Plenary Indulgence – Mercy Sunday

On Mercy Sunday there is a Plenary Indulgence available.   Of course, during the Year of Mercy if you are near one of the churches that has a “holy door” you can get an indulgence every day, so this indulgence is less compelling.  But not everyone is near one of those doors.

Hang on.  If you are near one of those doors… are you using it as often as you could?

Plenary indulgence for Mercy Sunday

I. The usual conditions for every plenary indulgence:

  • sacramental confession [according to previously issued norms, within abut 20 days before or after]
  • Eucharistic communion [according to previously issued norms, preferably on the day, or the days before or after]
  • prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff [certain prayers are not specified]
  • no attachment to even venial sins

II. The specific conditions for this Indulgence

On Divine Mercy Sunday

  • in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)

Partial Indulgence

A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation. [e.g. Jesus I trust in You. My Jesus mercy. or any other approved invocation]

Those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill

Conditions for a Plenary Indulgence:

  • totally detesting any sin,
  • the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions of confession, communion and prayers for the Holy Father
  • recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus
  • pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).

If it is impossible to do even this:

  • with a spiritual intention unite with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the Indulgence in the usual way and
  • offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.

Duty of priests

Priests who exercise pastoral ministry, especially parish priests, should

  • inform the faithful in the most suitable way of the Church’s salutary provision [of a plenary indulgence].
  • promptly and generously be willing to hear their confessions [this does not necessarily have to be on Divine Mercy Sunday itself, since that is not a condition for the indulgence]

On Divine Mercy Sunday, after celebrating Mass or Vespers, or during devotions in honour of Divine Mercy,

  • lead the recitation of the prayers
  • when they instruct their people, gently encourage the faithful to practise works of charity or mercy as often as they can

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. GypsyMom says:

    Our family today is heading to the church for Divine Mercy devotions to pray for a job for my husband. He’s been unemployed for over a year. The flood gates of Heaven are supposed to be poured out today–may Our Merciful Lord send a job our way!

  2. cda_sister says:

    Went to confession yesterday, entered our church thru the Holy Door this morning, participated in a beautiful celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday and received the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Will pray for the Holy Father’s intentions later today. May His Divine Mercy pour forth on this most unworthy sinner.

  3. pray4truth says:

    and remember the EXTRAORDINARY PROMISE from Our Blessed Lord!

  4. jaykay says:

    Fr. Z says: “Hang on. If you are near one of those doors… are you using it as often as you could?”

    Erm, no. Have to confess that, due largely to laziness, I haven’t yet, despite being within 25 miles of two of them, in my Archdiocese. Have actually fulfilled all the conditions for today, Deo gratias, and attended a beautiful Divine Mercy devotion and Mass in my local Dominican church today, iterum Deo gratias, but have yet to do the Mercy Door. Pure laziness. I will address that, and thank you for the shoulder-tap, Father.

  5. cda_sister says:

    jaykay…don’t delay. We are so blessed to have a Holy Door at our parish…St Theresa’s in Sugar Land, TX…Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. I go thru every Sunday and on weekdays when possible. I need all the mercy and grace our Lord will grant me.

  6. Nan says:

    I do go to one of the two local doors periodically; however, this morning I was headed to my priest friend’s parish for their Divine Mercy programming which included a showing of the documentary, The Original Image of the Divine Mercy.

  7. Veritatis Splendor says:

    It just happened that the Church we went to Mass for (Missa Cantata) also had a Holy Door, which we passed through. All of us had been shriven within 36 hours, and we prayed for the Holy Father on the ride home. I believe we also fulfilled the requirements for the Divine Mercy Indulgence, insofar as we can be certain of not having any attachment to sin, but only one plenary indulgence per day.

  8. cathgrl says:

    I’ve been to the local Holy Door once. It’s a half hour drive. The Cathedral is in the inner city and the Holy Door is open for two hours each Sunday, First Fridays while I’m at work and by appointment with a tour group.

  9. Nan says:

    cathgrl, that’s ridiculous! I’m much closer to either place with a holy door and the Cathedral holy door is open when the Cathedral is open. I presume the Basilica is the same. Kindof pointless to have mercy so unavailable. I’d bring it to the Bishops attention.

  10. Healingrose1202 says:

    I confess, despite having been “born” a Catholic, having attended Catholic School, and regularly attending Mass, I never knew anything about any type of indulgences other than maybe those given out during Middle Ages. I’m sorry for my lack of understanding and ignorance, but this list to achieve an indulgence reads more like a chain letter than a divine request from God. Please share with me some links to additional resources so I can research more and understand how this is of God and not of man. (I realize having been born after Vacation II, there is much that I have been ignorant of, and I greatly appreciate any assistance or guidance in my quest to help remedy my lack of knowledge.)

  11. APX says:

    If you are near one of those doors… are you using it as often as you could?

    Our “Door of Mercy” in our parish is the main door into the nave, so I walk through it multiple times in a day. Are you saying I can get a plenary indulgence by walking through it (and fulfilling the other requirements)?

  12. cathgrl says:

    Nan, I don’t think the cathedral is open that much. There are Masses Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. Besides these and special events (the Mercy Door is likely considered that), that Cathedral might not be open at all. There is gated parking, so perhaps the issue is paying for security.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    Healingrose, being forgiven of sin does not mean that all sin’s effects go away. That’s why we do a penance after being absolved in confession, after all. It is both a matter of God’s justice and His mercy that there is temporal punishment due to sin–the suffering of the punishment is purifying. But the penance after confession, even though there is special grace in it, does not fulfill all of that purifying temporal punishment. The person who has not satisfied this does not have the perfection to enter heaven, but needs purification first, this is called purgatory. In the early Church there were some significant difference in how the Sacrament of Reconciliation was practiced, it was something you might do just once in your life and the penance was something substantial and that might take a while to complete, for instance for grave sins it might be a year of fasting, only AFTER which the penitent was absolved. So there was a live sense among the faithful of the temporal punishment that was fittingly due because of our sins. Some penitents appealed to the martyr saints and to Our Lord, who though righteous took on great and undeserved suffering. After all, within the Church there is a considerable treasury of meritorious suffering. The concept of the Communion of Saints and that the Church has the “power of the keys to the kingdom of heaven,” the power of binding and loosing given by Our Lord to Saint Peter led to an understanding that the Church, through the successor to Saint Peter, can share from that treasury among the people who request it and are well disposed, that is, spiritually open to receiving it. The requirements to be fulfilled for an “indulgence” have a lot to do with the soul being well disposed to receive it and be really helped and improved, and can be seen as logical requirements. Fulfilling the requirements of the indulgence can have a real and beneficial effect. The fairly simple act that the indulgence is attached to is meant to be meritorious, for instance a prayer of devotion to the Divine Mercy. And making a good confession, receiving Holy Communion, and being free of attachment to sin means God’s sanctifying grace is in you and you are ready for it to be effective in you. Praying for the intentions of the Pope has to do with the fact that the “power of the keys” that we are appealing to when we seek an indulgence, is attached by Our Lord to the office of St Peter (ie the Pope). The person who does not fulfill all this simply is not disposed to receive spiritually the complete benefit of the “plenary” (full) indulgence but may receive a partial benefit, for instance if they still have some attachment to sin they might seek the indulgence and part of their need for purifying suffering is remitted. But for someone who has received a plenary indulgence before dying, they have been purified by the merits of Christ and the Saints and can go to heaven without needing to undergo purgatory. Indulgences can also be obtained by the living for the souls in purgatory, again this is based on the Communion of Saints.

    Martin Luther rejected multiple Christian beliefs that led him to reject the concept of indulgences, particularly the Holy See’s power to remit sins or the punishment due to them.

  14. Elizabeth D says:

    Also of course, Martin Luther and others were scandalized by some abuses of indulgences in his time particularly simony. The abuses were NOT endorsed by the Church but Luther blamed the Church anyway.

  15. Imrahil says:

    The indulgence is also for attending a First Communion service, right?

    I did say the invocation “Merciful Jesus, I trust in Thee” thrice, but forgot about the Our Father and Creed.

    In any case, there was a rather exactly half-hour Eucharistic adoration service as First Communion thanksgiving, so (if it wasn’t one minute short or so) that’d be a plenary indulgence in its own right (under the usual conditions).

  16. Aquinas Gal says:

    Healingrose, this is what Pope Francis said about indulgences in his letter for the Jubilee year of mercy (Face of Mercy):

    22.?A Jubilee also entails the granting of indulgences. This practice will acquire an even more important meaning in the Holy Year of Mercy. God’s forgiveness knows no bounds. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God makes even more evident his love and its power to destroy all human sin. Reconciliation with God is made possible through the paschal mystery and the mediation of the Church. Thus God is always ready to forgive, and he never tires of forgiving in ways that are continually new and surprising. Nevertheless, all of us know well the experience of sin. We know that we are called to perfection (cf. Mt 5:48), yet we feel the heavy burden of sin. Though we feel the transforming power of grace, we also feel the effects of sin typical of our fallen state. Despite being forgiven, the conflicting consequences of our sins remain. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God forgives our sins, which he truly blots out; and yet sin leaves a negative effect on the way we think and act. But the mercy of God is stronger even than this. It becomes indulgence on the part of the Father who, through the Bride of Christ, his Church, reaches the pardoned sinner and frees him from every residue left by the consequences of sin, enabling him to act with charity, to grow in love rather than to fall back into sin.

    The Church lives within the communion of the saints. In the Eucharist, this communion, which is a gift from God, becomes a spiritual union binding us to the saints and blessed ones whose number is beyond counting (cf. Rev 7:4). Their holiness comes to the aid of our weakness in a way that enables the Church, with her maternal prayers and her way of life, to fortify the weakness of some with the strength of others. Hence, to live the indulgence of the Holy Year means to approach the Father’s mercy with the certainty that his forgiveness extends to the entire life of the believer. To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church, who bestows upon all the fruits of Christ’s redemption, so that God’s love and forgiveness may extend everywhere. Let us live this Jubilee intensely, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful “indulgence.”

  17. Within the last couple weeks, I recommitted myself to the parish where I was received into the Church four years ago. I had not heard of these holy doors until reading this post, so I decided to do a quick Google search about them. It turns out that my parish is one of the parishes in this area with holy doors! Imagine my delight at having recommited myself to this parish. Just another confirmation that I made the right decision.

  18. Healingrose1202 says:

    Thank you Elizabeth D and Aquinas Gal! I think I am beginning to understand. Although, I couldn’t help but visualize a big cookie jar in heaven of “indulgences” covered in chocolate given to those only who completed tasks like closing your eyes, making a wish, followed by sending spam to 10 of your friends within 5 minutes. I will have to spend more time studying it and about purgatory in general. Both topics seem to have been overlooked when I was growing up.

    Thank you both for your guidance!

  19. Elizabeth D says:

    I am glad if that was helpful Healingrose. If indulgences did involve chocolate then everyone would want them, however it would be fore reasons that had little to do with their soul. Maybe that’s what was going on in Martin Luther’s day, indulgences were chocolate-covered like Girl Scout Cookies; no wonder people were selling them. But that was wrong (not to mention so little of the money stays with the local troop)! So, considering the huge problem of the protestant revolt that resulted, you can see the practice of coating indulgences in chocolate has been abolished–reprobated in fact. So are chain emails! Little-known fact!

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