All Conversations in My Heart
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
  Indulgences
Indulgences have always been of the greatest help to me. I would write without any True Orthodox Catholic arguing this article is from a fool. We should use these aids for salvation for all who have passed on. In fact, Mary once asked some children to pray for the forgotten souls. Who are they? They are those whose relatives and friends, not believing, in Purgatory never pray for the repose of the souls of their relatives, friends and benefactors who have preceded them in death. Here is my effort to persuade you.
In our parish bulletin we were recommended to pray ‘The Prayer before A Crucifix’ to earn an indulgence. This is the way I have prayed most of my religious life. These prayers I believe and hope have been the greatest of benefits for those for whom my prayers were offered.
I have some personal thoughts on the subject of prayer for the poor souls in purgatory. These thoughts were formed by the Church’s teachings and they are particularly my own interpretation. The Church directs they can only be offered for the benefit of the dead. I ask which dead? I have absolutely no compunction in offering them for the living or the dead. I have no way of knowing if they are fallen souls as the Church calls those who are sinful, where they are. I cannot judge and sentence. I consider that to lay down the life of my soul, I mean surrendering my Eternal Life for another, was and is the greatest act of charity I could do. Yet I do know full well, that I could say the prayer again for myself, or rather use another prayer and the same sacramental confession and Holy Communion to gain a new plenary remittance that day.
I am not a sign seeker but I do thank God when I see results. Let me give you an example. I have a son who is a fallen catholic and yet when I offer this indulgence for him, I notice a great change in his behavior. He does move forward in faith and lately he never drops back to the depths of sin he seemed to be in before. Can I justify this? I believe so for this reason. My prayer and the fulfillment of the conditions for the reception of the plenary indulgence gained for him places him in a state of grace no matter how temporary. This I believe allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in him for a short while at least and helps him to hear the voice of God, the urgings of God’s love and do himself a little good for his soul.
I mentioned a plenary indulgence and perhaps it is a phrase many of us are not familiar with. The official Church teachings are, It is a complete forgiveness of our sins, including any temporal punishment they have or we have earned. remeber Christ did say, "We will pay until every debt is canceled (A paraphrase on my part)
To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even to venial sin, be absent. The three conditions above may be fulfilled eight days (Octave) before or after the performance of the prescribed work or prayer; nevertheless it is fitting that Communion be received and the prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff be said the same day the prayer is said or the work performed. In the Church today, it is enough to pray one Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory be, for the Pope and his intentions.
Perhaps you might find it difficult to agree with this thought? Consider it in this manner. The conditions of a plenary indulgence say it can be only earned eight days before or after the Sacrament of Confession is completed. Would it be wrong to interpret this condition, as the Church believes it is not likely we can stay free from sin for more than two weeks? That is let us say by changing the time limit to eight plus eight days after the work done. That is after the Act of Confession and repentance
Why then does the Church claim to be able to grant such a wonderful aid to our salvation and the raising of the dead into Heaven? How can She make such a charitable action on our part so valuable? The teaching of the Church which has not changed nor can be changed states as follows. Punishment like a shadow follows all sin, whether mortal or venial, and it is not usually remitted to the full when forgiveness is obtained. Eternal punishment, incurred by mortal sin, is always remitted with the guilt, but some temporal punishment generally remains due to the justice of GOD. This temporal punishment is inflicted by GOD, either in this life or in Purgatory; but a man may anticipate the divine justice by works of penance, or by means of Indulgences.
The guilt, then, of sin is one thing, the punishment another. The guilt is remitted when a man truly repents, either with or without the Sacrament of Penance; but though the punishment, or a portion of it may be remitted with the guilt, some usually remains, as a debt of satisfaction, to be paid in this world or the next. This truth is clearly indicated in the sacramental penances which always accompany Absolution. These penances have, in course of time, under pressure of external circumstances, lost much of the severity which characterized them in earlier ages, but they still testify to the principle that after forgiveness satisfaction remains due. The comparative lightness of modern sacramental penances ought to suggest that they alone are not sufficient to satisfy the justice of GOD, and that they should be supplemented either by other penances, self-inflicted or patiently accepted at the hand of GOD. This should include personal suffering or fasting, or by some equivalent means. Yet in the case of sins forgiven either indirectly in the Sacrament, or by means of act of perfect contrition alone, the satisfaction remaining due is left altogether to the individual's patience under chastisement from GOD, or to his personal activity in applying himself either to works of penance, or to some equivalent. That equivalent is to be found in Indulgences.
What, then, is an Indulgence? An Indulgence is the remission by the Church, on specified conditions, of the whole or a part of the debt of satisfaction remaining due for sin. The Church has power to absolve from guilt; she has also power to remit the punishment. The one she exercises in the Sacrament of Penance; the other she exercises when she grants an Indulgence. And it is clear from what has been said that an Indulgence is supplemental to Absolution, and presupposes the forgiveness of the guilt of sin in the Sacrament of Confession.
Theologically considered; an Indulgence is not, a mere exercise of spiritual power and authority on the part of the Church; it is truly a payment of the debt, made out of her Treasury of satisfactory merits; for in this are stored up the superabundant merits of Jesus Christ and the accumulated merits of our Lady and all the Saints. With this inexhaustible fund at her command, she has the means of satisfying the debts due from her children to the justice of GOD.
In form; an Indulgence emanates from the Pope, leaving out of the account the limited power exercised by Bishops in favor of their flocks and by Cardinals, Nuncios and others; and it is registered in a Decree of the Congregation of Indulgences; or some similar document. It attaches to a specified prayer or good work an additional satisfactory value, such value being expressed in the terms of an ancient canonical penance, viz., so many days, or Quarantines (which lasted forty days), or years, to which the Indulgence is thereby declared to be equivalent. The earliest Indulgences were, in fact, remissions of these very penances.
Indulgences are either Plenary or Partial, according as a remission of all, or of part, of the debt of punishment due is granted. In either case the actual benefit obtained depends upon the dispositions of the penitent, and the care and accuracy he employs in fulfilling the conditions laid down. It only remains to add that, though the Church has no direct jurisdiction, over the Souls in Purgatory, she authorizes and encourages, as a work of supreme charity, the application of Indulgences, by way of suffrage, to the needs of those afflicted souls; and we may confidently assure ourselves that these suffrages are most acceptable to the Divine Majesty, and that what the Church would thus, as it were, indirectly loose in Purgatory is speedily loosed also in Heaven, amid the rejoicing of all the heavenly court, to the great glory of GOD, and to the incalculable benefit, as well of the suffering souls of their earthly benefactors.

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