Deacon's Corner
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January 14, 2018, 12:00 PM

What are indulgences and why do we have them?


Hang on! Our Catechism says, "an indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church’s help when, as minister of Redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints" (CCC 1471). Wow! What does that mean? We believe that when we sin, we offend God. In His mercy God (through the Priest in the Sacrament of Penance) forgives the sins for which we are truly sorry. However, in His justice, God (through His Church grants indulgences) to heal the hurt caused by our sin. We call this hurt the temporal punishment for sin. Indulgences remove temporal punishment. For example, if I damage my neighbor’s car, I can say I am sorry and my neighbor can show mercy and forgive me; yet, I will, in justice, have to pay to repair the car. We can gain indulgences for ourselves or apply them to the souls in Purgatory. An indulgence can be plenary or partial. A plenary indulgence removes all temporal punishment due to sin. The conditions for a plenary indulgence are: receive the Sacrament of Penance; receive Holy Communion; and say prayers for the Pope’s intentions. Some ways to complete the prayers portion and gain a plenary indulgence are through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one-half hour; reading Scripture for at least one-half hour; praying the Stations of the Cross; praying the rosary, or attending First Friday (Sacred Heart of Jesus) or First Saturday (Immaculate Heart of Mary) devotions. A partial indulgence removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin. Some ways to gain a partial indulgence are by praying the Magnificat or Hail, Holy Queen; praying the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love, and the Creed; Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead. Now you know!


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