Look what just arrived on my desk from the Book Depositry (A$22.95 – sorry Mary, the competition was too tempting!): The Manual of Indulgences is the only place you can get the 4th (1999) edition of the 1968 manual in English. The 1968 1st edition is widely available on the Web, but the latest edition is only available in Latin on the Vatican website. Most writers and websites on indulgences cite only the first edition. This translation was done by the USCCB and was commissioned and fully approved by the Apostolic Penitentiary. Every Catholic should own one!
It is a handsome volume, made all the more useful by the inclusion of the various prayers to which plenary or partial indulgences are attached – making it an excellent prayer book for Catholics.
The especial difference of the 4th edition to previous editions is the following change in emphasis:
The Apostolic Penitentiary…, rather than stress the repetition of formulas and acts, has been concerned to put greater emphasis on the Christian way of life and to focus attention on cultivating a spirit of prayer and penance and on the excercise of the theological virtues. (Introduction, 4)
Now, I just know this will draw some comment from our regulars, who will see this Manual as a medieval throwback, but consider this: Is our sanctification dependant upon our relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit – or not? Of course it is. Secondly, is our this relationship strengthened by “cultivating a spirit of prayer and penanc and the exercise of the theologial virtues (faith, hope and love) – or not? Of course it is. So, whether you are ready to swallow the full doctrine of penance and purgatory as the Catholic Church teaches it – or not – you cannot say that to encourage the faithful to make these practices a regular part of their daily life is not a good thing in relation to our sanctification. That, in a nutshell, is what this is all about.