What’s a plenary indulgence?

And how can we obtain it?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a plenary indulgence as the “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.

A plenary indulgence (only one per day) may be obtained if we are in the state of grace and the following conditions accompany these sacred works of spiritual mercy:

  • Detachment from sin, even venial sin;
  • Receive the sacrament of penance;
  • Receive the Holy Eucharist;
  • Recite prayers for the intention of the Holy Father (at least one Our Father and Hail Mary).

While many folks do not understand our modern concept of indulgences, this is a beautiful gift the Lord has given to the Church as we perform works of spiritual mercy.  For more explanation, there is helpful information on the topic at catholic.org.