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Thursday, December 08, 2005

No Attachment to Sin

As many of you know, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI recently announced a new plenary indulgence valid only for this year, December 8th.

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, any Christian who:
Participates in a formal prayer service in honor of Mary "or at least openly demonstrate devotion to Mary" by praying before an image of the Immaculate Conception on display for public veneration.
Recites the Lord's Prayer, the creed and a prayer to Mary and
Performs thnormal requirements: Confession within 20 days of Dec 8th, Reception of Eucharist Prayer for the intentions of the pope, All in a spirit of total detachment from the attraction of sin. , may win a plenary indulgence for themselves or the deceased.

Here's the problem: a lot of people don't know what it means to have no attachment to sin. Here's the explanation.

The non-attachment to sin is only necessary for winning a plenary indulgence.
It is not a condition for winning a partial indulgence.

I've talked to several priests on this and they all give the same answer.
Plenary indulgences are not intended to be difficult to win.
Furthermore, an indulgence is NOT a sacrament, it is only a sacramental.
One can accurately describe it as a completion of the sacrament of reconciliation, but that's as close as you get.

Now, since even the great and glorious sacrament of baptism doesn't free us from concupiscence, it would be quite absurd to think that we have to be free of concupiscence to win a plenary indulgence. The Church can't mean that we must be, since it is not possible to be free of concupiscence while in the body. Furthermore, the saints are holy precisely because they are much more aware of their own concupiscence than most others, and therefore they struggle with temptation even more than we do because they recognize their attachments more clearly.

We are not responsible for that which invincible ignorance prevents us recognizing. So, if we just make an act of the will, praying something along the lines of "Lord, I desire only You and Your perfection, I desire nothing of the sins or defects of this world" and MEAN it, that would be sufficient to constitute no attachment to sin. Our flesh may experience a movement towards some illicit thing, but that isn't the same as an attachment to sin.

Some people point to private revelation that seems to indicate the contrary.
My response is that it is private revelation, and therefore not binding on the faithful.

More information on indulgences in general can be found in the Beauty of Grace wall calendar of Indulgences for 2006

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