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Daneille Hernandez wrote:

Hi, guys —

I've been trying to find out how to pray the Stations of the Cross and have come across different variations. Nevertheless, all of them have this sentence in common:

"Let each one make an act of contrition and form the intention of gaining the indulgences, whether for himself or for the Souls in Purgatory."

I have no idea what this means, and all the research I've done hasn't given me a straight answer.

  • Can someone at least explain what this one sentence means?


  { Can you explain what this reoccurring statement in the Stations of the Cross means? }

Eric replied:

Dear Daneille,

An act of contrition is a prayer expressing sorrow for sin and a resolution to not sin in the future. There is a standard Act of Contrition, I'm sure you can google it. The most basic act of contrition is:

"Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."

So to "make an act of contrition" is to pray in this way.

"Form the intention of gaining the indulgences, whether for himself or for the souls in purgatory,"

refers to a means by which we may obtain relief from the temporal effects of sin in Purgatory.

You see, when we commit a sin, there are two elements to it, the eternal and temporal. This is illustrated by 2 Samuel 12:12-14, where God forgives the David (preventing him from dying) but identifies a temporal effect of David's sin — the death of his son.

When we die, any such effects to sins we have committed, and all attachment to sin, are cleansed from us in a process known as Purgatory. We also are cleansed in this life through the ordinary trials of life. It is the Catholic tradition to pray for deceased individuals so that they may be cleansed of their sins. In prior ages, this process was often depicted in terms of punishment and suffering, and indulgences were offered, as they are offered to this day, as relief from that suffering.

However you choose to look at it, we want to assist the cleansing, and indulgences are a means the Church institutes by which we may cleanse ourselves or the departed from the temporal effects of sin. A Plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who make the pious exercises of the Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross. (An indulgence is partial or plenary according, as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.)

What this phrase basically means is that you should consciously intend to obtain the indulgence for participating in the Stations of the Cross (since an intention to obtain the indulgence, is a prerequisite for obtaining the indulgence) and specify whether it's for yourself or for some specific deceased person.

For example, you might pray,

  • "Lord, I offer this indulgence for the soul of my grandmother", or
  • "Lord, accept this indulgence for the multitude of my sins."

Does that help?


Daneille replied:

Yes, that helps a lot!

Thank you very much.


Mike replied:

Dear Daneille,

If you have an interest in gaining an indulgence for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, you may also be interested in my other apostolate:

Helpers of the Holy Souls

We are in the process of trying to get Purgatory Prayer Programs started in all fifty states in the U.S.A. We have a Purgatory Prayer Program starter kit you can use and the best part is it's FREE!

Just go to this page and click on the link that says:

Send me my FREE Purgatory Prayer Program today!

To date, we have received confirmation from people in 25 of 50 states who have received and started to use our program. We usually recommend someone start the Prayer Program as a private devotion, then once they get familiar with it, bring it to their pastors and see if it could be incorporated into the parish on a regular basis.


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