Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Communion of Saints

Jan 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

What is the basis for the “treasury of merit” and indulgences? These can be explained in the following ten steps.

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs
Fra Angelico (about 1423-24)

(1) On Judgment Day, every man will be judged and recompensed for each of his thoughts, words, and deeds, whether good or evil. “For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10) “[E]ach will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (1 Cor 3:8) “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.” (Eph 6:8-9) “I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Rev 2:23) “[L]et the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Rev 22:11-12)

(2) Some persons, by grace and agape, store up treasure in heaven. “But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.” (Matt 6:20; cf. Rev 19:8) This is not a material treasure, but a treasure of merit, and it is made possible only by grace. The ability of any righteous man to merit anything comes from the merit of Christ. “It is a defined article of the Catholic Faith that man before, in, and after justification derives his whole capability of meriting and satisfying, as well as his actual merits and satisfactions, solely from the infinite treasure of merits which Christ gained for us on the Cross.”1 So all the merit of the saints is in this way merited by Christ, and is a participation in the merit of Christ.

(3) There is a communion of the saints, (1 Cor. 12, Job 1:5, Col. 1:24, Apostles’ Creed) by which we can aid one another in the Body of Christ through our prayers and sacrifices. All who are joined to Christ by sanctifying grace (and thus are sharers in His divine life) are united into one society by their participation in the one divine life. In the section on the “Communion of saints” in his Sermon-Conferences on the Apostles’ Creed, St. Thomas Aquinas explains this as follows:

Just as in a physical body the operation of one member redounds to the good of the whole body, so it works in a spiritual body, that is to say, in the Church. Since all the faithful are one body, the good of one is communicated to another. Paul writes: “Thus, we who are many are one body in Christ,] individuals, yet members one of the other” [Rom 12:5]. Thus, among other matters which should be believed that the apostles handed down, there remains the communion of goods in the Church. This [doctrine] is called “the communion of saints.” Among all the other members of the Church, however, the principal member is Christ, for He is the Head of the Church: “[And] He put down everything under His feet, and] He put himself as Head over the whole Church, which is His Body, [the fullness of Him who fulfills everything in everyone]” (Eph. [1:22-23]). Therefore the good of Christ is communicated to all Christians, as the wisdom of the Head is communicated to all the members. This communion comes about through the sacraments of the Church, in which the strength of the passion of Christ for conferring grace and for forgiving sins operates.

(4) The treasury of merit consists of the superabundant merits of Christ, as well as the merits of the saints; the treasury of merit is one because of the communion of saints in the Body, Christ being the Head.2 The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the following about the treasury of merit:

We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy. This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body.” (CCC 1476-1477)

(5) The injustice of sin has a two-fold directionality (both away from God, and toward a created good), which entails two sorts of debts of punishment, the former eternal, and the latter temporal, as I explained in more detail in this section of “St. Thomas Aquinas on Penance.”

(6) Merit cannot be transferred, but meritorious acts can make satisfaction for another, by giving to God a gift of greater value than what was taken by the sin. This is how Christ’s own actions in His passion and death made satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. (See “Catholic and Reformed Conceptions of the Atonement.”) But it is also the way the meritorious acts of the saints can make satisfaction for others’ debt of temporal punishment. St. Thomas writes, “All the saints intended that whatever they did or suffered for God’s sake should be profitable not only to themselves but to the whole Church.”3

(7) Christ gave the power of the keys to St. Peter (Matthew 16:19), by which the Magisterium of the Church, as Christ’s authorized representative (in persona Christi, ἐν προσώπῳ Χριστοῦ [2 Cor 2:10]), can forgive sins (John 20:23) by the merit and satisfaction of Christ’s Passion, through the sacrament of penance. Pope Clement VI (1291 – 1352) wrote, “Upon the altar of the Cross Christ shed of His blood not merely a drop, though this would have sufficed, by reason of the union with the Word, to redeem the whole human race, but a copious torrent. . . thereby laying up an infinite treasure for mankind. This treasure He neither wrapped up in a napkin nor hid in a field, but entrusted to Blessed Peter, the key-bearer, and his successors, that they might, for just and reasonable causes, distribute it to the faithful in full or in partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.”4

(8) The debt of eternal punishment is forgiven only by the merits of Christ. This follows from the Council of Trent, which taught, “If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam … is taken away … by any remedy other than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ …”5 In other words, the translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the “adoption of the sons” of God through the second Adam, is only by the merit of Christ. And if a person falls from grace by way of mortal sin, his restoration to a state of sanctifying grace is again only by the merit of Christ. No saint can make satisfaction for anyone’s justification.

(9) The debt of temporal punishment for sins committed after baptism “must be expiated either on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and calamities of this life and above all through death, or else in the life beyond through fire and torments or “purifying” punishments.”6 That is because as explained in the first paragraph above, every sin must be recompensed, both in its vertical dimension against God and in its horizontal dimension against other creatures. It might seem that since Christ’s passion made sufficient satisfaction for all sins, therefore no debt of temporal punishment remains. That is true for baptism, but not for penance, as St. Thomas Aquinas explains here.

(10) The Church, by the authorization of Christ, and through the communion of saints, can draw from the one treasury of merit and satisfaction to reduce or remove the debt of temporal punishment for anyone united to the Body through sanctifying grace. And that is just what an indulgence is:

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.7

St. Thomas says, “He who gains indulgences is not thereby released outright from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it.”8 It is salutary to make use of the treasury of merit for the debt of temporal punishment; it is even better to be a depositor, storing up treasure in heaven.

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia article on ‘Merit.’ cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, cap. xvi; Sess. XIV, cap. viii. []
  2. Protestantism’s extra nos notion of imputation and denial of venial sin does not allow it to acknowledge a treasury of merits to which saints have contributed, as I explained here. []
  3. Quodlib., II, q. vii, art. 16. []
  4. Corpus Juris. Extrav. Com., lib. V, tit. ix. c. ii. []
  5. Session V. []
  6. Indulgentarium Doctrina. See the footnotes at the link for the supporting evidence for this doctrine. []
  7. CCC 1471. []
  8. Supplement.25.1 ad 2. []
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  1. So, the infinite treasury of merits for mankind, is the merit from the cross? So is the merit from the saints (through the cross) a finite amount of merit, added to the infinite merit of the cross? Or how are they related?

    Best,
    Mark

  2. Great question, Mark.
    Can the saints’ efforts be seen as particular “appropriations of the merit of Christ?”

    In other words, should I understand this treasury in terms of a sort of “itemized” collection of specific appropriations of Christ’s infinite store of merit (graciously accomplished by the saints), rather than as a separate source of merit altogether to which the saints have the right to lay exclusive claim?
    thanks for any clarifications… And, Mark, thanks for making my brain hurt with your question. No pain no gain, right?

  3. Mark,
    The way that I’ve heard it is that because the saints compose of the Body of Christ they add a small portion to the infinite love of the work of the cross (the infinite love of Christ for the Father given as a more valuable offering than all of sin was displeasing). Because the saints are composed of the Body of Christ they have access to the merits won over by the Head (Christ). By participating in Christ they participate in the Cross in a very very small but important way and thus they add a small portion to the treasury of merit (though they are only able to add due to Christ’s work). Perhaps the analogy that works here is to say that because we are children of God, we as young children want to imitate and add to the work of our parents, and our parents invite us to do that, even if we add a small bit to their work, it is still very important to the parents because we are their children and they love us. Similarly, I think the analogy works with God, who invites us each to live the holy life and participate in the love and suffering of Christ’s Passion. Our small works become lovable by God because we have become adopted sons of God in regeneration by which our hearts are renewed to God. Perhaps this makes some sense as to why the small merits of the saints can be considerable to God in order to move Him to giving grace to others on account of a saint’s intercession. I think this makes sense and is within the bounds of orthodoxy in Catholicism.

    Peace of the Lord be with you,
    Steven Reyes

  4. Mark (re: #1),

    So, the infinite treasury of merits for mankind, is the merit from the cross? So is the merit from the saints (through the cross) a finite amount of merit, added to the infinite merit of the cross?

    Yes and yes. See section (4) above. The treasury of merit is one, because of the communion of saints, explained briefly in section (3) above.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  5. In 2, it says, “his whole capability of meriting and satisfying, as well as his actual merits and satisfactions, solely from the infinite treasure of merits which Christ gained for us on the Cross.”

    So, would it be correct to think something like, all the merits which are applied to individuals (for the sake of removing temporal punishment) are merits from the Cross. Some (or all?) of the merits from the Cross which are applied to the individuals also have the extra characteristic that they are merits which were participated in by individual saints in the Church. Is this right?

    If what I just said is right, then I’m not sure how this fits in what it says in 4, “The treasury of merit consists of the superabundant merits of Christ, as well as the merits of the saints; the treasury of merit is one because of the communion of saints in the Body, Christ being the Head.”

    The phrase, ‘as well as’, seems to imply that in the treasury, there are two sorts of merits: those from the Cross, and those from the saints. Or, should I understand this as, there are two types: those from the Cross and those from the Cross (but which were participated in by individual saints of the Church). And, in what way, does the communion of saints contribute to the unity of the two types of merit. Is it just that the saints contribute to the overall treasure, in that they (the saints) are participants in certain merits (merits from the Cross) which are part of the treasury, and they have a role in the unity of the ‘participated merits’ since they are themselves the participants (or in communion with those who did) in those merits?

    I think I am confusing myself, but I am trying to get a grasp on this.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  6. Mark, (re: #5)

    So, would it be correct to think something like, all the merits which are applied to individuals (for the sake of removing temporal punishment) are merits from the Cross.

    Yes.

    Some (or all?) of the merits from the Cross which are applied to the individuals also have the extra characteristic that they are merits which were participated in by individual saints in the Church. Is this right?

    Yes.

    If what I just said is right, then I’m not sure how this fits in what it says in 4, “The treasury of merit consists of the superabundant merits of Christ, as well as the merits of the saints; the treasury of merit is one because of the communion of saints in the Body, Christ being the Head.” The phrase, ‘as well as’, seems to imply that in the treasury, there are two sorts of merits: those from the Cross, and those from the saints. Or, should I understand this as, there are two types: those from the Cross and those from the Cross (but which were participated in by individual saints of the Church).

    Right, the two are: (1) the merit and satisfaction only from Christ, by which the debt of eternal punishment is paid, and (2) those merits and satisfactions from the saints through the merit and satisfaction of Christ, by which our temporal punishment is reduced or removed.

    And, in what way, does the communion of saints contribute to the unity of the two types of merit.

    Because Christ the Head and the members form one Body (see the first section of the “Christ Founded a Visible Church” article), therefore the merits of each member are the merits of the one Body, just as the sufferings of one are the sufferings of all, and the honor of one is shared in by all. (1 Cor 12:26) Through union with Christ into one Body, the members share in the merits of Christ, and Christ shares in the merits of the saints. That is, the merit of the saints is Christ’s too, not only because it was enabled by His merit, but also because they are His very members. The treasury of merit is one because the Body is one.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  7. On the Feast of All Saints:

  8. Bryan,

    I could not find St. Thomas’s explanation on penance that you mentioned in number 9. Where in the post is that found in the link you gave us here:

    “That is true for baptism, but not for penance, as St. Thomas Aquinas explains here.”

    Thanks , Kim

  9. Kim,

    I fixed it. Thanks for pointing that out. I had inadvertently inserted the wrong link. Sorry!

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  10. In a post published yesterday and titled “The Treasury of the Church – “A Satanic Mockery”,” R. Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California quotes the following paragraph from John Calvin’s Institutes, regarding the Catholic doctrine of indulgences:

    Now these, to describe them rightly, are a profanation of the blood of Christ, a Satanic mockery, to lead the Christian people away from God’s grace, away from the life that is in Christ, and turn them aside from the true way of salvation. For how could the blood of Christ be more foully profaned than when they deny that it is sufficient for the forgiveness of sins, for reconciliation, for satisfaction—unless the lack of it, as of something dried up and exhausted, be otherwise supplied and filled? “To Christ, the Law and all the Prophets bear witness,” says Peter, that “through him we are to receive forgiveness of sins.” [Acts 10:43 p.] Indulgences bestow forgiveness of sins through Peter, Paul, and the martyrs. “The blood of Christ cleanses us from sin,” says John [1 John 1:7 p.]. Indulgences make the blood of martyrs the cleansing of sins. “Christ,” says Paul, “who knew no sin, was made sin for us” (that is, satisfaction of sin) “so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” [2 Corinthians 5:21 p., cf. Vg.]. Indulgences lodge satisfaction of sins in the blood of martyrs. Paul proclaimed and testified to the Corinthians that Christ alone was crucified and died for them [cf. 1 Corinthians 1:13]. Indulgences declare: “Paul and others died for us.” Elsewhere Paul says, “Christ acquired the church with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28 p.] Indulgences establish another purchase price in the blood of martyrs. “By a single offering Christ has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” [Hebrews 10:14.] Indulgences proclaim: Sanctification, otherwise insufficient, is perfected by the martyrs. John says that “all the saints have washed their robes… in the blood of the Lamb.” [Revelation 7:14.] Indulgences teach that they wash their robes in the blood of the saints. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.5.3)

    When we peel back his rhetoric, Calvin’s argument in this paragraph goes like this:

    (1) The merits of the saints can have a role in the forgiveness of sins only if Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient for the forgiveness of sins.
    (2) The notion that Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient profanes Christ’s sacrifice.
    (3) Scripture teaches that forgiveness of sins is through Christ’s sacrifice.
    (4) The Catholic doctrine of indulgences makes the blood of martyrs the cleansing of sins.
    Therefore,
    (5) The Catholic doctrine of indulgences profanes Christ’s sacrifice. [from (1) and (2)]
    (6) The Catholic doctrine of indulgences is contrary to Scripture. [from (3) and (4)]

    In light of the content of the post above, we can see how Calvin’s argument is misguided in four ways, and thereby sets up an oversimplified straw man of the Catholic doctrine concerning indulgences.

    First, indulgences are not for the forgiveness of the guilt of sins, but for the reduction or removal of the debt of temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. Calvin’s argument conflates the distinction between guilt and debt, and this allows him to imply that the Catholic doctrine makes the sacrifices of the saints equivalent to the sacrifice of Christ.

    Second, Calvin’s argument conflates the distinction between eternal debt and temporal debt, and thus obscures the Catholic teaching that only Christ’s sacrifice removes our eternal debt, again allowing him to imply falsely that the Catholic doctrine makes the sacrifices of the saints equivalent to the sacrifice of Christ.

    Third, he mistakenly assumes that the only possible basis for the saints having a role in [the reduction of temporal punishment] is Christ’s sacrifice being insufficient. He thereby overlooks the possibility that (a) the saints having this role is not on account of an insufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice but precisely through Christ’s sacrifice and (b) is a gift of love to the Church, by giving to her members the great gift and dignity of participating in His redemptive work and its application to others, so that the horizontal dimension of love within the Body is both from Him, and truly from us by participation, and eternally meaningful.

    Fourth, he assumes that if Scripture teaches that forgiveness of sins is through Christ’s sacrifice, then the notion that the sacrifices of the saints have any role in [the reduction of temporal punishment] is contrary to Scripture. But that conclusion does not follow. In Catholic doctrine the merits of the saints are themselves participations in Christ’s merit, and their sufferings are participations in His sufferings. Without Christ’s Passions and merit, there would be no saints, and their sacrifices would not be meritorious or of any supernatural benefit to themselves or anyone else. So for this reason the role of the saints in the reduction of temporal punishment for others in the Body of Christ is not contrary to Scripture’s teaching that forgiveness of sins is through Christ’s sacrifice. Nowhere in Scripture does it state or state anything entailing that Christ’s sacrifice eliminates the possibility that the sacrifices and merits of the saints participating in Christ’s sacrifice and merit can contribute to the reduction of the debt of temporal punishment for other members of the Body of Christ.

    The fact that we bring happiness and joy to each other through our acts of charity does not entail that Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient for our happiness and joy, but is by Christ’s gracious gift a genuine participation in the communication of His happiness and joy to His Body. So likewise, the reduction of temporal punishments through the merits and prayers of the saints does not entail that Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient for the elimination of temporal punishment, but is by Christ’s gracious gift a provision by which the saints genuinely participate in the communication of His merits, such that their participations in Christ’s sacrifice and merits are also within the benefits communicated to the Body of Christ, by which temporal punishment is reduced and removed.

  11. Bryan I have a few objections. First the Gospel teaches us to look into eternity and to face mortality without fear, unless we persist willfully in sin.

    But, if we believe that the saints have merits, instead of believing that saints are those who have received mercy and grace, and if we believe they may spend these merits on our behalf, then what do we make of the words of Jesus, words he spoke just before dying? “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’ (τελέω): and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)

    That one word τελέω [pronounced teleō], translated into three English words (“it is finished”), was stamped on every receipt for every account once it was fully paid. and not at all before. It cannot be translated, “it is mostly paid.” It must be translated, “It is paid in full.”

    The Gospel of merits and the Treasury cannot stand with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Popes are bound by this medieval doctrine, created by the tortured logic of human imagination or demonic influence, if not both (And, just to correct the record, long before the English Reformers rejected it, it was regarded as error by the Eastern Orthodox Church, and so it has never had the consensus of which some have boasted). Punitive Purgatorio, saintly merits as credits, time off from an imagined sentence of temporal punishments that makes a mockery of forgiveness and of Christ’s cross, combine into a false gospel

  12. Vincent, (re: #11)

    I noticed that except for the first sentence of your comment, the entirety of your comment is a cut and paste from this post by the Anglican Robert Hart. In the future, if you quote an objection from some other author, please either put the objection in your own words, or cite your source. Genuine dialogue requires that our words be authentically our own.

    But, let’s take a look at what Hart says in the excerpt you posted:

    First the Gospel teaches us to look into eternity and to face mortality without fear, unless we persist willfully in sin.

    This statement is true with qualification; it overlooks the distinction between the fear of punishment, and the fear lest we fall. Believers on earth in a state of grace need not have the former, but ought to retain the latter, because the latter is something rightly to fear during this mortal life. This sort of fear is a gift from God, and it helps us guard with diligence the justification we have received, and pursue earnestly and faithfully the gift of perseverance.

    Hart continues:

    But, if we believe that the saints have merits, instead of believing that saints are those who have received mercy and grace, and if we believe they may spend these merits on our behalf, then what do we make of the words of Jesus, words he spoke just before dying? “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’ (τελέω): and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)

    Notice first Hart’s false dichotomy: either the saints have merits, or they received mercy and grace, as though it cannot be the case that they received mercy and grace, and also subsequently attained merits. That false dichotomy presupposes the falsehood of the Catholic paradigm, and thus begs the question. Second, Hart implies that the Catholic doctrine of the communion of the saints conflicts with Christ’s statement “It is finished.” But that is not true. The “It is finished” refers to Christ’s Passion. It does not refer to the participation in, and extension of Christ’s redemptive work by the members of the Body of which He is the Head. Jesus wasn’t saying that St. Paul’s sufferings were already completed, the sufferings that filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24). If Hart asserts otherwise, he is simply begging the question against the Catholic doctrine.

    Hart writes:

    That one word τελέω [pronounced teleō], translated into three English words (“it is finished”), was stamped on every receipt for every account once it was fully paid. and not at all before. It cannot be translated, “it is mostly paid.” It must be translated, “It is paid in full.”

    This is a textbook example of begging the question in the way described in “The Tradition and the Lexicon.” Hart presumes that the term *τελέω* must be interpreted according to the meaning it had when used on receipts, rather than allowing the Tradition to inform us how the term is to be understood here as used by Christ on the Cross.

    Hart writes:

    The Gospel of merits and the Treasury cannot stand with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    That’s either a mere assertion, in which case it has no substantiation, or Hart is basing it on his prior argumentation, which argumentation begs the question as I’ve just shown.

    Popes are bound by this medieval doctrine, created by the tortured logic of human imagination or demonic influence, if not both

    Hart merely asserts that the Catholic doctrine is created by “tortured” logic or “demonic influence.” I could say the same about his own position, if I wished. (Though I don’t and won’t.) Assertions are easy. Merely asserting that one’s interlocutor’s opinion was created by “tortured logic … or demonic influence” does not show it to have that etiological provenance or be false.

    Punitive Purgatorio, saintly merits as credits, time off from an imagined sentence of temporal punishments that makes a mockery of forgiveness and of Christ’s cross, combine into a false gospel.

    Again, assertions are a dime a dozen. I could assert the opposite, or assert that Hart’s positions all combine to a “false gospel.” Merely asserting something does not provide a reasons or argumentation showing it to be true, and is for that reason ecumenically unhelpful, because it provides no reason to believe that one position true or another position is false, or that one position is supported by the evidence and another position does not fit with the evidence. It merely reveals the position of the person speaking, which in Hart’s case we already knew.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  13. Thanks for responding Bryan. I have a few questions and objections. You first say:
    “This statement is true with qualification; it overlooks the distinction between the fear of punishment, and the fear lest we fall. Believers on earth in a state of grace need not have the former, but ought to retain the latter, because the latter is something rightly to fear during this mortal life. This sort of fear is a gift from God, and it helps us guard with diligence the justification we have received, and pursue earnestly and faithfully the gift of perseverance.”

    Amen to everything above. I have nothing to object to here.
    You next say:
    “Hart implies that the Catholic doctrine of the communion of the saints conflicts with Christ’s statement “It is finished.” But that is not true. The “It is finished” refers to Christ’s Passion. It does not refer to the participation in, and extension of Christ’s redemptive work by the members of the Body of which He is the Head. Jesus wasn’t saying that St. Paul’s sufferings were already completed, the sufferings that filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24).”

    Here I have a question. How does us participating in Christ’s redemptive work work? I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. If his work on the cross is perfect and complete why do we have to still atone for our sins? Also with regards to Hart’s statement regarding paid in full what do you mean by tradition informing us what that statement means? Do you mean the writings of the church fathers or the teachings of the magesterium?

  14. Here is another quote from Hart that comes from the same article. This quote sums up how I feel about this subject aswell:
    “If the Lord Jesus were merely a man like all others, his work on the cross could not “undercut the structure of satisfactions, indulgences, and purgatory. But, if he is fully God, the Word made flesh, Himself infinite and eternal, holy and separate from every created nature in his native Divine nature as one with the Father, made man by taking human nature into his eternal, infinite and holy Divine Person, then nothing can be added to the sufficiency of his “sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.” To suggest that we have any need of a treasury of saintly merits from redeemed sinners and objects of the same mercy we have received, as if God owed a credit to sinful mankind due to alleged merits by the objects of his mercy and grace, is a frank denial of the Faith of the Church concerning Who is was that died for us and rose again. an unreformed Roman doctrinal system, denies the sufficiency of Christ’s work, and thereby denies the Divinity of His Person, an inherent self-contradiction in their doctrinal system, and far worse.”

    So you see Bryan, to teach that we need indulgences and time in purgatory is to deny Christ’s divinity, because it assumes his work on the cross was not perfect and that therefore he was not truly God in the flesh. The perfection of Christ’s work on the cross cannot be separeted from the doctrine about his person. How do you deal with the scripture phrases that teach that God therefore imputes no iniquity to us, just as if we had never sinned? If we still have a temporal punishment due to sin then obviosuly God is still imputing our sins to us.

  15. Vincent, (re: #14)

    Here is another quote from Hart that comes from the same article. This quote sums up how I feel about this subject as well

    Ok, let’s examine it.

    “If the Lord Jesus were merely a man like all others, his work on the cross could not “undercut the structure of satisfactions, indulgences, and purgatory.

    True. If Jesus were a mere man, his “work on the cross” would not have been able to undercut anything.

    But, if he is fully God, the Word made flesh, Himself infinite and eternal, holy and separate from every created nature in his native Divine nature as one with the Father, made man by taking human nature into his eternal, infinite and holy Divine Person, then nothing can be added to the sufficiency of his “sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.”

    True. However, participation in is not addition to. It is important to grasp this paradigm difference. The Catholic paradigm includes the notion of “participation in” as secondary causes in the order of grace, much as, in the natural order everything lives, moves, and has its being in God who is the source of all being, without either deism or occasionalism being true. That is, occasionalism is false. God is not the only cause. He is the First Cause, but He has given to creatures the dignity of being genuine secondary causes (contra occasionalism) which act within and according to the movement of the First Cause (contra deism). In the Protestant paradigm, by contrast, this sense of participation is absent in the order of grace. And that leads Protestants to see any notion of participation (in the Catholic paradigm) in the order of grace as adding to the work of Christ, and thus denying the sufficiency of the work of Christ, as I explained in the second-to-last paragraph of comment #182 of the “Church Fathers on Transubstantiation” thread.

    To suggest that we have any need of a treasury of saintly merits from redeemed sinners and objects of the same mercy we have received, as if God owed a credit to sinful mankind due to alleged merits by the objects of his mercy and grace, is a frank denial of the Faith of the Church concerning Who is was that died for us and rose again. [A]n unreformed Roman doctrinal system, denies the sufficiency of Christ’s work, and thereby denies the Divinity of His Person, an inherent self-contradiction in their doctrinal system, and far worse.”

    Hart makes two mistakes here. First, as I already explained in comment #12, he makes use of the false dichotomy according to which either the saints receive mercy or they can benefit others by their merits, as if we must choose between those two options. Assuming that these two are mutually exclusive simply begs the question against the Catholic doctrine. Second, Hart infers from the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on account of His divinity that any soteriological benefit we receive through the merits of the saints entails an implicit denial of Christ’s divinity. But that conclusion does not follow from that premise. In order to infer Hart’s conclusion justifiably, one would have to add to his argument the presupposition that participation in the redemptive work of Christ is impossible. And that would beg the question against the Catholic position. If participation is possible, then even though Christ’s sacrifice is superabundantly sufficient to make satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, nevertheless, Christ can through the very grace He merited for us in His Passion and Death give to the saints a genuine role in meriting benefits for the fellow members of the Body of Christ. In that case it is not either/or, but both/and. Hart’s argument presupposes the “either/or” paradigm, and thus begs the question, i.e. presupposes precisely what he is trying to prove.

    So you see Bryan, to teach that we need indulgences and time in purgatory is to deny Christ’s divinity, because it assumes his work on the cross was not perfect and that therefore he was not truly God in the flesh.

    Or, it teaches that Christ’s work was *so* perfect that it allows saints truly to participate in it, for the edification of the Body, because Christ is not jealous, not even in His work of redemption, and does not take to Himself the sole causality of the salvation of the world, but generously shares that causality with His Body, through the merits He gained in His Passion and Death, as I explained in the St. Thomas Aquinas section of “The Gospel and the Paradox of Glory.” The concept of “perfection” according to which Christ does it all Himself, is the question-begging concept in your claim.

    How do you deal with the scripture phrases that teach that God therefore imputes no iniquity to us, just as if we had never sinned? If we still have a temporal punishment due to sin then obviosuly God is still imputing our sins to us.

    That is addressed in comment #15 of the “Imputation and Paradigms” thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  16. Hello Bryan,
    I believe you’ve talked about this elsewhere but can’t seem to find it but how is the notion of transfer of merit from the treasury not analogous to imputation? RCs seem to hold that imputed righteousness in sola fide leads to a legal fiction, but if merit from saints can be applied to another, I’m not sure why the same objection wouldn’t hold for indulgences/TOM. Why is it that satisfaction from another can be imputed to believers, but righteousness cannot? I know this is an old Protestant objection and in fact saw Walter Martin bring it up in his old debate with Mitch Pacwa on the Ankerberg show (on youtube) but that point got lost in Pacwa’s response and couldn’t find much online addressing it. Thanks.

  17. Interlocutor (re: #16)

    There is no such thing as “transfer of merit.” See the paragraph above that begins with “(6).”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  18. This is in response to some questions asked in another thread concerning the granting of indulgences for following Pope Francis’s twitter account during World Youth Day (story):

    In addition to the biblical basis for indulgences, which Bryan discusses in the original post, there are various norms, established by the Church and which can therefore be changed by the Church, which govern the use of indulgences. The Pope, by virtue of the power of the keys (Matthew 16:19), can both grant indulgences and change various norms pertaining to indulgences as he sees fit. These norms have been supplemented or changed at times by various Popes (e.g., in order to promote the practice and to correct abuses). The biblical principles underlying the practice of granting indulgences are, of course, unchanging. So the Pope does have power with respect to indulgences, but it is not arbitrary power.

    A document that might be helpful towards further understanding the ecclesial norms pertaining to indulgences is the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina. The first part of the document deals with general principles. Towards the end of the document, the Pope issues twenty “norms” pertaining to indulgences. Another useful document is the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, which specifies further “norms and grants” regarding indulgences.

    I am not an expert on the matter, but have found that among the usual conditions for obtaining indulgences is the condition of “praying for the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions.” (The Pope’s prayer intentions for 2013 are listed here.) Thus, the faithful around the world can support their pastor by joining their prayer intentions to his. It seems to me that attaching an indulgence to participating in World Youth Day is an application of the underlying principle of supporting the Pope’s ministry and intentions. Obviously, not everyone can participate in World Youth Day by being there in person, so the Pope has (as reported) extended an invitation to the faithful around the world to participate by means of following (with devotion) media coverage of the event, including, apparently, the Pope’s own twitter account. I guess its sort of like a “virtual” pilgrimage.

  19. Hi Bryan,
    You’re right – I misspoke. Let me ask another way – temporal punishment is useful for our sanctification and purification correct? If so, and if the merits of saints and the living can make satisfaction for temporal punishment for us, how is the equivalent (and necessary) sanctification/purification achieved if the temporal punishment has been abated by the merit of another? It seems that we are not made as righteous as we would be since our inherent righteousness is not further forged via the temporal punishment we would have undergone, as we are now relying on the righteousness of another for that satisfaction. Or perhaps our growth in infused righteousness is fixed at death, and the purification of temporal punishment in purgatory applies in some other context?

    Somewhat related (because I’m still having trouble seeing how imputed righteousness is not analogous to this notion of merit from another being applied to us for the debt of satisfaction we owe) – Christ’s merit satisfies our eternal debt, our suffering and merits of saints satisfies our temporal debt. By Christ’s merit satisfying our eternal debt, are you saying our forgiveness of sin/guilt is accomplished by an outside source separate from any inherent/infused righteousness of our own, but we cannot enter heaven without infusion? Christ’s merit outside of us puts us in the same legal state as Adam, but like Adam we would need infused righteousness to access heaven and enter into supernatural communion?

  20. Also to Corn-Czar following on Andrew Presler,

    The media is notorious for not being careful about reporting many subjects well – science as well as religion in general. Reporters and editors greatly prefer to distil something down to a punchy and provocative headline and a quick 5 sentence story and when it comes to Catholicism few publications seem to be the least interested in getting the story right.

    Addressing this specific indulgence, it isn’t a new indulgence, nor is it (exactly) an indulgence for reading a tweet. There is long standing tradition for indulgences regarding Papal blessings especially at major events. There are requirements for receiving these indulgences and traditionally one “must be present to win.” Going to Rome for an event or to a Papal mass during an apostolic visit is a more usual way of obtaining this type of indulgence. In this case, and in his Urbi Et Orbi Pope Francis is making an explicit decree that the apostolic blessing is available to everyone watching, or listening, or even following on twitter, not just those physically present. I don’t think this is entirely unprecedented. Certainly blessings have been given over radio and television many times by priests and bishops and I’m guessing Popes.

    So as you can see, “twitter” just makes a tantalizing story, and the Pope apparently did specifically mention twitter among the electronic ways one might follow the event to participate in the blessing, but it is an extremely gross simplification to say that this is a new indulgence for reading a tweet.

  21. Interlocutor (re: #19)

    You wrote:

    Let me ask another way – temporal punishment is useful for our sanctification and purification correct?

    Yes, with qualification, because sanctification can be said in different ways, as I explained in the last paragraph of comment #420 of the “Imputation and Paradigms” post. In this present life we can grow in sanctification in the sense of growth in sanctifying grace and charity. But after death we cannot grow in sanctification *in that sense of the term ‘sanctification’.* After death, those who died in a state of grace but are not yet completely sanctified (in the sense of having lost all concupiscence and all debt of temporal punishment) can, however, grow in sanctification in that [second] sense of the term ‘sanctification.’

    If so, and if the merits of saints and the living can make satisfaction for temporal punishment for us, how is the equivalent (and necessary) sanctification/purification achieved if the temporal punishment has been abated by the merit of another? It seems that we are not made as righteous as we would be since our inherent righteousness is not further forged via the temporal punishment we would have undergone, as we are now relying on the righteousness of another for that satisfaction. Or perhaps our growth in infused righteousness is fixed at death, and the purification of temporal punishment in purgatory applies in some other context?

    There is no growth in infused righteousness after death. Each person who dies in a state of grace has eternally only that measure of charity he has at his death. We do not growth in charity after death, because this present life is the opportunity God has given us for growing in charity. There is no more opportunity for merit; otherwise there could never be a Judgment Day.

    Somewhat related (because I’m still having trouble seeing how imputed righteousness is not analogous to this notion of merit from another being applied to us for the debt of satisfaction we owe) – Christ’s merit satisfies our eternal debt, our suffering and merits of saints satisfies our temporal debt. By Christ’s merit satisfying our eternal debt, are you saying our forgiveness of sin/guilt is accomplished by an outside source separate from any inherent/infused righteousness of our own, but we cannot enter heaven without infusion?

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. In the paragraph that begins “There is a difference between … ” in comment #69 of the “Holy Church” article, I explained why there can be no forgiveness of the eternal debt of sin so long as the person is still at enmity with God. See also comment #60 in the “St. Paul on Justification” thread. A key to understanding how receiving a benefit from the treasury of merit is not a kind of extra nos imputation is recognizing the difference between guilt (i.e. reatus culpa) and debt (i.e. reatus poena). (See comment #192 in the “Catholic and Reformed Conceptions of the Atonement” thread.) Neither merit, guilt, nor debt are transferred, as I explain in comment #220 of that thread. But through satisfaction one person can pay the debt of another. That’s possible because debt is something extrinsic. Guilt, however, is intrinsic. And therefore, as I explained repeatedly in that Atonement thread, God, who cannot lie, cannot declare a guilty person not guilty, and therefore cannot declare a guilty person justified, until that person is contrite, and thus no longer guilty.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  22. Re 20:

    Thanks for that note of clarification. The indulgence is for participation in World Youth Day, which is not limited to being physically present at the event, but extends to those who participate via various forms of media. As should not be surprising, the Catholic News Agency is much clearer than the MSM about what this participation involves:

    The document [announcing the indulgence] adds that people who cannot attend World Youth Day can receive it “under the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayer conditions, in a spirit of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff.”

    But this means they must participate “in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

    [source]

  23. Bryan,

    Recently, I thought of an apparent inconsistency in Catholic teaching on Purgatory and Indulgences. I say apparent, since there is probably a way to reconcile things that I am not seeing. Anyway, here’s the issue:

    (1) The Church teaches that final purification which entails temporal punishments for sin (either on earth or in Purgatory) is necessary for one to enter heaven.
    (2) Those who receive a plenary indulgence before death do not have to undergo the final purification after death.
    (3) So, the final purification is not strictly necessary.

    I’ve heard people argue the final purification is necessary, but I find that to be inconsistent with the doctrine of plenary indulgences. One possible escape root is to deny (2) and argue that even those who receive plenary indulgences will undergo a final purification. However, this would break the link between final purification and temporal punishments (which might be ok to break?).

    Anyway, interested to hear your thoughts and I thought this was the most relevant thread to ask.

    Peace,
    John D.

  24. JohnD (re: #23)

    (3) So, the final purification is not strictly necessary.

    That is correct.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  25. Bryan (re:#24),

    Thanks for the quick reply, but this is still itching me. You agreed that the final purification is not strictly necessary. CCC 1030 states:

    All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

    This paragraph states that all who die in God’s grace and friendship yet who are imperfectly purified must undergo a final purification. However, it seems that a person can satisfy all 3 of the following conditions at the same time:
    (A) die in God’s friendship
    (B) be imperfectly purified
    (C) obtain a plenary indulgence shortly before death

    If such a person exists who meets those conditions, how does this jive with CCC 1030? It would appear the person would not undergo a “final purification” since the plenary indulgence would allow them to enter the beatific vision immediately. But the CCC says all who are imperfectly purified must undergo such a final purification.

    Perhaps I’m reading inconsistency into this where there is none, but I hope you don’t mind the additional question.

    Peace,
    John D.

  26. JohnD (re: #25)

    However, it seems that a person can satisfy all 3 of the following conditions at the same time:
    (A) die in God’s friendship
    (B) be imperfectly purified
    (C) obtain a plenary indulgence shortly before death

    If such a person exists who meets those conditions, how does this jive with CCC 1030?

    Notice that you failed to provide a temporal qualifier to (B). And that resulting ambiguity may be contributing to your confusion. But I’ll just fill in the ambiguity in the two possible ways. Either you mean that immediately after obtaining the plenary indulgence, and before committing any subsequent sin, the person was imperfectly purified and died in that condition of imperfect purification without having committed any sins after obtaining the plenary indulgence, or you mean that immediately after obtaining the plenary indulgence, and before committing any subsequent sin the person was perfectly purified, but then, after subsequently sinning, the person became imperfectly purified, and then died in that state of imperfect purification.

    Of those two horns of the dilemma, the former is impossible. Immediately after obtaining a plenary indulgence for oneself, and prior to committing any subsequent sin, a person is perfectly purified, and if he or she dies in that condition, he does not need purification in purgatory. And that’s perfectly compatible with CCC 1030, because CCC 1030 is speaking only of persons who die in a state of grace but are not yet perfectly purified. CCC 1030 does not rule out the possibility of persons dying in a condition of already perfect purification.

    Regarding the latter horn of the dilemma, that’s obviously fully compatible with CCC 1030. The person would need to undergo purification in purgatory.

    So on both horns of the dilemma filling in the ambiguity in (B), there is no problem with CCC 1030.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  27. Bryan (re: #26)

    I’ll just fill in the ambiguity in the two possible ways.

    Thank you!

    Of those two horns of the dilemma, the former is impossible. Immediately after obtaining a plenary indulgence for oneself, and prior to committing any subsequent sin, a person is perfectly purified, and if he or she dies in that condition, he does not need purification in purgatory.

    That does help clear things up. I was assuming that being “perfectly purified” would require something in addition to obtaining a plenary indulgence and not committing subsequent sin, but as you point out that is not the case.

    Peace,
    John D.

  28. Bryan,

    Could you elaborate on what St. Thomas means here at the end of your article?

    “St. Thomas says, “He who gains indulgences is not thereby released outright from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it.”

    Is this to say a plenary indulgence received correctly does not release all temporal punishment?

    Also on a sidenote, I have noticed many of the best Catholic apologists are former Protestants. As a Protestant myself, this deeply concerns me since it is as if the Catholic Church is dead without the Protestant ethos infusion, and therefore Protestants make good Catholics not because of the Catholic Church but because of their Protestant upbringing. Most cradle Catholics don’t sing at Mass or even read their Bibles. It causes me to wonder if the Catholic Church cannot stand on its own two feet without Protestants propping it up with God fearing, Bible-loving “saved” believers first and Catholics second – something the Catholic Church doesn’t seem to teach its own. This is one reason I fear embracing Rome since the good fruits seem to come from us through Christ. We’re not joining something better but giving a blood transfusion to an old dying body.

    Any comments on the above are appreciated to trade notes.
    Best,
    David

  29. David (re: #28)

    Is this to say a plenary indulgence received correctly does not release all temporal punishment?

    No. St. Thomas is there speaking not of the extent of payment, but of the means of payment.

    Regarding your sidenote, the reason many of the best Catholic apologists are former Protestants is not because they are the only orthodox Catholics, or even a majority of the orthodox Catholics, but because since former Protestants know Protestantism, they are far more likely to become apologists than are cradle Catholics. The Catholic Church is not “dead” without the Protestant infusion. It would continue to carry on and grow even if there were no Protestant converts. Yes, many Catholics don’t read “their” Bibles, as you put it. But the Church’s existence and growth isn’t dependent on that, as shown by the fact that she was able to exist and flourish for almost 1500 before the printing press and public literacy. Mere speculation isn’t a reliable way of resolving the question. The key is to find the Church that Christ founded, which is His Mystical Body. Just as God did not allow His physical body to see decay, so God does not allow His Mystical Body to see decay. Ecclesial deism is in this way a denial of the resurrection of Christ, and thus of the future resurrection of our mortal bodies. Hence it is no accident that the vast majority of Protestantism has fallen into liberalism, and a post-Christian wasteland. The orientation to that end is intrinsic to the very rejection of the indefectibility of the visible Church. Persons who attempt to affirm that God did not allow Christ’s physical body to see decay, while at the same time holding that Christ’s Mystical Body did (or will) decay, are holding a theological contradiction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  30. Bryan,

    But St. Thomas clearly says: “He who gains indulgences is not thereby released outright from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it.”

    Then what does he mean by “not released outright from what he owes as a penalty”? To me this sounds like he is saying there’s more that needs to be paid even after one gains an indulgence. How can one read it otherwise?

    RE sidenote: I attend an orthodox “protestant” Church. No hippie libs here. It doesn’t follow that without the Pope everything goes to pot. This is what so many Catholics ignorantly think.

    It’s really not all that bad that my church disagrees with the Lutheran Church down the road on what exactly happens during the Eurcharist…but it’s no big deal. We are brothers and sisters in Christ since we have Christ as our Savior.

    As if Catholics have all the answers. Please.
    I will say the Catholics have built up a massive edifice of theological writings…but this doesn’t equate to answers. In fact it often makes things more confusing. And sometimes downright shameful such as when it goes so far like with this: http://www.art-breastfeeding.com/rel2/bern.htm

    Man needs to refrain from speculating on things we aren’t meant to know. And certainly don’t damn others that don’t agree such as the multiple anathemas given even up to Vat One.

    David

  31. David (re: #30)

    Then what does he mean by “not released outright from what he owes as a penalty”? To me this sounds like he is saying there’s more that needs to be paid even after one gains an indulgence.

    As I said above, St. Thomas is not here speaking of the extent of payment but of the means of payment. If you owed me a debt, I could either cancel your debt, or someone could give you the means to pay the debt. St. Thomas is saying that indulgences are of the latter sort. That’s why upon receiving an indulgence we can apply it to other persons. We could not do that if an indulgence were an outright release “from what [we] owe as a debt.”

    I attend an orthodox “protestant” Church. No hippie libs here. It doesn’t follow that without the Pope everything goes to pot. This is what so many Catholics ignorantly think.

    Let’s not resort to personal attacks. My claim in my previous comment does not preclude the existence of congregations such as your own. I’m speaking of the bigger picture, over time. Mainstream Protestantism has collapsed, and Evangelicalism is now collapsing, as Michael Spencer predicted. There have always been sects, even since the end of the first century. And there will be sects until the end. But they each fade away within a century or two because they were founded by mere men, and are merely human institutions. Only the Church Christ founded continues to endure, because she is not merely human, but is His Mystical Body and is animated by His immortal divine Life. (See “Among You Stands One Whom You do not Know.”) The purpose of this thread, however, is not to discuss these other questions, but to discuss the post at the top of this page.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  32. Bryan,

    So if I receive a plenary indulgence, it is not effective until when then? You seem to be saying indulgences are received but not effected or in force right away. You say “upon receiving an indulgence we can apply it to other persons.” So one receives an indulgence that harnesses the potential to clear the debt, but it does not do so until we unlock its potential…for how else could someone take an indulgence he earned and then apply it (before it is used up on himself) to a friend or family member? Unless I’m not grasping the concept properly it seems you are saying we get indulgences that remain stagnant until we unlock them to be effective to us or another. When does this happen?

    RE sidenote: I think the data show conservative churches growing and liberal ones (even if Evangelical) declining. Anecdotely I see this everywhere to be the case. And this is because we know the Holy Spirit protects His followers. (No need for a complicated anti-Docetism-mystical-Mother-Church-body-being-physically-and-mysteriously-related-to-Christ’s-head view as you put forward in Ecclesial Deism).

    I read your “Ecclesial Deism” article. It’s pretty good and matches some of how I see things, but misses a big consideration in your premise which leads you to a false conclusion. To not drag this thread off topic I’ll post over there.

    Peace,
    David

  33. David (re: #32),

    Excepting the loaded language of “harnessing potential” and “stagnant,” and “unlocking potential,” yes, the person who receives an indulgence “is provided with the means of paying it.” It is applied to someone else as soon as the recipient in supplication asks the Lord to apply it to that other person. Otherwise, it is applied to the recipient.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  34. The Catholic Encyclopaedia line you quote talks about the “infinite treasure of merits which Christ gained for us on the Cross”.

    Question: why was God lacking in merit such that more could be gained, or, why did Jesus have to die to gain merit He already had?

  35. Stephen, (re: #34)

    Question: why was God lacking in merit such that more could be gained, or, why did Jesus have to die to gain merit He already had?

    God had no merits, and could not merit, prior to (or apart from) the incarnation. That’s because by its very nature meriting requires gaining a reward from another in return for work. But there is and can be no one higher than God, from whom He might gain a reward, since all things come from Him. So in His divine nature, God has no merit, and cannot merit. But in Christ’s human nature, He could and did merit through His human will, which is distinct from His divine will, as taught definitively in the Sixth Ecumenical Council. In His human will He merited exaltation from God, and grace for us, as St. Thomas explains in articles 3 and 4 of Question 19 of the Third Part of his Summa Theologiae.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  36. […] Excellent summary: Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Communion of Saints […]

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