My question in reply to that is: How would that plenary indulgence benefit you if you were to do all those things?
A plenary indulgence removes all temporal punishment due sin. That means the cleansing I would normally have to undergo in Purgatory is done. But it is actually quite difficult to gain a plenary indulgence. You can have no attachment to any sin whatsoever. But also remember that the Holy souls in Purgatory are destined for heaven. Purgatory is just the final stage of cleansing before we enter heaven. In fact, the Church does not teach that it is a place as much as a process.
Galatians 3:24 (NASB)
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
Romans 5:9 (NASB)
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 5:1 (NASB)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As an example, if, on the feast day of St. Francis, if you go to confession (within a week), receive Holy communion (also within a week), lose all attachment to sin, and make a pilgrimage to Steubenville, OH and spend time in prayer (i believe it is an hour for the intentions of Pope Benedict) at the Portinicula Chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville, you can receive a plenary indulgence
I’d like to challenge you, Carl, to compare what the Bible has to say about the cleansing of our sin with your example. Do you see the striking differences? It is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from sin as we walk, putting our faith and trust in Him. It doesn’t matter where we are - we don’t need to look to a certain day such as the feast day of St. Francis and we don’t need to make a pilgrimage to Steubenville, OH. We don’t have to time our prayers (where does all that come from anyway?). It certainly isn’t the model given to us from God in His Holy Word.
First, I would like to challenge you to point out in Scripture where it says that Scripture is our only source for doctrine and practice. We must also be faithful to follow Sacred Tradition and the magisterial teachings of the Church. I used the Steubenville example because it is one that I am familiar with, plus the pilgrimage may be made on the feast of St. Clare, the date of the dedication of the tomb of the unborn, and there is one other specific day that do not recall, plus on any day of your choosing, provided it is for that specific reason and you have not made another pilgrimage to the chapel that year. You ask where does this come from. It is an outgrowth of the way the Sacrament of penance was practiced in the early Church. In the early days penances were public and tended to be lengthy and harsh, sometimes lasting years. Indulgences were a practice that evolved for these early penances.
As far as the cleansing aspect, the Scriptures are clear: there is some form of purging or cleansing before we enter heaven. Did it ever strike you that we are not judged by our faith? We are judged by our works. Furthermore there is a description of purging by fire in the Scriptures. Isaiah 6:1-6 is a description of Isaiah’s sin being purged in a vision. You could argue that “Well, that is the Old Testament,” which is true, but God is not capable of change. He is pure act, without potential. In other words if God required purging under the Old Covenant, He still requires purging under the New Covenant. Aldo 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 very plainly states that we will be judged by our works, and will suffer loss, but ourselves will be saved. I would like to add that your text of 1 John 1:9 does not in any way indicate that the cleansing is instantaneous. Why can it not be a process we go on through life? And if a process, it could be incomplete at our time of death, requiring purgatory.
Those acts are offered as guidance for ways to spend time in prayer , worship of god, ie Walk! etc… As a response in faith. Without a contrite heart the mere acts don’t achieve anything. Indulgences essentially call for a devotion/ dedication to god/body of Christ in faith as a tool to strengthen your relationship with god. Note the call to read scripture, pray, pray for others, help needy, take communion, etc… It is all pointed to a strengthening of spirit and bond with god, after seeking forgiveness for sin.
It’s a worthy call not something that diminishes what Jesus did for us, but a way of walking in faith and responding to gods grace.
That’s how I see it anyway.
Thanks Panevino, I hope others on this sight read what you have just suggested. This issue creates so many straw dogs for us layman who try to evangilise. I give you 10 plenary indugences - joke.
What Fair Lady is trying to say is that by his death Jesus has paid the price of our sins in full. This is what the Catholic Church believes.
It would appear then, that if we sin all we have to do is tell God we are sorry and we will be forgiven. We don’t have to worry about paying for the sin because, as we said, Jesus has already made the payment for us. So sin 'til your heart’s content and don’t worry about being punished for it. Just tell God you’re sorry afterwards and it’ll be all right. (That is a sin in itself - the sin of presumption.)
As Catholics we believe that Jesus paid the price of our sins, but the payment isn’t automatic on forgiveness, it comes through indugences. We have to pay our (small) part and Jesus by his merits pays the rest.
It is hard to argue with Fair Lady as the Bible passages she quotes are quite true. We as Catholics believe them to be. What we don’t believe is that it is quite as simple as the picture she paints with those words. There’s more to sacred scripture than what lies between the front and back covers of the Bible.
This is one of the ways you misunderstand indulgences. They do not forgive sins or even apply the sacrifice of Our Lord to those sins. The sins must be forgiven through the mercy of God.
Indulgences help remove some of the temporal punishment due to sin. Our sins injure ourselves, the material world, and others. Even when we repent, the damage done by our sins can remain. Since, as we know from scripture, nothing impure can enter heaven, we Catholics believe we will go through a process of purgation (i.e. purgatory) before we can enter heaven…God willing. This purgation “refines” us and cleanses/purges us of the last effects of sin, and also applies penance to us according to our sinful actions. It is this PURGATION to which indulgences refer.
If I steal $50 from you, and then confess it to God, God will forgive me but I still have to make things right with you.
I believe Paul was speaking of this when he said that he was filling up in his flesh what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ. …penance, refinement, and purgation…which can take place in this world or the next because God is not limited by time or space and He gave us immortal souls.
Something some of our brothers and sisters in Christ do not yet understand is that indulgences and purgatory do not work IN SPITE of God’s grace or IN ADDITION to God’s grace. We believe they are some of the ways God applies His graces to us. All of Fair Lady’s citations can be understood within the Church’s teaches on indulgences and purgatory.
Galatians 3:24 (NASB)
Romans 5:9 (NASB)
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
Romans 5:1 (NASB)
1 John 1:7
1 John 1:9
…Catholics see no conflict here.
Thank you for this discussion. I was going to ask what indulgences were, but now I have at least a little understanding, although I must admit I am still rather confused.
Can indulgences be obtained without their being specifically sought?
From the Catechism:
1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.
What is an indulgence?
"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."81
"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin."82 The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83
The punishments of sin
1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84 1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the "new man."85
81 Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 1.
82 Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 2; Cf. Norm 3.
83 CIC, can. 994. 84 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1712-1713; (1563): 1820.
85 Eph 4:22, 24.
My opinion on your question is that one must pursue an indulgence in order to obtain one. It won’t happen accidentally.
I did research into this topic about a year ago and found that “it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.” See item 5 at this Vatican link:
In addition to being Catholic, not excommunicated, and having the general intention of receiving the indulgence, the conditions for an indulgence given in the above link are:
"To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
"A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
[LEFT]-- have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
*-- have sacramentally confessed *their sins;
– receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
– pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff."[/LEFT]
[LEFT]The complete detachment from sin, even venial sin, is called perfect contrition. It that is not present, it becomes a partial indulgence.[/LEFT]
All Catholics, Eastern and Latin, that are not excommunicated and in a state of grace by the end of the performance of the indulgence, can receive an indulgence, or assign it to the faithfully departed.
All prior general indulgences revoked in 1968.
Published in: Enchiridion indulgentiarum: normae et concessiones
1 June 28, 1968
2 October 1968
3 May 18, 1986
4 July 16, 1999
Approved US English translation: Manual of Indulgences, USCCB, 2006.
The appendix of Manual of Indulgences contains the doctrine, which is also here:
It you get the book, most of the footnote quotes are included, and all the approved indulgences are described.
For DS footnotes use Denzinger:
This always leads to going off topic, but I’ll just say that I do believe that scripture is the word of God and it is scripture that I will use as my final authority.
We must also be faithful to follow Sacred Tradition and the magisterial teachings of the Church. I used the Steubenville example because it is one that I am familiar with, plus the pilgrimage may be made on the feast of St. Clare, the date of the dedication of the tomb of the unborn, and there is one other specific day that do not recall, plus on any day of your choosing, provided it is for that specific reason and you have not made another pilgrimage to the chapel that year. You ask where does this come from. It is an outgrowth of the way the Sacrament of penance was practiced in the early Church. In the early days penances were public and tended to be lengthy and harsh, sometimes lasting years. Indulgences were a practice that evolved for these early penances.
Do you know why there has been a change from lengthy and harsh penances? Is it because the sin of people is not as serious anymore?
As far as the cleansing aspect, the Scriptures are clear: there is some form of purging or cleansing before we enter heaven. Did it ever strike you that we are not judged by our faith? We are judged by our works. Furthermore there is a description of purging by fire in the Scriptures. Isaiah 6:1-6 is a description of Isaiah’s sin being purged in a vision. You could argue that “Well, that is the Old Testament,” which is true, but God is not capable of change. He is pure act, without potential. In other words if God required purging under the Old Covenant, He still requires purging under the New Covenant. Aldo 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 very plainly states that we will be judged by our works, and will suffer loss, but ourselves will be saved.
Your gospel is different than mine and I think we both recognize that. God is never changing but the way He deals with people has involved changes - the main one being sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins so that His righteousness would be imputed on us. His blood cleanses us from all sin if we believe in Him and trust Him for our salvation.
I would like to add that your text of 1 John 1:9 does not in any way indicate that the cleansing is instantaneous. Why can it not be a process we go on through life? And if a process, it could be incomplete at our time of death, requiring purgatory.
But the Bible doesn’t say that we will be required to pay for sins after death. I wanted to get more into all this, with more scripture, but at this time I need to go. Will pick it up later. We need to talk about restitution and a few other things.
Purgatory is not “paying for sins.” Purgatory is cleansing us of the lingering effects of sin after forgiveness. If you follow the link in my signature to my blog “Debunking the Myths,” I have a post entitled “Yes Virginia, there is a Purgatory.” This gives a fuller explanation of the doctrine than is possible here.
Don’t worry about indulgences. It is the biggest confidence trick that the Magesterium has ever thought up. No wonder there was a Reformation! I am a true son of Holy Mother Church and rely for my reconcilliation on true repentance, a firm commitment to amend and total forgiveness from the Father - sometimes by the action of absolution from the Father through the ministry of a priest. Smile, Jesus loves you!
Yes there were abuses, but indulgences are not a “confidence trick”! If you actually knew the teachings of the Church, you would not make such a statement.
It might be helpful to understand purgatory and indulgences the way a CCE teacher friend of mine explains it: If you drive nails into a 2x4 and later pull them out, are there still holes in the 2x4? The nails are gone, but the holes remain. So, too, our sins are forgiven but the illness they can cause in our souls may not be fully healed at the time of our death.
This healing process is what the Church calls purgatory.
having read all the posts to now, I have one quick question: How do you know if you have successfully obtained an indulgence, whether it’s partial or plenary?
I have faith that God has spoken truthfully through His Church. If I have done as prescribed, I have gained the indulgence. Different penitential acts are predetermined whether they will be plenary or partial. Remember that the goal is not to “get time off” but to get closer to God through the practice of religion, which is related to the virtue of justice.