroys communion with God, but also compromises the interior state of persons and their relationship with other creatures. For a total repentance, it is not enough to be sorry and to receive the remission of faults. It is also necessary that reparation be made for the disorder provoked by sin, a disorder that usually continues after the sin. In this process of purification, the penitent is not alone. The penitent participates in a mystery of solidarity, for which Christ and the Saints rejoice with one. God communicates to one the grace merited by others with the immense value of their existence, in order to effect one's reparation rapidly and effectively. The Church has always exhorted the faithful to offer prayers, good works and sufferings for the conversion of sinners and for the repose of the faithful departed. During the first centuries, bishops reduced the duration and the strictness of public punishment, through the intercession of the witnesses of faith who survived tortures. Progressively the consciousness grew that the power to bind and unbind, received from the Lord, included the faculty to free penitents from the residue left by already forgiven sins, by applying to them the merits of Christ and the Saints, in order to obtain the grace of a fervent charity. Priests grant this privilege to those who have the right interior disposition and have adhered to the prescribed norms. Participation in this penitential rite is a prerequisite to the concession of an indulgence
The Portiuncula Indulgence of St Francis of Assisi:
The first written document we have in reference to this indulgence is dated October 31, 1277, approximately sixty (60) years after the indulgence is said to have been granted.
The Portiuncula is an ancient church dedicated to Mary under the title “Our Lady of the Angels”, and is located in Assisi, Italy. It was a spot very dear to the heart of Saint Francis. The Porziuncola is the place where “Franciscanism” developed, and where Saint Francis lived and died.
In 1216, in a vision, St Francis obtained from Jesus himself the Indulgence of the Pardon of Assisi that was approved by Pope Honorius III. This plenary indulgence may ordinarily be gained on August 2 and 15; pilgrims may gain it once a year on any day of the year.
Conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the forgiveness of St. Francis of Assisi (for oneself or for a departed soul)
- Sacramental Confession to be in God's grace: (during the eight days before or after)
- Participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharist.
- Visit to a Catholic Church, followed by “Profession of Faith” (Apostles Creed), in order to reaffirm one's own Christian identity
- Say the “Our Father”, in order to reaffirm the dignity as child of God that one received in Baptism
- A prayer for the Pope's intention, in order to reaffirm one's membership in the Church, of which the Roman Pontiff is the foundation and sign of visible unity.