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Indulgences QUESTION from Rozann May 1, 2000 Dear Friend in Christ,
Do you have any suggestions as to how to explain indulgences to a seven-year-old? Thank you for any assistance you can give me. God bless you.
Sincerely in Christ through Mary, Rozann If you want to know the Son, get acquainted with His Mother.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on May 4, 2000 Dear Mrs. Rozann: Sure, no problem. You don't say whether your 7 year old is male or female, so in my illustration I will use the male pronoun.
Suppose your son is out playing in the yard and making a LOT of noise. The next door neighbor comes out on his porch and yells are your son to quiet down.
Your son gets angry at being chastised like that and told to be quiet so he picks up a rock and throws it through the neighbor's window.
Thus the sin -- throwing a rock through the neighbor's window.
Your son then begins to feel guilty about the window and goes over to the neighbor admits that he was the one to throw the rock and apologizes asking for forgiveness.
Thus the confession.
The neighbor has mercy on the boy and forgive him.
Thus the absolution.
But the window is still broken. Who is to pay for the broken window? It will cost $50 to fix the window. Obviously since the boy is responsible for the broken window, he should pay for it -- even though he has been forgiven the sin.
Thus the consequences of sin that continue even after absolution -- the residue of sin.
The neighbor has mercy on the child and tells the boy that he will take off $25 of the cost of the window if he mows the lawn for two weeks.
This a partial indulgence. The indulgence is removing part of the debt. The good works of the boy removes part of the residue of his sin.
Then the neighbor says that if the boy mows the lawn for two weeks, promises to be more quiet when playing in the yard, and takes the garbage to the curb for a month, he will erase the entire $50 debt.
Thus a plenary indulgence. The good works of the boy eliminates the entire residue of his sin.
In other words, an indulgence is mercy in the face of what we deserve and are responsible for. The boy is responsible for fixing a $50 window. He deserves to be made to pay the money -- no matter how long it takes to raise the money from his allowance. But mercy helps him pay the money through his willingness to go the good works prescribed. Thus he does not have to suffer the repayment for months and months, but can get it over with in a few weeks.
Hope that helps. Maybe you can extract something from this illustration.
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