There is still time to receive a plenary indulgence during Lent — By: Catholic News Agency

Monstrance for adoration, stock photo. / Zolnierek/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Mar 20, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Did you know that there are several ways you can gain a plenary indulgence during Lent? There are actually four ways you can receive one. Even though Lent is nearly over, there is still plenty of time for you to complete any, or all, of these. 

First of all, what is a plenary indulgence?

A plenary indulgence is a grace granted by the Catholic Church through the merits of Jesus Christ to remove the temporal punishment due to sin. The indulgence cleanses a person of all temporal punishment due to sin. However, it must always be accompanied by a full detachment from sin. 

How do we receive one during Lent?

The first way is to spend at least 30 minutes in Eucharistic adoration. Visiting the Blessed Sacrament is important all year round. So why not take part in this beautiful practice during Lent and receive some additional graces too? 

If you’ve never been to adoration, or struggle to stay awake, try reading a couple of chapters from the Gospels, pray a rosary, or really focus on being in Christ’s presence. 

The next way is to take part in the Stations of the Cross, which is when we meditate on the Lord’s passion and death. Every Catholic church should have some kind of Stations of the Cross, whether they are simple or elaborate. Any will do! 

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The Holy See’s Manual of Indulgences, Fourth Edition, does state that there has to be 14 stations “representing the 14 stations of Jerusalem.” 

The manual also reminds us that “progression from one station to the next is required.” Although, if there are too many people and moving would cause an inconvenience, it is sufficient that at least the one conducting the Way of the Cross move from station to station. In other words, if you attend the Stations of the Cross with many participants and everyone remains in the pews while the priest moves to each station, that is still valid. 

This specific indulgence can even be gained once a day for those who can attend church daily and wish to perform the Stations of the Cross on their own. 

The next way is by praying the rosary “in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or an association of the faithful.” 

The last way is by reading or listening to sacred Scripture. Just make sure you spend at least half an hour with the word of God and it counts. 

All right, so you took part in one, or all four, of these ways. But, did you actually receive a plenary indulgence?

How do you know if you received one?

There are some conditions, like the fine print, that assure you receive your indulgence. 

First, you must have complete detachment from all sin, even venial.

Then you have to go to confession, receive holy Communion, and pray for the intentions of the pope. Sacramental confession and receiving the Eucharist can happen up to about 20 days before or after the act performed to receive a plenary indulgence. 

It is appropriate that Communion and the prayer take place on the same day that the work is completed. One sacramental confession is sufficient for several plenary indulgences. However, for each plenary indulgence one wishes to receive, a separate reception of the Eucharist and a separate prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father are required.

Once you have followed these steps, rest assured that you have received a plenary indulgence.

This story was first published on CNA on March 31, 2022, and was updated March 18, 2024.

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