Catholic Indulgences

The Indulgences that are “given out” by the Catholic Church are greatly misunderstood by non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

As the Church handles indulgences today, they are defined by “The Handbook of Indulgences – Norms and Grants” as:

“An indulgence is the remission in the eyes of God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose culpable element has already been taken away.  The Christian faithful who are rightly disposed and observe the definite, prescribed conditions gain this remission through the effective assistance of the Church, which, as the minister of redemption, authoritatively distributes and applies the treasure of the expiatory works of Christ and the saints.”

The question is asked by many Protestant Christians as to where the Catholic Church thinks it has such power to do this.  The answer is in the Bible.  Let us look at this in some detail.

First we will go to Matthew 6:17-19:

17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 l will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

At this time Jesus gave Simon a new name Peter (the Rock), and then gave him the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to open or close the gates as needed, as well as the power to bind our sins or release us of our sins.

At this point the contention is that Jesus died for our sins so we do not need to be bound or released by man, as Jesus already has.  Yes, Jesus died for our sins.  But this means that even though we are still sinners, if we follow His Commandments, have faith in Him, become Baptized by water in the Trinity and “eat His Body and drink His Blood” (John 6:53), our sins are forgiven and we MAY make it to Heaven.

At all times through the Bible, sins had to be “paid for”, often in suffering and hardship.  We are told that only the holy in spirit and body may go to Heaven, and that the gates are narrow.  So we must atone for our sins, and the Catholic Church teaches, through tradition and the Old Testament, that this is done through a cleansing process we call Purgatory for lack of another name.  This is a time of temporal punishment to remove the stain of sins we commit so as to allow us to go into Heaven and behold our Lord and Savior, as impure things  and beings may not enter into Heaven.

After Jesus is Crucified and came back to the Apostles and Disciples we hear Him tell all of His Apostles (John 20:21-23) “21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” ” Thus giving the Apostles the ability to bind and unbind us from our sins.  We are told that we are released from our sins with the Death of Jesus, and that is true, but we are not released from the effects of those sins, and that requires further pardoning by God or His Disciples, whom He has granted permission to do so.

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Orans Posture

Since my entrance into the Catholic Church I have spent my days and evenings reading the Canon (laws of the Church), the Rubrics, and documents of the Church.  I have many more to read and understand, but one thing has been pretty clear, what should be done in Mass and what should not be done.

There is a posture taken by Priest called the Orans Posture in which they place their hands out and up when praying singularly for the Congregation.

Orans Posture

Orans Posture

In reading the rubrics prior to 1950, this was a position that only Priest were to take that were celebrating or con-celebrating when they were praying on behalf of the Congregation, and while the Congregation was silent.  The rubrics stated that the hands of a Priest, when praying WITH the Congregation were to be together “in a prayerful manner”.

If you read the rubrics now, it still has the Priest in this position when praying on behalf of the the congregation and people of the world, but continues to have the Priest take this posture when praying the “Our Father”, which now shows the Congregation praying, where before they did not pray with the Priest during Mass.  The Deacon, if present is still to be in the “prayerful manner”, which was described in the past as hands together, fingers extended and thumbs cross or fingers interlaced and crossed.  (The Deacon or non-concelibrating but present Priest were not to take the Orans Posture…)

In the late 60s to early 70s the Charismatic groups and Nuns in the United States started holding hands with the advent of the text from Vatican II.  There was never a proclamation to do so, and there was no rubrics changes published by the Church to do so, they just started to do it to show togetherness.

However if you go back in history, the only time we see this posture being taken was when a LEADER/ELDER/PRIEST was praying for the people, it was never a posture taken by the lay or religious people unless they were the ones leading the prayer and praying on behalf of the people present.

It was a practice to hold hands at the dinner table when praying, but never was it so while in Church or at a Religious service!

We need to go away from the attempt to become like the Ordained and return to our roots in this case.  Don’t get me wrong!

I am all for change when change needs to happen, but this is not a change that makes since or needs to happen.  It is taking our actions to us and away from God and our love and need to be with Him and returning our focus on ourselves and not Him!

In Christ

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The God of Abraham

Over the last several years, and especially in the last 10 or so years, I have heard MANY “Christians” say that the Muslim/Islamic God, The God of Abraham, is not the God of Christians, and I have wondered how much of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, these people have actually read and understood if they have read it.

In Genesis 16, we are told of the birth of Ishmael to Abram (later to be named Abraham by God) through Hagar, Sarai’s, Abram’s wife,  hand maiden.  When Hagar runs off after Sarai finds out she is pregnant with Sarai’s husband’s child, God comes to Hagar and informs her she will bear a son who is to be called Ishmael.

We are told this in Genesis 16:11.

Now, in Genesis 16:12 we are told:

12 He shall be a wild ass of a man,
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This translates that the people of Ishmael will become a thorn in the sides of all other peoples.  Kind of like what is happening today.  This has been a growing problem since that time, nothing we should be surprised of!

Remember folks, in Chapter 17, we are also told that God will be the God of ALL of Abraham’s descendants.  This includes Ishmael, as much as we don’t want it to mean that…

So folks, while their understanding of God and His requirements of us may be different, their professed God is our God, however, I believe they are following Satan’s direction and not God’s even though they are still God’s people, per God Himself!

No, don’t get me wrong, I TOTALLY disagree with their actions, thoughts and practices.  I do firmly believe that they are in the wrong, and should be EVANGELIZED to the strongest degree, and should be protected from, but I do also firmly believe that they feel they are acting as the Christian God directs them.

In Christ,

Don

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