By Jose Antonio Medina
The plenary indulgence is a gift of healing and forgiveness that God grants to us through the Church. It has the objective of motivating the faithful to live a life in which grace casts away the sin in one’s life to help one to enter eternal life. The privileges obtained by meeting the conditions to obtain the plenary indulgence can be applied to other people we know and who have gone before us and also to people that we don’t know as for the souls in purgatory.
Some privileges exist to obtain the plenary indulgence for the two days of celebration for All Saints and All Souls. The conditions to obtain this indulgence include visiting a cemetery to pray for the dead or by visiting a Church for a time of prayer to remember those who have died. In addition to the visits mentioned above specific conditions must always be met to obtain a plenary indulgence: a sacramental Reconciliation, the participation in Holy Mass and the prayer for the Intentions of the Pope. The Apostolic Penitentiary, which is the office of the Vatican representing the Holy Father entrusted with this responsibility, recently extended the time to obtain the plenary indulgence for the entire month of November. This indulgence was also extended to the elderly, the sick, and all the people who cannot physically go to a cemetery or a church to obtain, but who are able to spiritually desire the indulgence and fulfill the other conditions previously mentioned. The document also clarifies that if a person cannot access the sacraments in person, they can also obtain the indulgence, as long as there is a commitment to seek the sacraments as soon as circumstances allow. Avoiding extra crowds in cemeteries during this time of pandemic is another pastoral reason that the time provided for the completion of the indulgence was extended.
The plenary indulgence can applied for our faithful departed family members and friends or for souls in purgatory. An indulgence encourages us to live in the grace of God and to drive out evil and sin from our life according to God’s plan so as to bring us and those we love closer to divine life which has no end.
Dr. Jose Antonio Medina is the Director of the Diocesan Office of Continuing Formation of Priests.