Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 5, 1957

Have You Heard The Latest?

Luther W. Martin, St. James, Mo.

The complex and complicated pyramid of doctrines, dogmas and church laws of the Roman Catholic Church should be sufficient to govern her operations. There's a total of 2,414 Canon Laws which is quite a collection for a nominal Catholic Parishioner to give heed to. But, the latest interesting Catholic teaching (it's new to me),but it may of long-standing ... has to do with making visits to Catholic cemeteries.

From the December 7, 1956, issue of the St. Louis Register, we copy as follows:

"Indulgences Possible In Cemetery Visits"

"The possibility of gaining indulgences from visits to Catholic cemeteries was underscored this week by the 'Rev.' Rudolph F. Beckmann, assistant archdiocesan director of Catholic Cemeteries.

" Many Catholics are not aware that an indulgence can be gained by the faithful who visit a cemetery in a spirit of piety and devotion, and pray — even mentally — for the dead,' he said.

" ' An indulgence of seven years can be gained, which is applicable only to the departed.'

" Father' Beckmann said that relatives and friends could best remember their dead by offering prayers for the repose of their souls.

" 'While the placing of decorations on graves indicates reverence, the most appropriate and thoughtful manner of visiting graves is to offer prayers,' he said. Outward manifestations, however, such as placing decorations, may afford some consolation."

Am I being too impertinent to ask a few questions of the priestly gentlemen? (1) Where is an INDULGENCE mention in God's Word? (2) To what AUTHORITY do they go for information as to the SEVEN YEARS figure? If it is NOT Christ's AUTHORITY, then it is of MANKIND, and thus VAIN! (Matt. 15:9.) (3) Where is inspired authority for PRAYING FOR THE SOULS OF THE DEAD? Other than some of the apocryphal writings that were ADDED TO the Hebrew Old Testament centuries after it was completed by Malachi!

Gentlemen . . . you'd better pass some more new Catholic Canon Laws, real quick . . . because you don't have the answers! As a parting gesture, here are some more questions: (1) Can't the seven years indulgence be secured by 'praying for the dead' while you are at home? Or do you get the seven years credit in indulgences when you cross the Catholic Cemetery boundary line? (2) Can you get fourteen years credit in indulgences if you say two prayers at the cemetery? Or do you have to step back over the boundary line and then step back inside the Catholic cemetery to get the second seven year's worth? (3) And, if you're praying for the release of the souls of a pair of twins who have died, what do you do to be sure and get them both out of 'purgatory' at the same time? Or does the extra prayer of a well-wishing Catholic separate the souls of the twins, when only one of them is mentioned?

See how ridiculous and foolish these man-made religious doctrines can become! My questions were foolish and nonsensical ... but so is the religious mythology that prompted them.