Indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
An indulgence can either be partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes only part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.
To be able to gain an indulgence, one must have the intention to gain them, and perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed.
The traditional conditions to attain a Plenary Indulgence:
A Plenary Indulgence can be gained only one per day. The faithful must be in the state of grace and these three conditions must accompany the prescribed act:
-the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after the pious act is performed,
-receive Holy Communion on that day
-and recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).
All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. If one’s disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial.
In the Year 2000 Jubilee Year the Apostolic Penitentiary relaxed the conditions for confession and communion:
In order to obtain a plenary indulgence (only one per day), the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
-have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; — have sacramentally confessed their sins;
-receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
-pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
-It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but 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, but 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.
Although this was given for the Jubilee Year, these “remain in effect, since it was contained under the “General remarks on indulgences,” and not under those specific to the Jubilee Indulgence.” See Indulgences – General Conditions for further explanation.
Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls: A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This can be prayed all year, but especially during the month of November:
Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Many families add to the “Prayer Before Meals” the second half of the “Eternal Rest” prayer:
Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, Which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Other families recite the “Eternal Rest” prayer in between decades of the rosary.
We should pray for the departed all through the year, not just November. After these souls in Purgatory are in heaven, they will intercede for us. Developing prayerful habits, such as praying the “Eternal Rest” prayer when passing cemeteries, will remind us of our eternal destiny and increase charity towards others.
For more information on the Church’s teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences given by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary.
Also see The Catechism of the Catholic Church section on Indulgences, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, Subsection 10, 1471-1479.
Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2014 by Jennifer Gregory Miller