Throwback Thursday: Catholic religious calculus: No double-dipping!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 24, 2016 and has been revised.


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, N.Y.) featuring Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, taking questions from callers. Rick began the show by humbly correcting some advice he had previously 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. Catholics are granted “indulgences” in order to mitigate future sufferings in purgatory by practicing either activity, and the woman wanted to know if she could essentially get two for the price of one. Let’s briefly look at the two practices.

The Stations of the Cross

For my evangelical friends, 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 Biblically-accurate “Scriptural Form” – which some parishes 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 following the Stations 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 praying the Stations of the Cross.

Question from an ex-Catholic evangelical: 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?

Eucharistic Adoration

As for eucharistic adoration, Catholics believe their priests change bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ during the mass. Sometimes a large eucharist wafer is placed inside an ornate gold display piece 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 wafer for less than thirty minutes and receive 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? Eucharistic adoration is officially classified as a “benediction.”

Catholicism’s dizzying religious calculus vs. the simple Gospel

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 Jesus wafer 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 U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops web site (see below) and discovered that Catholics cannot 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 that even a veteran priest like Rick can’t keep them all straight. But the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone 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 by faith alone 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

29 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Catholic religious calculus: No double-dipping!

  1. How pathetic in a very sad, sad way. This is akin to being enslaved to the Mosaic Law, as many Orthodox Jews are today. Another eye-opening post, Tom. I appreciate it as in 34 years as a believer, I really know very little about Catholicism. Your posts have served as an excellent educational tool for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David! I appreciate the encouragement! I miss being able to listen to Catholic talk radio as I did in the past because they would get deep into the nitty-gritty of the quirky legalistic rabbit holes of the RCC that evangelicals and even many Catholics aren’t aware of, like this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, your post read well as you made your points and moved on. The flow was good. Therefore, though more words than your usual posts, it was a smooth read, and therefore a quick read.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, David! I appreciate that coming from a journalist. I remember putting in a lot of effort on this one to simplify the complicated religious calculus.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. as well as follow deceptive Counter Reformation Jesuit contrived doctrines of preterism & futurism. The Word of God is plain and it never changes, it is wily man who proposes all these falsehoods.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a very interesting post, Tom. I knew some of this but, just like Rick Poblocki, I have no idea about some of the intricacies of Catholic doctrine. “Plenary” Indulgence?” That’s a new one for me. I’m glad that many Catholics don’t even know their own theology to varying degrees. Is it possible that many of them don’t know what is supposed to be happening during “eucharistic adoration.” Or is that something that most Catholics are aware of?
    I’ve always thought that there are saved souls in the Catholic church who do understand the simple gospel as you have shared it here. Am I wrong in thinking this? Obviously, no Christian should want a person to stay in a Catholic church where the way to heaven seems to be a type of maze one must conquer.
    Your comment about Catholics not knowing their own theology makes me think of many today in the Protestant churches. So many are teaching false doctrines that have nothing to do with anything in scripture: there is the prosperity “Gospel,” New Age doctrines, the Word of Faith Movement, etc. etc. I heard that people were starting to read their Bibles more during the Pandemic. If this is true, it sure doesn’t seem like it has stopped the proliferation of false teachers and false “prophets.”
    If people read their Bibles enough, we wouldn’t have such a mess.
    Thank you for the information and may God bless your day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chris!

      I’m guessing the majority of Catholics who participate in eucharist adoration don’t realize they’re allegedly earning a plenary indulgence, but then again the people who practice this piety are ultra-Catholics who know a lot more about their religion than the average Catholic.

      I’m of the view that there are some Catholics who are genuinely saved in spite of their church, but remain out of fear or ignorance and the Holy Spirit is drawing them out. There are so many things in RCism that blatantly contradict the Gospel of grace that staying would be torturous for a genuine believer the more they read the Bible. I also think there are many Catholics who on their deathbed, not understanding theology but knowing their sinfulness, throw themselves at the feet of Christ for salvation like the repentant thief on the cross.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I appreciate you sharing your opinion with me, Tom. I have a Catholic friend who doesn’t act like she’s into all the weird stuff but she has a bumper sticker that says “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter.” I haven’t seen her for quite some time but have recently reconnected with her on Facebook. I have another Catholic friend whom I’ve had frank discussions with. She knows the main difference between Catholics and Protestants, that Catholics are saved by works and faith and apposed to faith alone. She attends a Catholic church and a Protestant church. I’ve always thought of both of them as saved as you put it ” in spite of their church.” Only God knows though and I pray that Catholics will come to see how messed up the RC doctrines are.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s difficult to sort things out because ecumenism has so muddied the Gospel and so many Catholics are adept at “born again lingo” but when push comes to shove the vast majority of those souls are trusting in their own righteousness as the RC teaches, not saying the two you mentioned.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So true. And so many prominent “protestants” have not dealt with the problem like Martyn Lloyd Jones did.
        It no wonder that so many protestants are confused. This study is four years old but it states:

        “According to the survey, more Protestants reported they believe salvation comes through a mix of faith and good works (52 percent) — the traditionally Catholic position — than through “faith alone” (46 percent).”

        If that is even close, it is tragic.

        The percentage of Catholics who thought faith alone (sola fide) was salvific was 17%.

        There is also this:

        “Only 30 percent of U.S. Protestants affirmed both sola fide and sola scriptura.”

        I’m guessing these are the worst numbers since the U.S. came into existence. I guess we have to just keep plugging away to try and help people understand the simple truths of the Bible.

        I’m working on a couple of posts now so I’m backed up a bit and I know I’ve covered these topics before but I think I’ll start working on a simple post about why the Reformation was necessary.

        I think all Catholics (and protestants for that matter) should know that Catholics who participate in the eucharist are allegedly earning a plenary indulgence. (I’m glad you taught me this in this post.) It looks like Catholic leaders are doing as poor a job at teaching their theology as are protestant leaders.

        They should at least know the basics of what their leaders teach about salvation. Every protestant should know the simple gospel as you have described it above. And every Catholic should know what they believe so that when they read Eph. 2:8,9 a question causes the synapses that God created in their brains to light up.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks, Chris. I’m off to work soon but wanted to respond to your good comments by saying that the term “evangelical” has largely and sadly lost its meaning.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. All you wrote is so familiar. Veronica, where did she come from.?!?! I still can’t believe I was a Roman Catholic and believed all that nonsense! Good post Tom, and your humor showing how ridiculous the teachings are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy! I don’t mean to ridicule Catholics personally because I also remember checking off the RC religious laundry list, but the sheer inanity of their church’s legalistic rabbit holes invites the critical humor.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I appreciate you sharing this post Tom. Although I was once enslaved into this satanic religion I had no knowledge of the nonsense they teach. Thanks to your blog I have learned much and have been able to use the information when needed.
    Blessings for the coming weekend brother Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Crissy! I wasn’t aware of many of these types of RC legalistic rabbit holes until after I was saved and started doing some research. Evil masked as godly religion.
      Thank you and blessings to you this weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I often like these kinds of posts because you show us all how aribitrary and also how legalistic Roman Catholicism really is, even priests can’t keep up with the technicalities

    Liked by 1 person

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