Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 69.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada

A Catholic bishop granting plenary indulgences for the public during times of calamity. Note the almsgiving in the background. Wall Fresco by Italian Artist Lorenzo Lotto, Suardi, Italy, circa 1524.

Q. What is an indulgence?

A. It is a remission of the temporal punishment due to sins, after the sins themselves, as to the guilt and the eternal punishment, are forgiven by the sacrament of penance, or perfect contrition. Hence nothing can be more grossly misrepresented than indulgences are by our adversaries; for the generality of Protestants imagine that an indulgence is a leave to commit sin, or at least, that it is a pardon for sins to come; whereas it is no such thing. For we believe there is no power in heaven or earth that can give leave to commit sin; and consequently there is no giving pardon beforehand for sins to come.

Q. How do you prove that the Church has received a power from Christ to grant indulgences, that is, to discharge a penitent sinner from the debt of the temporal punishment which remains due to sins?

A. I prove it from the promise which Christ made to St. Peter, I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: St. Matt. xvi. 13. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.* Which promise made without any exception, reservation, or limitation, must needs imply a power of loosing all such bonds as might otherwise hinder, or retard a Christian soul from entering heaven.

Q. How does an indulgence take off the obligation of personal satisfaction?

A. It takes off the penal but not the medicinal part.

Q. Do indulgences for the dead remit the pains in purgatory?

A. Not by way of absolution or jurisdiction, but only by way of prayer, or suffrage accepted by God.

Q. What dispositions are required to gain an indulgence ?

A. The person must be in the state of grace, confess, and communicate, and perform the things required while he is in the state of grace.

Q. What is a plenary indulgence ?

A. If duly obtained, it is a remission of all the temporal punishment due to past sins.

Q. What is a particular indulgence?

A. It is a remission of part of the temporal punishment due to sin.

Q. I suppose this is meant by an indulgence of seven, ten, twenty, thirty, or forty days or years. But I comprehend not the meaning of this calculation.

A. According to the ancient canons and discipline of the Church, temporal punishments of such a number of days or years, were decreed for certain sins: and when there was sufficient reason to shorten the time, it was called an indulgence.

Q. But these canons being no longer in force, I do not see what can be the present meaning of an indulgence, for so many days or years. If a sinner is obliged no longer to those punishments, he is free, and stands not in need of an indulgence.

A. Though those canons are not in force, the law of God is still in force, which requires temporal punishment for sin, and the Church by the power it has, relaxes as much punishment as was formerly inflicted by the ancient canons.

Q. Has not Christ abundantly satisfied, both for sin, and the punishment due to it, both temporal and eternal ? Can the Church dispose of the merits and satisfaction of Christ ?

A. Christ has abundantly satisfied and laid up the treasure for that purpose, but the remedy is to be applied accordingly as he has ordered. It is applied by the sacraments, and good works for the remission of sin ; it is applied by indulgences for the remission of temporal punishment, as there shall be found just occasion.

Q. What is a jubilee ?

A. It is a solemn plenary indulgence, accompanied with certain privileges, relating to censures and dispensations, granted to the inferior pastors of the Church by the supreme pastor, and specified in his bulls, or orders directed to them for that purpose ; and it is so called from the resemblance it bears with the jubilee year in the old law (which was a year of remission, in which bondsmen were restored to liberty, and every one returned to his possession); Levit. xxv. 27. But according to some it is so called from the Latin word jubilatio, which signifies joy or exultation, because it causes a spiritual joy in the souls of all who are made partakers thereof: it is granted every twenty-fifth year, as also upon other extraordinary occasions, to such as being truly penitent, shall worthily receive the blessed sacrament, and perform the other conditions of fasting, alms, and prayer, usually prescribed at such times..