Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Summer presents a spiritual surprise. Several plenary indulgences are possible for you, your family and friends to gain for yourself or to apply to any soul in purgatory, from your own relatives to those who might never get a prayer to ease their travel to heaven.
These indulgences are in addition to those particular ones the Church allows on a daily basis — and which so few people realize are available. We’ve discussed daily ones before and will review them later, but let’s begin with the ones falling during summer and the specific requirement for each one.
After that, we’ll review the general requirements necessary for to gain any plenary indulgence. First, the specific ones for certain celebrations, then the general that applies to them all. The indulgences and requirements are spelled out in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, or Manual of Indulgences, Fourth Edition.
Summer’s Rich Harvest
June 23, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, “devoutly participate in a solemn Eucharistic procession, held inside or outside a church, of greatest importance on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ” (Corpus Christi Sunday).
On June 28 this year, the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. “On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, publicly recite the act of reparation Jesu dulcissime (a partial indulgence is granted for its use in other circumstances, such as private recitation. See below the form of the prayer carried in the Manual).
June 29, Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. On this solemnity “make prayerful use of an article of devotion, as defined by Norm 15, that has been blessed by the Supreme Pontiff or by any bishop, provided the faithful also make a Profession of Faith using any legitimate formula.” Norm 15 identifies the articles to be “a crucifix or cross, rosary, scapular, or medal.”
Aug. 2, the “Portiuncula” indulgence. See the specific places necessary to attend as you continue reading.
Floating Summer Dates
First Communions are usually held this time of year. “The faithful who receive Holy Communion for the first time or devoutly assist at the first Holy Communion of others” can receive a plenary indulgence.
Retreats which people do attend during the summer (any time of year actually) have a plenary indulgence available for the faithful who spend at least three entire days in the spiritual exercises of a retreat.
First Mass of a newly ordained priest. Both the “priest celebrating his first Mass before the people on a chosen day; [and] the faithful who devoutly assist at such a Mass” can receive the indulgence.
Ordination Anniversary of a priest presents another occasion to receive a plenary indulgence. The manual states those who can gain the indulgence are “priests celebrating the 25th, 50th, 60th, 70th anniversary of their priestly ordinations, who renew before God their promise of faithfully fulfilling the duties of their vocation; bishops celebrating the 25th, 40th, and 50th anniversary of their episcopal ordination, who renew before God their promise of faithfully fulfilling the duties of their office; the faithful who devoutly assist at jubilee Mass celebrations.”
At Home or On Vacation
Going on vacation? Staying close to home? Near or far, many locations also offer opportunities for gaining a plenary indulgence by
Visiting Sacred Places “and there devoutly recite an Our Father and the Creed.” The specific places with lots of latitude built-in are:
1 — If abroad, one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome, either as part of a group making a pilgrimage to the basilica, or at least with the purpose of expressing during the visit filial submission to the Roman Pontiff
2 — A Minor Basilica — search one out near you or your vacation destination. When?
- On the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29)
- On the solemnity of its Titular
- On Aug. 2, the day of the “Portiuncula” indulgence
- Once a year, on a day chosen by the Christian faithful
3 — The Cathedral Church gives you the opportunity to stay in your diocese,
- A - On the solemnity of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29)
- B - On the solemnity of it Titular – if it happens to be during the summer. For example, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco (Aug. 15), and St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, Connecticut (Aug. 28). Most do not fall during the summer.
- C - On Aug. 2, the day of the “Portiuncula” indulgence. (There are two other of these visit times, but they’re not during summer: on the liturgical celebration of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle and on the dedication of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior, known as St. John Lateran.)
4 — An International, National, or Diocesan Shrine Established by Competent Authority. Why not make one or more of these your summer vacation destination, or part of your planned trip? When to visit?
- On the solemnity of its Titular. For example, St. Anne's Church & Shrine in Fall River, Massachusetts. or at the Isle La Motte, Vermont, on July 26; National Shrine of Saint Philomena in Briggsville, Wisconsin, Aug. 11; National Shrine of St. Anthony in Cincinnati, Ohio; National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.
- Once a year, on a day chosen by the Christian faithful. (Any day during your summer vacation or day-trip. Plan on Mass there too.)
- As often as they assist in a group pilgrimage visiting the shrine.
5 — A Parish Church. This is nearest of all. When?
- On the solemnity of its Titular. (Might not work during summer if your parish is named after a saint whose feast falls during other times of the year. Or named after St. Joseph or one of the Blessed Mother’s titles celebrated later or earlier. Check the liturgical calendar for the feast date of your pariah’s namesake.)
- On Aug. 2, the day of the “Portiuncula” indulgence. This works for every parish.
6 — A church or altar on the day of its dedication. Exceptional circumstance, yet possible.
7 — Consecration of the Family. Although for anytime during the year, why not during summer? The Manual says the members of the family gain a plenary indulgence “on the day on which it is first consecrated, if at all possible by a priest or deacon, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph if they devoutly recite the duly approved prayer before an image of the Sacred Heart or the Holy Family.”
Remember the Normal Daily Ones
Even with this list geared toward summer travel, day trips, and vacations, don’t forget a plenary indulgence can be obtained “each day of the year,” but “no more than once a day.” That’s means all summer.
The four ways, together with the three basic conditions of Confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the Holy Father’s intentions, are —
- Eucharistic Adoration. “Visit the Blessed Sacrament for adoration lasting at least a half hour.”
- Praying the Rosary. “Devoutly recite the Marian Rosary in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or an association of the faithful, and in general when several of the faithful gather for some honest purpose…”
- Reading or listening to Sacred Scriptures. “Read the Sacred Scriptures as spiritual reading, from a text approved by a competent authority, and with the reverence due to the divine word, for at least a half an hour; if the time is less, the indulgence will be partial.” Or listen to it being read.
- Pious exercise of the Way of the Cross. Walk them in church or where legitimately erected.
Along with each prescribed work or works we just went over
To gain a plenary indulgence you must:
- Be baptized and in the state of grace, at least at the time the indulgenced work is done.
- Have “the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin.” Otherwise, the indulgence becomes partial, not plenary.
And fulfill these three conditions:
- Sacramentally confess your sins
- Receive Holy Communion. (“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 Holy Father. One Our Father and one Hail Mary fully satisfies this.
One sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and separate prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father are required for each plenary indulgence. According to the most recent Church guidelines on the subject, “it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.”
Of course, you must also:
- Perform the prescribed work to which the indulgence is attached.
- Have at least a general intention to gain the indulgence. You can’t receive an indulgence unintentionally or by accident.
If any part of the requirements is missing, then the indulgence becomes partial. Heaven determines the degree of the partial indulgence.
May your summer be one that’s joyful, blessed, safe, and rich in indulgences!
From above, the Prayer for the Feast of the Sacred Heart:
The Jesu dulcissime prayer for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. There are shorter versions, but this is the one printed in the latest official Manual of Indulgences.
Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence, and contempt, behold us prostrate before you, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which your loving Heart is everywhere subjected.
Mindful, alas! That we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask your pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those who, straying from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow you, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their Baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of your law.
We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against you; we are determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in indecent dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holy days, and for the shocking blasphemies uttered against you and your Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which your Vicar on earth and your priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very Sacrament of your divine love, and lastly for the public crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which you have founded.
Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of your divine honor, the satisfaction you once made to your Eternal Father on the cross and which you continue to renew daily on our altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of your Virgin Mother and all the saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of your grace, for all the neglect of your great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offended you and to bring as many as possible to follow you.
O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model of reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death to our duty and the allegiance we owe to you, that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, for ever and ever. Amen.