I was raised Roman Catholic. When I was 16, I used my babysitting money to purchase a Catholic Missal from the church bookstore–a prayer book of indulgences.
We learned in catechism class that we were all sinners–I certainly knew I was! We also learned we’d have our sins forgiven once we confessed them. However, even with our sins forgiven, we’d still have to endure purgatory–a place of painful, fiery suffering to cleanse us from our sins–before we could enter heaven.
The missal I purchased would provide a way for me to reduce my time in purgatory. I eagerly read through it and discovered hope at the end of each prayer! It actually revealed the number of weeks, months or years of indulgences I would gain each time I read that prayer! That meant the number of weeks, months or years I would not have to spend in purgatory!
Upon further investigation, I noted some prayers were long and some were short. Then I discovered some long prayers only offered six weeks of indulgences, while a short prayer I found would give me seven years! Wow! This was a great find!
But since it was unpredictable to know how many years I’d be required to spend in purgatory, it was difficult to know how many times I would need to say the seven-year prayer. Nevertheless, I knew that short prayer was the only prayer I would ever need to say.
Years later at age 27, I attended my first Bible study. I still remember the day I learned there was no mention of purgatory in the Bible–that when Jesus died on the cross to purchase our salvation, He did it all! No further punishment would be necessary!
Wait! What? I thought I was hearing things! If this is true, why haven’t I heard this before? I even felt some anger, to think I had carried the guilt of sin and the fear of the fires of purgatory all my life. This was the most wonderful news I’d ever heard! I was not going to keep it a secret! People need the truth!
Thank you, Martin Luther! You had it figured it out back in 1517! October 31, 2017 marked the beginning of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
- Catholic Doctrine: Suffering in purgatory is greater than all suffering on earth. Such is the doctrine of tradition, supported by theological reasoning.  http://www.catholictreasury.info/books/everlasting_life/ev24.php
- Biblical Doctrine: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9