Q. Do I gain an indulgence when I pray the rosary?
A. The Enchiridion (Handbook) of Indulgences states that “a plenary indulgence is granted when the rosary is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.”
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Seeking to obtain indulgences remains a noble and fruitful action in the spiritual life of the faithful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that an indulgence is “a 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 which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints” (CCC 1471).
Mortal sin deprives us of communion with God. When we freely and with full knowledge commit grave sin, we choose to separate ourselves from God. Principally, this has an effect on us and God, but it also has other effects.
Sin affects us, tending us toward vice as opposed to virtue. Vice inclines us to do what is evil as opposed to the good.
Our sins also have a negative effect on everyone in the world. Even venial sin habituates us to an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be corrected either on earth or in a state of purgation known as purgatory.
When penitents confess their sins with sincerity, contrition and a firm resolve to sin no more, their eternal punishment and guilt of the sin is removed. This is an encounter with the infinite mercy of God. Nevertheless, the temporal punishment due to sin remains. An indulgence removes that temporal punishment.
In regard to the gaining of a plenary indulgence through the recitation of the rosary, the Enchiridion gives the following norms: “The recitation of [one set of mysteries] is sufficient for obtaining the plenary indulgence, but these five decades must be recited without interruption. Devout meditation on the mysteries is to be added to the vocal prayer. In its public recitation the mysteries must be announced in accord with approved local custom, but in its private recitation it is sufficient for the Christian faithful simply to join meditation on the mysteries to the vocal prayer.”
The Church offers the possibility of gaining an indulgence through pious practices such as the recitation of the rosary to promote devotional practices. Devotional practices like the recitation of the rosary instill in our hearts greater charity and trust in the Lord. It provides us stability when we are faced with temptations, desolations and suffering.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.