I’m currently a non-denominational Christian and I’m considering a conversion to the Catholic faith. During my studies I’ve found indulgences to be a difficult point for me to find answers on. What I’m looking for here is a) a clear, concise explaination of indulgences and b) the Biblical basis for the practice. Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated, as it’s one of the major things I find hard to accept about Catholicism. I’m hoping that a greater knowledge of indulgences will help assay my doubts as to their credibility. Thanks for any help anyone can give me.
May God bless your journey closer toward Him.
For the question about indulgences I recommend first checking the Catechism (1471-1479):
Also the Catechism is a good place to start about any question you have about the Catholic Church.
If you want a more in depth explanation of indulgences you might want to read INDULGENTIARUM DOCTRINA:
New Advent’s site might also help:
If you have any more questions please post them.
Looking up , under the section of catholic news here , the item
about the plenary indulgence for the Feast of Immaculate
Conception , this Dec. 8th might help .
It explains what the conditions are and give a feel about the
nature of what is meant by indulgences !
Since the attitude of humble trust in God and His ways is
possibly what The Father would want from each of His children, it
can be seen how Mother Church would make available this one
more manifestation of The Father’s Mercy , which in turn would
make us merciful !
[quote=ladylinguist]the Biblical basis for the practice.
Just off the top of my head, Jesus gave an indulgence to the Good Theif on the cross because of his act of faith in Christ and not only forgave him his sins but removed all the temporal punishment associated with them by saying that on this day he would be with Jesus in heaven.
Moved this thread from the Sacred Scriptures to the Apologetics forum. I’m sure the friendly folks here can be of more help.
Mane Nobiscum Domine,
[quote=ladylinguist]I’m currently a non-denominational Christian and I’m considering a conversion to the Catholic faith. During my studies I’ve found indulgences to be a difficult point for me to find answers on. What I’m looking for here is a) a clear, concise explaination of indulgences and b) the Biblical basis for the practice. Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated, as it’s one of the major things I find hard to accept about Catholicism. I’m hoping that a greater knowledge of indulgences will help assay my doubts as to their credibility. Thanks for any help anyone can give me.
Good day, Ladylinguist, and welcome to the forums. I pray that your spiritual journey will bring you the truth you seek.
Indulgences, as you may know, were an issue during the Middle Ages and had a part in causing the Reformation. At that time they were abused, and the abuse of them was corrected at the Council of Trent.
To define them you need to know a few things. The first is that the Catholic faith maintains the doctrinal practice of reconciliation. Our priests forgive sins per Jesus’ command (John 20:23). Once a person is forgiven, that person is saved from damnation in Hell.
However, forgiveness of sin is different than the justice due because of the sin. Although forgiven, a person may still be stained with sin. (God decides who is pure enough to enter Heaven) The church understands this debt as “temporal punishment”. The Catholic Church maintains the doctrine of Purgatory, a place or state of being where sinners suffer, primarily seperation from God, until thier sins have been removed. Restated, Purgatory is a state of purification of sin. Purgatory is seperate from Hell where the damned have no hope of ever being freed.
In the bible, Jesus gave the Apostles the power of binding and loosing. The concept of “binding and loosing” is taught in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Indulgences come from the Catholic exegesis of these verses. The practical application of an indulgence frees a person from the temporal punishment that is being served in Purgatory. A person who retains an indulgence can have it applied to him/herself, or to a loved one in Purgatory.
All of this works according to the Tradition of Apostolic Succession. This Tradition maintains that the authority given to the Apostles by Jesus was then passed to succeeding Bishops. The Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI, is a direct successor of Peter. The Pope inherits Peter’s Authority in this instance.
Here it is in practice… catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=5520
I hope this helps.
God bless you and Christ be with you,
I’m surprised no one has recommended these links yet, but they are right here on the Catholic Answers main page:
Primer on Indulgences**
Myths about Indulgences
Thanks for the info. I admit that whenever I pictured indulgences I always got an image of a some seedy medival Bishop fleecing the peasants with them. Cleary not the case.
[quote=ladylinguist]Thanks for the info. I admit that whenever I pictured indulgences I always got an image of a some seedy medival Bishop fleecing the peasants with them. Cleary not the case.
Haha, yeah, I understand what you mean.
Indulgences are actually wonderful tools the Church employs to coax Catholics into more Christian lives.
A partial indulgence requires that we be free of mortal sin, and that we are contrite for our venial sin. So, in order to get a partial indulgence you must first focus on the fact that you are a sinner, and next be truly sorry for your sin.
The preconditions for a plenary indulgence include having received the Sacrament of Penance on the day/within several days of trying to receive it. In other words, you have to examine your conscience, affirm that you are a sinner, and then be repentant and ask for absolution from the priest. And next, having no attachment to sin, even venial sin. That means avoiding even minor desires and faults, and striving for Christian perfection of the highest degree. That’s difficult to say the least!
The indulgence gives many people reasons to continue striving towards the perfection and holiness that Christ asks of us. Indulgences, I think, for these reasons, are spectacular gifts from the Church. People who try to receive indulgences, and know what is required of them, cannot help but try to radically reform themselves and confrom themselves to Christ. (I think. As long as people don’t look at them as magic, which they aren’t.)
Just as Confession saves us from hell, indulgences save us from Purgatory.
Before you can fully understand indulgences you first have to understand the doctrines of Confession and Purgatory. It is all tied together.