Sir, – Further to recent comment, I thought your readers may be interested to hear more about plenary indulgences. Catholic teaching tells us about the “four last things”, which are death, judgement, heaven and hell. Death is the separation of the human body from its immortal soul. Following death and judgement, the soul goes to heaven or hell. Those souls that are not yet pure enough to enter heaven (probably most of us) must first undergo a purification process in purgatory. All souls in purgatory go to heaven. The souls in purgatory can do nothing to shorten their time there. But their time can be shortened by the prayers of the living or by Masses being offered for the response of their souls.
A plenary indulgence is a form of prayer that is offered either for the repose of the souls in purgatory or for the soul of the living and has the effect of releasing a soul from purgatory or wiping out all stain of sin for the living. There are many opportunities to obtain plenary indulgences in a given year such as on the anniversary of one’s baptism, on Good Friday, on All Saints’ Day and during the first week in November. If you pass a cemetery during the first week in November, you will often see people praying for their dead and hoping to gain an indulgence for their beloved deceased.
Catholic teaching is full of mysteries (The Holy Trinity, The Immaculate Conception and Transubstantiation to name but three). These are best not analysed but accepted for what they are, ie mysteries. – Yours, etc,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.