ASK FATHER: How to gain the 1-8 November plenary indulgence

From a reader…


Thanks to you and your blog, I am intending to receive a plenary indulgence or three (aim high!) for the souls in purgatory over Nov 1 – Nov 8. Reading through the Manual of Indulgences, from the fourth edition (1999) of Enchiridion Indulgentiarum: Normae et Concessiones, N23 states:
“To gain an indulgence it is sufficient to recite the prayer
alternately with a companion or to follow it mentally while it is
being recited by another”.
To me this reads as though an indulgence cannot be granted if I only say the prayer silently to myself; that the prayer(s) need to be said with someone or recite them mentally when someone else is saying the prayer out loud. Have I interpreted this correctly? Can you please clarify?

At the Vatican site HERE we find the current text.

Pro fidelibus defunctis

§ 1. Plenaria indulgentia, animabus in Purgatorio detentis tantummodo applicabilis, conceditur christifideli qui

1° singulis diebus, a primo usque ad octavum novembris, coemeterium devote visitaverit et, vel mente tantum, pro defunctis exoraverit;

2° die Commemorationis omnium fidelium defunctorum (vel, de consensu Ordinarii, die Dominico antecedenti aut subsequenti aut die sollemnitatis Omnium Sanctorum) ecclesiam aut oratorium pie visitaverit ibique recitaverit Pater et Credo.

There is no mention of having to pray with someone else.  Also, it says that the prayer can be offered “mentally”, so it doesn’t have to be aloud.

You can go to the cemetery and each day and gain the indulgence from 1-8 November by praying for the dead.   On All Souls (and other days determined by the bishop) could can gain the indulgence by visiting the church and praying the Our Father and Creed.

The usual conditions apply for a plenary indulgence.

The Church is pretty flexible with these grants.  While it is good to be in a group, sometimes that’s not possible.  Other people can’t get to church, so they can pray at home. We should try for the idea: at church or with others.  But the important thing is the get the indulgence!

I hope that people will pray for me when I die.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    There’s a saintly old traditional Franciscan priest in Cincinnati who, every year, gained the All Souls “toties quoties” indulgence as many times as his age, from about 7 years until he was 37 years old, when they abolished it in 1968.

    For those not familiar, that meant a plenary indulgence for each visit to a Church. People would walk out the door then step back inside and say another set of prayers.

    “Didn’t that seem silly?” I asked. “To keep entering and exiting the same church?”

    “It wasn’t silly to the poor souls,” he replied.

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  3. Mike_in_Kenner says:

    The questioner seems to be referring to Norm number 23, rather than Concession number 29 (which is the concession regarding indulgences for the Faithful Departed).

    Norm 23 is quoted by the questioner, but it makes more sense in connection with the preceding Norm 22, which states, “An indulgence attached to a prayer can be acquired by reciting the prayer in any language, provided that the translation is approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority.” Thus Norm 23 is further explanation of the general rules that apply to indulgences that require recitation of a specific prayer. The subjects of the Norms seem a bit scattered in their numerical order. Norms 22 and 23 might seem clearer with reference to Norm 26, which states, “Both the deaf and the mute can gain indulgences attached to public prayers if, together with the other faithful praying in the same place, they devoutly raise their mind and affections to God; regarding private prayers it is sufficient for them to recite the prayers mentally or express them with signs, or simply to read them without pronouncing the words.”

    The exception for the deaf and the mute stated in Norm 26–that they do not have to pronounce the words–seems to me to mean that, normally, a person reciting prayers as part of the actions for gaining an indulgence actually verbalizes the words of the prayers and does not merely mentally think the words. The actual speaking of the words might be only a whisper, like the way a priest whispers the words of the Canon of the Mass, or might whisper the words of the Divine Office in private recitation. However, there are some exceptions, such as when the Manual of Indulgences specifically states that specific prayer formulas are not required with certain indulgenced acts, and the requirement for prayer may be only mental prayer. Concession 29, which deals with indulgences for the Faithful Departed, requires prayer during the visit to the cemetery, but states that it may be done “only mentally.” There is not a specific prayer to say for that indulgence.

    Regarding Norm 23 and the part about reciting prayers alternately with other people, think of things like praying the Rosary in a group, or a litany, or similar forms of prayer. It is typical that the words of the prayers are divided in some manner involving alternate speaking. So you do not have to pronounce every word of every prayer if you are praying together with another person or a group. If an indulgence does require a specific prayer formula, and you are praying alone, you would need to pronounce the whole prayer.

    And, by the way, it makes my wife and me immensely happy to know there are other indulgence enthusiasts out there who read and study the details of the Manual of Indulgences. And we are glad that Fr. Z does so much to promote these things.

  4. Gab says:

    Thank you, Fr Z – and Mike_in_Kennar. That clears things up immensely. I am so excited to be attempting to gain indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory – I have never done this in my life as I knew naught about it until I read it on Father’s blog.

    I mentioned indulgences for All Soul’s Day to a Special Minister lay person yesterday before Mass and she had never even heard the term despite being in her late 60s. Such is the state of things here in Australia. Not even mentioned by Archbishops here in their weekly communiqué to the faithful.

    I have been reading up on this for about a month now and planning where I will go to Mass on Nov 1 and 2 after work plus which cemeteries I will visit on the other days and what prayers I must say (all printed out so I won’t forget). I only hope that I do well enough, be able to fulfill all the conditions, to help at least one soul in Purgatory.

    It is so sad to see people praying for their departed loved ones and them not know about this wonderful opportunity Mother Church has provided us.

  5. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    There is not a requirement that it be a Catholic cemetery. I am not near a Catholic cemetery, so I visit a cemetery tucked behind a nearby Protestant church. I was praying there one day when an elderly couple who were raking the leaves approached and asked could they help. I just smiled and said, “No, thank you.” A moment too late, I thought, “I am just praying for the intentions of the Pope to gain an indulgence for the souls in Purgatory.” That would have made their heads explode.

  6. mrjaype says:

    For obtaining the plenary indulgence for a soul in purgatory, do I have to maintain detachment from sin for those entire eight days? Or is it sufficient to visit the cemetery and pray for the dead?

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