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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday - Indulgences

Divine Mercy Sunday
Sacrament of Confession
Plenary Indulgence
The Connection

The Indulgence Connection
Those who claim that indulgences are no longer part of Church teaching having been “thrown out” during the time of the Protestant Reformation because of abuses regarding the “buying and selling” of indulgences will find they are wrong . The claim that indulgences are not part of Church teaching today is false. The devout use of indulgences can be traced back to the early years of the Church and to the Bible. It is not the purpose of this writing to address those issues or any other question about indulgences except a simple explanation suitable to understand what they are in terms of Divine Mercy Sunday.
At Baptism all stain of original sin, all eternal punishment for actual sins committed and all temporal punishment for those sins is removed. During the Sacrament of Confession only the eternal punishment for sin is removed. The Catholic doctrine and practices of indulgences are closely linked to the effects of this sacrament. “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.” (CCC 1471)

In other words you can be forgiven of your sin through a sacramental confession but not be off the hook as far as the temporal punishment goes. In order to remit or pay the temporal punishment due to sin, we must do penance. We may also remit for our sins by gaining indulgences. At the time of our death if we have not paid for all of the temporal punishment due us because of our sin and we die in a state of grace we will do this in purgatory.

Sin has a double consequence, “grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life….on the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures [something], which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory.” (CCC 1472)

Indulgences give full (plenary) or partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sacramentally forgiven sins. “The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God’s grace is not alone.” (CCC 1474)

 We are part of the Communion of Saints “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, an abundant exchange of all good things.” (CCC 1475) This Communion of Saints is the Church’s treasury, a treasure chest overflowing with graces [Indulgences].

 “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary….the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them.” (CCC 1477)

An indulgence can be plenary (full) or partial. A plenary indulgence remits all the temporal punishment for sin. That means that if you were to die in a state of grace, having obtained a plenary indulgence, and not sinned since obtaining the indulgence, you would go straight to Heaven. A partial indulgence can be obtained whenever we have a pious thought, pray or do good works, but does not remit all the punishment for sin.

How does this apply to Divine Mercy Sunday

Return of the Prodigal Son - Rembrant
Communion of Saints Icon
Our Lady of the Rosary

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