Monday, 2 November 2009
Plenary indulgence, anyone?
With the various celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification happening around the world in the past week I thought it relevant to remind ourselves that the Roman church's teaching on purgatory and indulgences which led Martin Luther to his courageous actions on 31st October, 1517 remains substantially intact almost 500 years later.
The basis of the teaching is that 1) the death of Christ obtained the remission of the eternal punishment, not the temporal punishment of sins, and 2) the Roman church has "a treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints" (notice it is always "and" with the Roman church, "Christ and Mary/the saints", "the Bible and Tradition", "God's grace and man's free will") which she has authority to open from time to time and grant to the faithful upon the fulfilment of certain conditions (I suppose we can give thanks at least that indulgences are not sold anymore). The teaching can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1471-1479 (this catechism can be viewed on-line here http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm.
The most recent indulgence is applicable today, All Soul's Day, so do hurry to fulfill the prescribed conditions to obtain the remission of sin's temporal punishment, but note that the indulgence can only be applied to the "poor souls" in purgatory (unlike the indulgence attached to World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, which some of our Lutheran youth in Catholic schools attended, or that attached to viewing the relics of St Therese of Lisieux which are currently touring England, which many Anglicans are taking advantage of, which could/can both be applied to oneself).
Just how all this continues after the Lutheran World Federation and and the Vatican supposedly reached a basic agreement on justification (i.e. the forgiveness of sins) in 1999 I will leave for you to ponder.
Here is the text granting the indulgence, which came in my "in-box" today from a Roman Catholic news source I subscribe to:
"On All Souls’ Day (2 November) a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit any parish church or public oratory and there recite one Our Father and the Creed.
On all the days from 1 November to 8 November inclusive, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Poor Souls, is granted to those who visit a cemetery and pray even if only mentally for the departed.
Conditions for both indulgences are:
1. Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.
2. It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by completion of the work.
3. Freedom from attachment to sin, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial. (By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)
4. Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
5. Prayers must he recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. (No particular prayers are prescribed.) One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice, or other suitable prayers.
6. A sacramental confession must be made within a week of completion of the prescribed work. (One confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)"
Now, I ask you, does not this teaching and practice detract from the completeness ("It is finished" "Today you will be with me in Paradise") and thus the glory of Christ's sacrifice for us?