The practice of obtaining indulgences is an often misunderstood teaching of the Catholic Church.

Even after a sin is forgiven and the eternal punishment of Hell is avoided, the soul remains wounded and any harm caused by the sin must be made up for. Because restitution is necessary when justice is violated, a person is still due to experience a temporal or temporary punishment in Purgatory.

Indulgences result from acts of charity or mercy directed toward God or other people that contribute to the healing of a soul and the sanctification of an individual.

Plenary indulgences remove all of the temporary punishment of sin. Partial indulgences remove only some of the punishment.

To receive a plenary indulgence, within a short time of performing the works attached to it, the person also must have confessed their sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and made a sincere resolution to avoid sin, receive the Holy Eucharist, and pray for the intention of the pope.

Indulgences can be applied to oneself or a poor soul already in Purgatory. They cannot be applied to another living person.

Because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross:

The remittance of temporal punishment on Earth:

To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1472

Even after Mercy there is disorder:

Mitigating the consequences of sin:

Likewise, the religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints.

Pope Paul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, January 1, 1967

Encouraging people to do good things:

Directing us toward the practices that work:

He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.

2 Maccabees 12: 43-46

Debts covered by treasure stored in Heaven:

Sharing in the merits of the saints:

Gaining indulgences for others:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

More than an intellectual head trip:

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