Indulgence is a remission, granted by the church, of the temporal punishment which often remains due to sin after it’s guilt has been forgiven; to reduce the punishment merited by mortal sin in a state or process of purification called purgatory. The Catholic Church teaches that indulgences relieve only the temporal punishment resulting from the effect of sin and that a person is still required to have his grave sins absolved, ordinarily through the sacrament of Confession, to receive salvation.
For a person to receive indulgence he or she must first confess sins and must do some form of action to receive it which is usually a prayer or the performance of some good works. Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of penance when he breathed on his Apostles and gave them the power to forgive sins, saying: “whose sin you shall forgive, they are forgiven and if you do not forgive anyone’s sin they remain unforgiven” – (John 20:23).
In the early church, especially from the third century on, ecclesiastic authorities allowed a confessor or a Christian awaiting martyrdom to intercede for another Christian in order to shorten the other’s canonical penance. By the middle ages, the abuse of indulgence mainly through commercialization had become a renowned problem. By the tenth century, some penances were not replaced but merely reduced in connection with pious donations, pilgrimages, and similar meritorious works. In 1567, Pope Pius V canceled all grants of indulgences involving any fees or other financial transactions.
To gain a plenary indulgence, upon performing the charitable work or praying the aspiration or prayer for which the indulgence is granted, one must fulfill the prescribed conditions of:
- A complete and whole hearted detachment from all sin of any kind, even venial sin,
- Making a valid Sacramental confession,
- Receiving Holy Communion in the state of grace
- to be of a contrite heart.
Indulgence does not mean that you are not forgiven, it implies that the communion with you and God has been restored. it was sited in 2Samuel 12:13, “Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the lord’. Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the lord has forgiven you, won’t die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the lord by doing this your child will die’. It is a Catholic believe that there exists an intermediate state after physical death for expiatory purification, a place we refer to as purgatory. In this place, one is punished for all venial sins before being permitted to enter the kingdom of God after judgement.
Kinds of Indulgence
1.Universal indulgence- its a type of indulgence gained in any part of the world by any member of the clergy.
2.Local- It can be obtained only in Rome by either the pope, cardinal or even bishops.
Its important to note that only God knows what penalty remains to be paid and what its precise amount is in severity and pain.
Person that can Undergo Indulgence must be
- Free of mortal sin
- Must intend to
- Must have confessed
- Must perform good works such as prayers, alms, church visitation.