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How many indulgences are there?

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Actions for which indulgences are granted

There are four general grants of indulgence, which are meant to encourage the faithful to infuse a Christian spirit into the actions of their daily lives and to strive for perfection of charity. These indulgences are partial, and their worth therefore depends on the fervor with which the person performs the recommended actions:

  1. Raising the mind to God with humble trust when performing one's duties and bearing life's difficulty, and adding, at least mentally, some pious invocation.
  2. Devoting oneself or one's goods compassionately in a spirit of faith to the service of one's brothers and sisters in need.
  3. Freely abstaining in a spirit of penance from something licit and pleasant.
  4. Freely giving open witness to one's faith before others in particular circumstances of everyday life.

Among the particular grants, which, on closer inspection, will be seen to be included in one or more of the four general grants, especially the first, the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum draws special attention to four activities for which a plenary indulgence can be gained on any day, though only once a day:

  1. Piously reading or listening to Sacred Scripture for at least half an hour.
  2. Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist for at least half an hour.
  3. The pious exercise of the Stations of the Cross.
  4. Recitation of the Rosary or the Akathist in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, an association of the faithful and, in general, when several people come together for an honourable purpose.

A plenary indulgence may also be gained on some occasions, which are not everyday occurrences. They include:

  1. Receiving, even by radio or television, the blessing given by the Pope Urbi et Orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world) or that which a bishop is authorized to give three times a year to the faithful of his diocese.
  2. Taking part devoutly in the celebration of a day devoted on a world level to a particular religious purpose.Under this heading come the annual celebrations such as the World Day of Prayer for Priestly and Religious Vocations, and occasional celebrations such as World Youth Day.
  3. Taking part for at least three full days in a spiritual retreat.
  4. Taking part in some functions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity including its conclusion.

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