The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: Indulgences
The Sacraments are part and parcel of our lives and so we continue our "capsule series" on each of the Sacraments, bringing you capsule paragraphs from both the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and the old Baltimore Catechism. We begin today a series on Indulgences. It is included with the section on the Sacrament of Penance ("The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.") reminding us of our humanness and our total dependence on the Mercy of God and the promises He has made to His children...as well as our promises to Him for through indulgences we can "obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for ourselves and for the souls in Purgatory."
No. 1471, page 370 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery; Chapter Two - The Sacraments of Healing; Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Urbi Et Orbi Communications:
WHAT IS AN INDULGENCE?
"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 satisfaction of Christ and the saints." (Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 1.)
"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." (Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 2; cf. Norm 3) Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead. .
From the Baltimore Catechism No. 3; Benziger Brothers, Inc. and Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Nos. 839 through 842, page 177-178.
Q. What is an indulgence?
A. An Indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to sin.
Q. What does the word "indulgence" mean?
A.The word "indulgence" means a favor or concession. An indulgence obtains by a very slight penance the remission of penalties that would otherwise be severe.
Q. Is an indulgence a pardon of sin, or a license to commit sin?
A.An indulgence is not a pardon of sin, nor a license to commit sin, and one who is in a state of mortal sin cannot gain an indulgence.
Q. How do good works done in mortal sin profit us?
A.Good works done in mortal sin profit us by obtaining for us the grace to repent and sometimes temporal blessings. Mortal sin deprives us of all merit, nevertheless God will bestow gifts for every good deed as He will punish every evil deed.