During the prayer meeting, I announced about the Plenary and the Partial Indulgences that the Pope granted during the period of World Youth Day (read the news here).
For those of you who are not familiar with what Indulgence is, you may want to read a good article by Jimmy Akins.
If I may give an analogy. If you play baseball and suddenly the ball hit the window of your neighbor’s house. What happened? You are in trouble of course. Our deeds have consequences. So what we normally do is that we will go the owner of the house and ask for forgiveness.
Similarly when we sin, we transgress and we hurt God and his people. What we should do? We should go and ask for forgiveness. But is this the end of the story? Of course not.
The mercy and forgiveness will urge us to do more. We will have the urge to “repair” the damage we have done. We will have the urge to repair the window that we hit with our ball. In our spiritual lives, we will do a “penance” to repair the damage that we have caused. That’s why after we go for sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest will give us a penance. Some people call this as the “temporal punishment” due to sin. Back to the analogy of breaking the window, sometimes we felt that repairing the windows sounds like a “punishment”. But it is merely to repair the damage we have caused. The sins has been forgiven, but the damage must still be repaired.
So what is Indulgence? by definition it is
“n. 1— … the remission before God of the temporal punishment due sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned, which the follower of Christ with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquires through the intervention of the Church which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints.”
Yeah I know it’s a long sentence. But the keywords are: “sins already forgiven”, “remission of temporal punishment”, and “won by Christ and the saints”.
First Indulgence is not forgiving sins. It is given for those sins that “has already been forgiven”. And as the analogy tries to illustrate, it is a remission of temporal punishment, or to repair the damage caused by our sins. And lastly, the satisfaction is won by “Christ and the saints.
So back to the analogy, what happened is that after the owner of the house has forgiven our mistakes, and we feel the urge to repair the window, but somehow that “repairing” has been done because of some good friends of us and the owner.
It is as if a friend of us and a friend of the house owner volunteered to repair the damage for us. Out of Love for sure! Maybe the analogy does not describe it perfectly, but I hope it helps some of us to understand.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and all the saints, their martyrdom, are these “reparing” the damage. This is the treasury of the Church. The bounty of God’s love for his people. And the Church dispenses this love to its members, you and me, simply because we are part of the family.
Sometimes when we made mistake, does not our parents will take the act of repairing the damage? This is the Church, the family of God. But to educate his children, the treasury of this Love is not dispenses without condition. Jesus said, “do not throw the pearls to the dogs”. We, on our parts, must have the attitude, the repentant heart, to acquire this great gifts.
We have been bought by the Precious blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. And all the saints have sacrificed their lives, simply so that we can be brought back to the fold, to the family of God.