in articulo mortis

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 08, 2006

Flipping through the latest edition (4th, 1999) of the Handbook of Indulgences, I came across the Twelfth Grant, concerning the indulgence to be gained at the point of death:

A priest who administers the sacraments in circumstances where death is imminent should not fail to impart the Apostolic Blessing with the attached plenary indulgence. But if a priest is not to be found, Holy Mother Church lovingly grants, to such faithful as are properly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death ... In such a case, the Church supplies for the three conditions ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence. In these circumstances, the use of a crucifix or a cross in obtaining the plenary indulgence is commendable.

"But if a priest is not to be found ..." Given the likelihood that an increasing percentage of us will die in health care facilities in which the "pastoral staff," if there is one at all, will be composed of Lay Ecclesial Ministers of sundry denominational affiliations, this is not an unimportant concession. The section concludes:

The catechesis of the faithful must ensure that they are duly made aware and frequently reminded of this salutary benefaction of the Church.

Duly made aware. Frequently reminded. Just curious: how many of you have ever heard this instruction from the pulpit?

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 13, 2006 5:16 AM ET USA

    It seems to me that there is a quiet but real resistance on the part of priests and layity toward indulgences since Vatican II. I think that the word has been given a bad rap in the modern english just like "Gay" and "Religious". I never even understood what an indulgence was until I read a "chort catachesis" that I found in a 1941 Douay-Confronternity version of the Bible that I have. I can say this after having read the CCC from cover to cover previously.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2006 8:27 AM ET USA

    Having been told by the Vatican's that the 4th edition (1999) is not available in English, and that we must contact ICEL if we wish to know why, must we assume that this transcript has been an unofficial translation from the original Latin? Or are they mistaken?

  • Posted by: Sterling - Jan. 09, 2006 11:25 PM ET USA

    This is so important. I've heard more and more people, including deacons, say that the priest refuses to come when people are dying. He's alone, don't you know, by himself in the rectory, so how can he come to the bedside of the dying?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2006 4:42 PM ET USA

    Haven't heard this indulgence preached since a 1955 Mission, conducted by the Passionist Fathers in Los Angeles. Saw it once, when my cousin, a dying priest, was being given the last rites by one of his classmates. I thought this priest must be using an old ritual when I heard him speak the words. Amazing!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2006 1:27 PM ET USA

    This book (Handbook of Indulgences) can be purchased at, click on religious catalogue. "Just curious: how many of you have ever heard this instruction from the pulpit?" I called my parish regarding the plenary indulgence offered by the pope for the feast of the IC - will we have a public veneration and such? I was answered with a "are we having a what? (awkward silence) a what indulgence? What's that?" God help us.

  • Posted by: MM - Jan. 09, 2006 11:34 AM ET USA

    I've never read the handbook, but I've been getting Steve Kellmeyer's "Calendar of Indulgences" for a few years: ...the Good Lord really does gives us every chance to save our souls!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2006 6:15 AM ET USA

    I need to learn more on this, where can I get this book? There seems to be nothing about this on the internet.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2006 5:44 AM ET USA

    Does anyone know why this handbook is so hard to come by? Why isn't it published through the USCCB, like the Compendium?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 08, 2006 5:40 PM ET USA

    I'm furious. My edition is the Third 1991 edition (I didn't know there was a 1999 edition) Indulgence 12 is Benedictio Papalis. I taught myself my indulgences. I come to OTR for my advanced catechesis lessons. I am now duly aware.