So indulgences. You can read the article, but I'll give you a more colloquial read on it. Okay. So you have these after-death places: heaven above and you have flaming hell below. And in between . . . it's not clear where . . . you have purgatory. Imagine this place like a dingy Greyhound terminal waiting room. It's ugly, has a water cooler that's unsanitary-looking even if it works, and has nothing but grungy, uncomfortable benches to sit on. We're talking about a way-station here. A temporary stop on your way to a better place. That's purgatory. And why are you in this
The price you pay God if it were a really bad thing is hell, baby. You will burn in unquenchable torturing fires forever, as in longer than when every star in every galaxy in the universe burns out. In fact, beyond the time when every star in every galaxy in all the alternate universes to this one burn out. Forever is one long frigging time.
But even if you didn't do anything really bad, you still have to pay. The God who called you into existence out of love is not satisfied till S/He sits you in the Greyhound terminal till S/He's ready to see you. That, brothers and sisters, could be a day, a week, or a year, or several thousand or conceivably, million, years, depending on what bad things you did.
And here I have to remind you of something the Catholic Church doesn't want you to forget: you don't even make it to the Greyhound terminal unless God forgives you your sins. And how is that effected? Why, via one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, the sacrament of penance, commonly called "confession." That's where you go and recount your sins to a priest, who as a representative of Jesus (i.e., God), bestows God's forgiveness upon you in a proxy operation.
[Enough! Geez. I didn't realize this theological disquisition was going to be so long-winded, so I'm going to have to ask your indulgence (har, har!) for taking a break. I'll continue this tomorrow.]