In last week’s column, I discussed indulgences. I have had a few questions about indulgences so I thought it would be good to talk about them.
“An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven. A properly disposed member of the Christian faithful can obtain an indulgence under prescribed conditions through the help of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of satisfactions of Christ and the Saints. An indulgence is partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.” (CCC 1471) (see also Enchiridion Indulgentiarum: Normae et Concessiones, Apostolic Penitentiary 1999, N1 – N3)
Think of it like this. You are playing catch with a friend and the ball goes through the neighbor’s front window, breaking it. You go to the neighbor and apologize promising that it will never happen again. (This is like going to confession). The neighbor forgives you and tells you he isn’t mad, and is happy you came to him to apologize. (This is like the absolution received in confession). However, Even though the neighbor forgave you, the window is still broken and someone has to pay to fix it. (This is the temporal punishment). An indulgence is like have insurance to help you pay for the window. By completing the indulgence some or all of the punishment is taken away (like some of the cost of a new window is taken away by insurance).
I hope that you have found this explanation helpful. Let us remember to pray for each other and, particularly during the month of November, let us pray for our deceased relatives and friends.
If you have additional questions, please ask me. As always, any questions that you may have about our faith, history or Holy Mother Church that you would like to see in my column, please e-mail me at Fr.John@TheRomanCollar.com
Your servant in Christ,