Would you like to receive a plenary indulgence? Don’t know what a plenary indulgence is? Well, basically, when we sin and are sorry and go to confession our sin is taken away. But there is still that attachment to sin of which we need to be cleansed. For example, if its habitual for me to continue committing the same sin I can be truly sorry, but I’ll have a tendency to want to do it again. In Revelation 21:27 it says that “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]”, so if we still have an attachment to the world and sin we must first be cleansed of that either in purgatory, or by acts of sacrifice here on earth. Just as the body needs exercise and discipline, the soul does as well, and so the Church gives us ways to spiritually exercise. This includes Mass, Confession, fasting and abstaining from meat outside of Lent, prayer, acts of service, etc.
Some might say that this sounds like we earn our way to heaven, but by no means is that true. In James 2:14-26 it says “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Consider this, if someone tells you they love their spouse but then they go home and beat them is that truly love? You can judge a tree by its fruit, and so if there are good works, there is probably a good faith behind it.
Going back to indulgences…the Church also provides us a way to cleanse us of our sinful nature so we can “bypass” purgatory when we die and go straight to heaven. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1471:
“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.
An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.
Isn’t that awesome?!? The Church, in Her mercy, has given us so many opportunities to encounter God. During this Year of Faith I invite you all go on “pilgrimage” and seek God deeply in your hearts. Here’s how you can get a plenary indulgence:
Finally, check out these awesome links fo more info:
On purgatory: http://jimmyakin.com/can-unclean-things-enter-heaven
On indulgences: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm