Prayers for the dead
Definition: Intercessions made to God, Mary and the Saints on behalf of those who have died. In order to go to heaven, a Catholic must pay for the temporal punishment due their sins. This payment is exacted in a place of suffering called purgatory. Through the prayers of the faithful and the rewarding of indulgences, time spent by a loved one in purgatory can be reduced. Merit is applied from the Treasury of Merit – the excess merit earned by Jesus, Mary and the Saints. A special day of prayer is All Souls Day (November 2nd). Plenary indulgences are available to those who properly follow Catholic protocol, such as visiting a cemetery and praying for the intentions of the pope. A plenary indulgence is a remission of all temporal punishment on the authority of the pope, who enjoys immediate and universal power in the care of souls (CCC 937).
Discussion: David experienced the temporal consequences of his sin with Bathsheba – his child died. But God removes the eternal consequences of sin (Ps. 103:12). The Bible says that it is appointed for a person to die once and then comes judgment (Heb. 9:27) – there is no place of post-death temporal punishment other than hell. The false comfort of purgatory and praying for the dead exacerbates the main problem of the Catholic: the denial of the sufficiency of Christ (Col. 2:10).
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Article by John Ankerberg – The Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory