Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers discusses what indulgences is in the Catholic Church. After the Fall in the Garden of Eden, when original sin entered the Earth, there were two effects of sin. Eternal punishment of sin is the loss of sanctifying grace that we need to get to Heaven. But there are also temporal effects of sin, which are the lasting effects of sin, like unhealthy attachment to material things and desire for sin. This is how sin not only affects our lives, but also the lives around us.
Thank the Lord that, with Christ’s death, we were restored to life. Eternal punishment for sin is remitted in the sacrament of reconciliation, as seen in John 20, when Jesus commissioned his disciples to forgive sins in his name. The Lord also shows mercy for the temporal punishment of sin; it can be remitted by indulgences on Earth and in purgatory after death before entering the Kingdom of Heaven. We must remember that not even the desire to sin can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which comes with temporal effects of sin in our lives.
An indulgence can be either plenary or partial. Plenary indulgences remit all of the temporal effects of sin, while partial indulgences remit only part of the punishment. Whether it is a plenary or partial indulgence though, the remission of temporal and remission of eternal punishment are due to God’s mercy seen in the death of Christ on the cross for us.
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