Our Lady of the Rosary
ON THIS PAGE:
Indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory
Is it Possible for
Christians to Sin?
What are the Various Changeable
Parts of the Mass?
Why is Catholic Worship so
Have Indulgences Changed?
[ Q&A ARCHIVES ]
Indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory?
INDULGENCES: At any
time we may gain a partial indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory, by reciting
the verse, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light
shine upon them. May they rest in peace" (Enchiridion, #46). Those
devoutly visiting a church or an oratory on All Soul's Day may gain a plenary
indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory. The visit may be made any time after
noon on All Saints day and must include the recitation of the Our Father and
the Creed (Enchiridion, #67). Those visiting a cemetery and praying for
the faithful departed from November 1st to November 8th (inclusive) earn a
plenary indulgence applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory. At other times
the indulgence is partial (Enchiridion, #67).
There are numerous other indulgenced prayers and works,
all of which may be applied to the Souls in Purgatory. For example: A visit to
the Blessed Sacrament: a partial indulgence; plenary if the visit lasts a half
hour or more. (Enchiridion, #3) The recitation of the Angelus (or
Regina Cæli during Eastertide): partial. (Enchiridion, #9)
Praying five decades of the Rosary: a partial indulgence; plenary if recited
in a church or oratory, or with a family group, religious community, or pious
association. (Enchiridion #48) Making the Sign of the Cross: partial. (Enchiridion,
Under current law, no more than one plenary indulgence
may be gained in a day. Normally, partial indulgences may be gained more than
once a day. The "usual conditions" for gaining a plenary indulgence
include Sacramental Confession and Communion, and prayer for the Pope (at
least and Our Father and a Hail Mary) within eight days before or after
performing the indulgenced work. One must be in the state of grace to gain an
indulgence for one's self, but there is probable opinion among theologians
that one not in the state of grace may gain an indulgence for the souls in
purgatory. (H. Davis, SJ, Pastoral and Moral Theology (London: 1935)
Vol III, page 428; Bouscaren and Ellis, Canon Law
(Milwaukee: 1931), page 389.)
Is it Possible for Christians to Sin?
Question: A friend
says that once a Christian has been saved, it doesn’t matter what he does in
life, for he is incapable of sin. He cites Romans vi and 1 John iii.
Answer: This is a
case of “snippet theology” wherein the reader takes a small section out of
the large volume of Scripture, and latches on to it because it “proves”
what he wants to believe.
To begin with, one is not saved by making a one time
statement of belief, or even through the Sacrament of Baptism. These are
important beginnings, but under normal circumstances being saved requires the
remaining lifetime be spent seeking God’s graces and trying to keep His
Commandments. That is why our Lord instituted the Sacraments, why He
admonished sinners to “sin no more,” and demanded that we treat the less
fortunate with all the care that we would treat Him.
In the Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul speaks of “justice”
and “justification.” This is not the same as salvation. “Justification”
prepares one to live the spiritual life-a necessary first step, but no
guarantee of perseverance until the end. Saint Paul also refers to the
avoidance of sin as necessary to salvation. Note that, in all cases, he is
writing to people who have already accepted the Faith of Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians ix: 24-27.
Know you not that they that run in the
race, all run indeed, but one receives the prize. So run that you may
obtain. And every one that strives for the mastery refrains himself from
all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but
we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I
so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it
into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself
should become a castaway.
2 Corinthians: 6:1-7.
And we exhort you that you receive not the
grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee
and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the
acceptable time: behold, now is the day of salvation. Giving no offence to
any man, that our ministry be not blamed. But in all things let us exhibit
ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in
necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in
labors, in watchings, in fastings, In chastity, in knowledge, in
longsuffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned, In
the word of truth, in the power of God: by the armor of justice on the
right hand and on the left:
Ephesians v: 1-5
Be ye therefore followers of God, as most
dear children: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath
delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor
of sweetness. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it
not so much as be named among you, as becomes saints: Or obscenity or
foolish talking or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving
of thanks. For know you this and understand: That
no fornicator or unclean or covetous person (which is a serving of idols)
hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Galatians v: 16-21
I say then: Walk in the spirit: and you
shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the
spirit: and the spirit against the flesh: For these are contrary one to
another: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led
by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are
manifest: which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry,
witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels,
dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such
like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that
they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.
In the verse cited by the questioner, Saint John says:
1 John iii: 3-9
Everyone who has hope in [God] makes
himself holy, just as He also is holy. Whosoever commits sin commits also
iniquity. And sin is iniquity. And you know that he appeared to take away
our sins: and in him there is no sin. Whoever abides in him sins not: and
whoever sins hath not seen him nor known him. Little children, let no man
deceive you. He that does justice is just, even as he is just. He that
commits sin is of the devil: for the devil sins from the beginning. For
this purpose the Son of God appeared, that he might destroy the works of
the devil. Whosoever is born of God commits not sin: for his seed abides
in him. And he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Clearly, there are baptized Christians who do
sin. Saint John is merely saying that, in sinning, the believer alienates
himself from the spiritual life of a child of God, and makes himself an ally
of the devil. If he sins persistently, he will make this loss of God
permanent. It is absurd to think that God will overlook a lifetime of
deliberate sin by a “believer.” But God has mercy on our weakness if we
are contrite and hope to do better in the future. The very same Saint John
records the words of our Lord to His Apostles:
John xx: 21-23
He said therefore to them again: Peace be
to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said
this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Whose sins you shall forgive, they
are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
The Church encourages us to read the Sacred Scriptures
(at least since the time of Pope Leo XIII (1898) an indulgence has been
granted for doing so), but the Bible is the Church’s book and we must bow to
Her interpretation of It. Our reading must be comprehensive, and we must never
feel that a matter is settled by a “snippet” we find appealing to our
Prayers of the Mass Propers?
Question: In my (Maryknoll)
missal, for most days of the year there is a listing of prayers for that day.
The Epistle and Gospel are obvious, but what are the other prayers? Why does
their number vary? Why are some given in both Latin and English, while others
are in English alone?
Answer: The parts
proper to Mass on any given day can be divided into three groups: the chants
proper to the congregation or choir, the prayers or orations which the priest
directs to God, and the readings from Scripture. This division is more obvious
at a High Mass than at a simple Low Mass wherein the priest reads all of these
The chants are musical interludes, often verses from the
Psalms, which are sung by the people while the clergy are moving from place to
place. The first of these, the Introit, is intended to be sung as the priest
and clergy enter the church in procession. The second, called the Gradual is
sung as the deacon goes in procession to the place where he will sing the
Gospel-in penitential seasons, the Gradual is replaced with a Tract-during
Eastertide it is replaced with a verse containing a number of “allelujas.”
The third chant is rendered while the priest offers the bread and wine. The
last chant is an interlude as the people receive Holy Communion and as the
priest rinses the vessels afterward. In actual practice, the choir director
may choose to augment the chants with additional Psalm verses or with hymns.
In the Maryknoll missal, the chants are given in both
English and Latin to facilitate the congregation singing them at High Mass, or
saying them with the priest at a recited Mass. The other prayers and readings
pertain to the priest and clergy, and it was more economical to print them
only in English. The Saint Andrew and the Father Lasance Missals give all of
the parts in both languages.
The orations are prayers said by the priest alone. They
are all prayers directed toward God, perhaps through the intercession of the
saint of the day if there is one. The first oration is the Collect, which
often sets the tone of the Mass; a petition for this or that.. The second is
called the Secreta, or “prayer over the gifts” after the Offertory, asking
God to accept them as worthy offerings. The third oration is the Postcommunion,
asking God to make our reception of Holy Communion fruitful.
Every Mass has a Gospel chanted by the deacon or priest,
or simply read at Low Mass. At least one reading, usually from the epistles,
is chanted by the subdeacon or priest, or simply read by the priest at Low
Mass. A few Masses, notably the Ember Day Masses, have additional readings
that are taken from the Old Testament-these are chanted by lectors in minor
orders, or by the subdeacon, ore merely read aloud by the priest.
So why might a missal not have all of these prayers for
each and every Mass? Actually, they are all there-you just have to know where
to find them. The missal will often refer you to a section called the Common
of Saints (or simply the Common), where you will find the missing parts. If
you look, you will see a notation like “everything is taken from the Common
of Virgin Martyrs (page 1234), except for the prayers printed below.”
Sometimes the directions a little more complicated, so it is wise to arrive
early and mark the necessary pages with ribbons. A missal that printed
everything for every Mass would be far more expensive, and would be too bulky
to be handled conveniently.
Why is Catholic Worship Elaborate?
Question: Why is
Catholic worship so much more elaborate than that of other religions? Couldn’t
we do without things like vestments, statues, Latin, chant, incense, bells,
candles, and so forth?
Answer: The customs
of the Catholic Church have been developing for two thousand years-and longer
if you count the numerous customs we inherited from the Temple and the
synagogue. The vestments, for example, are more or less what Mediterranean
people wore at the time of Christ. Candles hearken back to the time when Mass
had to be offered in the underground cemeteries known as catacombs. Latin was
the language spoken throughout the Empire-as a first language for many, and a
universal language of trade and scholarship for the remainder. It remained
universal until a few centuries ago, and still has the benefit of being a
relatively unchanging vehicle for expressing the unchanging truths of the
Faith. Chant and incense go back as far as the meeting tent in the trek across
People are reluctant to part with customs they associate
with the sacred. There is a similar degree of elaboration in most religions
with a long history-visit an Orthodox Jewish synagogue and you will experience
very similar cultural artifacts-visit a Greek or Russian Orthodox church and
the similarity will be greater and more intense-even most Protestant churches
have retained some of the culture of Christian antiquity. Even secular cities
and nations tend to pride themselves on keeping the artifacts of their history
on display in their public offices and buildings.
Could these things be done away with? Of course they
could, but would people come away more holy or more edified? Probably not. We
have a number of stories about Mass offered in concentration camps, from
memory, with little more than a crust of bread and few drops of raisin
wine-the stories are often inspiring, but few people would chose to worship
that way each day. One of the great culture shocks of the post-conciliar
Church was the “wreckovation” of Catholic Churches to accommodate the Novus
Ordo. Churches that had been warm and lovely were reduced to an
unspeakable barrenness as tabernacles, altars, statues, paintings, draperies,
and other decorations were removed. Vocal and even sometimes violent protest
accompanied some of these church wreckings-particularly if the parishioners
got wind of what was to happen before it did.
One can eat steak from a paper plate with plastic
utensils in a room lit with naked light bulbs, and wash it down with a drink
out of a can. But most of us would prefer to have that steak on a china plate,
with silver and glass ware, napkins, tablecloth, soft lighting, and a little
music in the background. The steak is the same, but the experience is quite
Most people are accustomed to traditional church-like
surroundings when they gather for worship. Congregations that start off in a
rented hall “chomp at the bit” until they can acquire a space to move into
permanently and “make it look like a church.”
There are obviously matters of taste in the furnishing
of any church. Some folks like the elaborate baroque churches of northern
Europe-the ones where even the door knobs are decorated with sumptuous art
work-others like the functional simplicity found in a little country church or
a Trappist monastery. Probably the central question for finding the
appropriate mean is whether the furnishings are there for the glory of God, or
because someone likes to be seen in elaborate clothing and surroundings. If
the answer isn’t “for the glory of God,” then it all needs to be
Have Indulgences Changed?
my missal I often find that the indulgences for various prayers are often
stated differently from what you print in the Bulletin. How could such things
change? Can I still gain the indulgences in my book?
Answer: Until 1967
partial indulgences were described in days, quarantines (forty days), or
years. This meant that the indulgence reduced the temporal punishment in
Purgatory by as much as doing rigorous penance for the time period specified.
It was not a statement that one would get out of Purgatory so
many days or years sooner. Until 1967 it was possible to gain more than one
plenary indulgence each day
However, on 1 January 1967, Pope Paul VI issued an
Apostolic Constitution, Indulgentiarum
revising the regulations by which indulgences are granted. Only one
plenary indulgence can be gained in a given day. Indulgences other than
plenary are said to be partial, with no mention of a time period. The partial
indulgence is essentially a matching arrangement in which the Church matches
the reduction of temporal punishment that an individual himself gains through
his own action.
list of indulgenced works, prayers, and articles was issued in 1968-it is
this list which we consult in mentioning indulgences. One can only gain the
indulgences granted by the Church under the conditions specified by the
Church. One might liken the situation to the Sears Roebuck catalog. A 1945
edition of the catalog might be worth something as a collector’s item, but
you can hardly expect to order the things in the catalog at the prices then
quoted.. They no longer sell boats, guns and ammunition, and even if they did,
the prices would be different!