QUAERITUR: Indulgences for 1st Blessings by priests… again

From a reader about to be ordained:

About a month ago you blogged that new priest blessings don’t specifically have indulgences attached to them and recommended future ordinands ask their bishop to send a letter to the apostolic penitentiary so that a partial indulgence would be attached to it.

I’m a religious who will be ordained this year so I asked my major superior (ordinary). He liked the idea and asked me to prepare a letter. Since I’m not too clear on what needed to be in it, I asked a priest I considered much wiser on said points. He responded that all blessings already contain a partial indulgence so there’s no need to ask but we could send a not just to be sure. Do all blessings contain partial indulgences?

(And while you’re at it, it may be nice if you included what we who will be ordained should include in such letters.)

Superiors should know what they are supposed to do.

Firstly, there is a plenary indulgence given to the faithful who assist devoutly at the first Mass of a priest (and also as his 25, 50, 60 and 70 year anniversaries – Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, art. 27).

I find nothing in the Enchiridion that says a recipient of any priestly blessing can receive a partial indulgence. Perhaps that  priest could supply that citation.  I think Father is wrong.

The faithful can receive a partial indulgence through the pious use of an object blessed by a priest (Enchiridion, 14).

There is nothing about merely receiving an invocative blessing that enables one to receive an indulgence.

May I suggest a good review of the Enchiridion?  You (and all priests) should be familiar with it for priestly ministry. The Enchiridion provides the information you need to include in the letter you wrote about.

NB: A major superior cannot grant an indulgence unless he has been expressly given this power by the Roman Pontiff (can. 995). The law permits diocesan bishops the right to grant partial indulgences to their subjects (Enchiridion 7).

The letter granting the indulgence should be written by the diocesan bishop. It would be appropriate for the major superior to request this indulgence from the diocesan bishop on behalf of the priests under his charge.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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9 Responses to QUAERITUR: Indulgences for 1st Blessings by priests… again

  1. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Is it okay for me to mention my: A Modern Guide to Indulgences, Foreword by Timothy Cdl. Dolan, (Hillenbrand Books, Liturgy Training Publications, 2008) 115 pp.

    [Excellent!]

    USA click HERE

    UK and Canada, there is a search box at bottom of the blog.

  2. acardnal says:

    Thank you for the clarification, Father Z. I have attended the first Mass of newly ordained priests and it was customary to form a line afterwards to receive the newly ordained priest’s blessing with the explicit explanation that not only was an indulgence available but a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.

  3. jhayes says:

    One of the Amazon reviewers quotes this from the book

    “Indulgences are applied only to sins that have been forgiven so that there should be no misunderstanding that indulgences “‘let people off’ without admitting that they have done something wrong and seeking forgiveness for it…”

    And argues that was not so in pre-reformation times – that people then felt that buying indulgences provided forgiveness for sins that hadn’t been confessed.

    Would anyone with more knowledge of this than I have be willing to comment on this?

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Thanx, Pater.

    jhayes, the syntax of your post in confusing, but re line “And argues that was not so in pre-reformation times – that people then felt that buying indulgences provided forgiveness for sins that hadn’t been confessed.” the church never taught that, and I never said she did. Not sure how else to comment.

  5. acardnal says:

    Indulgences remit the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin.

  6. Joan M says:

    Per Fr. Z: “Firstly, there is a plenary indulgence given to the faithful who assist devoutly at the first Mass of a priest (and also as his 25, 50, 60 and 70 year anniversaries – Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, art. 27).”

    I was not aware of this until I read this post. I wish I knew about it when I was 12 and was at my brother’s first Mass. And in 2005, when I was there for his 50th anniversary.

    God willing, I will be there in 2015 for his 60th anniversary, fully aware of the wonderful opportunity for a plenary indulgence.

  7. Steven Surrency says:

    We recently had a Mass celebrated here in the Diocese of St. Petersburg by a new priest. It was his second Sunday mass, but the Apostolic Penitentiary had granted his request that the plenary indulgence be extended to this Mass as well. We had the line form after mass. We received his blessing and kissed his consecrated hands. Moreover, the conditions for the indulgence were explained in full. This was great news! I don’t think this sort of thing happened in our diocese 15 years ago. The seminary in Miami is turning out more faithful, better educated men.

    The only complaint that I have is that this priest said he would have to read a translation of the AP’s letter because he “didn’t know any Latin.” That part was very sad. But, at least he knew what indulgences are and believes in them :) . Sad how low my standards are, I know.

  8. Steven Surrency says: but the Apostolic Penitentiary had granted his request that the plenary indulgence be extended to this Mass as well

    EXCELLENT! That is how these things work.

    If we ask, the favor will usually be granted.

    Let’s learn to USE WELL the system we have in place. In my experience, those who have charge of these matters are all too happy to grant these requests. They are eager to, as a matter of fact.

  9. jhayes says:

    jhayes, the syntax of your post in confusing, but re line “And argues that was not so in pre-reformation times – that people then felt that buying indulgences provided forgiveness for sins that hadn’t been confessed.” the church never taught that, and I never said she did. Not sure how else to comment.

    If I recall Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars correctly, in pre-reformation England, you had to do your penance before the priest’s absolution took effect. Old people hoped to get “short shrift” so they could complete the penance and be absolved before they died.

    Although the Amazon reviewer was wrong about indulgences substituting for confession, I wondered if those buying or selling them might have felt that they could serve as a penance which could be completed quickly in order to validate the absolution (whether or not the Church actually taught that).