“Holy doors” guaranteed to make your head spin

Yesterday I was listening to the April 21, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics”HD talk radio show on The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM out of Buffalo, New York with Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Steve Quebral, taking questions from listeners.

During the show, Kim from Rochester, New York called in with a question regarding the Catholic church’s “Holy Doors.” Before I get to Kim’s question, I need to give my evangelical friends some background on the holy doors. This gets a little complicated so please fasten your seat belts and stay with me.

Generally speaking, the Catholic church has designated specific doors in eight churches – four of the churches are in Rome – as “Holy Doors.” During “jubilee” years, which normally occur every 25 or 50 years, Catholics may walk through the specially blessed holy doors and receive a “plenary indulgence” for their sins. What is a plenary indulgence you ask? Catholics confess their mortal and venial sins to a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation, but what many Catholics don’t even realize is that while the priest may forgive all of the sins in the confessional, not all of the punishment for the sins is remitted. Any remaining (temporal) punishment for sins will be meted out in purgatory after death. How long someone must suffer in purgatory is sketchy business but Catholic writers in the past spoke about the duration extending to even hundreds of years. But the church grants indulgences – remission of temporal punishment – if the Catholic performs certain acts. Partial indulgences remove some of the punishment while “plenary” (full) indulgences remove all of it. The church is able to issue indulgences from its “treasury of merit” consisting of the superabundant spiritual merit of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. By making a pilgrimage and walking through one of the eight holy doors, a Catholic is granted a full, plenary indulgence.

Please note that the vast majority of Catholics would have no idea what you were talking about if you asked them about “partial and plenary indulgences” for “temporal punishment.”

Pope Francis declared November 2015 to December 2016 to be an Extraordinary Year of Mercy for the faithful. As part of this special jubilee year, church doors in dioceses around the world were designated and blessed as holy doors. Pilgrims don’t have to make the distant trip to Rome or to one of the other four locations this year, they can receive their full indulgence by walking through holy doors in their own diocese. Pictured are some faithful Catholics walking through designated holy doors to receive their indulgence.

Is everyone still with me? Good, now let’s get back to Kim’s question. Regarding the holy doors, Kim asked Rick, “Are you only supposed to walk through the doors once to receive the indulgences?” Evidently, this holy door business is too complicated even for pious Catholics. Rick laughed off the question, commenting that of course you only need to walk through the holy doors once to receive the plenary indulgence. But, he added, a person could make pilgrimages to holy door sites several times throughout the year and thereby keep up with any additional temporal punishment that had accumulated in their spiritual in-basket.

Catholic friend, if the above seems outrageously complicated you would be right. God didn’t make salvation into this kind of religious calculus to be administered by ecclesiastical “experts.” Saving faith is trusting in Jesus with a child-like faith.

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

Purgatory, indulgences, temporal punishment, and holy doors are all man-made religious traditions. Walking through doors someone calls “holy” won’t do a silly thing. Jesus Christ made salvation as simple as the thief on the cross. God is holy and we are sinners. We deserve eternal punishment for our sins. But God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. But Jesus rose from the grave and offers the gift of salvation to all who repent of their sins and accept Him as their Savior by faith. Accept Jesus today. Religious rituals and traditions don’t save. You can’t merit your way to Heaven. No one is good enough to merit Heaven, that is why Jesus died for us. After you’ve accepted Christ, ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches the Word of God without compromise.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Evangelical friend, when Catholics talk about Jesus and “faith,” we might get a warm fuzzy thinking we’re all on the same page, but when a Catholic talks about their “faith,” they’re talking about something entirely different from the Gospel we know. When a Catholic talks about faith they’re referring to their religious system which requires participation in church sacraments, obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules perfectly, along with a lot of extremely complicated ritualism such as this holy door process. That is not the Gospel. A faithful Catholic won’t say they’re saved because – lip service to grace aside – they believe their salvation depends on how well THEY “cooperate with grace” and merit their own salvation right up until the moment of their death. That is not the Gospel.


See below for an example of a brochure handed out to pilgrims to one diocese’s holy doors.
http://www.stmatthewscathedral.org/docs/pilgrimage_to_the_holy_door_at_the_cathedral_2015.pdf

“And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven.”

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!