May 18-21, 2000
volume 11, no. 95


    "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" is what Sister Mary Lucy Astuto pinpoints in every issue when she takes a common sense approach to living our faith with her practical columns.

    This weekend, Sister continues her fascinating and informative series on Indulgences in clearing up the confusion that has existed over the last three decades. As she indulges in the subject of indulgences, Sister points out in her series there have been misconceptions about "days" and "years" and explains what they really mean, as well as detailing the difference between "plenary" indulgences and "partial" indulgences and who can merit these indulgences, how, and why in her second installment of What are indulgences? .

    Her column provides effective, vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. You can visit Sr. Lucy at her web site for Heart of Mary Ministry at http://www.heartofmaryministry.com or you can reach her at Srmarylucy @aol.com by e-mail.

part two

        In my previous article, which is archived in this web site, the definition of indulgence was defined from the Catechism of the Catholic Church as: "...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." (1471)

        In last week'ôs article, explanation was given as to why some temporal punishment due to sin may remain after our sins are forgiven. "Every sin... entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory." (Ibid, 1472)

        "An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity." (Ibid, 1478)

        So what is the TREASURY from which the Church draws and dispenses indulgences? They are the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, the immense and unfathomable prayers and good works of Our Blessed Mother, and the "spiritual goods" of the communion of saints, the Mystical Body of Christ. In 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, too, an abundant exchange of all good things." (Indulgentiarum Doctrina, # 86) "In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1475)

        There are two kinds of indulgences: plenary and partial. A partial indulgence removes SOME of the temporal punishment due to sin. A plenary indulgence removes ALL of it.

        Who may receive an indulgence? The souls in Heaven have no need of indulgences as they have reached their goal. The souls in hell CAN'T benefit from indulgences. Indulgences can be gained by us, the living, and/or we can apply them to the souls in Purgatory, if we wish. Indulgences are attached to certain prayers and goods works.

        The Church has a handbook of indulgences called the Enchiridion, which was revised by Pope Paul VI in 1967. It is the Church's official handbook on what acts and prayers carry indulgences and what indulgences are.

        Next week's article will explain what some of those acts and prayers are and the conditions required for gaining an indulgence. Also, explained will be what "5 years" or "300 days" indulgence used to mean. You may be surprised!!!

        God bless you!

    Sister Mary Lucy Astuto


May 18-21, 2000
volume 11, no. 95

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