What are Indulgences?
Indulgence means to receive a gift that remits (lessens or excuses) the temporal punishment a person is to receive because of past sins that were committed but already forgiven (in Sacrament of Confession).
What do we mean by punishment due to sin?
When we sin, we break God's law.  We also offend God, hurt ourselves and sometimes hurt others.  One sin can have a "ripple of effects" that we may not even see with our eyes but does cause hurt, pain and destruction. Things break because of sin and things need to be repaired.  Even though God forgives us (our guilt) when we are sorry becuase of HIS LOVE AND MERCY, and after forgiveness the eternal (forver) punishment of hell is taken away,  there is still JUSTICE that needs to be satisfied becuase we chose to sin against God and hurt Him and others by our choice to sin.  JUSTICE is still given even after FORGIVENESS, becuase it is FAIR and RIGHT. This is the temporal (limited; not forever) punishment that is due because of sin. Temporal Punishment is paid either: 1. while we are alive on earth OR 2. in purgatory after we are dead.   An Indulgence is a gift given after forgiveness has been recieved that excuses the punishment required out of Justice.
How do we "Pay" for past sins?
WHILE ON EARTH:  1.We can ask God to accept any suffering we endure patiently and lovingly while we are alive on earth.  2.  We can pray, love our neighbors, take care of poor, do some charitable acts that we ask God to receive as a gift.  3. We can do personal penances (like we do during Lent time...example: give up dessert, give up watching T.V....etc.) AFTER DEATH:  If there is still temporal punishment we owe becuase of our past sins, we can only endure the pains of PURGATORY until the temporal punishment is satisfied.... UNLESS someone still alive on earth offers their sufferings for your benefit!!! (That is why Catholics always pray for the "Poor Souls in Purgatory" because they cannot do anything after death to change their temporary situation.)  Masses can be offered for the Poor Souls to receive God's grace and we can also ask for Indulgences for the Poor Souls as well! 
There are 2 types of Indulgences:
Plenary [Full]: This means that ALL punishment due to past sins already forgiven is excused!  Partial [Some]: This means that SOME punishment due to past sins already forgiven is excused! More is still due.....
 What is required to receive an Indulgence?
  1.  Go to Confession
  2.  Receive Holy Communion
  3.  Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (Pope)
- [1 Our Father & 1 Hail Mary]
  4.  Perform the work to which the Indulgence is attached.

You must be free from the attachment to sin in your heart.  (if you are not completely free, then the indulgence will only be partial).  Requirements 2,3,& 4 should be done on the same day.  Number 1 should be done on the same day but can be done a few days before or after if confession is not available on the same day.   One confession can apply to several Indulgences...but requirements 2,3 & 4 can only apply to one indulgence at a time.
How many Indugences can you receive in one day?
Plenary:  ONE PER DAY
If you receive a Plenary Indulgence for yourself, and have not committed any sin on the second day, you may still perform the same or different action for the benefit of someone who has died (in Purgatory).  You cannot offer an Indulgence for someone who is still living since they must seek the Indulgence themselves becuase we cannot force someone who has their own free will while on earth to receive a grace from God.
(unless specifically stated)
Who can receive an Indulgence?
Ourselves:  Since we are responsible for our own relationship with God, we should first seek for ousevles the grace of God's gift of an Indulgence.  This makes sure we are in union with God (without stain of sin). When in a "state of Grace" with God, we can then offer our prayers, sacrifices and actions (like Jesus did) for the benefit of others. Souls in Purgatory:  We are all God's Children and therefore all part of one family.  A family always loves each other and helps each other.  People who have died before us and who may still be in Purgatory, cannot change their lives now and they await their chance to go to heaven AFTER they have satisfied the temporal punishment due for their past sins they committed while they were alive.  We can help them by offering our prayers and sufferings (like Jesus did when he saved all of us from eternal punishment in hell by his death on the Cross!) and ask for God's gift of an Indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory so they can go to heaven!  How special that Jesus invites us to participate in the saving action he eternally offered to us all by uniting our small sufferings to "save" people from their temporal suffering. (wow... we are not worthy, but God is so loving to us!)
What can I do to receive an Indulgence?
Make sure you have:1. Gone to Confession 2. Received Holy Communion  3. Pray for Intentions of Pope
4. Then choose a prayer activity from the approved list below...
Plenary Indulgences Partial Indulgences
1.  Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament for at least one half hour.
2. Visit 1 of the 4 Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome (St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, or St. Paul's) and pray The Creed and 1 Our Father.
3. Receive a Papal Blessing "devoutly & piously" - even if blessing is received by radio (or live T.V. or internet) when given by Pope to Rome and the world (Urbi et Orbi). [Easter, Christmas, other special occaisions...]
4. Visit to Cemetery [November 1 - 8 ONLY] to pray for the dead.  [Plenary Indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory only.]
5.  Adoration and Kiss the Cross at Good Friday Service at Church.
6.  Attend and participate in 3 day retreat.
7. "Most sweet Jesus --Act of Reparation"  (this is a PLENARY INDULGENCE when this prayer is publicly recited on the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Otherwise the indulgence is partial).
"Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer -- Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King." PLENARY INDULGENCE when this prayer is publicly recited on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ King.  Otherwise the indulgence is partial.
The faithful who use with devotion an "object of piety" (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) properly blessed by a Bishop or the Pope, and make a profession of faith on the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29). 
10.  Receive your First Communion, or help someone receive their First Communion during the ceremony.
11.  Attend the First Mass of a Newly Ordained priest.
Pray the Rosary in Church with a group or as a family. (must mediate on the mysteries of the Rosary while you pray together).
13. Attend 25th, 50th & 60th Anniversary of a Priest's Ordination.

14.  Read the Bible for a half hour or more.
15. Pray "Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest" on January 1st or Pentecost Sunday. (Parital indulgence if prayed any other day).
16. Pray the 14 Stations of the Cross. (must be prayed before actual stations in church building or garden; move from station to station)
17.  Visit a Cathedral or other Church named by Bishop on its feast day, its day of consecration, or August 2 where the indulgence of "Potiuncula" occurs. Must pray the Creed and 1 Our Father.
18.  Visit any Catholic church on All Souls Day (November 2) and pray the Creed and 1 Our Father. (Plenary Indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory ONLY).

1. The faithful who use with devotion an "object of piety" (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) properly blessed by any priest, can receive a partial indulgence. 
2. Pray the Act of Contrition and Act of the Theological Virtues Prayers.
3. Pray Angel of God Prayer 
4. Visit to a "Catacomb" (Ancient Christian cemetery)
5.  Act of Spiritual Communion.
6. Pray the Creed (Apostles or Nicene)
7. Pray Morning or Evening Prayer from the Liturgy Office of the Dead.

8. Those who teach or study Catholic Faith [go to Catholic Bible Study, attend a Lecture about Catholic Faith...etc.]
9. Pray any 1 of the list of 
Litanies: the litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus; The litany of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; The litany of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ; The litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary; The litany of St. Joseph; and the litany of All Saints.
10.  Pray the "Magnificat."
11. Pray the "Memorare."
12. Pray the "Miserere." (Psalm 50)
13.  Novena Devotions. Partial indulgence to those who participate in a public novena before the feast of Christmas or Pentecost, or the Immaculate Conception.
14.  Pray for Priestly Vocations or Vocations to Religious Life.
15. Spend time in Holy mental prayer.
16. Attend a Holy Mission and listen carefully to the homily.
17.  Prayer for "Unity of the Church."
18. Participate in a monthly retreat.
19.  A partial indulgence given only to the souls in purgatory when you pray:  "Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace."
20. Read the Bible for less than half an hour.
21.  Pray the "Hail Holy Queen" prayer.
22.  Make the sign of the cross with love and respect.
23. Pray the "Tantum Ergo" prayer. (If prayed on Holy Thursday or Corpus Christi, it is a plenary indulgence). 
24. Renewal of your Baptismal Promises.  (A plenary indulgence is offered if this is done during the Easter Vigil Mass or on the anniversary of your own baptism day)



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