Recently I undertook study which led to some discussion on the church's teaching on indulgences. Now it has been many years since I've heard a priest make a public comment on indulgences (which are an infallible teaching of the Church). I'm not trying to say that it rests solely on a priest to educate me on matters of faith, nor that it is an area of church life that necessarily requires greater exposure, but it was interesting for me to realise that this is still a part of the faith practices of our church. It made me wonder, while it is a practice on paper, how much is it actually observed by our Church in modern times?
Personally indulgences are not something I've had much exposure to. I'm slightly too young to have grown up with them as an overt part of our Catholic life – they just weren't discussed or practiced in my home or parish. However my mum and dad know all about them from their youth. Many of the young people in our church, who are choosing to return to our traditional teachings and observances rather than mimic imported trends from other churches, are apparently hot on the practice of indulgences. There may yet be a comeback!
What are your experiences? Is this something you practice? I would be genuinely interested in your thoughts. For the sake of clarity, the definition of indulgences as set out in the Cathechism is below:
"An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for the them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins" The Church does this not just to aid Christians, "but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and mercy"