Indulgencias

Decreto indulgencias 

Acto de la Penitenciaria Apostólica  


Summary of the Decree of Indulgence

What is an Indulgence? 

General Conditions for a Plenary Indulgence

The Indulgence versus The Promise

 

POR LA ORACIÓN DEL ROSARIO A LA DIVINA MISERICORDIA

Acto de la Penitenciaria Apostólica del 12 de enero de 2002.
Se da la indulgencia plenaria bajo las condiciones usuales (es decir el Sacramento de la Penitencia y de la Comunión Eucarística y la oración en las intenciones del Santo Padre)
a cada fiel en el territorio de Polonia, que, con el alma totalmente libre de todo acatamiento
a un pecado, rece con devoción el rosario a la Divina Misericordia en una iglesia o capilla
ante el Santísimo Sacramento de la Eucaristía, públicamente expuesto o guardado en un tabernáculo.

Y si esos fieles por la razón de enfermedad (u otra razón justa) no puedan salir
de casa, pero recen el rosario a la Divina Misericordia con confianza y el deseo de misericordia para ellos mismos y la disposisión a hacerla a los demás, también bajo las condiciones usuales, reciben la indulgencia plenaria con el mantenimiento de las reglas que “constituyen un obstáculo” incluidas en las normas 24 y 25 de la Lista de indulgencias (Enchiridii Indulgentiarum). En otras circunstancias la indulgencia será parcial. Esta disposición conservará la validez eterna, sin atención a cualquiera orden opuesta.

Decrto 29 June 2002

DECRETO

Se enriquecen con indulgencias actos de culto realizados
en honor de la Misericordia divina.


"Tu misericordia, oh Dios, no tiene límites, y es infinito el tesoro de tu bondad..." (Oración después del himno "Te Deum") y "Oh Dios, que manifiestas especialmente tu poder con el perdón y la misericordia..." (Oración colecta del domingo XXVI del tiempo ordinario), canta humilde y fielmente la santa Madre Iglesia. En efecto, la inmensa condescendencia de Dios, tanto hacia el género humano en su conjunto como hacia cada una de las personas, resplandece de modo especial cuando el mismo Dios todopoderoso perdona los pecados y los defectos morales, y readmite paternalmente a los culpables a su amistad, que merecidamente habían perdido.

Así, los fieles son impulsados a conmemorar con íntimo afecto del alma los misterios del perdón divino y a celebrarlos con fervor, y comprenden claramente la suma conveniencia, más aún, el deber que el pueblo de Dios tiene de alabar, con formas particulares de oración, la Misericordia divina, obteniendo al mismo tiempo, después de realizar con espíritu de gratitud las obras exigidas y de cumplir las debidas condiciones, los beneficios espirituales derivados del tesoro de la Iglesia. "El misterio pascual es el culmen de esta revelación y actuación de la misericordia, que es capaz de justificar al hombre, de restablecer la justicia en el sentido del orden salvífico querido por Dios desde el principio para el hombre y, mediante el hombre, en el mundo" (Dives in misericordia, 7).

La Misericordia divina realmente sabe perdonar incluso los pecados más graves, pero al hacerlo impulsa a los fieles a sentir un dolor sobrenatural, no meramente psicológico, de sus propios pecados, de forma que, siempre con la ayuda de la gracia divina, hagan un firme propósito de no volver a pecar. Esas disposiciones del alma consiguen efectivamente el perdón de los pecados mortales cuando el fiel recibe con fruto el sacramento de la penitencia o se arrepiente de los mismos mediante un acto de caridad perfecta y de dolor perfecto, con el propósito de acudir cuanto antes al mismo sacramento de la penitencia. En efecto, nuestro Señor Jesucristo, en la parábola del hijo pródigo, nos enseña que el pecador debe confesar su miseria ante Dios, diciendo: "Padre, he pecado contra el cielo y contra ti; ya no soy digno de llamarme hijo tuyo" (Lc 15, 18-19), percibiendo que ello es obra de Dios: "Estaba muerto y ha vuelto a la vida; estaba perdido y ha sido hallado" (Lc 15, 32).

Por eso, con próvida solicitud pastoral, el Sumo Pontífice Juan Pablo II, para imprimir en el alma de los fieles estos preceptos y enseñanzas de la fe cristiana, impulsado por la dulce consideración del Padre de las misericordias, ha querido que el segundo domingo de Pascua se dedique a recordar con especial devoción estos dones de la gracia, atribuyendo a ese domingo la denominación de "Domingo de la Misericordia divina" (cf. Congregación para el culto divino y la disciplina de los sacramentos, decreto Misericors et miserator, 5 de mayo de 2000).

El evangelio del segundo domingo de Pascua narra las maravillas realizadas por nuestro Señor Jesucristo el día mismo de la Resurrección en la primera aparición pública: "Al atardecer de aquel día, el primero de la semana, estando cerradas, por miedo a los judíos, las puertas del lugar donde se encontraban los discípulos, se presentó Jesús en medio de ellos y les dijo: "La paz con vosotros". Dicho esto, les mostró las manos y el costado. Los discípulos se alegraron de ver al Señor. Jesús les dijo otra vez: "La paz con vosotros. Como el Padre me envió, también yo os envío". Dicho esto, sopló sobre ellos y les dijo: "Recibid el Espíritu Santo. A quienes perdonéis los pecados, les quedan perdonados; a quienes se los retengáis, les quedan retenidos"" (Jn 20, 19-23).

Para hacer que los fieles vivan con intensa piedad esta celebración, el mismo Sumo Pontífice ha establecido que el citado domingo se enriquezca con la indulgencia plenaria, como se indicará más abajo, para que los fieles reciban con más abundancia el don de la consolación del Espíritu Santo, y cultiven así una creciente caridad hacia Dios y hacia el prójimo, y, una vez obtenido de Dios el perdón de sus pecados, ellos a su vez perdonen generosamente a sus hermanos.

De esta forma, los fieles vivirán con más perfección el espíritu del Evangelio, acogiendo en sí la renovación ilustrada e introducida por el concilio ecuménico Vaticano II: "Los cristianos, recordando la palabra del Señor "En esto conocerán que sois mis discípulos, si os amáis unos a otros" (Jn 13, 35), nada pueden desear más ardientemente que servir cada vez más generosa y eficazmente a los hombres del mundo actual. (...) Quiere el Padre que en todos los hombres reconozcamos y amemos eficazmente a Cristo, nuestro hermano, tanto de palabra como de obra" (Gaudium et spes, 93).

Por eso, el Sumo Pontífice, animado por un ardiente deseo de fomentar al máximo en el pueblo cristiano estos sentimientos de piedad hacia la Misericordia divina, por los abundantísimos frutos espirituales que de ello pueden esperarse, en la audiencia concedida el día 13 de junio de 2002 a los infrascritos responsables de la Penitenciaría apostólica, se ha dignado otorgar indulgencias en los términos siguientes:

Se concede la indulgencia plenaria, con las condiciones habituales (confesión sacramental, comunión eucarística y oración por las intenciones del Sumo Pontífice) al fiel que, en el domingo segundo de Pascua, llamado de la Misericordia divina, en cualquier iglesia u oratorio, con espíritu totalmente alejado del afecto a todo pecado, incluso venial, participe en actos de piedad realizados en honor de la Misericordia divina, o al menos rece, en presencia del santísimo sacramento de la Eucaristía, públicamente expuesto o conservado en el Sagrario, el Padrenuestro y el Credo, añadiendo una invocación piadosa al Señor Jesús misericordioso (por ejemplo, "Jesús misericordioso, confío en ti"). Se concede la indulgencia parcial al fiel que, al menos con corazón contrito, eleve al Señor Jesús misericordioso una de las invocaciones piadosas legítimamente aprobadas.

Además, los navegantes, que cumplen su deber en la inmensa extensión del mar; los innumerables hermanos a quienes los desastres de la guerra, las vicisitudes políticas, la inclemencia de los lugares y otras causas parecidas han alejado de su patria; los enfermos y quienes les asisten, y todos los que por justa causa no pueden abandonar su casa o desempeñan una actividad impostergable en beneficio de la comunidad, podrán conseguir la indulgencia plenaria en el domingo de la Misericordia divina si con total rechazo de cualquier pecado, como se ha dicho antes, y con la intención de cumplir, en cuanto sea posible, las tres condiciones habituales, rezan, frente a una piadosa imagen de nuestro Señor Jesús misericordioso, el Padrenuestro y el Credo, añadiendo una invocación piadosa al Señor Jesús misericordioso (por ejemplo, "Jesús misericordioso, confío en ti").

Si ni siquiera eso se pudiera hacer, en ese mismo día podrán obtener la indulgencia plenaria los que se unan con la intención a los que realizan del modo ordinario la obra prescrita para la indulgencia y ofrecen a Dios misericordioso una oración y a la vez los sufrimientos de su enfermedad y las molestias de su vida, teniendo también ellos el propósito de cumplir, en cuanto les sea posible, las tres condiciones prescritas para lucrar la indulgencia plenaria.

Los sacerdotes que desempeñan el ministerio pastoral, sobre todo los párrocos, informen oportunamente a sus fieles acerca de esta saludable disposición de la Iglesia, préstense con espíritu pronto y generoso a escuchar sus confesiones, y en el domingo de la Misericordia divina, después de la celebración de la santa misa o de las vísperas, o durante un acto de piedad en honor de la Misericordia divina, dirijan, con la dignidad propia del rito, el rezo de las oraciones antes indicadas; por último, dado que son "Bienaventurados los misericordiosos, porque ellos alcanzarán misericordia" (Mt 5, 7), al impartir la catequesis impulsen a los fieles a hacer con la mayor frecuencia posible obras de caridad o de misericordia, siguiendo el ejemplo y el mandato de Jesucristo, como se indica en la segunda concesión general del "Enchiridion Indulgentiarum".

Este decreto tiene vigor perpetuo. No obstante cualquier disposición contraria.

Dado en Roma, en la sede de la Penitenciaría apostólica, el 29 de junio de 2002, en la solemnidad de San Pedro y San Pablo, apóstoles.


Luigi DE MAGISTRIS
Arzobispo titular de Nova
Pro-penitenciario mayor


Gianfranco GIROTTI, o.f.m. conv.
Regente

Summary of the Decree of Indulgence

O God, your mercy knows no bounds and the treasure of your goodness is infinite..." (Prayer after the "Te Deum" Hymn) 

"The paschal mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man, and through man, in the world" (Encyclical Letter Dives in misericordia, n. 7).

"And so with provident pastoral sensitivity and in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful these precepts and teachings of the Christian faith, the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, moved by the consideration of the Father of Mercy, has willed that the Second Sunday of Easter be dedicated to recalling with special devotion these gifts of grace and gave this Sunday the name, "Divine Mercy Sunday" (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Decree Misericors et miserator, 5 May 2000).

Plenary indulgence

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]

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

What is an Indulgence?

The Decree of Indulgence for Divine Mercy Sunday grants a plenary or full indulgence to those who satisfy certain conditions established by the Church and a partial (incomplete) indulgence to those who fulfill some but not all or the conditions.

A plenary indulgence means that by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sacramentally forgiven sins is obtained. The person becomes as if just baptized and would fly immediately to heaven if he died in that instant. A partial indulgence means that a portion of the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin is remitted. Partial indulgences are received either by doing some act to which a partial indulgence is attached (e.g. praying a partially indulgenced prayer), or by the incomplete fulfillment of the conditions attached to a plenary indulgence. 

Eternal and Temporal Punishment or Guilt

There are two kinds of punishment attached to sin, eternal and temporal. If the sin is mortal (serious, grave) sin, the person loses the friendship of God and with it the life of divine grace within. This punishment is eternal. If the person is not restored to grace before death he will be punished forever in hell, since serious sin is an infinite insult to an All-Holy God and thus deserves a like punishment. It was to repair for such sin that Jesus became man and was crucified. As God His sacrifice was infinitely meritorious, as Man He was able to represent us. He thus could expiate for our mortal sins, which are not just beyond our power of expiation but infinitely beyond it.

Mortal sin, and also venial sin (which has no eternal punishment attached to it), both disturb the right order within us and in the order of justice in general. We all experience these temporal (or in-time, in-this-world) consequences of sin, both both personally and socially. Sin changes us (or rather we sin because we are not what we are supposed to be), and like a pebble in a pond these changes have  effects beyond us. Not only must we be sorry for our sins, but we must be more thoroughly converted to the Lord, and demonstrate that conversion (Acts 26:20) by our actions. So, while sacramental absolution forgives the eternal guilt of sin, which requires the infinite merits of Christ, it does not necessarily remove all the temporal punishment, since they are somewhat within our power to repair (and somewhat unknown to us). Depending on our degree of sorrow, absolution may result in the expiation of all the temporal guilt of sin. However, for that which it does not repair, we must offer further expiation through prayer, penance, carrying the Cross etc., or after death be purified in purgatory (Rev 21:27). 

What an Indulgence does is to take an occasion of such expiation (a certain prayer, penance, charity or other designated work) and add to its intrinsic merit  before God an additional value based on the treasury of merits of Jesus Christ, and those perfectly united to Him in heaven (the saints). This can either partially, or under certain conditions, totally remit the temporal punishment due to sin. This depends, naturally, on our openness to God's grace. A mechanical performance of an indulgenced work would not have effect. Performing an indulgenced work should have the consequence of fixing our will away from our sins and entirely on God. This is why among the most important of the conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence, and the hardest to satisfy, is the complete detachment or detestation of our sins. By detesting our sins we orient our will away from creatures (to the degree we love them inordinately), towards God. In this way we open our will to the action of His mercy flowing into our souls, which alone is able to effect the complete remission of the temporal punishment to our sins. 

An example will perhaps better illustrate these points. A boy playing ball breaks a window of his home. Contrite and sorrowful he goes to his father, who forgives him. However, despite the forgiveness the window is still broken and must be repaired. Since the boy's personal resources are insufficient to pay for a new window, the father requires him to pay a few dollars from his savings and forego some of his allowance for several weeks, but that he, the father, will pay the rest. This balances justice and mercy (generous love). To ask the boy to do nothing, when it is possible for him to make some reparation, would not be in accordance  with the truth, or even the boy's good. Yet, even this temporal debt is beyond the boy's possibilities. Therefore, from his own treasury the father generously makes up what the child cannot provide. This is indulgence. Unlike the theologies that say "we are washed it the blood of the Lamb and there is nothing left to do," Catholic teaching respects the natural order of justice, as Jesus clearly did in the Gospels, yet recognizes that man cannot foresee or undo all the temporal  consequences of his sin. However, God in His mercy will satisfy justice for what we cannot repair.

Note on Partial Indulgences (days and years)

In the past partial indulgences were "counted" in days (e.g. 300 days) or years (e.g. 5 years). Catholics often mistakenly thought that this meant "time off of purgatory." Since there is no time in purgatory, as we understand it, it meant instead the remission of temporal punishment analogous to a certain amount of penitence as practiced in the early Church. This was a very generous standard, since the penitence required for sacramental absolution in the early centuries was arduous, indeed. However, with Pope Paul VI's 1968 revision of the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (Collection or Handbook of Indulgences), this confusing way of counting partial indulgences was suppressed, and the evaluation of a partial indulgence left to God. 

There are many prayers still circulating on prayer cards and in prayer books which have partial indulgences in days and years attached to them. However, all grants of indulgence issued prior to 1968, unless re-issued in the Enchiridion or specifically exempted by papal decree or privilege, were suppressed by Pope Paul VI. Thus, these many specific prayers with their attached indulgences, as well as the manner of measuring partial indulgences, are no longer valid. Some of them may still receive an indulgence, though, because of being re-issued in the new Enchiridion (e.g. the Anima Christi, the Prayer before a Crucifix and many other formal prayers). All other prayers previously indulgenced could, nonetheless, receive a partial indulgence under the general grants of indulgence which Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II in his 1999 revision of the Enchiridion, established. These general grants establish partial indulgences for devout prayer, penitence and charity, and are a new and very generous inclusion in the Church's grants of indulgence. They have made it unnecessary to grant specific indulgences to prayers and other pious acts, as was done in the past.

Plenary Indulgence - General Conditions

The following "General remarks on Indulgences" from Gift of the Indulgence summarizes the usual conditions given in the Church's law (cf. Apostolic Penitentiary, Prot. N. 39/05/I):

1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".

2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works ..... [in this case, those granted for the Feast of Mercy]

3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.  [i.e. one must be a Catholic, not excommunicated or in schism.]

4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

—have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;

have sacramentally confessed their sins;

receive the Holy Eucharist (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 Supreme Pontiff.

5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope's intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father's intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.

6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).

7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.

The Indulgence versus The Promise

The Promise was made by the Lord to St. Faustina, as part of a private revelation to her. In reviewing her life as part of the canonization process, the Church determined that she lived a life of heroic virtue, and ultimately the Holy Father canonized her, by an infallible judgment. We can be certain that she is in heaven.

Notwithstanding these facts, the content of private revelation, even to a saint, may only be accorded human credibility. This means that an evaluation of the facts suggest to a reasonable person the truth of its content and its supernatural origin. Catholics reasonably accept it as coming from God, but are not obligated to accept it as a matter of theological faith. Reason itself suggests its truth, and so one could be acting imprudently and unreasonably by not accepting a private revelation after giving the facts and the Church's evaluation a fair hearing, but one could not be considered to be faithless.

In the case of the Divine Mercy Indulgence, it is dogma of the Catholic Faith that the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ and acts with His authority. Catholics must believe by faith that IF they fulfill the conditions of the Indulgence that they will certainly receive what the Pope has promised, full remission of the temporal punishment due to their forgiven sins. This explains why the Holy See institutionalized the Promise in the form of an Indulgence. Like creating the Feast of Mercy itself, it was inspired by a private revelation, but made effective by the authority of the Church.

So, while the Promise seems easier to fulfill, the Indulgence is more certain. By seeking to satisfy the stricter conditions of the Indulgence, we would certainly satisfy the conditions of the Promise, as well. Keep both intentions in mind, in other words, while doing what is required to gain the Indulgence. What is most intrinsic to the Promise is the generosity of the Lord in forgiving on this day, and so we may reasonably count on Him to provide the actual graces necessary to do what is required for the Indulgence.

 

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