I am an evangelically-raised Christian who is thinking of taking RCIA and going Catholic. As such, I have a question concerning temporal punishment and its relationship to plenary indulgences and merits of the saints. It’s a bit of a hurdle for me right now, and I need help understanding it better.
The purpose of temporal punishment is disciplinary, correct? It detaches the person being discliplined from committing those sins again. Hence, in purgatory, temporal punishment helps detach us from remaining sin. Am I right so far?
My understanding of a plenary indulgence is that one has to have a perfect detachment from all sin in order to receive remission from temporal punishment for said sin in purgatory. Am I correct so far?
If one is perfectly detached from sin already, why is there still temporal punishment due to be paid in purgatory? Surely you must have already paid it on earth in order to become detached from sin? If you’re already purified, why don’t you go straight to heaven if you happen to die right then and there? I realize there are consequences for sin, but surely they must have been paid already if the person is detached?
If temporal punishment is supposed to help us detach from sin, then how do our prayers and merits remove another person’s attachment to sin? Why couldn’t God just do that in the first place?
If such simple indulgences (compared to punishment due) can repay the debt, then why don’t we just do indulgences in purgatory rather than “suffer loss”? It’s all ultimately Christ’s merit, after all. Why doesn’t He use indulgences to apply it?
I’m sorry this post is loaded with so many questions. I just really need help wrapping my head around it all.
Thanks in advance for all your help!