In conformity with the changed conditions of present times, greater value is placed on the action (opus operantis) of the faithful. For this reason, instead of being a lengthy series of indulgenced works of piety (opus operatum), more or less extraneous to the daily life of the faithful, the number of indulgences now granted is relatively small. By these it is hoped that the faithful will be more effectively moved to live holier and more useful lives, thus healing "the split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives ... by gathering their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises into one vital synthesis with religious values under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's glory. #4 Enchiridion of Indulgences (1968)
I do believe there is a deep wisdom in the Church's restructuring of the Enchiridion of Indulgences.
Essentially, Holy Mother the Church is letting us know through the above powerful affirmation that our lives - all aspects of them from the mundane and monotonous to the exciting elements - are indeed special in Her eyes and the eyes of our Lord.
She is calling us to take the beautiful things that we have learned in the various prayers, litanies, and devotions and apply their lessons to our lives.
She is calling us to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ in His Church through Her Sacraments.
There are Three General Grants of Indulgences. These indulgences essentially cover our daily lives.
Presented in the first place are three grants of indulgences, intended to serve as a reminder to the faithful to infuse with the christian spirit the actions that go to make up their daily lives and to strive in the ordering of their lives toward the perfection of charity. #1 Three General Grants of Indulgences (p. 31 in the Enchiridion)
The First General Grant:
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who, in the performance of their duties and in bearing the trials of life, raise their mind with humble confidence to God, adding - even if only mentally - some pious invocation. p. 33 Enchiridion of Indulgences
A simple, "Lord have mercy" when things are going awry, or even simpler with the turn of the heart to the Lord, "help!" A, "thank you Jesus" when things are going well or some form of expression of gratitude for the gifts and/or suffering that day.
The Second General Grant:
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who in a spirit of faith and mercy give of themselves or of their goods to serve their brothers in need. p.35 Enchiridion of Indulgences
We are all called to serve our brothers and sisters, the naked, hungry, in prison, essentially the corporal works of mercy.
II Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, n. 31c: Since the works of charity and mercy express the most striking testimony of the Christian life, apostolic formation should lead also to the performance of these works so that the faithful may learn from childhood on to have compassion for their bretheren and to be generous in helping those in need. p.37 Enchiridion of Indulgences
The Third General Grant:
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful , who in a spirit of penance voluntarily deprive themselves of what is licit and pleasing to them. p.35 Enchiridion of Indulgences
This is an awesome way for us to participate in the Passion of our Lord by letting some indulgence go in some small way. A neat thing about our Lord is that no way is too little! Witness the praise our Lord gave to the widow who placed a couple of copper coins in the offering basket in Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2.
Apost. Const. Repent, III c: The Church urges all the faithful to live up to the divine commandment of penance by afflicting their bodies by some acts of chastisement, over and above the discomforts and annoyances of everyday life. ... The Church wants to point out that there are three principal ways of satisfying the commandment to do penance, handed down from ancient times - prayer, fasting and works of charity - even though abstinence from meat and fasting have received special stress. These penitential methods could be found in all ages, but in our day there are special reasons why one method is encouraged more than the others because of local circumstances. Thus, in nations enjoying greater economic prosperity, encouragement should be given to offering some evidence of self-denial so that Christians will not conform to the world, and at the same time to offering some evidence of charity toward brothers, including those living far away, who are suffering from hunger and poverty. p. 40 Enchiridion of Indulgences
Some Plenary Indulgences:
With these conditions met, Holy Mother Church gives us tasks that are designed to deepen our relationship with Jesus.
To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent. #26 Enchiridion of Indulgences
Deserving of special mention are the following works, for any one of which the faithful can gain a plenary indulgence each day of the year - saving, however, the provision of Norm 24:1, according to which no one can gain more than one plenary indulgence in the course of a single day:
- adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one half an hour (n. 3);
- devout reading of the Sacred Scriptures for at least one half an hour (n. 50);
- the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross (n. 63);
- the recitation of the Marian Rosary in a church or public oratory or in a family group, a religious Community or pious Association (n. 48) p. 45 Enchiridion of Indulgences
The numbers behind each task refer to their place in a list of indulgenced works in the Enchiridion of Indulgences.
What a blessing for those families who strive to pray the Rosary together as often as possible!
Holy Mother Church has placed special emphasis on these four tasks as they draw us into a deeper relationship with Jesus. By deepening our relationship with Him, we can then bring Him out into the world and share Him with everyone that we meet, thus the rewards given in the General Indulgences!
Please remember to offer prayer and works for the Holy Souls in Purgatory! There are so many Poor Souls who do not have anyone that prays for them!
You can find an article and a .PDF download on the Catholic Christian Doctrines including the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy on our web site.
Bishop Dario Rezza, a Vatican canonist speaks about indulgences in an article on Zenit's Web site.