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DefinitionThe performance of meritorious acts that go beyond what is required. In Catholic theology, these meritorious acts (performed by Mary and the Saints) contribute to a heavenly bank account known as the “Treasury of Merit.” The Pope can make withdrawals from this Treasury in order to shorten a person’s time in purgatory.

Discussion: Jesus shoots down any notion of meritorious works: “when you do all things commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Lk. 17:10). The Bible says that no one is righteous, and that we can do nothing apart from Christ. Salvation from sin is entirely a gift. It is a fatal mistake to consider works as being meritorious. Paul pities his fellow Jews who were trusting in their own righteousness: “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:3-4).

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    February 19, 2012 12:50 pm

    Wow. How can anyone read the bible and create such a misconception

    • February 19, 2012 1:01 pm

      Bob, it reflects the Catholic “filter.” First, Scripture is neither the sole or ultimate authority for the Roman Catholic. Traditions, such as the exaltation of Mary, are also considered to be the Word of God. And the Catholic hierarchy is the infallible interpreters of this “living word.”

      With these added authorities, it then becomes possible to read into the Scriptures to find support for your new doctrine, such as supererogation. Mary’s response to the wine steward in John 2 “Do whatever he tells you” becomes “I have the power to direct my son whichever way I want – so pray to me!” Thus is created a new and different Mary – one who is perfect and sinless.


  1. Somewhat dated but good primer on Roman Catholicism – excatholic4christ

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