A Sackcloth and Ashes Rosary Challenge

by | Sep 8, 2018 | Catholic Living, Sackclothandashes | 6 comments

I thought this would be a good time to check in with everyone on our #sackclothandashes campaign. And add a little bonus challenge!

Don’t know what Sackcloth and Ashes is? See here, then here.

The response to this campaign has been really and truly humbling and heartwarming. I am so glad to be doing this with so many of you.

I got to chat with Timothy Putman last week on his Outside the Walls Podcast, about how all this came to be. You can hear it here:

#199: Kendra Tierney — #SackclothAndAshes, Our Role in Addressing the Abuse Crisis

And Catholic News Agency has a great piece about many reactions of lay Catholics, including #sackclothandashes.

What lay Catholics are doing in the face of the sex abuse scandal

First and foremost, if you haven’t joined us already, please do! Sackcloth and Ashes is forty days of penance by Catholics as an act of reparation to God, and as an offering to the individuals, families, and communities who have suffered as a result of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The suggestion is prayer and fasting, but exactly what prayer and fasting looks like for you will be determined by your particular circumstances. When in doubt, ask a trusted spiritual advisor. Many of us started on August 22, and will finish on September 30th. But you can start anytime. Begin today! Or give yourself some lead time and begin on September 15th, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.


The bonus challenge is: Say a Rosary.

Not THAT challenging, right? But there’s a twist. It’s not just any Rosary. It’s a supercharged SUPER ROSARY.

I think we all know that the Rosary is a recommended practice for Catholics. But did you know that, if you do it right, saying a Rosary can get you a plenary indulgence?!

Here is is, from the 1999 Manual of Indulgences:

§1 A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who
1° devoutly recite the Marian rosary in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious
community, or an association of the faithful, and in general when several of the
faithful gather for some honest purpose;
2° devoutly join in the recitation of the rosary while it is being recited by the Supreme
Pontiff and broadcast live by radio or television.
In other circumstances, the indulgence will be partial.
The rosary is a prayer formula consisting of fifteen decades of Hail Marys preceded by the Our Father, during the recitation of which we piously meditate on the corresponding mysteries of our redemption.
Regarding the plenary indulgence for the recitation of the Marian rosary, the following is
1. The recitation of a third part of the rosary is sufficient, but the five decades must be
recited without interruption.
2. Devout meditation on the mysteries is to be added to the vocal prayer.
3. In its public recitation the mysteries must be announced in accord with approved local
custom, but in its private recitation it is sufficient for the faithful simply to join
meditation on the mysteries to the vocal prayer.

For more on indulgences, see this post:


That’s right. A plenary indulgence. Full remission of the temporal consequences of sin, applicable to yourself or a suffering soul in purgatory just for saying a Rosary. Here’s exactly how you do it:
  1. Be a baptized Catholic, not excommunicated, and not in a state of mortal sin at the time of the actions taken for the indulgence.
  2. Be free from all attachment from sin, even venial sin. This doesn’t mean you don’t ever sin, or that you don’t have habitual sins that you confess again and again. It’s that you cannot love the sin.
  3. Have the intention of gaining the indulgence.
  4. Make a good confession, and receive absolution, within three weeks before or after the action for the indulgence. (One confession is applicable to multiple indulgences, but not more than one per day.)
  5. Attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, ideally on the day on which you are seeking the indulgence, but up to three days before or after is acceptable.
  6. Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. The usual prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father are one Our Father and one Hail Mary.
  7. Recite the five decades of the Rosary (this is actually 1/3 of a FULL Rosary, which is the recitation of the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries, but any ONE set of five mysteries is enough for the action of the indulgence).
  8. Say all five decades at once, without breaks in between.
  9. Meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary while saying the prayers.
  10. Say the prayers devoutly.
  11. Say the Rosary alone in a church or oratory, or together anywhere with friends or family.
We can do that! To give you a little time to prepare, let’s do this TOGETHER next Saturday, September 15th, on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
To participate, sort out any excommunications and get to confession anytime between now (or two weeks ago) and Sunday, October 7th. On the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15th, recite the uninterrupted five decades of the Rosary in a church or oratory, or anywhere with friends or family. And that’s it! Then just keep carrying on with your acts of reparation knowing you have consoled God, and his Sorrowful Mother, and the suffering souls in purgatory.
And, pro tip, you could theoretically gain this indulgence every single day for the rest of your life, if you made a habit of monthly confession, and daily Mass and communion, with prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father, and an uninterrupted five decades of the Rosary in a church or oratory, or anywhere with friends (who are honest) or family (these can de dastardly, it would appear).
It’s a habit worth starting.And if you’re reading this on September 8th, Happy Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Today would ALSO be an excellent day for a Rosary.

If you’ve been doing Sackcloth and Ashes, how has it been going? Any questions or concerns?  Who’s up for adding this little Rosary challenge to the mix? Let me know in the comments.
Related reading:






  1. Sarah

    I'm going to be "that guy" and offer a quick correction – it's a third of the full rosary if considered the Joyful, Sorrowful, and *Glorious*. But it's a 1/4 rosary if we also include the Luminous mysteries with the "original" three. I know you know this – just calling it out for a quick edit!

  2. Debbie Edwards

    I am attending the Cathedral today for the group Rosary in union with you all …Thank You !

  3. Desiree H

    Uninterrupted!? Yowzers. And I am suspecting my car audio rosary doesn't probably cut it, since it's better than nothing but probably still "interrupted" by, you know, that guy who cut me off…

    Well, now I know what to work on! 😉


    It says we should pray the “Marian” rosary and that we can pray 1/3. Does this mean that we cannot get a plenary Indulgence if we pray the Luminous Mysteries?

    • Kendra

      Interesting question! The Luminous mysteries are approved by the Vatican so I think it’s reasonable to assume that the indulgence applies to them as well.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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