A testimonial #2C by Joseph C. Malone
The Sacrament Of Penance
Let us now take a look at the Sacrament of Penance. According to this point of Catholic doctrine, which is everywhere embraced, acknowledged and studied by Catholics, when men sin they incur the wrath of God and when they repent and receive the Sacrament of Absolution, they are forgiven but not altogether! The Council of Trent sets forth: “If any man shall say that the whole penalty is always remitted by God, together with the guilt, and that the only satisfaction of penitents is faith whereby they embrace that Christ has made satisfaction for them: let him be accursed.” Thus the Catholic Church teaches that there are two punishments for sin, the eternal and the temporal. Now, by the Sacrament of Penance, the eternal punishment is remitted, but the temporal punishment remains due. Man must do something to appease the wrath of God regarding the temporal punishment. The priest determines what is sufficient to satisfy God in this matter. In Peter Dens‘ Theology, a long list of suggested works of satisfaction practiced in the Romanist Church are given: fasting, rising earlier, enduring cold, praying, reciting litanies, reading the penitential psalms, hearing masses, visiting churches, wearing sackcloth, making gift of food, clothes, money and so on. Let us see the gross offense to God‘s Word in this. First, it makes God’s forgiveness incomplete; but hear the Lord in the matter: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18).
Second, it makes Christ only a partial Savior the ministry of the priest is altogether essential; he must determine what more is necessary in order to satisfy God. But we read of Christ: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25). Get it, my friends! Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him!
Finally, as already stated, it makes the priest an absolutely necessary mediator and in this we see the design of the Catholic Church to bind the people to herself through her system of priests and sacraments which they alone can administer. But hear the apostle Paul in this matter: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5). There is one mediator; that mediator is Jesus Christ and that eliminates the Catholic priest from God’s order.
Catholic Doctrine Of Purgatory
Let us now have a look at the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. The first council that mentions the subject of purgatory is the Council of Florence in A.D. 1438. It decreed, “If any true penitents shall depart this life in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by worthy fruits of penance for faults of commission and omission, their souls are purified after death, by the pains of purgatory.” In the Douay Catechism, we read: “Whither go such as die in venial sin, or not having fully satisfied the punishment due to their mortal sin? The answer: To purgatory, till they have made full satisfaction for them, and then to heaven. What is purgatory? The answer: A place of punish-ment in the other life where souls suffer for a time, before they can go to heaven.”
As to the nature of the punishment, Peter Dens states that it is two-fold: one of loss and one of sense. The punishment of loss is merely a delay of the beatific confession and the punishment of sense in purgatory is caused by material fire. Bellarmine maintains that the punishments of purgatory are more severe, grievous and bitter than the greatest punishments of this world.
Damien, along with others, teaches the inhabitants of purgatory pass rapidly and painfully in baths ranging from cool to tepid, from torrid to frigid, from freezing to boiling. Thurcal tells us that, among other things, the sufferers have to pass over a bridge studded with sharp nails with points upturned; the souls have to walk barefoot on this rough road and many ease their feet by using their hands; others roll with the whole body on the perforating nails until, at last, bloodily pierced, they complete their way over the painful course. Thus, in due course, they escape to heaven.
Such are some of the visions of purgatory depicted by some of the Romanist theological writers. Such tales are as silly as pagan mythology. In fact, Plato, Homer and Virgil taught the same doctrine. Protestants of today have so exposed these absurd notions that Roman Catholics are sometimes hesi-tant to acknowledge such a portrayal of purgatory. Yet the time was when the pope, the cardinals and their coworkers upheld such rigidly and to deny it was a mark of heresy. Their modern writers still maintain the punishment is extremely severe and is caused by material fire.
Where Is Purgatory?
As to where purgatory is, Catholic authors cannot decide. Gregory the Great thought it to be in the earth’s center and he considered the eruptions of Vesuvius and Etna as flames arising from it. Bellarmine thought purgatory between heaven and earth with the demons of the air. Damien with others concluded it might be in some flaming cavern or icy stream. The truth is, of course, that there is no such place. It is but the figment of Catholicism and is used to fatten her purse and bind the people to the ministry of her priests as we shall see in our consideration of indulgences, invented to release the sufferers from the imagined purgatory and transport them to paradise. Beloved, the Word of God (KJV) very plainly teaches that our eternal destiny is sealed at the time of our physical death. Paul declares, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We shall be judged by what we do in the body and James sets forth that “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26). Hence, when we die in the body our eternal judgment and destiny are sealed! This, of course, is absolutely fatal to the theory of purgatory, a supposed place of further cleansing.
A Great Gulf Fixed
Listen to Jesus, whose native home is the other world, as He gives us the account of the rich man and Lazarus. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:22-26). After death, there is a great gulf fixed between them which cannot be crossed, and mark it! that is before the final judgment, for later the rich man pleads that Lazarus might be sent to his father’s house in order to testify to his five brethren. Remember, too, the account reads, “…the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments,…” That is the sequence. So, we see that after death there is a great gulf fixed that cannot be crossed. What purpose, then, can purgatory serve? It is not strange that Catholicism rejects the Bible; to accept the Bible would be to destroy Catholicism.
Indulgences The Key To Purgatory
As soon as the Catholic Church had invented purgatory, she devised means of affording a fictitious key, namely indulgences, to unlock the door of that fictitious prison called purgatory. The Catholic Church tells us that “an indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment of our sins, which the Church grants us outside the sacrament of penance. Can indulgences be made use of to the souls in purgatory? Yes, all indulgences which the Pope has indicated for that purpose.” Pope Leo X stated, “We have thought proper to signify to you that the Bishop of Rome is able to grant to the faithful in Christ, indulgence either in this life or in purgatory out of the superabundant merits of Christ and his saints.” The bishop may grant indulgences in his diocese and the archbishop throughout the whole province, but the pope is the supreme dispenser of indulgences. An indulgence may be received by a man before he enters purgatory and so be happy. Or, an individual might operate retroactively in regard to certain works of alms, prayers and the like performed by someone for another.
For example, a Catholic with sympathy for his relatives in purgatory might obtain an indulgence in the form of commutation of their sentence in that fiery region, securing in such a case an indulgence of a certain number of days or years.
According to a Catholic book of devotion, this brief petition, “Sweet heart of Mary, save me!” gives three hundred days indulgence every time it is repeated. From the infallibly authorized Book of the Scapular, we take note that: To those who wear the scapular during life, Mary makes this promise; “I, their glorious mother, on the Saturday after death, will descend to purgatory and deliver those whom I shall find there, and take them up to the holy mountain of eternal life.” To visit a Carmelite church on Saturday procures eighty-seven years of indulgence and the remission of two-sevenths of all sins; to wear a blue scapular gives full indulgence, cancels all sins and gives a free ticket to paradise.
America Spends Ten Million In Indulgences
Indulgences have been used to prompt crusaders to rise up against those who have opposed Catholicism; they have been used to purchase the remission of sins and to deliver souls from purgatory.
Mr. Chiniquy, in chapter twenty-five of his book Fifty Years in Rome, states that more than ten million dollars are expended annually in North America to help souls out of purgatory. At the time of writing, he stated that masses were said in Canada at twenty-five cents each and in many parts of United States at one dollar each, and that it was, therefore, a common practice for the bishops in the United States to have masses said in Canada for the departed souls and thereby make seventy-five cents on each mass. For many years it was a common practice for the bishops of Canada to send to Paris to have masses said at five cents each by the poorer priests there, thus saving twenty cents on each mass they were paid to celebrate.
Luther Arises Against Indulgences
When Martin Luther was serving as a priest in Whittenberg, Germany, Johan Tetzel, a Dominican priest, came through that region selling indulgences and telling the people that if they would buy those indulgences and couple with them severe penance, they would have the remission of their sins.
That seems to be the incident that prompted Luther to put his ninety-five objections to the Catholic Church on the door of the church building and then defy the whole Catholic hierarchy, pope included, to debate the merit of his objections.
I might add that the money thus obtained by Tetzel was going to complete the building of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. There was no scruple about this business of selling indulgences. Tetzel went so far as to proclaim that he had saved more souls from hell by his indulgences than the apostle Peter had converted to Christianity by his preaching. If that is not making merchandise of religion, pray tell me, what is it? Coming to a knowledge of the truth and being honest with myself, I could not stay in the Catholic Church. That is why I left.
The Doctrine Of Extreme Unction
The Catholic Church practices what she terms “extreme unction.” She describes it thus; “Extreme unction is a sacrament in which by the anointing with holy oil and by the prayers of the priest, the sick receive the grace of God for the good of their souls, and often also their bodies. . . . It [extreme unction] in-creases sanctifying grace; it remits venial sins, and those mortal sins which a sick person repents of; it strengthens the soul in its sufferings and temptations; it often relieves the pains of sick persons, and sometimes restores him to health. . . . We should receive extreme unction when we are in danger of death from sickness.” This is a shining example of Catholic arrogance and presumption. Not only is there no mention whatever of such a practice in God’s Word, but for the first eleven hundred years of this Christian era there is no record of its ever being practiced among the people of earth. In the Converted Catholic Magazine of several months ago, there was an article, if I mistake not, having to do with the grave misgivings on the one hand or the fears on the other of Catholic youth engaged in World War II, who on the eve of actual combat reflected on the impossibility of Catholic chaplains being everywhere present to administer extreme unction. Protestant youth understand that there is one mediator, Jesus Christ, and that He is truly omnipresent and, hence, they are not concerned about the feigned mediation of one who, like themselves, has feet of clay.
Confessing Sins To Priests
Let me speak briefly of auricular confession and the arrogant contention that the priest can forgive sin. There is a curtained recess or box which is called the confessional in every Catholic Church. The penitent Catholic on bended knee there meets the seated Catholic priest and, as the priest questions, the penitent recites his various misdeeds since they last met. This is called “auricular” because it is made into the auris, or ear, of the priest. It is but one of not a few abominable practices introduced during the medieval period. In fact, learned Romanists do not deny that auricular confession became a practice of the Catholic Church at the council of Lateran, A.D. 1215. Pope (*not so) Innocent III, of the merciless Inquisition, was its founder. Catholics, generally, do not know that. Here is one reason why they do not: the Council of Trent declared, “Whoever shall say that the mode of secretly confessing to a priest alone, which the Catholic Church has always observed from the beginning and still observes, is foreign to the institution and command of Christ, and is a human invention; let him be accursed…”
My friends, here is God’s way: first, for the alien sinner in Acts 2, with the believing Jews, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:37-38). No command here to confess to any priest or any other man for the purpose of obtaining absolution.
Now concerning God’s way for those in the church: when Simon, after his baptism as recorded in Acts 8, had committed a grievous sin, Peter directed him as follows: “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:21-23). Peter did not direct him to confess his sins to a priest in order to obtain absolution! James, in giving instructions to those in the church, said, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16). My friends, that states, “Confess your faults one to another.” It does not say to a priest.
Corrupting Influences Of The Auricular Confession
Concerning another aspect of such a practice, Mr. Chiniquy, an ex-priest of good authority, says: “I have heard the confession of more than two hundred priests, and to say the truth, as God knows it, I must declare that only twenty-one had not to weep over the secret sins committed through the irresistibly corrupting influences of auricular confession. I am now more than seventy-seven years old, and in a short time I shall be in my grave. I shall have to give an account of what I now say. Well, it is in the presence of my Great Judge, with my tomb before my eyes, that I declare to the world that very few yes, very few priests escape from falling into the pit of the most horrible moral depravity the world has ever known, through the confession of females.”
Do Catholics Teach That Priests Can Forgive Sins?
Let us look, just for a moment, at this question, “Does the Catholic Church really teach that the priests can forgive sin?” In Deharbe’s Catechism, page 150, we read, “Question: Does the priest really forgive sins, or does he only declare them forgiven? Answer: The priest really and truly forgives sins through the power given him by Christ.” How is the little child, or ignorant adult, or the one educated in a Catholic school going to recognize how much the Scriptures are perverted in that statement? To forgive sins is God’s prerogative and He has never delegated it to any priest! “He as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Such blasphemy!
“Call No Man Your Father”
While speaking of the usurpation of that which belongs to God, let us consider the fact that the priest is called “Father.” Jesus said, “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:8-9). The usual Catholic quibble is, “You call your paternal parent ‘father’.” Yes, and Jesus speaks about the earthly parent (Matthew 15:1-9) in that manner, but here it plainly has a religious designation as the context shows.
To be continued in #2D….