Will an Indulgence Take Away the Punishment for My Sins
Oh, the devil deceives us so to keep us from seeking a saving faith
Gift for the Few
For the most part, as I will explain in this article, sadly hardly anyone receives an indulgence from God excusing them of their punishment due to them for their sins.
“People who receive indulgences…while remaining in their previous vicious habits [not leaving their habitual sins]…Their souls are neither fed nor refreshed. When they eat [God’s grace]…they just throw [it]up.”
–Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden
If we are honest with ourselves, we can easily see we still commit many many habitual sins against Our Beloved Lord–from not being truly resolved to daily run to Our Lord for grace, make real/effective resolutions and work hard to amend them. Therefore, from our unrepentanted/unchanged sins, since we still desire them (don’t hate them enough to work hard to change)–if we seek an indulgence to free us from the punishment due to us for our life time of sins, it won’t take effect against our souls.
What is an Indulgence?
An indulgence quite different than what most people understand.
An indulgence is a special blessing from God for just a few souls, who are properly disposed to receive His magnificent atoning grace. An indulgence helps souls, who have had their sins forgiven (are in the state of grace) and have fulfilled the requirements of the Church, to help sin no more and atone for their sins.
Despite what the majority have been deceived into believing, so we can live lukewarm lives, as The Word says “few” ( ) have acquired this kind of faith. Therefore, the help (grace) an indulgence provides–the strength to sin no more and the removal of some or all of the temporary punishment that is due to a soul from their sins committed after Baptism–is only for a few.
“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” (CCC #1471).
Requirements to Receive an Indulgence
Here are the specific requirements, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, as depicted from the Vatican, that must be met for our souls to be open to receive such wonderful grace from God’s indulgence (love) for a full pardon of punishment, if God wills it. Someone must:
- have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin [have no desire to sin at all; are working to become a saint—to stop sinning even with the slightest offence];
- have sacramentally confessed their sins, with true sorrow [been completely forgiven of each and every sins from a disdain for sin so great they would truly do anything to avoid offending Eternal Goodness and maintained that state of sorrow to keep saving grace in their souls];
- receive the Holy Eucharist [it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required];
- pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff (the Pope).
Filling these requirements might seem easy to some because we feel we are very faithful, but that is because the devil uses our faith and love we feel we have for God to pride us right into great blindness so we won’t understand what true sorrow and a true detachment from venial sin really is.
Partial Pardon of Punishment
Now to receive even a partial pardon of sin, we still must have a horror so great for sin–even venial sin–that we would rather suffer even death than sin (have true sorrow for every sin ever committed). But our love for God received from the indulgence can be less than that of a full pardon and the grace sent from the indulgence can move that soul into having a love for God great enough that it atones for at least some sin.
Why We Would Need an Indulgence
To be welcomed into Heaven–have no time purifying ourselves in the fires of Purgatory from the consequence of sin–if we died saved (in the state of grace)–we must not only have advanced in our faith to the point of having a true disdain and real resolve to stop every sin (true sorrow) because we can’t bear offending God whom we should be loving with all of our heart (be saved), but we must also have a love for God so great that it atones (pays the price) for each and every sin we have committed after baptism–“filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24)–since every good and bad thing we have done will be rewarded or a punished from our just God.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
If we die with God’s saving grace in our soul, every sin we have committed against Our Creator is punished if they aren’t atoned for while on earth. However, even though atonement is sought through sacrifice/pain/penance and good works, sins aren’t atoned for by pain or good works since there ins’t any good deed nor any amount of pain that could remove the consequence of even the slightest venial sin due to the infinite offence committed against Perfect Goodness–even by the smallest crime. “Even if you did a hundred good deeds for each wicked one, you still would not be able to pay God back for his goodness and love” (St. Bridget of Sweden). Our offences are atoneable through love alone. ” ” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna). The pain [penance] is meant to move our heart to a pure love for God. True Love for God saves us and perfect love atones for our sins–purifies us. Those who truly love God are more than willing to serve God and work with all of their ability to save souls and suffer and suffer anything God wills, out of beautiful love for Him–just like He loved us. And it is that kind of love–from a soul is in the state of grace–that helps atone for sin. Any acts of love we perform, if someone isn’t in the state of grace, God does send actual grace (God’s help) to us, if there is anything truly being done driven from some amount of faith, but outside of being in the state of grace, our good works, sacrificing etc. don’t help us to atone for any sin.
This is where an indulgence can come in helpful for certain souls. If someone is so blessed to have grown incredibly in their faith and finally truly detests each and every sin they have ever committed, not just in their words, but is at last willing, by their actions, to do what is necessary to reject the world’s pleasures for the cross and truly live the faith whole heartedly working to sin no more, and has accepted God’s saving grace (has accepted forgiveness of all of their sins from their humbled contrite heart) then an indulgence (pardon) is possible–based on their love for God–for all or some of their sins.
Who Can Receive an Indulgence
Anyone can attempt to receive an indulgence, since the Church places no stipulation as to who can try to obtain it, but like I said, only a few certain faithful Christians who have the correct conversion of the heart and have filled the Churches requirements can accept God’s mercy and will receive any pardon of the punishment due from their sins, if God deems the soul worthy.
Confusion in the Faith
As many of us know through the history of the Church bounds of people have been quite confused as to what an indulgence really is, and today there is still great confusion as to what it is and who receives it. Sadly scores of people run to church believing if they do x,y,z they are receiving a “get out of jail for free” card from God’s mercy, when sadly they greatly lack true sorrow for their sins and aren’t even in the state of grace.
There are no “get out of jail for free cards.” For someone to obtain such an atonement for their sins committed after baptism, the faithful has to over come great hurdles in the faith and grow incredibly in grace to let go of the sin they still cling to in order to embrace such a gift from God. It surely doesn’t come without great labor of love for God.
Not that anyone can know for sure if they have had all of their sins forgiven from perfect contrition constantly dwelling in their heart, but if someone has advanced so wonderfully in their faith and it does exist then receiving an indulgence can remove all or part of the punishment (atone-pay the price) that is due for all of their grievous crimes against God is possible. The point we must understand to receive a plenary (full) or partial indulgence someone MUST be in the state of grace. And if you have read the rest of this web site you now understand the devil has deceived many into presuming they are saved, when they most certainly aren’t so to keep them lukewarm in their faith. (learn more). To receive this great grace someone must have all mortal sins forgiven and no longer continues to commit them or desire them, and can no longer desire any venial sin as well (which makes the venial sin mortal). And if we look honestly in our lives we can probablly see many venial sins we commmit over and over again from not properlly seeking God’s transforming grace to help us grow towards perfection as God commands of us.
“[A] venial [sin]…becomes mortal,” when someone “fix[es] one’s end in that venial sin [has no desire to amend]” (St. Aquinas).
Since we all loose our saving grace we received at baptism the moment we don’t want to stop any sin, which for most of us was the instant we gained full knowledge of right from wrong, most of us are outside of a saving faith and need to follow Christ to obtain His mercy (grace) so to learn how to truly hate what we have grown to love (sin). To remove horrible sinful behaviors and habbits and truly hate them so to gain a truly contrite (sorrowful) heart. Therefore, unless someone is working painstakingly to stop sinning, making resolutions to change all of their sins because they can’t stand to hurt their beloved Lord again with a single sin, they are still outside of perfect contrition and aren’t able to receive an indulgence.
Having imperfect contrition–a great fear of suffering from our sins–for each and ever sin isn’t enought to obtain this indulgence. To receive an indulgence we must have true sorrow for each and every sin, which means we are daily woking to become a saint because we honestly no longer can tollerate sin since it offends the one we Love. We can’t desire to sin at all and are working hard to stop every sin even their venial ones–working, not just in thought, but with a burning passion to become a saint (someone who wants to love God at all moments and not sin in the slightest way). If we claim to have true sorrow but are still ignoring a single command of God commands even the smallest, or repeating the same sins over and over again from not properlly seeking God’s graace to change, it doesn’t matter how many prayers, works or devotions we pray, we are still rejecting God’s scantifying grace and not in the state of grace. Oh, how few truly love God (are in the state of grace).
And this is what so very few do. Few are under a true life changing conversion making real resolutions daily to live the faith. Most are so caught up in their works of the faith, they aren’t whole heartedly resolved to stop their sins by every day imploring God’s mercy to strengthen and guide them along the hard journey how they need to change to get there. A soul that still desires to commit any sin (isn’t working to stop any sin), is ignoring any of God’s Word, rejects forgiveness, isn’t in the state of grace, and isn’t open to receive (rejects) God’s indulgence grace. And if we truly read the entire Word we will clearly see how we have paid little attention, if any attention, to bounds of commands from God. What little love we have for the Word. And from so many souls not being truly resolved to stop their sins and unwilling to reject the pleasures of the world to spend their time loving God instead, most don’t receive any grace from this sacrament since their souls aren’t properly disposed to receive it.
I read a story a couple of time about St. Philip Neri (it had no citations and differed with each version, but the message was similar) so I will share it. One day, while St. Philip Neri was was preaching about the jubilee year of indulgence, he received a private revelation from the Lord that only one person received an indulgence. Sadly, all in the crowded Catholic Church were most likely not in the state of grace except of course the saint and just one old faithful humble cleaning woman. The other version of this story was even more damming and the saint was at the Holy gates in Rome during the Year of Indulgence and out of everyone who entered through those gates only one, other than himself, received an indulgence. Truly, it is incredibly hard to convert enough in our faith to hate all of our sins (have true sorrow for all of them) since we have made so many sins part of our daily lives and personalities. Tragically, we don’t even see them any more. The devil has us so confused, thinking we are in the state of grace, when so few are. If we honestly looked into our thoughts and actions we would see we simply aren’t resolved to stop sinning and are rejecting God’s sanctifying grace and so many other graces as well. We must seek God’s mercy, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, to help move our souls to grow into a saving faith truly hates the sins we love by first gaining knowledge of our sinfulness and burning desire to change so we can even begin to know what we need to amend with a humble heart. Run to God for His help (grace); He will guild us to the correct Way.
Most people who truly detest their sins and desire to sin no more–those who truly want to become saints–for the love of God, don’t want to run to an indulgence hoping to have their punishment for their sins removed since they feel they deserve any and all punishment because there sins are a simply horrible offences against God deserving of great punishment. But rather, they will flee to God’s mercy, in the indulgence, mostly for whatever grace God desires to given them to help strengthen their soul so they can move towards never sinning again (not harming their Lord again). The want the strength from the indulgence so they can stop hurting their Beloved and to be able to more quickly give God the perfect praise and adoration He deserves in Heaven. Their concern isn’t for themselves, hoping to avoid the punishment they deserve, their concern is mostly God as they love God more than themselves. God doesn’t want to punish us (but from His justice there is punishment), He wants to love us and have us love Him, so those with a saving faith–in the state of grace–are simply seeking God’s will.
If God’s so desires to bless them with the removal of their punishment because they were able to accept His gift, they feel so deeply unworthy and unfathomably blessed. Oh, to loose the great punishment we deserve is such a gift of love that God blesses to those who burn in love of Him (want to love Him above themselves). If we do die in that state of grace with our punishment atoned for, we will be able instantly give God great praises in Heaven, which is what God truly desire from us. Please remember, those truly sorry for their sins aren’t focused on their “punishment” and removing it for their sake, but rather are focused on what they can do to help prevent themselves from offending God again so they can love God perfectly in Heaven. They care more about God than themselves. That is the mindset of someone with true contrition. They spend every moment of their day looking for how the can love God…not themselves. Those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, out of love for God, are mostly concerned about God’s will above their own and whatever suffering they might have to endure to fulfill God’s will is more than acceptable for them.
Yet, sadly many run, with a heart wanting to take from God His mercy, not even desiring to love Him. Many hope to get a “get out of jail for free” blessing, when they still don’t even truly love their Lord nor possess true sorrow for their sins. They are greatly blind. They aren’t trusting in His mercy but rather trying to take His mercy. Truly no blessing will be received. If we have ears to hear, now is the time to change. Great conversion is waiting for you.