Holy Week is a special time full of graces and mercy. In the commemoration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have the opportunity to be transformed by his grace.
The Church celebrates this special time by providing opportunities for those who would like to receive a plenary indulgence, which is possible each day of Holy Week and the Easter Octave, the eight days following Easter Sunday. They can be received for ourselves and loved ones in purgatory.
Watch Fr. Mike Schmitz explain indulgences and how they help.
The plenary indulgences that we can receive on every day of Holy Week actually are of two kinds. Certain ones are specific to Holy Week itself. Certain ones we can actually gain anytime.
The requirements for gaining any plenary indulgence are:
Be in a state of grace (no mortal sin)
Be detached from sin, even venial sin
Make a good confession within twenty days before or after
Receive Holy Communion within twenty days before or after
Pray for the pope’s intentions.
“A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who piously recite the verses of the Tantum ergo after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday during the solemn reposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
Good Friday brings two opportunities
A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who devoutly adore the Cross on Good Friday and kiss/reverence it; or personally pray the Stations of the Cross, or devoutly unite themselves to the Stations of the Cross while it is being led by the Pope and broadcast live on television or radio.
Most every parish conducts Stations of the Cross for parishioners on Good Friday.
The Easter Vigil brings another opportunity. “A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, at the celebration of the Easter Vigil (or on the anniversary of their own Baptism), renew their baptismal vows.”
The Easter Vigil Mass includes renewal of baptismal vows.
Divine Mercy Sunday
Divine Mercy Sunday has a plenary indulgence of its own.
Through private revelation to St. Faustina, Jesus revealed, "I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (1109, 699)."
According to Robert Stackpole, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, “The most special grace promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday is nothing less than the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul: “complete forgiveness (remission) of sins and punishment.”
First there are the usual or standard three conditions of sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope.
On Divine Mercy Sunday in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”).
From Holy Week through Divine Mercy Sunday, there's a richness of grace that can only come from the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These opportunities for prayer are one way we can be transformed by the grace of Christ to become the disciples he calls us to be.