Indulgences Return, and Heaven Moves a Step Closer for Catholics - Mothering Forums
Religious Studies > Indulgences Return, and Heaven Moves a Step Closer for Catholics
umsami's Avatar umsami 01:42 PM 02-10-2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/ny...nted=1&_r=1&em

So what do you Catholic Mamas think? In general, before reading the article, I just sort of rolled my eyes, but when I saw that it was giving people hope...and bringing them back to the Church, then I changed my mind.

angelpie545's Avatar angelpie545 02:08 PM 02-10-2009
Not personally Catholic here, but my mother was raised in the church and my grandma is still very much Catholic: It is giving people hope, yes, but sadly I believe it is false hope. Although it may encourage some to come closer to God, and that's wonderful, it may also give them a false sense of security. The truth is that no one really knows that happens after you die; even what the Bible has to say on the matter isn't clear to everyone. Also, I don't believe that a man can "authorize" something like an "indulgence"-the only person who can decide that is God. To me indulgences are something to the effect of man usurping God's authority.
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna 02:28 PM 02-10-2009
What do I think? The NYT is not the place I choose to get my religious news first off. They generally don't know what they are talking about especially when it's in regards to the Catholic Church.

Apparently the writers of the article aren't aware of this publication by the USCCB current first edition published in 2006. I own the book btw.
Peppermint's Avatar Peppermint 02:30 PM 02-10-2009
From the end of the article:

Quote:
“It faded away with a lot of things in the church,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “But it was never given up. It was always there. We just want to people to return to the ideas they used to know.”

I've known about indulgences all along, and I was fairly poorly taught the faith as a child.

I am always happy to see a resurgence in our traditions
spero's Avatar spero 02:36 PM 02-10-2009
I think indulgences are a bunch of BS. There's no Scriptural basis for the practice, and it has only caused hurt, deception, and confusion in the Church IMO. You can't buy your way - or anyone else's - into heaven, period. Salvation is a GIFT from God and not something to be purchased.

I'm with Luther on this one.
spero's Avatar spero 02:39 PM 02-10-2009
Next thing you know they'll be bringing "Limbo" back, too.
ledzepplon's Avatar ledzepplon 02:49 PM 02-10-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peppermint View Post
From the end of the article:




I've known about indulgences all along, and I was fairly poorly taught the faith as a child.

I am always happy to see a resurgence in our traditions
Yeah, I was scratching my head when the headline said they were back, because I never heard they left!

Quote:
Originally Posted by spero View Post
I think indulgences are a bunch of BS. There's no Scriptural basis for the practice, and it has only caused hurt, deception, and confusion in the Church IMO. You can't buy your way - or anyone else's - into heaven, period. Salvation is a GIFT from God and not something to be purchased.

I'm with Luther on this one.
Check out this link from Catholic Answers. There are a lot of misconceptions about what "indulgences" mean and I think this little fact sheet is pretty informative.

Basically, indulgences can't save you. It's just a way to say that your temporal punishment from the sins you committed (that you have already asked forgiveness for) will be wiped away. Indulgences neither forgive sins nor help you attain salvation.
Arduinna's Avatar Arduinna 04:29 PM 02-10-2009
scriptural basis? We aren't protestants here.
spero's Avatar spero 06:38 PM 02-10-2009
Sorry, I happen to be one of those nutter Catholics who believes that tradition should have at least some basis in Scripture.
chfriend's Avatar chfriend 02:23 PM 02-11-2009
Indulgences never went away. The practice of indulgences for money was eliminated however.

If you look at prayer cards, lots of them have the information on the indulgence granted for the prayers.

Memorial masses are another form of indulgence if I'm not mistaken.

Didn't read the article, though. Are they bringing back buying an indulgence?

(Peeked at the article: Latin Masses and meatless Fridays never went away either. Fridays remained a day of abstinence, just the form was expanded. The form of the Latin Mass was changed, as it had been many many times during the history of the church. It was certainly still around. It's availability, as well as the requirements of abstinence of Friday remain, as they always have been, under the local Bishop.)

Indulgences are offered for performing certain acts...I've always thought of them as kind like tax breaks off time in purgatory.
Bluegoat's Avatar Bluegoat 03:41 PM 02-11-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by spero View Post
Sorry, I happen to be one of those nutter Catholics who believes that tradition should have at least some basis in Scripture.
Oh my, you sound like an Anglican!
Bluegoat's Avatar Bluegoat 03:51 PM 02-11-2009
So let me see if I understand this: in purgatory we are supposed to be purifying ourselves from the effects of the sins we have committed in life. By doing certain acts, like saying a specific prayer, we can get time off that process?

Is the idea that we are doing the purifying work now, so that we don't have to do it then? I don't think that can be correct, because if that were the case, wouldn't any "good works" we did have that effect? And how could we then pass on the benefits to others?

It also seems to me that any prayers or good works we do in this life are only what we "owe" God already, so how can they go toward getting time off later? If an infinat amount of money is due to the tax man, how can a finite tax break have any meaning? I'd still owe an infinite amount.
spero's Avatar spero 04:15 PM 02-11-2009
I believe in purgatory as a state of being, and not a place (as JP II stated). I also wonder if we aren't living out that state of being in our lives here on Earth - but that's a whole other discussion.

In any case, I still don't agree with the practice of indulgences, it just doesn't make any spiritual sense to me. And if people in my dinky little church still think that you can "buy a Mass" for someone "in Purgatory" - then it surely is still an idea being perpetrated by Catholics all over the world.
chfriend's Avatar chfriend 07:05 PM 02-11-2009
spero, I think the idea of indulgences being applied to others (for example loved ones in purgatory) is related to the idea of the communion of saints. It is a form of intercessory prayer.

You pray for me and I'll pray for you kind of thing. I know there's a scripture for that somewhere....My non-denominational dp would know....
spero's Avatar spero 08:12 PM 02-11-2009
Oh, I know what it's meant to be. I just wish we wouldn't call it something it isn't, and assigning $$$ to the whole thing just convolutes it even further.
chfriend's Avatar chfriend 08:23 PM 02-11-2009
I admit to being stumped on the paying for masses thing. Nobody did that where I grew up.
JMJ's Avatar JMJ 09:58 PM 02-11-2009
Umm... you can't buy an indulgence. Even the NY Times got that part right. I understand it much like Bluegoat was talking about. When we work to purify ourselves here on Earth, it purifies us. The idea of praying for the dead (including seeking indulgences for the dead) does have a Biblical foundation (at least in the Catholic Bible). 2 Maccabees 12:38-46 tells the story of how the people who were killed in a battle had amulets to an idol and how those still alive gathered money for an offering (In this case, it was even monetary.) and prayed to atone for the sins of the fallen.

It is also about the communion of saints. It's similar to the idea that we can offer up our sufferings for each other, that Jesus suffered to give us a gift that we couldn't really have earned on our own: heaven.

Indulgences are not what we learned they were in high school history class. I was taught in school that there used to be a widespread practice of selling indulgences. I was also taught that sins were assigned a certain number of "man-hours" or prayers, so if a king or someone else rich wanted to sin, he could just pay monasteries to pray and go ahead and sin as much as he wanted. I don't know how widespread these practices were, but I doubt that they did much to get people into heaven. I believe a change of heart is needed for that.

As they are practiced now (and probably how they were originally intended to be practiced), indulgences are designated acts that, when practiced with a pure mind and heart and combined with confession (I don't know if there are any that don't require confession), fulfill the purification requirement that would otherwise need to be completed after death. Spero, if Purgatory is a state of being that can be reached on Earth, then an indulgence would be a practice that puts us in that state of being now. Since most of us don't die perfect, I still believe that we can go through Purgatory (as a place or state of being) after death to purify ourselves of any sins that we still have on our souls at the time of our death.
PatienceAndLove's Avatar PatienceAndLove 12:00 AM 02-12-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ View Post
Spero, if Purgatory is a state of being that can be reached on Earth, then an indulgence would be a practice that puts us in that state of being now. Since most of us don't die perfect, I still believe that we can go through Purgatory (as a place or state of being) after death to purify ourselves of any sins that we still have on our souls at the time of our death.
I always understood purgatory as the Purifying Fire of the Holy Spirit.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka 02:42 AM 02-12-2009
I don't believe in in purgatory so indulgences don't bother me one way or another. So long as their goal in bringing back the practice (or pushing it more to the forefront) is not a ploy to fill the pews. I don't think the church should do anything just to please man.

OT: Paying for a mass doesn't bother me either . . i consider it an offering, a sacrifice. In the past people would bring oil for the lamps and candles for light. we still have oil in the lamps and candles in the stand, you just offer money and they are waiting to be lit now. but really, same thing. people at my church do still bring food and flowers and what not as an offering to God.
Smylingeyz's Avatar Smylingeyz 02:51 AM 02-12-2009
Many of the beautiful traditions of the Faith have been forgotten by a good percentage of Catholics, who are often not taught much about the Catholic Faith. It's sad, because the culture around Catholicism is so rich and beautiful. But nothing ever went away, including indulgences. Weird that anyone would think they did.
Tradd's Avatar Tradd 10:48 AM 02-12-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
spero, I think the idea of indulgences being applied to others (for example loved ones in purgatory) is related to the idea of the communion of saints. It is a form of intercessory prayer.

You pray for me and I'll pray for you kind of thing. I know there's a scripture for that somewhere....My non-denominational dp would know....
When I was in Catholic school (from 8th grade through high school graduation), I remember on All Souls Day they'd have us go into the church for a while to pray. Every Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be you said got someone out of purgatory, we were told. Needless to say, us kids raced through our prayers.

I'm no longer Catholic. I spent five years with the Episcopalians, but then when I realized how messed up things were there and a friend pointed me in the direction of Orthodox Christianity. When I was beginning to think about leaving the Episcopal Church, I started looking into Catholicism again, but it didn't take long for me to decide against it. And yes, I read the Catechism, but the indulgences, among with a whole bunch of other things...I had never been comfortable with a lot of things in the RCC, and reading more as an an adult didn't result in me changing my mind.
spero's Avatar spero 12:39 PM 02-12-2009
As part of a 2-year formation for ministry program, I have just finished a fascinating course in Catholic Church history. IMO all Catholics should know an objective history of their faith.

I pulled out my textbook (Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity by John C. Dwyer - a Catholic theologian & professor of theology and scripture) to look at the question of indulgences, because I am seeing some misinformation in his thread.

Firstly, the theology of indulgences developed in the eleventh century. It wasn't something that "always was". The premise was that Jesus through His death somehow won a great supply of merit, and that this merit was set up in a sort of treasury that was available (at the Church's discretion, of course) to dispense to those who performed good works.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
spero, I think the idea of indulgences being applied to others (for example loved ones in purgatory) is related to the idea of the communion of saints. It is a form of intercessory prayer.

You pray for me and I'll pray for you kind of thing. I know there's a scripture for that somewhere....My non-denominational dp would know....
This is true; however, the original concept of the practice of indulgences was that the individual performing the good works got the "time off" purgatory. It wasn't until the thirteenth century that it was acknowledged that one could gain indulgences for those ALREADY in purgatory. During this time, church authorities started offering indulgences for "the financing of good works", which led to many abuses of the practice - one of Martin Luther's hot button issues.

By the 14th-15th centuries, the practice of selling church offices and indulgences had become a common abuse in the Catholic Church. The "good work" required for an indulgence became a financial contribution demanded by the Church.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ
I was taught in school that there used to be a widespread practice of selling indulgences.
This is true. See above.


Quote:
Since most of us don't die perfect, I still believe that we can go through Purgatory (as a place or state of being) after death to purify ourselves of any sins that we still have on our souls at the time of our death.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatienceAndLove View Post
I always understood purgatory as the Purifying Fire of the Holy Spirit.
NOBODY dies perfect, that would be impossible. I don't doubt that we are purified somehow at death, I just don't believe the whole "purgatory" concept as our sole means of purification.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
OT: Paying for a mass doesn't bother me either . . i consider it an offering, a sacrifice. In the past people would bring oil for the lamps and candles for light. we still have oil in the lamps and candles in the stand, you just offer money and they are waiting to be lit now. but really, same thing. people at my church do still bring food and flowers and what not as an offering to God.
The problem that I have seen is that, when some people pay to have a memorial Mass, they get the idea that they somehow "own" that Mass and can dictate certain things about it. "Paying for a Mass" is just such a fine line. Some churches charge their fee based on whether the Mass "intention" is verbally announced, or just mentioned somewhere in the bulletin.

Our pastor became so uncomfortable with these practices, that our parish no longer requires any $$$ to request a Mass Memorial. All memorials are announced AND printed in the bulletin. Rather than stating, "Today's Mass intention is offered for ____________", we say, "______________ is especially remembered at our Mass today". Nuances are everything when you're talking about this stuff!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Smylingeyz View Post
Many of the beautiful traditions of the Faith have been forgotten by a good percentage of Catholics, who are often not taught much about the Catholic Faith. It's sad, because the culture around Catholicism is so rich and beautiful. But nothing ever went away, including indulgences. Weird that anyone would think they did.
The "tradition" of "limbo" went away (thank goodness). And indulgences aren't a tradition of the early Church, as stated above.
PatienceAndLove's Avatar PatienceAndLove 03:29 PM 02-12-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by spero View Post
The "tradition" of "limbo" went away (thank goodness). And indulgences aren't a tradition of the early Church, as stated above.
Limbo isn't something the Church rules on. We are free to believe or disbelieve in it.
spero's Avatar spero 04:02 PM 02-12-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatienceAndLove View Post
Limbo isn't something the Church rules on. We are free to believe or disbelieve in it.
Technically true, but they kept that caveat pretty quiet and treated it like doctrine for a LONG time. And hurt so many people in the process. eta: Many, many Catholic cemeteries have areas well apart from the rest of the cemetery that were once for the unbaptised babies. I think that SUCKS.
In Exile's Avatar In Exile 04:34 PM 02-13-2009
Hm, they meddle "meatless fridays" into the mix as a thing that nobody does?? Heck all things mentioned in the article never went away. My husband is waaaay under 50 and never ate meat on Fridays, especially during Lent.

I went through RCIA as an Adult and I am surprised to hear about these "things coming back."
Oh well. I also don't trust Wikipedia on anything "catholic", quite frankly there are better sources to find out about any of these.
spero's Avatar spero 05:51 PM 02-13-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by In Exile View Post
I also don't trust Wikipedia on anything "catholic", quite frankly there are better sources to find out about any of these.
I don't see where anyone referenced Wiki in this thread. Enlighten me.
In Exile's Avatar In Exile 06:00 PM 02-13-2009
I said "also", could have said "as well". In addition to the NYT. Is that really so important?

I ALSO don't don't tend to get much Info from Wiki. Last I checked my dictionary the word "also" can be used they way I did. Some people mentioned the NYT as new source on all things catholic and I ALSO mentioned Wikipedia.

Does that suffice??
mykdsmomy's Avatar mykdsmomy 04:04 AM 02-15-2009
I was raised a die hard Catholic. (we attend a basic Christian church now). Anyway, I went to Catholic school for 8 years and taught Catechism for many years. I can tell you that my parents (and their generation backwards) were WAY more "traditional" than what I was taught in schools.
My parents had us saying the rosary ever night as a family. We said prayers before every meal, went to church every Sunday and every holy day (unless we were on our death bed). We made all our sacraments. We "offered up" any little ouch or discomfort "for the poor souls in purgatory", she bought candles for lighting at church when someone was sick, etc.
They paid for masses for close friends or family when they passed away. We spent Ash Wednesday fasting in between meals, no meat on Fridays, no talking between 12-3pm on Good Friday (or eating between meals) and we had to tell her what we were giving up each week for lent. It was very traditional in the sense that most of the people in our Catholic school hadn't heard of the traditions our family held.
Like many other religions, I think Catholicism has evolved and changed within itself. There are some congregations that are more strict than others.
(Sorry if that was OT)
PatienceAndLove's Avatar PatienceAndLove 04:27 AM 02-15-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by mykdsmomy View Post
I was raised a die hard Catholic. (we attend a basic Christian church now). Anyway, I went to Catholic school for 8 years and taught Catechism for many years. I can tell you that my parents (and their generation backwards) were WAY more "traditional" than what I was taught in schools.
My parents had us saying the rosary ever night as a family. We said prayers before every meal, went to church every Sunday and every holy day (unless we were on our death bed). We made all our sacraments. We "offered up" any little ouch or discomfort "for the poor souls in purgatory", she bought candles for lighting at church when someone was sick, etc.
They paid for masses for close friends or family when they passed away. We spent Ash Wednesday fasting in between meals, no meat on Fridays, no talking between 12-3pm on Good Friday (or eating between meals) and we had to tell her what we were giving up each week for lent. It was very traditional in the sense that most of the people in our Catholic school hadn't heard of the traditions our family held.
Like many other religions, I think Catholicism has evolved and changed within itself. There are some congregations that are more strict than others.
(Sorry if that was OT)
Not at all. I appreciate your insight!
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