What is an Indulgence?
General Remarks On Indulgences
1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): "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".
2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works.
3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope's intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father's intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.
6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.
Source: APOSTOLIC PENITENTIARY, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/tribunals/apost_penit/documents/rc_trib_appen_pro_20000129_indulgence_en.html
What acts grant indulgences exactly?
There are a lot of different options. If you visit, http://www.catholic.org/prayers/indulgw.php you can see a whole list of partial and plenary indulgences.
To list a few:
•Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament can be a plenary indulgence if you meet the above requirements and it is a partial indulgence if you don't (just one of the many reason to come to Wednesday night adoration from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
•Simply reciting the "Memorare"(partial indulgence)
•Reciting a Rosary in a group
Also, the Holy Father Pope Francis grants a Plenary Indulgence to anyone who makes a pilgrimage to St. Stephen's Chapel and takes part in a sacred function on the specific dates during the 25th Jubilee Celebration of the Chapel.
Click the Link below to learn more about our Jubilee Year.