Long and Confusing!


#1

What are indulgencies? What are they for and why are they given? Can someone please summarize this for me? I tried to look it up but everything I found was so long and hard to understand!

Has the church’s view on this changed? What happened when these were first given?


#2

These two tracts from Catholic Answers are pretty clear and simple. Read them (if you haven’t already) and let us know what part you are having trouble with.

Primer on Indulgences
catholic.com/library/Primer_on_Indulgences.asp

Myths about Indulgences
catholic.com/library/Myths_About_Indulgences.asp


#3

When you sin and go to confession, your sins are forgiven, but you are still subject to penance (for example, 10 rosaries).

As an indulgence, you can offer to do a good deed (maybe work in a food shelter for an afternoon) in place of this penance.

Simple, huh?

Now let’s say, I died and I’m in Purgatory. You can do a good deed which will help lessen my time in Purgatory.

Simply put, Indulgences are meant to lessen the punishment that we have to pay (penance or purgatory) for sins that already have been forgiven.

Indulgences DO NOT BUY FORGIVENESS FOR SINS, they only lessen the punishment.

Many people mistakenly think that indulgences help buy forgiveness. If that is so, then shame on the priest that allowed that to happen. I’m pretty sure there were some priestly abuses of indulgences in the past (this was one of Martin Luthers more legitimate gripes), but the priests were abusing them outside of the Church’s Teachings.

In other words, there were some weeds in the wheat.

Still simple, huh?

NotWorthy


#4

I am in RCIA so I probably won’t give you the best answer. Indulgences confuse me a little also. I can offer this observation though. Many of the indulgences seemed geared toward making our life more holy, like praying the rosary every day or reading the bible thirty minutes. Perhaps that is why they help lessen time spent in purgatory? Has anyone else noticed this or am I completly off base?


#5

[quote=Christian4life]What are indulgencies? What are they for and why are they given? Can someone please summarize this for me? I tried to look it up but everything I found was so long and hard to understand!

Has the church’s view on this changed? What happened when these were first given?
[/quote]

Christian4Life,

Sin has two effects: it destroys relationships and it hurts people (and the rest of creation as well). When you go to confession, the absolution restores the relationship and the penance goes a little way towards the “damage control” of the practical consequences. Indulgences are a sort of penances to help undo the damage caused by yours or other people’s sins.

If I may draw an analogy, consider a kid throwing a ball in the front yard when his mother has told him to take it to the park, and he breaks a window. His mother is mad at him and the window is broken. He apologizes to his mother, so she isn’t mad at him any more, but the window is still broken. The indulgence would be the father pulling out his wallet to pay for the new window instead of taking it out of the kid’s allowance.

The church’s view hasn’t changed. Presumably when they were first given a lot of souls got out of Purgatory and a lot of people started to understand why they were doing something that they had been doing instinctively for a long time.

  • Liberian

#6

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