Here is what I think I understand:
A Catholic believes in something called penance that is understood as a sacrament by which forgiveness of sins (committed after baptism) is granted through the priest's ‘absolution’ to those with:
a) ‘true sorrow
b) confess their sins and
c) promise to satisfy for the confessed sin
The satisfactions are basically works necessary to ensure the temporal punishments due to sin are ‘satisfied’. The idea is that although the ‘absolution’ remits both the guilt and the eternal punishment of mortal sins, some indebtedness to justice that demands temporal punishment can be cancelled through the ‘satisfaction’ (or later on in purgatory).
On the subject of purgatory one mans work with intrinsic satisfactory qualities may actually be transferred to another in order to remove some (or all?) of the punishments of those believers in purgatory. Those in purgatory are those who did not make satisfaction for their own menial sins before dying – thus having to be in purgatory.
Owing to the peculiar relation between and material identity of merit and satisfaction in the present economy of salvation, a twofold value must in general be distinguished in every good work: the meritorious and the satisfactory value. But each preserves its distinctive character, theoretically by the difference in concepts, and practically in this, that the value of merit as such, consisting in the increase of grace and of heavenly glory, is purely personal and is not applicable to others, while the satisfactory value may be detached from the meriting agent and applied to others. The possibility of this transfer rests on the fact that the residual punishments for sin are in the nature of a debt, which may be legitimately paid to the creditor and thereby cancelled not only by the debtor himself but also by a friend of the debtor. This consideration is important for the proper understanding of the usefulness of suffrages for the souls in purgatory (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XXV, Decret. de purgat., in Denzinger, n. 983). (Catholic Encyclopedia – Merit)
Here is my question:
'I understand that a Catholic through meritorious works that have satisfactory power in them, can transfer those satisfactions as a kind of spiritual wealth to those in purgatory. However, can these ‘credits’ if I may use the word, be sent to others who are still alive as well?'
More specifically: 'If I was Catholic and a dear relative I know commits venial sins and needs to do some satisfaction to avoid temporal punishment, can I do good meritorious/satisfactory works for them and thereby remove their temporal punishments for them? Or is the transfer of satisfaction only for those believers who are suffering temporal punishments in purgatory?