Remember!  1st Thursday is TODAY… make a plan.

In this year dedicated to priests and prayer for priests, Holy Church has provided lay people with a special plenary indulgence on first Thursdays of each month.

For the faithful, a plenary indulgence can be obtained on the opening and closing days of the Year for Priests, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month, or on any other day established by the ordinaries of particular places for the good of the faithful.

To obtain the indulgence the faithful must attend Mass in an oratory or Church and offer prayers to "Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to his heart."

The conditions for the faithful for earning a plenary indulgence are to have gone to confession and prayed for the intentions designated by the Pope.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    What is the time frame for going to confession regarding plenary indulgences? The Enchiridion of Indulgences does not really specify a time frame. I think I heard within a week, but I am not really sure…

  2. davidhilaron says:

    Just a comment: there is the third and most difficult condition for gaining the plenary indulgence, that we be free from any attachment to sin, even venial sin. Of course it’s not impossible, but it’s also the hardest part of gaining a plenary indulgence.

  3. Thomas G. says:

    david – you’re correct, but I have always heard it expressed as the requirement to be free of any WILFUL attachment to sin, even venial sin.

    Attachment to sin and WILFUL attachment to sin, are different. The former may arise out of weakness (to which we are all prone), while the latter arises out of a refusal to repent, an intellectual and spiritual obstinancy.

  4. jmgarciajr says:

    Does anyone have a particularly desirable prayer to “Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church?”


  5. skellmeyer says:

    Time frame for going to confession is 20 days, before or after, according to the decree given in the jubilee year 2000. It doesn’t specify a time frame for reception of the Eucharist (which also doesn’t have to be the same day) but something along that line is probably correct.

    The disattachment from sin does not require freedom from concupiscence.
    An act of the will “Lord, I desire to draw closer to you and I do not desire to sin again.” is sufficient.

    If you want an e-mail reminder about EVERY upcoming indulgenced day, including the remaining first Thursdays of the Year of the Priest, such a service is available at Bridegroom Press, under their e-courses section. You’ll get the notice about every indulgence between two and four days ahead of time.

  6. rinkevichjm says:

    I believe you failed to mention eucharistic communion was required, per the Handbook of Indulgences (May 18, 1986) (I know there is a newer edition, but I don’t have access to it, [note to USCCB: evangelize the faithful, put a copy on your web site], accessed here):
    1. Beside the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and fulfillment of three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic communion, and prayer for the pope’s intentions.
    2. Several plenary indulgences may be gained on the basis of a single sacramental confession; only one may be gained, however, on the basis of a single eucharistic communion and prayer for the pope’s intentions.
    3. The three conditions may be carried out several days preceding or following performance of the prescribed work. But it is more fitting that the communion and the prayer for the pope’s intentions take place on the day the work is performed.
    4. If a person is not fully disposed or if the prescribed work and the three mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will only be partial; the prescriptions in N. 27 and N. 28 for those impeded are exceptions.
    5. The condition requiring prayer for the pope’s intentions is satisfied by reciting once the Our Father and Hail Mary for his intentions; nevertheless all the faithful have the option of reciting any other prayer suited to their own piety and devotion. [15]

  7. Paulus Magnus says:

    What, precisely, is meant by being free from an attachment to sin?

  8. Is there an alternative who absolutely cannot get to Mass because no Mass is offered in their area on the first Thursday? Thanks, Nomillenariast

  9. erratum: “alternative who” should be “alternative for those who”

  10. doanli says:

    Thank you for writing about this.

    I grew up in the Post Vatican II and have hardly any understanding of indulgences (plenary or otherwise)

    I will try to attend Mass tomorrow and pray for these intentions.

    Please keep me in your prayers because I feel like job is overtaking my life, even at times my duties to God.

  11. What is meant by an oratory or church? Does this mean that if I attend Mass at my school’s chapel, it would not fulfill the obligations of the indulgence?

  12. Tim Ferguson says:

    your school’s chapel is, most likely, an oratory. Canon 1223 defines an oratory as “a place for divine worship designated by permission of the ordinary for the benefit of some community or group of the faithful who gather in it and to which other members of the faithful can also come with the consent of the competent superior.” This would include most of what we tend to refer to as chapels – hospital, school, convent or college chapels.

    A chapel, technically, is “a place for divine worship designated by permission of the local ordinary for the benefit of one or more physical persons” (c. 1226 – referring mainly to private chapels of a prelate or a family). According to the norms of the indulgence, the Mass the faithful attend to fulfill the parameters of the indulgence must take place in a church or oratory, not a private chapel, nor some other suitable place where Mass might, by exception, take place (a gym, auditorium, park, field, baseball stadium, piazza, etc.).

  13. skellmeyer says:

    If you want to educate your parish about indulgences, Bridegroom Press has a brochure that does this.

    We also produce a wall calendar that highlights all the indulgenced days in the year. Given that this is March, the price is pretty good.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    Actually for people who work days and live outside big cities, getting to mass is a challenge on a Thursday.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    That might be the hardest condition for those people.

  16. Desertfalcon says:

    I have made a good confession and plan on being at Mass tomorrow. I will pray for Holy Father’s intentions and for our priests. I will pray for those who cannot attend Mass. I love indulgences!

  17. michelelyl says:

    Here’s the info on Year of the Priest Indulgences…thanks to St. Pius X Website in Klamath Falls Oregon.

  18. If any of you do this, will you say a prayer for me as well as other men you might usually pray for?

  19. skellmeyer says:

    If you can’t attend Mass:
    “The elderly, the sick and all those who for any legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes” as long as they observe the other conditions as soon as possible, they can still get the plenary indulgence if “on the days concerned, they pray for the sanctification of priests and offer their sickness and suffering to God through Mary, Queen of the Apostles.”

    As an aside, the bishops are allowed, by this special Year of the Priest indulgence decree, to establish another day besides the first Thursday for this plenary to be accomplished.

  20. rinkevichjm says:

    for Paulus Magnus: (from the writings of Fr William G. Most, EWTN’s Scripture Q&A of happy memory)

    What is there to do to be free from attachment to venial sin, which is required to gain a plenary indulgence? It is a gap in one’s purpose of amendment, as if he said to himself: “I do not intend to commit many or great sins. But I reserve a bit for myself: If it gets hard to join in a conversation without talking against neighbor — I will do it. If it gets too hard to stick to the truth: I will lie. There are many other possibilities.
    A person who has such an attitude does not have to do it consciously: it is merely the standard, habitual attitude of his soul: it sets limits to his response to God. It is as if he put a clamp on his heart, which lets it expand only so far, and no farther.
    That gap not only blocks reception of a plenary indulgence (only a partial indulgence would be received) – it blocks all actual spiritual growth, no matter how many Masses a person may attend, or other good things. It is sad to see people who in general are very good ,yet making no real growth. Soon a retreat is one time to examine one’s attitudes: Do I really mean to hold out? Even if one does not realize he has such a defect, it still harms him. He can begin to really grow only when he finds he has the attitude and clean sit up.

  21. Mariana says:

    Thank you, Father, for the reminder, allowing me to get a plenary indulgence!

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