It's not that confusing
; the idea is that although you've been forgiven
, you still have not been washed
You have the guarantee after a good confession
that you won't burn in hell
for sins you have committed (provided you confess all mortal
ones), but it doesn't mean that you've been shot by a magic bullet
that makes everything hunky-dory
. If you ever see movies where one guy cheats on his wife
and she finds out, you'll notice that she may forgive
him, but that doesn't mean he's innocent
all over again. As far as she's concerned
, he has to make up for some of the stuff he's done. And sometimes that means doing something major.
Alternatively, enter the plenary indulgence; it is not possible to obtain one of these lightly; you don't follow the directions
and be pardoned, because then you've only a partial indulgence
. A plenary indulgence must be obtained much in the way a mortal sin is committed
. You must:
- Follow instructions on obtaining a plenary indulgence; substituting a partial doesn't work here.
- Know fully that what you're doing will result in the acquisition of a plenary indulgence
- Execute all steps with full consent of the will to the best of your ability. This means not thinking "I've been reading for 29:14, only 46 seconds left...
And for the record, I've not heard of the "blessing from the pope" requirement, although it's a distinct possibility
. The usual requirements are to meet the special requirements, confess your sins and receive Holy Communion within a week, pray for the pope's intentions, pray for the souls in purgatory, and I may be forgetting one. In any case, the plenary indulgence is not simply a project for the afternoon; with the wrong disposition, you are awarded only a partial indulgence. And any indulgence received in the state of mortal sin is without any merit whatever; it remits no temporal punishment, and cannot remit eternal punishment. That's why confession is still around.
Why so strict? Well, because if you give it less than your very best, you can't be all that
serious about it, now, can you?