Members of a legalistic, works-righteous religious system like Catholicism can never truly rejoice about their spiritual state. It’s a never-ending treadmill; do good works, sin, confess, do good works, sin, confess, etc., etc., right up to the day they die. Catholics hope they time it right by dying immediately after confession when their slate will supposedly be clean.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ Who takes ALL the sin away of those who accept Him.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
Catholics differentiate between “venial” and “mortal” sin although they would be hard pressed to tell you where one ends and the other begins. Catholics are taught that when they confess their sins to a priest the eternal punishment is removed but even after saying the prescribed rote penitential prayers some of the “temporal” punishment remains. Catholics can reduce the temporal punishment they’ve accumulated through good works in this life. But whatever temporal punishment remains at the time of death will be meted out in “purgatory” (as long as there was no “mortal” sin on the soul). Somebody call a canon lawyer!
Catholics can erase big chunks of temporal punishment by doing good works, doing penance, and receiving indulgences. The Catholic system says its members can take years off or even wipe away all temporal punishment accumulated up to that point by receiving prescribed indulgences. Where’s that canon lawyer!!! Catholicism has more rules than Carter has pills. Believe me when I tell you that 95% of Catholics would be clueless if you asked them what “temporal punishment” was.
But let’s take a look at one particular indulgence. There is a Catholic myth that “Saint” Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, removed the 28 marble steps, the “Scala Sancta” (Holy Stairs), leading to Pontius Pilates’s praetorium in Jerusalem and had them brought to Rome. Jesus supposedly descended these steps after being judged by Pilate and there are 4 places on the stairs, encased in gold-framed glass, where drops of Jesus’ blood allegedly fell. Take note that Helena is said to have transported these steps to Rome 300 years after the death of Christ.
In 1908 pope Pius X granted a “plenary” (full) indulgence to all who ascended the stairs on their knees after confession and communion. Indulgences were a HUGE money-making machine for the church for centuries. The church claims they never officially “sold” indulgences but contributions were always STRONGLY recommended. Pilgrims continue to flock to Rome to climb these 28 steps on their knees.
Incidentally, biographers state that it was while climbing these steps on his knees in 1511 that a particular Bible verse flashed through Martin Luther’s mind: “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Praise God!