What exactly is the difference in an indulgence and a absolution? Also the bishops get together and they say they invoke the holy spirit. How do they do that? I’m going to ask father this this week.


Whenever we sin, we break God’s law and we taint our souls. Because we broke God’s law, we need his forgiveness. Because we taint our souls, our souls need to be cleansed. The Catechism calls this taint the “double consequence of sin” meaning that the effects of sin can be eternal (i.e., hell) or temporal (i.e., can be dealt with either in this life or in Purgatory). But in this post I will simply continue to use the term “taint.”

The tainting of our souls goes beyond simply needing to be forgiven. For example, whenever we commit a specific sin, we acquire an attachment to that sin, making us more susceptible to commit that sin in the future. Being forgiven does not necessarily cleanse us of that susceptibility.

According to the Book of Revelation, only that which is pure can enter heaven. This means we need to be forgiven by God and also have pure souls. There are ways we can open our souls to the purifying grace of God in this life, such as when we patiently endure the sufferings in this life. The power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation also can purify our souls (in addition to allowing absolution), but this is usually not the case (as the Baltimore Catechism expressly stated). Indulgences are a way to remove the taint from our souls. If a person dies in a state of grace (i.e., he is not guilty of an unconfessed mortal sin) but his soul still bears the taint of sin, he has to be purified in Purgatory. Therefore, acquiring indulgences in this life allows us to avoid Purgatory in the next life (or lessen our experience of Purgatory).

Consider the following scenario. Let us say that a man is addicted to cocaine and is arrested when trying to buy drugs. The judge is merciful to him and agrees not to throw him in prison. But despite this act of mercy, the man is still addicted to cocaine, and his life is still damaged from abusing it. Therefore, in order to help the man further, the judge requires him to undergo a drug treatment program. This story can serve to symbolize the difference between absolution and indulgences in the following manner:

Cocaine: Sin

Addiction: The taint sin puts on ones soul

The Man: a repentant sinner

Judge: God

Prison: Hell

Judge does not sentence the Man to prison: God forgives the sinner (i.e., absolution), so the sinner does not go to hell.

Drug Treatment Program: Indulgences, Purgatory, and the other ways God provides for removing the taint of sin and therefore purifying our souls.

Although I have not witnessed a meeting of bishops, this probably refers to one of them leading the others in an opening prayer, asking God for guidance in whatever undertaking is being addressed at the meeting.

So can a preist grant an indulgence or does that take a bishop?


You can just pray for your forgiveness. There are certian prayers in our faith that can grant indulgences.
A great place to start is the Holy Rosary. :slight_smile:

Over the many years that I have be a “Catholic.” Now I call my self a Christian. I had been away from the Catholic church for 15 yrs. But in that journey have enriched my understanding of the Christ message. I attend the Mass most Sundays and enjoy the ritual of the Mass, the excellent homilies and to remember Jesus in the Eucharist as he asked of us. I am, I suppose a cradle catholic and find myself now at 77 to feel comfortable with the rituals now that I can look at them as beautiful practices, and not mandatory to be a follower of Jesus’ teachings.

Indulgences are a matter of belief or perhaps for some it is faith. I personally have come to an awakening, for me, that our heavenly Father is not concerned with our little attempts at being holy. By nature it is impossible for us to be so. Of course I feel sorrow when I make the wrong choices and do try to be better. But, I believe the Father sent Jesus to us to save us from ourselves. We can’t by works win forgiveness. It’s already been done. We will always sin and each time, that we do, remember that we have been forgiven for every sin we have or will commit.

We are to realize the Christ in us, our hope of glory. This is what is unfolding in our lives and in the world. Believe it or not God is molding us right now although it may not appear so. Jesus alone has overcome sin and we wait in patience for his completion of the Christ in us. This I believe is the second coming. When all God’s children become what he created us to be. Perfect as he is perfect. The new world is here and now. It is evolving and will rise up, overcome the world as Jesus did.

I lose sight of this so very often myself because the world is in chaos right now and I find my humanity so full of error. It appears to be stronger then my desire to be as Christ was. Until the Christ in us and our humanity come together as Gods new Adam. Jesus being the first, our brother in Christ. Alleluia!

This website explains Indulgences very well.

Anyone can invoke the Holy Spirit. It means that the person is asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten and direct their thoughts, as well as be present to them at this moment.
A favorite prayer to the Holy Spirit is:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your divine love.

Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles received the Holy Spirit in a special way under the form of a tongue of fire over each one on Pentecost, fifty days after easter. This day was the official start of the Church’s mission on earth, to preach the gospel to all men. And so the modern apostles, the bishops, invoke Him when they gather together to further plan the mission of the church on earth as on Pentecost.

Neither actually grants an indulgence. Rather, when one meets the requirements outlined by the Church, you receive the indulgence upon yourself as a special act of grace from God. A priest (or bishop) will be involved in the process for the simple fact that it involves going to Confession and attending Mass, but a priest or bishop does not actually say a special kind of prayer over you, or anything like that.

For more information on the process involved, see this link concerning the norms. To learn about the prayers and devotions associated with both partial and plenary indulgences, visit this website, and click on the word “Indulgences” on the left hand side of the page. This will take you to a page containing mostly information concerning partial indulgences, and there will be a link to give you more information concerning plenary indulgences.

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