Search 59,165 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

Further Opportunities for Indulgences

Status
Not open for further replies.

koilife

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
In all of the discussions on the indulgences so far, I've only seen consideration of passing through the "holy doors" during the Jubilee year (either for the Year of Mercy or for the Jacobean Holy Years). But that is actually the least of the opportunities available to the faithful Catholic. I thought it might be informative to the forum as a whole (or at least those who are curious about such matters), and helpful for Catholics in particular.

Following are two posts, one that addresses what indulgences are in slightly deeper detail than the usual summary provided on commonly referenced websites, and the other identifying the many, many different ways that a Catholic can avail his or herself of indulgences while making a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago (or the pilgrimage of daily life, for that matter).

If you already understand or aren’t interested in understanding what indulgences are, feel free to skip the next post and go straight to the one describing other opportunities for indulgences on the Camino.
 
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
Pilgrim Pouch carry bags with different designs
A lightweight carry bag handy for walking, biking, traveling, & Caminos

koilife

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
What are Indulgences

First off, let's acknowledge that indulgences are a controversial topic and one of the lightning rods of the Protestant Reformation. This post is NOT concerned with the past disputes or abuses of the practice, and the post is NOT intended to generate a religious or philosophical fight. NOR is it to defend or justify the current practice and its legitimacy (or any lack thereof). My goal here is only to help increase understanding for those who are interested, not to convert or compel acceptance for those who aren't.

Indulgences are often viewed (including by many Catholics) as the equivalent of a Catholic vending machine---put your money in, press the button, and get your product out. Only, in this case, the coin is some act of faith and the product is the remission of temporal punishment for sin. However, indulgences are like the tip of an iceberg; under the water line is an enormous body of belief and theology on which the tip rests. I won’t address the Catholic understanding of sin and purgatory, or of anthropology of the human being, or of the essential nature of the Church, or of the action of the Holy Spirit, or of the efficacy of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. However, all of these do lie beneath the water line and are essential to understanding the doctrines immediately underneath the practices of indulgences.

However, to understand the shorthand what an indulgence is, we need to understand two key concepts. First, sin has two consequences — eternal separation from God, which “eternal punishment” is removed by forgiveness, and a temporal attachment of the person to sin, which “temporal punishment” remains even after forgiveness is received and which needs to be purified through ongoing conversion. This purification occurs either here in this life or after death and is necessary for us to enter fully into eternal communion with God. Second, the Catholic Church understands Christ to have given to the Church in perpetuity the powers of binding and loosing when he gave them to Peter (se Mt 16:13-20) and to the apostles (see Jn 20:19-23). In all of this, the term “punishment” should not be understood as a vengeful act of God, but rather the natural consequence of sin itself.

By way of a somewhat limited analogy, if I touch a hot stove and receive a serious burn, forgiveness is the healing process for the burn itself (the eternal consequence), but a scar remains long afterwards or even permanently (the temporal consequence). Indulgences are concerned with removing the scar.

By way of a scripture story (Jn 8:1-11), Jesus does not condemn the woman caught in adultery (remission of eternal punishment) but then tells her to go and sin no more (which command necessitates conversion — the reordering of a life that led to her disordered act of adultery — which is the remission of temporal punishment).

It’s important to understand that purification and conversion can occur through a variety of means. In life, the practices of disinterested charity and of prayer are central. Likewise, works of corporal or spiritual mercy are particularly potent expressions of charity. Suffering (physical, emotional, spiritual) and the patient endurance of trials have particular value in purification and conversion when we use them to identify ourselves with Christ in his passion. Also, please note that none of these are specifically Catholic (theologically, they are available to all of Christianity by virtue of their baptism into the life of Christ). For the Catholic, we can further add faithful participation in the life of Church and her sacraments.

An indulgence is merely one form of purification among many, whereby the Church, through the power of Christ entrusted to the apostles and their successors, loosens the attachment to sin as part of the conversion process. As Catholics, we can claim the loosening power of the indulgence for ourselves by a free act of the will and communion, but we cannot offer it for another living person because their free will remains sacrosanct. We can offer it for the deceased who face God’s justice (and mercy) for the free exercise of their will while they lived so that they can come into full communion with him.

In dispensing an indulgence, the Church establishes specific “acts” or “works” that the person must complete to receive the indulgence. This is arguably the primary reason indulgences are misunderstood and even maligned, because it implies a vending machine model of God’s grace and forgiveness, as something merited by human effort rather received as the free and undeserved gift that it is. BUT, in The Manual of Indulgences, the Church expresses the primary purposes for making indulgences available:
“Not only are [the] faithful helped to make satisfaction for the punishment due their sins, but also, and above all, [they] are encouraged to a greater zeal for the exercise of charity. This is the principle upon which the compilation of this work is based.”

This exercise of charity (or love)—for God and for neighbor—is the core of holiness and sanctity for the human being, and growth in these leads to greater communion with God, who is love. And the indulgence is intended “above all” to increase the zeal to love in practice and not just theory or desire. Moreover, the way in which the indulgences are structured highlights the centrality of everyday life as the place and means of love, and not just extraordinary acts like pilgrimage in a Holy Year.

In addition to the act itself for which the indulgence applies, three additional criteria also apply:

1) Making a good Confession within about 2 weeks of the indulgenced act. This is to ensure that one is in a state of grace and that one’s act flows from an active desire for conversion.

2) Receiving Holy Eucharist, preferably at Mass, as this is the fullest expression of communion with God in the life of the Church.

3) Prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father, which is both an act of communion to the successor of Peter, who stands as the visible “Vicar of Christ” and an act of charity in uniting our prayers with him who prays for needs of the whole world.

The act itself must be performed in good will with the intention of receiving the indulgence for one’s self or for the deceased. If it is attached to the visitation of a shrine or church, the prayer should include an Our Father and recitation of the Creed. An indulgence is plenary if it remits the temporal punishment for ALL sin committed up to that point, and partial if it remits only temporal punishment for SOME of the sin committed up to that point.

Possibly the most misunderstood (and often unknown) limit that the Church places on receiving a plenary indulgence is the degree to which the person is still attached to sin. Specifically, if one is lacking a full disposition (which includes retaining an attachment to sin), then the plenary indulgence is only partial. In my personal opinion, it is this requirement that keeps the whole arrangement solidly grounded in the fundamental goal of growth in holiness and love, and defends against indulgences becoming shallow and empty external acts.

Thus, properly understood, the fundamental goal of the indulgence is always to foster zeal for greater conversion and for love as Christ commands it — with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
Daily Indulgences Well-Suited to the Camino

The most immediate and visible indulgences are those associated with the Year of Mercy and passing through the “Holy Doors” of the cathedrals and other shrines or notable churches while on pilgrimage. These would include any diocesan cathedral, such as Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Oviedo, Santiago, etc. A complete list of diocese in Spain is here. The Jubilee of Mercy also appears to include Roncesvalles, as well as Santo Turibio, and likely many other notable shrines or basilicas along the pilgrim routes owing to their deep history and prominence. Depending on their local practices, however, the “holy doors” may be open only at certain times even when the cathedral/basilica/shrine is open (and these certainly have limited hours).

As we walk, we don’t get to these locations every day, and they may not be open when we pass by en route. Thus, the following list is compiled from the Manual of Indulgences as things that we can do DAILY for a plenary indulgence. (Note: the usual conditions apply of sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope.)

Thirty minutes of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The manual doesn’t indicate whether this needs to be solemnly exposed or if preserved in the tabernacle is sufficient, although I understand it to be intended to either (“Behind glass or brass, Christ is the same,” is the crude but effective premise). The decree for the 2004 Year of the Eucharist indulgence explicitly permitted either. As such, ANY Catholic church that we stop in offers the opportunity for this plenary indulgence. A partial indulgence applies for less than 30 minutes.

The Stations of the Cross. In every Catholic church you’ll typically find plaques or similar for the devotion of the Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross. A simple booklet is available at most parishes or Catholic bookstore and could be carried along (they are also available on smart phone apps). This typically takes about 30 minutes. There is both a traditional set, on which most plaques are based, but there is also a recent scriptural version created by John Paul II, which might be nice given his role in rejuvenating the Camino de Santiago.

Recitation of the Rosary. This applies to the five “decades” of the rosary associated with one of the four sets of mysteries (the Joyful, Illuminative, Sorrowful, or Glorious). The recitation should include meditation on the mystery associated with each decade of the rosary. Although the grant calls for it to be recited in a church or oratory, it also allows for a family, a religious community, an association of the faithful, or a gathering of several the faithful. While it’s not explicitly called out, I suspect praying the rosary while walking each day is an ideal expression of the intent of the grant (my son and I did this daily each morning as we walked, and it set a good tone for the rest of the day). The indulgence is partial if we don’t complete the rosary.

Recitation of the Akathistos hymn or the Office of the Paraclisis. For those with a more orthodox bent, this grant is identical to the recitation of the Rosary and probably could be easily adapted to walking once one memorizes the prayers, or if one has a good aid for it.

Thirty minutes of prayer and reflection on the scriptures. A number of different ways this might occur is by working our way through one of the Gospels, a bit each day (a practice called lectio continua). Some might use their imagination to place themselves into a Gospel scene as described by St. Ignatius of Lyola. The ancient practice of lectio divina (translated as “spiritual reading”) is implied in the grant itself for those “who read the Sacred Scriptures as spiritual reading.” One way that I found nice was to reflect on the readings of the day, especially given that I don’t speak Spanish, and never understood either the readings or homilies at Mass. Thus, 30 minutes before or after Mass was ideal. It is a partial indulgence if less time than 30 minutes.
 
Last edited:

Bala

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015, 2018, 2022
Thanks, Koilife, for taking the time to post this very informative information. It will deeply enrich my Camino and, hopefully, enrich others' as well. And add to everyone 's general knowledge, regardless of belief. :)
 
Camino Cups
Browse our selection of Camino Cups on the forum store
Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.
Status
Not open for further replies.

Did not find what you were looking for? Search here

Popular Resources

“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf ivar
  • Featured
“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf
4.95 star(s) 102 ratings
Downloads
15,318
Updated
A selection of favorite albergues on the Camino Francés Ton van Tilburg
Favorite Albergues along the Camino Frances
4.83 star(s) 35 ratings
Downloads
7,988
Updated
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances
4.88 star(s) 24 ratings
Downloads
7,758
Updated

Similar threads

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

Top