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How You Can Get Plenary Indulgences This Summer…

How You Can Get Plenary Indulgences This Summer…

Summer presents a spiritual surprise. Several plenary indulgences are possible for you, your family and friends to gain for yourself or to apply to any soul in purgatory.

These indulgences are in addition to those particular ones the Church allows on a daily basis — and which so few people realize are available. We’ve discussed daily ones before and will review them later, but let’s begin with those falling during summer.  

Let’s start by reviewing the general requirements necessary for any plenary indulgence. The requirements and indulgences are spelled out in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, or Manual of Indulgences, Fourth Edition.

To gain a plenary indulgence you must:

  • Be baptized and in the state of grace, at least at the time the indulgenced work is done.
  • Have “the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin.” Otherwise, the indulgence becomes partial, not plenary.

And fulfill these three conditions:

  • Sacramentally confess your sins
  • Receive Holy Communion. (“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 Holy Father. One Our Father and one Hail Mary fully satisfies this.

One sacramental confession suffices for gaining several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and separate prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father are required for each plenary indulgence. According to the most recent Church guidelines on the subject, “it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.”

Of course, you must also:

  • Perform the prescribed work to which the indulgence is attached.
  • Have at least a general intention to gain the indulgence. You can’t receive an indulgence unintentionally or by accident.

If any part of the requirements is missing, then the indulgence becomes partial. Heaven determines the degree of the partial indulgence.

On Summer’s Specific Dates

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who —

On June 2 this year, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, “devoutly participate in a solemn Eucharistic procession, held inside or outside a church, of greatest importance on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ” (Corpus Christi Sunday).

On June 7 this year, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. “On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, publicly recite the act of reparation Jesu dulcissime. (A partial indulgence is granted for its use in other circumstances, such as private recitation.)

June 29, Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. On this solemnitymake prayerful use of an article of devotion, as defined by Norm 15, that has been blessed by the Supreme Pontiff or by any bishop, provided the faithful also make a Profession of Faith using any legitimate formula.” Norm 15 identifies the articles to be “a crucifix or cross, rosary, scapular, or medal.”

Aug. 2, the “Portiuncula” indulgence. See the specific places necessary to attend reading on.

Floating Summer Dates

First Communions are usually held this time of year. “The faithful who receive Holy Communion for the first time or devoutly assist at the first Holy Communion of others” can receive a plenary indulgence.

Retreats that people attend during the summer (any time of year actually) have a plenary indulgence available for the faithful who spend at least three entire days in the spiritual exercises of a retreat.

First Mass of a newly ordained priest.  Both the “priest celebrating his first Mass before the people on a chosen day; [and] the faithful who devoutly assist at such a Mass” can receive the indulgence.

Ordination Anniversary of a priest presents another occasion to receive a plenary indulgence. The manual states those who can gain the indulgence are “priests celebrating the 25th, 50th, 60th, 70th anniversary of their priestly ordinations, who renew before God their promise of faithfully fulfilling the duties of their vocation; bishops celebrating the 25th, 40th, and 50th anniversary of their episcopal ordination, who renew before God their promise of faithfully fulfilling the duties of their office; the faithful who devoutly assist at jubilee Mass celebrations.”

At Home or On Vacation 

Going on vacation? Staying close to home? Near or far, many locations also offer opportunities for gaining a plenary indulgence by

Visiting Sacred Places “and there devoutly recite an Our Father and the Creed.” The specific places with lots of latitude built-in are:

1. If abroad, one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome, either as part of a group making a pilgrimage to the basilica, or at least with the purpose of expressing during the visit filial submission to the Roman Pontiff.

2. A Minor Basilica search one out near you or your vacation destination. When?

  • On the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29)
  • On the solemnity of its Titular
  • On Aug. 2, the day of the “Portiuncula” indulgence
  • Once a year, on a day chosen by the Christian faithful

3. The Cathedral Church gives you the opportunity to stay in your diocese,

  • On the solemnity of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29)
  • On the solemnity of it Titular – if it happens to be during the summer. For example, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco (Aug. 15), and St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, Connecticut (Aug. 28). Most do not fall during the summer.
  • On Aug. 2, the day of the “Portiuncula” indulgence (There are two other of these visit times, but they’re not during summer: on the liturgical celebration of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle and on the dedication of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior (known as St. John Lateran.)

4. An International, National, or Diocesan Shrine Established by Competent Authority. Why not make one or more of these your summer vacation destination, or part of your planned trip? When to visit?

  • On the solemnity of its Titular. For example, St. Anne’s Church and Shrine in Fall River, Massachusetts. or at the Isle La Motte, Vermont, on July 26; National Shrine of Saint Philomena in Briggsville, Wisconsin, Aug. 11; National Shrine of St. Anthony in Cincinnati, Ohio; National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16.
  • Once a year, on a day chosen by the Christian faithful. (Any day during your Summer vacation or day-trip. Plan on Mass there too.)
  • As often as they assist in a group pilgrimage visiting the shrine.

5. A Parish Church. This is nearest of all.  When?

  • On the solemnity of its Titular. (Might not work during summer if your parish is named after a saint whose feast falls during other times of the year. Or named after St. Joseph or one of the Blessed Mother’s titles celebrated later or earlier. Check the liturgical calendar for the feast date of your parish’s namesake.)
  • On Aug. 2, the day of the “Portiuncula” indulgence. This works for every parish. 

6. A church or altar on the day of its dedication. Exceptional circumstance, yet possible.

7. Consecration of the Family. Although for anytime during the year, why not during summer? The Manual says the members of the family gain a plenary indulgence “on the day on which it is first consecrated, if at all possible by a priest or deacon, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus or to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph if they devoutly recite the duly approved prayer before an image of the Sacred Heart or the Holy Family.”

Remember the Normal Daily Ones 

Even with this list geared toward summer travel, day trips, and vacations, don’t forget a plenary indulgence can be obtained “each day of the year,” but “no more than once a day.” That’s means all summer. 

The four ways, together with the three basic conditions of Confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the Holy Father’s intentions, are:

  • Eucharistic Adoration. “Visit the Blessed Sacrament for adoration lasting at least a half hour.”
  • Praying the Rosary. “Devoutly recite the Marian Rosary in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, or an association of the faithful, and in general when several of the faithful gather for some honest purpose…”
  • Reading or listening to Sacred Scriptures. “Read the Sacred Scriptures as spiritual reading, from a text approved by a competent authority, and with the reverence due to the divine word, for at least a half an hour; if the time is less, the indulgence will be partial.” Or listen to it being read.
  • Pious exercise of the Way of the Cross. Walk them in church or where legitimately erected.

May your summer be a joyful blessed one!

This article originally appeared May 29, 2018, and has been updated to reflect 2024 dates.

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