Today I was listening to the 2/11/16 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, in Buffalo, NY) with Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, taking questions from callers. Rick began the show by humbly correcting some previous advice he had given.
A couple of days before, a Catholic woman had called into the show and asked Rick if it was okay to pray The Stations of the Cross at her church at the same time she was at the church for eucharistic adoration? That would essentially be like getting two for the price of one.
For my evangelical friends, traditional Catholic churches have 14 plaques stationed around the sanctuary, which depict various events in the trial, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus. Five of the 14 events; Jesus meeting His mother Mary (IV), Jesus having His face wiped by “saint” Veronica (VI), and Jesus falling three times (III, VII, IX) as He pressed on to Calvary are apocryphal and are not mentioned in the Gospels. Pope John Paul II came up with a different series of 14 events – the “Scriptural Form” – which some churches have adopted.
Catholics walk from station to station and pray the assigned rote prayers. This practice is especially popular during Lent. Praying the Stations of the Cross is classified officially as a “devotion.” Catholics are taught a “plenary” (full) indulgence can be earned by making the “Way of the Cross.” This means that all of the temporal punishment for confessed sins not yet fully expiated up to that point in a person’s life are “remitted” (canceled). Catholics believe they could spend hundreds and even thousands of years in purgatory receiving the temporal punishment that remains after they die, so receiving a plenary indulgence is a big deal although probably 90% of today’s Catholics would have no clue what a “plenary indulgence” was if you asked them. The vast majority of Catholics these days can’t even be bothered with attending obligatory mass on Sundays let alone coming to church during the week and saying the Stations of the Cross.
If someone begins the Stations of the Cross but has to stop after Station XIII because of a family emergency, do they still earn a plenary indulgence or is the indulgence benefit pro rated?
As for eucharistic adoration, Catholics believe their priests change bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ during the mass. Sometimes a large eucharist wafer is placed inside an ornate container called a monstrance. The monstrance has a glass window so the wafer is visible. Catholics come to church at designated times to worship and adore the eucharist wafer, which they believe to be Jesus Christ. Catholics are taught they receive a partial indulgence (of indeterminate time) if they visit with the eucharistic Jesus for less than thirty minutes and a plenary indulgence if they visit for more than thirty minutes. Anybody got a stopwatch? Who decided on thirty minutes? Why not twenty-five? Why not thirty-five? Can 29:30 minutes be rounded-up or is 30:00 minutes a precise non-negotiable?
So, back to our caller’s question. Initially, it was clear from the tone of his voice that Rick wasn’t thrilled about the caller’s proposition of praying the stations AND adoring the eucharist at the same time but he concluded by saying it was “probably” okay. However, when Rick came back on the air on February 11 he had some egg on his face, saying he had checked the US Council of Catholic Bishops web site (see below) and discovered that Catholics can’t double-dip. A devotion like The Stations of the Cross and a “benediction” like the eucharistic adoration cannot be mixed. It’s either one or the other. Catholics aren’t allowed to do both at the same time.
So is it a mortal sin if a Catholic tries to double dip by participating in both activities at the same time or is it only a venial sin? Or is it that they just don’t get ANY indulgences?
Are you all still with me? I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers dropped away several paragraphs ago. The Roman Catholic church’s rituals and rubrics are so complicated even a priest like Rick can’t keep them all straight. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple even a child can understand it. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Religious ritual doesn’t save. Only Jesus saves. Accept Christ as your Savior and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.
“Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” – Mark 7:13
“They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” – Matthew 23:4