Indulgences VS reparation for sin

As Catholics, we understand sin as like a coin: it has 2 sides/faces (guilt and temporal punishment/consequences). When we receive the sacrament of reconciliation, our guilt is vanished and there’s a penance/reparation for our sins prescribed by the priest.
When a protestant comes to us an say there’s no need for reparation because Jesus paid on the cross everything. We go on an tell that’s not entirely true because we have responsibility for our actions, therefore we need to “replace” what was damaged. There’s different analogies to allude to this reality such as a boy was playing football outside and suddenly the ball goes through a neighbor’s window, the neighbor comes, forgives the kid but the kid has to pay for the window. Or there’s that example if you steal a car and then later you repent, ask God for forgiveness, He forgives you but you still have to give the car back to the owner (and maybe additional compensation).
That said, doesn’t indulgences (with remits the temporal punishments or reparations) goes against this? Why the Church defends so strongly reparation and then “opens doors” to this “need-no-reparation-whatsoever-for-all-your-sins pass”? Why the Church doesn’t permit/offer indulgences all the time, everyday for everyone (since it has that power)?

Partial indulgences van be gained at any time. There’s a fine cheap paperback from Catholic Book Publishes that I use called ‘Favorite Indulgence Prayers’ with the introduction from the enchilada on explaining the grants of indulgence. It’s a great help to increase devotional life in general. We are doing the work of reparation through the indulgences rather than getting the indulgences instead.

An indulgence (or Sacramental Confession - I don’t see any difference here) does nothing to remit the obligation of reparations. A person may yet face a moral and ethical obligation to repair damaged property or return stolen goods. The Church has no authority whatsoever to mitigate this obligation.

Why the Church defends so strongly reparation and then “opens doors” to this “need-no-reparation-whatsoever-for-all-your-sins pass”?

The Church offers no such pass. The Church offers forgiveness of sin, but not absolution from physical reparation.

Why the Church doesn’t permit/offer indulgences all the time, everyday for everyone (since it has that power)?

It is true that the Church has this power, but the Church exercises it in a manner which is both merciful and just. Offering ongoing and unconditional indulgences offends God’s sense of justice, and the Church does not do that.

However, the Church offers ongoing absolution from all sin (both mortal and venial) through Sacramental Confession, which (if necessary) restores our saving Grace and assures us of salvation. The Grace of Confession is not automatically conferred - we must take the trouble to actually confess our sins. But we may do this often.

This. The things required of an indulgence (confession, communion, prayers for the pope’s intentions, the indulgence act itself) are the reparation for our sins.

Hello Fabio,

To answer your question we have to know some related teachings of the RCC as follows:

  1. What is ETERNAL PUNISHMENT and what is TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT and what is the difference between the two?

  2. Was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross sufficient to pay the reparation to God the Father IN FULL to remove:

a. all stains of ORIGINAL SIN,
b. all ETERNAL PUNISHMENT for our actual sins,
c, and all TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT for our actual sins?

  1. What is the CHURCH TREASURY and how much merit Christ have before God in this Treasury of the Church?

  2. What is the purpose of the INDULGENCES and how the INDULGENCES expiates/redeem our sins?

  3. The ETERNAL PUNISHMENT and the TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT and the difference between the two:

Sin has two consequences, or punishments (CCC 1472).

a. The first is ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, in which the soul loses Heaven and is confined to an eternity in hell.
This punishment is expiated/redeemed through the forgiveness of sins.

b. The second is TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT.
Temporal punishment REMAINS even after the eternal punishment of our sins are forgiven.
We can expiate/redeem this punishment mainly by indulgences or in purgatory.

  1. The CHURCH TREASURY and the quantity of the merit Christ has before God in this Treasury of the Church:

An easy way to understand CCC 1476, ‘the Treasury of the Church’ is like a Bank, but not money in it but Christ’s merit on the cross which pays the reparation to God the Father for our sins of eternal and temporal punishments.

CCC 1476 “… the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God.
They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father.

  1. According to CCC 1476:

Christ’s merit on the cross is more then sufficient to pay the reparation to God the Father IN FULL to remove:

a. all stains of ORIGINAL SIN,
b. all ETERNAL PUNISHMENT for our actual sins,
c, and all TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT for our actual sins.

Continued

Continuation

  1. The purpose of the INDULGENCES and the way the INDULGENCES expiates/redeems our sins:

The INDULGENCES has two purposes [CCC 1478]:

a. To aid the Christians to expiate/redeem their temporal punishment.

b. To spur the Christians to works of devotion, penance, and charity.”

An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and of opens for them the Church Treasury the merits of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the expiation/redemption of the temporal punishments due for their sins.

To put it simply:
An indulgence is the expiation of our temporal punishment, drown upon the Church Treasury and it is the application of the superabundant merits of Christ on the cross. – Rom.4:25; Rom.5:18; 1 John 2:2; etc.

An indulgence can be PLENARY or PARTIAL.

A PARTIAL indulgence expiates a part of our temporal punishment.

A PLENARY indulgence expiates all our temporal punishment.

It is important to understand the way the indulgences work.
For easy understanding we can view it the way as follows:

  1. Christ’s merit on the cross is in the Church Treasury and pays our reparation to God the Father for our sins of eternal and temporal punishments.

  2. From the Church Treasury to pay our reparation to God the Father for our sins of eternal punishment, Christ’s merit on the cross is freely given to us by the Church on the basis of the power of binding and loosing of the Holy Father.

  3. .From the Church Treasury to pay our reparation to God the Father for our sins of *temporal punishment *Christ’s merit on the cross is not given freely to us.
    On the basis of the power of binding and loosing of the Holy Father, the Church gives us Christ’s merit through indulgences.

  4. So we can access to Christ’s merit to pay our reparation to God the Father for our sins of temporal punishment by obtaining indulgences.

  5. When we obtain indulgences, in reality, we obtain Christ’s merit on the cross (which is our reparation payment to God for our temporal punishment, paid by Christ on the cross) and Christ’s merit expiates our temporal punishment or a part of it if it is a partial indulgence.

  6. When we obtain a PLENARY indulgence:
    We obtain enough Christ’s merit on the cross, which pays the reparation in full to God the Father for all our temporal punishment.

  7. As all temporal punishment expiated God gives us an instant cleansing in the same way He has given us an instant cleansing at our Baptism.

  8. If we obtained a plenary indulgence and we die before we sin again, we bypass purgatory and we go instantly to Heaven.

  9. If everyone would expiate their temporal punishment with indulgences (which is possible) purgatory would be needless because no one would have to go to purgatory.

For an easy understanding we can view the way purgatory works in the following way:

  1. If we fail to expiate our temporal punishment in this life with indulgences, we will suffer the pains of our temporal punishment in purgatory.

  2. When our pains and suffering in purgatory is equal with our temporal punishment, Christ’s merit from the Church Treasury released for us which pays the reparation to God the Father for our temporal punishment.

  3. At this point, God gives us an instant cleansing in the same way then He has given us an instant cleansing at our baptism or if we would obtained a plenary indulgence.

  4. As we see above our cleansing in Baptism, at the point we obtain a plenary indulgence and at the point in purgatory we have suffered our temporal punishment, works in the same way with the same principle.

In all three cases God gives us an instant cleansing by Christ’s merit on the cross (NOT in our “merit” in purgatory) and we are ready to go to Heaven.

If our “redemptive” sufferings could bypass Christ’s merit on the cross and we could directly pay to God the Father the reparation for our sins then Christ died for nothing because we could save ourselves.

Someone may say:
There is no restriction on the Holy Fathers power of binding and loosing authority, so he could give Christ’s merit on the cross freely to everyone and that would instantly abolish the indulgences and the purgatory. – Yes, this reasoning is correct, but there is a reason the Holy Father doesn’t give Christ’s merit on the cross freely to expiate/redeem our temporal punishment.

CCC 1478 explains the reason the Holy Father doesn’t give freely Christ’s merit on the cross to expiate our temporal punishment:

1478 “… Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.”

Continued

Continuation

Now let’s see your two examples Fabio:

The first example:

Quote: “A boy was playing football outside and suddenly the ball goes through a neighbor’s window, the neighbor comes, forgives the kid but the kid has to pay for the window.” End quote.

You are right Fabio, but this example has nothing to do with temporal punishment because this is only an accident.

Without someone sinning against God, there is no temporal punishment.

Of course the kid should say sorry, and offer restitution for the accidental damage.

The second example:

Quote: “If you steal a car and then later you repent, ask God for forgiveness, He forgives you but you still have to give the car back to the owner (and maybe additional compensation).” End quote.

In this example the stealer has committed two sins.

a. Sin against the owner of the car.

b. Sin against God.

The way to expiate sin a: (Sin against the owner of the car)

  1. Have to give the car back to the owner (and maybe additional compensation).

  2. Have to ask forgiveness from the owner of the car.
    This is common decency.

With the above acts his sin against the owner of the car is expiated and the stealing is rectified.
Still the above acts nothing to do with temporal punishment.

The way to expiate sin b: (Sin against God.)

Sin against God has two consequences, or punishments (CCC 1472).

  1. The first is ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, in which the soul loses Heaven and is confined to an eternity in hell.
    The eternal punishment is expiated/redeemed through confession/absolution.

To clearly understand, we can view the process as follows:

From the Treasury of the Church to expiate/redeem our eternal punishment, Christ’s merit on the cross is freely given.
So, to expiate/redeem our eternal punishment is an instant event at our confession/absolution.

  1. Even though sins are absolved by a priest in confession/absolution temporal punishment still remains.

This second punishment of our sin is TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT.
Temporal punishment remains even after the eternal punishment of our sins are forgiven at confession/absolution.

To clearly understand, we can view the process as follows:

From the Treasury of the Church to expiate/redeem our temporal punishment, Christ’s merit on the cross is given through obtaining indulgences. – Obtaining indulgences in reality means: Obtaining Christ’s merit on the cross to expiate/redeem our temporal punishment.

So, to expiate/redeem our temporal punishment is not an instant event at our confession/absolution.

We can expiate a PART of our temporal punishment by doing penance prescribed by the priest at our confession/absolution but this penance is not enough to expiate our temporal punishment.

So mainly we can expiate our temporal punishment by indulgences or by our suffering in purgatory or with the combination of the two.

According to RCC teaching:

A plenary indulgence expiates all temporal punishment of our sins.

That means: If we have obtained a plenary indulgence and not sinned since obtaining the indulgence and we die, we bypass purgatory and we go instantly to Heaven.

Concerning the redemption of our sins, plenary indulgence and Baptism working on the same principle.

If someone baptized and not sinned since having been baptized and dies, he bypass purgatory and goes straight to Heaven.

God bless.

Christian

Indulgences generally require penitential acts done in reparation. IOW, Indulgences are contingent onpenitential acts of reparation.

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