WHAT IS AN INDULGENCE?
An indulgence is the remission in the eyes of God of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. The graces granted through an indulgence come from all the graces won for us by the saving works of Jesus Christ and the Communion of Saints.
WHY GAIN AN INDULGENCE?
Gaining a plenary (full) indulgence on behalf of a deceased person is a great act of mercy because it makes atonement for the punishment they are experiencing in purgatory; the person’s soul is then able to proceed to heaven. Remember, this is only possible because of the merits Christ won for us on the Cross; we are asking that those merits be applied to a loved one in need of them. If the indulgence is for yourself, you are working toward the remission of the temporal punishment for sins that, if left unremitted in this life, you will have to work toward in purgatory.
WHO IS AN INDULGENCE FOR?
It can be applied either to oneself or to a deceased person, but not to other living persons.
WHO CAN OBTAIN AN INDULGENCE?
A person seeking an indulgence must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace when performing the work of the indulgence. A person also needs to have the sincere intention of gaining the indulgence before doing the particular work associated with it. (See #4 below.) The conditions listed below must be met in the required time frame as well.
WHAT MUST I DO TO GAIN PLENARY INDULGENCE?
To receive a plenary indulgence for yourself or a departed loved one, the following five conditions must be fulfilled:
1. Make a sacramental Confession as soon as possible
2. Receive Holy Communion as soon as possible
3. Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and say the Creed and Our Father
4. Have complete detachment from all sin, even venial sin. In other words, a complete rejection of the desire to commit any sin.
5. Complete the specific prayers or works declared by the Church for the reception of the specific indulgence
REFERENCES ON INDULGENCES
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1471-1479
- 2 Maccabees 12:39-45
- Matthew 5:25-26
- Matthew 16:13-19
- 1 Cor. 3:12-15
- Philippians 2:12
- Colossians 1:24
- 1 Peter 1:9
- Revelation 21:27