[quote=piscotikus]Hello to all!
I have a question about indulgences. I don’t quite understand their history or their use.
It doesn’t make sense to me that we could get out of some or all of our punishment by saying a few prayers. I guess it just seems selfish to me.
Well, that is actually part of the reconcilliation process as well. When Catholics confess thier sins and obtain absolution- part of our temporal punishment is generally PRAYERFUL in nature.
We obviously must right any wrong that we can too, but direct prayer to God (Our Father) and intercessory prayer (Hail Mary) helps us ASK for that connection with God and the Communion of Saints which we rejected by commiting our sin.
Indulgences further this part of reconcilliation, and continues it beyond the 15 minutes after we’ve said our penance. We seek out indulgences to make sincere efforts, while on this earth, to aknowledge the temporal effects of our sins, and make restitution now- to avoid that time cleansing before we are allowed into heaven.
I think many people dwell too much on the “time” indulgences are supposedly “purchasing” you in purgatory. There is neither time, nor any “purchasing” beyond our life here on earth. I think to truly understand indulgences- one must reject those conventional terms for the time being and think of the gains one is receiveing by performing those actions with completely sincere intentions.
The Church is saying, that by performing this task, completely sincere in your intentions to unite with God, and to forever put away any addiction to sin- one can achieve a level of enlightenment and holiness which serves to better unite that person to God. This effort of unity cleanses us from those temporal effects of sin, and Graces us in many ways.
Now, if I could do something as an indulgence for someone else, I would do that.
You can. Just offer up your daily sufferings for those souls in purgatory in prayerful contemplation.
But if I love God, wouldn’t I truly want to show Him how much I love Him by suffering for the sins which I committed?
(Actually when I put it that way it sounds silly… didn’t Jesus suffer and die for us?)
God doesn’t WANT us to suffer- that’s why He gave us Jesus- just like you stated. We suffer because our actions and choices- and those of our imperfect brethren bring about situations that cause suffering.
I always liked the analogy of the rope between God and us- connecting us to one another. The rope gets larger and stronger the more we indulge in the Sacraments, and receive Grace.
Our sins sever this rope. Mortal sin completely severs the rope- that is we have completely rejected God and His place in our life by the mortal sins we commit. Venial sin severs strands of the rope. They are still detrimental to the relationship we have with God, but they do not sever the connection completely.
God will forever offer us the broken ends of the rope- but it is up to us to repair it. Reconcilliation reconnects the rope- not perfectly, but enough where we can build that relationship again. God completely forgives us for severing the rope/strands to begin with- but we are to make our restitution by working to rebuild the strands of the rope.
Indulgences just further the rebuilding of that relationship.
You can do further research on indulgences by clicking “Home” on the top of this page. This will take you to the Catholic Answers homepage. You can type “indulgences” in the search field. There are a number of articles that come up.