I have a question- Enlighten Me

I was a Lutheran Christian , but this year , I began , and I am still in, RCIA. I have a question- What are Indulgences. Please understand from where I come so be kind

Thank You

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Indulgences are a way to remit time in purgatory by doing some penance or good works. They have nothing to do with salvation.

Sorry if I ask , but if yours sins are forgiven , then why is there purgatory ?

It’s so you can go to Heaven purified.

You are asking a very basic convert question. I certainly hope you can raise it in RCIA, but also make sure to check out plenty of materials on Youtube and online on the doctrine of Purgatory. Yes, as said above, indulgences are tied to the teaching on Purgatory, so learn about that first. Essentially, Catholics believe that to enter the presence of the all-good, all-holy God in heaven, we must be completely purified of sin. The vast majority of us die not there yet–can you agree to this? Thus, we are given a purification after our earthly life called purgatory that makes us ready to enter the presence of God. Read and pray about this issue, using the Catholic Catechism (which you must have). It is a very rich teaching in our tradition. We pray daily and at every Mass for the souls in Purgatory. And yes, it is biblical.
Here’s one good brief Youtube: Fr. Mike Schmitz


Thank You. I believe somewhere in the New Testament it says hay is put through a fire then gold, and the gold lasts ( paraphrasing forgive me ) , is this it ?

Perhaps you mean several biblical references to gold being refined in fire. If so, yes, that’s imagery that is sometimes seen in Catholic thought as the “fire” of Purgatory. In reality, we don’t know at all whether it is a “fire” or not, but we can imagine that this purification will involve some sort of suffering since it detaches us, finally and definitively, from all sin and makes us all-pure and all-beautiful so that we can appear with delight before God. On the one hand, it seems a scary idea. On the other hand, the closer one grows to God the more one longs for this purification. Saints are those who receive their purification here on earth and who thus bypass purgatory, but one notes that this purification on earth in their lives usually involves deep suffering of one type or another. eg. Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, John Paul II–check out the lives of these contemporary saints who gave all to God. You either get your purgation here on earth or God gives it to us after life!

I never thought of it like that. Does a man still go through Purgatory if he ask for forgiveness ?

It is hard to answer your questions because the matter is not simple. God can do what he wants. But in order for a person to go directly to heaven, he must be cleansed of all sin and the deep-seated inclination to sin which we all possess. Asking and receiving forgiveness is the first step, something we do in the sacrament of Confession. But then we have to amend our entire lives so that we love and serve God above all things. Acts of charity, in particular, as the Gospels tell us, cancel out sin. We cannot say for sure, except for known saints that the church canonizes, who goes to purgatory or, even, who goes to hell. God alone knows the heart. Our earthly job is to strive with all our heart to love God and serve Him constantly. We trust Him to do the rest, and if that means suffering on earth or in the after life, so be it.

This is probably the verse you were thinking of – and yes, it does refer to purgatory.

1 Corinthians 3: 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble— 13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Yes thank you. Is Purgatory for when a man sins but is not aware it was a sin ? Or how does mortal sin concern this

Please bring these questions to RCIA, learn the Catechism, and do some study. Again, there are plenty of good materials out there.

Ok thank you

The gift of the indulgence discloses the fullness of God’s mercy, which is expressed primarily in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. This ancient practice, about which there have been many historical misunderstandings, should be properly understood and accepted. Although reconciliation with God is the gift of God’s mercy, it implies a process involving man with his personal efforts, and the Church with her sacramental function. At the centre of the reconciliation process is the sacrament of Penance, but even after the human being has received forgiveness for his sin through this sacrament, he continues to be marked by those “remnants” which prevent him from being fully open to grace, and he needs purification and that renewal of the whole person through Christ’s grace. To obtain this, the gift of the indulgence is a great help to him. An indulgence is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”

Once I heard someone explain indulgences like this. Imagine a piece of wood, if you hammer nails into it, imagine that represents sin. When God forgives us, He removes the nails… we are completely forgiven and the sin is gone. But there’s still a hole caused by the sin. So the Church has a way to fill those holes we have from our sin, by gaining indulgences. And they are always things to help bring us closer to God, like prayer, reading the Bible, adoration, or maybe taking a pilgrimage to a particular holy place. It makes sense that doing those holy things helps heal us from the wounds we have from our sin.

You may find some helpful answers in this article. https://www.redemptivesuffering.net/single-post/2019/06/02/why-is-there-temporal-punishment-for-sin-didnt-jesus-pay-our-debt#:~:text=The%20Baltimore%20Catechism%20Part%203&text=A.,from%20part%20of%20the%20temporal.

So , are those things considered indulgences ?

This is going to be a three post explanation. Indulgences are the remittance by a bishop of the need for a penitent to make satisfaction. You have to really understand what satisfaction is, and then what an indulgence is.

First, it bears pointing out that there are three parts to repentance–contrition, confession, and bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance (this last part is often called “satisfaction.”) It is the third part that is related to indulgences. Here are some biblical references to this last part :

Acts 26:20 but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance…
(see also Matt. 3:8, Luke 3:8 )

Now, there are various ways by which one brings forth fruit worthy of repentance or, in other words, makes satisfaction for sins. This is done through prayer, acts of charity, and self-denial, etc but also suffering through the chastisements that God may send Himself.

Heb. 12:[ 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


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(2) continued from above…

The Church from the very beginning also prescribed such acts of satisfaction. One common one, early on, was cutting the sinner off from the sacraments for a period of time (this is still common in the East and for certain more serious sins in the West). St. Paul prescribes such satisfaction for the incestuous man in Corinth here:

1 Cor. 5: 3 For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan[b] for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Later, the Church adopted other forms of satisfaction in different times and places many taking months or even years to complete. For example, someone who committed a very grievous sin might have to live a strict disciplined life in a monastery for a period of time (this is why prisons are often called penitentiaries, from the root “penitent.”)

If someone were to die before bringing forth worthy fruits, that process was and is understood to be finished in the afterlife in what we call Purgatory. That’s what prayers and offerings for the dead helps remit and those have always been practiced.

An indulgence is a remittance of this need to make satisfaction either partially or fully (a "plenary indulgence) granted by the bishop by virtue of his power of binding and loosing. St. Paul granted such am indulgence to the same incestuous man in Corinth:

2 Cor. 2 :6 For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ

Anyway, since the need to make satisfaction extends into the afterlife, it followed logically that the indulgence would also. Otherwise, if one were loosed on earth, but it did not take effect in the afterlife, the indulgence would be a cruelty deceiving the penitent into thinking he had brought forth sufficient fruits when he had not.

In later times in the West, continuing until today, since prescribed penances are generally meant to simply turn the penitent back to God through prayer rather than equal the total fruits worthy of repentance, the focus of indulgences is more on their effects in the afterlife.

continued in one more…

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(3) continued from above…

On a final note, it is from the communion Saints that indulgences have their efficacy. Since we are all one Body, the satisfaction made by some members can be applied by the bishop (representing the head of the body) to other members for whom it is wanting. St. Paul rejoices in this fact:

Col. 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking[e] in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church
(see also 1 Cor. 12:26).

Those Saints (canonized and unknown) along with Christ Himself who have brought forth fruits far exceeding their own needs for repentance are applied to the person receiving the indulgence–it is why an indulgence can be granted without derogating from God’s justice.

Anyway, I hope that helps!

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