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Non-Catholics Section: Prayers / Indulgences

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Non-Catholics Section:

Prayers / Indulgences

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Important Notice: Items herein may not apply to all persons. References and translations may vary. We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. Do not take items out of context. Do not inflict harm on yourself or others, break laws, take unsuitable/incautious or inappropriate/drastic actions, or take figurative items literally. Use of site is at your own risk and is subject to our terms of use. For more terms information, see below and click here


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Do You Reject the Concept of Lengthy or Repetitive Prayers?

Do You Reject the Concept of Praying For the Dead?

Do You Reject the Concept of Praying to Saints?

Do You Reject the Concept of Indulgences? 

Question

Comments

Do You Reject the Concept of Lengthy or Repetitive Prayers?

Consider:

* If Christ opposed the repeating of prayer, why did He Himself repeat his prayer (e.g. see Mt. 26:44, Mk. 14:39)?

* If prayer should not be repeated, why does Scripture show the heavenly creatures repeating prayer?

Rv. 4:8: The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come."

* If prayer should not be repeated, why does Scripture praise those who are persistent in prayer (e.g. see Lk. 18:1-8)?

* How can Scripture instruct us to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17), if we are not to repeat our prayers?

* How can Christ be opposed to lengthy prayer considering that He "spent the night in prayer to God" (see Lk. 6:12)? 

* Do you base your rejection of lengthy prayer on the following Scripture passages?

Mk. 12:38-40: In the course of his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."

Lk. 20:45-47: Then, within the hearing of all the people, he said to (his) disciples, "Be on guard against the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and love greetings in marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."

Can you not see that Jesus is condemning lengthy prayers said as a pretext? Jesus words certainly cannot be said to apply to sincere, heartfelt prayers! 

* Do you base your rejection of repetitive prayer on Mt. 6:7-8 ("In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.")? In light of Christ's spending whole nights in prayer and the Apostle telling us to pray without ceasing, can you not see that lengthy prayers are not prohibited per se? Rather, "we are not to act as though God needs to hear many words in order to know our wants". Clearly we are not prohibited from spending much time in prayer - but are rather instructed to do so. 


In Closing...

"This practice of praying in spirit is peculiar to Christians, and is not at all used by infidels. Of these Christ the Lord has said: When you pray, speak not much, as the heathens; for they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Be not ye, therefore, like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you before you ask him. But though (our Lord) prohibits loquacity, He is so far from forbidding continuance of prayer which proceeds from the eager and prolonged devotion of the soul that by His own example He exhorts us to such prayer. Not only did He spend whole nights in prayer, but also prayed the third time, saying the self-same words. The inference, therefore, to be drawn from the prohibition is that prayers consisting of mere empty sounds are not to be addressed to God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Do You Reject the Concept of Praying For the Dead?

Consider:

* If you reject the concept of purgatory, click here

* If it is wrong to pray for the dead, why did the ancient Jews pray for their dead?

* If it is wrong to pray for the dead, why does Scripture speak of prayers for the dead (see 2 Macc. 12:39-46)? [Note: Protestants may reject this book of the Bible. If you reject this book of the Bible, click here.]

* If it is wrong to pray for the dead, why does St. Paul prays for the dead Onesiphorus (see 2 Tm. 1:16-18)?

* If it is wrong to pray for the dead, why are there prayers for the dead in the catacombs (where the earliest Christians are buried)?

* If it is wrong to pray for the dead, why did the earliest Christians follow in this practice? Why did the earliest Christians offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the dead? How is it that the followers of Luther can reject a practice that traces back to the origins of Christianity (and even before)?

"We offer sacrifices [Masses] for the dead on their birthday anniversaries ('the anniversary of their birth into eternal life')" [Tertullian ("an excellent early Christian writer" - although he ultimately fell into heresy), c. 211 A.D.] 

"Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 420 A.D.) 

"The prayer either of the Church herself or of pious individuals is heard on behalf of certain of the dead; but it is heard for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not for the rest of their life in the body do such wickedness that they might be judged unworthy of such mercy, nor who yet lived so well that it might be supposed they have no need of such mercy." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 420 A.D.)

"Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead find relief through the piety of their friends and relatives who are still alive, when the Sacrifice of the Mediator [the Mass] is offered for them, or when alms are given in the church. But these things are of profit to those who, when they were alive merited that they might afterwards be able to be helped by these things... There is, indeed, a manner of living so good that these helps are not needed, and again a manner so evil that these helps are of no avail, once a man has passed from this life." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 421 A.D.) 

"But by the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice [the Mass], and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. For the whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice [of the Mass] itself; and the sacrifice [of the Mass] is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 5th century A.D.)

"Be generous to all the living, and withhold not your kindness from the dead." (Sirach 7:33)

"To assist the souls in Purgatory is to perform the most excellent of the works of mercy, or rather it is to practice in a sublime manner all the works of mercy together: it is to visit the sick; it is to give drink to those who thirst for the vision of God; it is to feed the hungry, to ransom prisoners, to clothe the naked, to procure for poor exiles the hospitality of the Heavenly Jerusalem; it is to comfort the afflicted, to instruct the ignorant - in fine, to practice all works of mercy in one." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

Do You Reject the Concept of Praying to Saints?

Click Here For 'Do You Reject the Concept of Praying to Saints?'

Do You Reject the Concept of Indulgences?

Consider:

* Do you reject the concept of indulgences because you don't really understand what they are?

"An Indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to sin." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Can. 992 An indulgence is the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful gains under certain and defined conditions by the assistance of the Church which as minister of redemption dispenses and applies authoritatively the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"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 treasury of the expiatory works of Christ and the saints." (Norms for Indulgences)

* Do you reject the concept of indulgences because you think they are a 'license to sin'? If you believe this, you are quite mistaken regarding the Church's teaching on indulgences. Indulgences actually have nothing at all to do with future sin. One cannot gain an indulgence for future sin - nor do indulgences do pardon future sin! Rather, indulgences simply remit punishment due to past sin which has already been forgiven. Furthermore, if a person was planning to commit grievous future sin, he or she would not be worthy of forgiveness - and would therefore not be able to obtain an indulgence.  

* Do you reject the concept of indulgences because one cannot "buy forgiveness"? While it is true that one cannot "buy forgiveness", indulgences have nothing to do with forgiveness of sin. Rather, indulgences deal with remitting penalties for sins that are already forgiven. Remember that there are two consequences to sin - guilt and punishment. Guilt is remitted by confession. Indulgences cannot remit guilt, but only punishment.

* Do you think indulgences forgive sin or eliminate the need for confession? If so, you should know that indulgences do not forgive sin, but remit punishment due to already forgiven sin. They do not eliminate the need for or substitute for Confession, but rather presuppose that one has already received sacramental absolution in Confession (for those who were in a state of mortal sin).

* Do you think indulgences remit the need for restitution? If so, you should know that indulgences do not eliminate the requirement of restitution, but should be obtained in addition to making restitution. For example, if someone were to steal an item from another, he should go to Confession (and receive sacramental absolution), restore the item (or otherwise make full restitution), and obtain indulgences.

* Do you reject the concept of indulgences because you think they are a scheme to make a profit? If this was true, why is little to nothing charged for them? Why are they offered to the faithful simply for reading Scripture, saying prayers, etc.? If money has been connected with certain indulgences, can you not see the biblical basis of alms atoning for sin (see Sirach 3:29)? Can you not see how a civil court may offer a choice of prison time or paying a fine? Are you further unaware that the Church rejects the practice of simony as gravely sinful? Certainly she would not offer the remission of penalties by a means that was gravely sinful! No, payments connected with indulgences are not buying a "spiritual thing", but may be likened to "paying a fine" instead of doing some other (probably more arduous) penance.

* Do you reject the concept of indulgences because of abuses in the past? The fact that something is abused does not make the thing abused wrong! Rather, it is the abuse itself that is wrong! While abuses are known to have happened in the past, they were not formally sanctioned by the Church. Instead, those who committed the abuses were responsible for them.

* Do you reject the concept of indulgences because you don't think the Catholic Church has the power to grant them? Have you ever considered that Jesus' lawful ministers (priests of the Catholic Church) have been given the great power to forgive sins ["Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (Jn. 20:23)], and therefore the Church must also have the lesser power to remit the penalties to due sin? As the Baltimore Catechism states, "We show that the Church has the power to grant Indulgences, because Christ has given it power to remit all guilt without restriction, and if the Church has power, in the Sacrament of Penance to remit the eternal punishment - which is the greatest - it must have power to remit the temporal or lesser punishment, even outside the Sacrament of Penance." (Baltimore Catechism)

"He who gains an indulgence is not, strictly speaking, absolved from the debt of punishment, but is given the means whereby he may pay it." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

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