How many times have readers on the Worldwide Web seen RCC apologists argue that the Roman Catholic Church worships only God, while merely venerating Mary and the lesser deities in the Catholic Pantheon?
They are wont to inform us, at times waspishly, that prayers offered to earth mother Mary and the other Catholic saints are to seek their help and support before the Lord God. No Catholic, we are assured, ever renders worship to Mary, much less a mere saint.
Of course, any reasonable person likely rejects this denial as nothing more than an exercise in semantics. As I often declare, when a person kneels before an image of a saint, lights a candle as an offering and drops a few coins or bills in the handy offering box, then looks adoringly at the statue or icon and prays fervently to the soul of the dead person represented by the image – that is worship.
2692. In prayer, the pilgrim Church is associated with that of the saints, whose intercession she asks.--Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), (C) 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.
The Catholic Church certainly is associated with her minor deities in the matter of prayer. So much so, in fact, that she rewards those who will humble themselves before these demigods and seek their favors in fawning, saccharine prayers. Consider this prayer, composed by a Doctor of the Church, Alphonsus de Ligouri:
O Saint Teresa, seraphic Virgin, beloved spouse of thy crucified Lord, thou who on earth didst burn with a love so intense toward thy God and my God, and now dost glow with a brighter and purer flame in paradise: obtain for me also, I beseech thee, a spark of that same holy fire which shall cause me to forget the world, all things created, and even myself; for thou didst ever avidly desire to see Him loved by all men. Grant that my every thought and desire and affection may be continually directed to doing the will of God, the supreme Good, whether I am in joy or in pain, for He is worthy to be loved and obeyed forever. Obtain for me this grace, thou who art so powerful with God; may I be all on fire, like thee, with the holy love of God. Amen.--Quoted at Our Catholic Faith
Faithfully praying this prayer was to be rewarded with 300 days indulgence, or remission of temporal punishment for sin and the satisfaction owed to God. The neat thing about indulgences is that they are like Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free" cards and can be used for oneself or for the benefit of a soul in Purgatory. Kind of a twist on the prayers for the dead angle.
1479 Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted. -- CCC, Op.cit.
Should the prayerful Catholic dutifully and devoutly pray this cloying little prayer for a full month, his promised reward was to be a plenary, or full, indulgence – assuming, of course, that he fulfills all the other requirements for such a mercy.
The concept is mind-boggling. We know from Scripture that nothing impure can enter into the presence of God. We know from Scripture that God hates sin and that the punishment for unremitted sin is eternity separated from God. According to Scripture, there is but one means of atoning for sin – the shedding of blood. But whose blood? The blood of animals does not save, nor does the blood of men. Only the spilled blood of Christ is adequate to atone for the sins of mankind.
Nowhere in Scripture are we told that Christ's substitutionary sacrifice only served to atone for a part of our sins and cover only part of the just punishment due every man for his sin. We are indeed made aware that there are sometimes temporal consequences for our sins (Hebrews 12), but there is no mention of the purifying flames of Purgatory. This is but another Catholic invention – one concocted by the Popes to provide a market for the selling of indulgences during the Middle Ages.
Should God choose to chastise his unruly children, it will be in this lifetime, for at death we go to our eternal home (Ecc. 12:5). Christians cannot accept the concept of Purgatory, for it is nothing more than an advertising gimmick to promote the sale of indulgences. The continuing offering of indulgences, while perhaps no longer a major source of RCC income, still serves the purpose of creating and maintaining dependency on the Roman cult to ease the consequences of sin.
Believers in the Christ of Scripture have no fear of mythical Purgatory nor need for silly indulgences.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.--1 Thessalonians 5:9-10