The Vatican has decreed the extension of certain plenary indulgences for the souls in Purgatory. The decree was made in response to bishops’ requests to avoid large gatherings of people in churches or cemeteries.
While live-streamed Mass was good for the elderly, this “can mark a certain disinterest in presence in [liturgical] celebrations,” said Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, who signed the decree. (Read: 3 Ways to Observe Undas Amid Quarantine Restrictions)
“There is therefore a pursuit by the bishops to implement all possible solutions to bring people back to the Church, always respecting everything that needs to be done for the particular situation in which we, unfortunately, find ourselves,” Piacenza said.
As part of the extension, certain indulgence acts, which can help to remit the temporal punishment due to sin for those who have died in a state of grace, can be obtained throughout the entire month of November 2020.
Availability of Sacraments
It is also important that the sacraments will be available during the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. With the new decree, those who cannot leave home can still participate in the indulgence, and others can have more time to attend Mass, go to confession, or visit the cemetery—subject to the health protocols and measures in place.
“For an easier attainment of divine grace through pastoral charity, this penitentiary earnestly prays that all priests endowed with the appropriate faculties offer themselves with particular generosity to the celebration of the sacrament of Penance and to administering Holy Communion to the sick,” the decree said. (Read: Manila Cathedral Holds Blessing of Cremated Remains Until November 8)
Plenary indulgences, which remit all temporal punishment due to sin, must be accompanied by full detachment from sin.
How to Obtain Plenary Indulgences?
If a Catholic wishes to obtain a plenary indulgence, he must fulfill the ordinary conditions of an indulgence—sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the pope. (Read: The Pope’s Prayer Intention for October 2020)
During the month of November, the Church has two traditional means of obtaining a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory—to visit a cemetery and to pray for the dead during the Octave of All Saint’s Day, which is from November 1 to 8.
A Catholic who wishes to obtain a plenary indulgence must also fulfill the ordinary conditions of an indulgence, which are sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the pope. Sacramental confession and reception of the Eucharist can occur within a week of the indulgenced act.
The second plenary indulgence is connected to the Feast of All Souls’ Day on November 2, and can be received by those who piously visit a church or oratory on that day and recite the Our Father and the Creed. (Read: Prayers of the Rosary)
According to the Vatican, both indulgences have been extended and are available to Catholics throughout the month of November to reduce crowds.
For the Sick and Confined at Home
For those who have health concerns and the elderly, they can still participate in the indulgence from home by reciting prayers for the deceased before an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. (Read: Undas Online Is Now Accepting Prayer Requests)
They must also spiritually unite themselves to other Catholics, be completely detached from sin, and have the intention of fulfilling the ordinary conditions as soon as possible.
The Vatican’s decree offered examples of prayers that homebound Catholics can pray for the dead, including lauds or vespers of the Office for the Dead, the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, other prayers for deceased among their family or friends, or performing a work of mercy by offering their pain and discomfort to God.