indulgences

Derivation

  • Latin: indulgere, to be kind

Article

The remission of temporal punishment due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven, which the Church grants from the treasury of the merits of Christ and His saints. A plenary indulgence is the remission of the whole debt of temporal punishment. A partial indulgence remits only a part of that punishment. An indulgence of 40 days, for example, remits so much of temporal punishment as would be remitted by performing the ancient canonical penances for 40 days. In granting an indulgence to the living, the Church offers satisfaction to God from her treasury of merit, so that such an indulgence is a real juridical absolution from temporal punishment. Indulgences for the dead are gained by way of intercession (per modum suffragii), i.e., the Church offers satisfaction from her treasury of merit and asks God to apply this satisfaction to the souls in purgatory. An indulgence for the living, if all conditions are fulfilled, produces its effect infallibly, while that for the dead, because departed souls are not under the Church’s jurisdiction, depends on the good pleasure of God. Besides the habitual intention, the state of grace and the performance of the prescribed good works, prayers, alms, visits to a church, etc., are required to gain an indulgence. Confession and Communion are required for a plenary indulgence. Confession twice a month and Communion five or six times a week suffice for all plenary indulgences except for the jubilee indulgence.

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