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Our incredible Catholic Faith: man writing in AD 1135 asks prayers of those 1000 years hence July 16, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Four Last Things, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, Interior Life, manhood, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.

I found the neatest thing in someone’s twitter feed.  It’s a twitter upload of a photo by a Marc Morris, who was reading a modern copy of the writings of Henry of Huntingdon, and Englishman who lived during the 12th century.  He was obviously a very pious Catholic man (or who knows, by the standards of that time, when spectacular piety was much more commonplace, he may have simply been average- that is how far we have fallen!).  He was also quite imaginative.  As you will see in the pic below, he wonders whether anyone might read his writings 1000 years hence – that is, in AD 2135.  If so, he implores their prayers:


I love his further faith – if you pray for me, even 1000 years on, perhaps someone will pray for you even further thousands of years in the future.  Now that is an awesome Faith!  And you know what, I have added him to the list of deceased souls I pray for.  Marc Morris, whoever he may be, has also done quite an act of spiritual mercy.

Should we not be entering eschatological times, maybe someone will find this blog in the year 2500 and pray for me!  Please do!  I surely need your prayers, and since prayers work out of time, prayers made hundreds of years from now might be the prayers that make final satisfaction for the temporal debt due to my sins, and yet free me far in advance of that temporal date.

Side note: I have seen  a lot of people oddly limit God with regard to time. In fact, the post-conciliar changes made to indulgences are of this same limiting mindset.  They say, well, God is outside of time, therefore, there can be no time in Purgatory or whatever, so a time reference to an indulgence has no basis.  But I am not so sure.  Our God is omnipotent.  Just because He exists out of time, does not mean supernatural constructs of His like Purgatory must do so.  There could be a temporal component as we understand here on earth, even a duality, where angels enter in and out of something like an earthly time reference in these various supernatural abodes, but there are other aspects – doorways, if you will – that are “out of time.”  At various points in history, God Himself has entered in and out of human time here on earth, so that doesn’t seem impossible.

That’s one reason why I think the early definitions of indulgences – that they literally merited “time off” in Purgatory – were not necessarily incorrect.  These attempts at hard, “scientific” definitions of God, His abodes, and His behavior, I think are another deleterious influence of the endarkenment/rationalism.  It’s trying to ascribe scientific “law” to God’s behavior, and in a sense, circumscribe the limits of His omnipotence.  Bzzz. Wrong.

Or has such been theologically disproven?  If it has, I’ve never seen evidence of that.



1. Ever mindful - July 16, 2015

Marc Morris…pray for us…

Tantumblogo - July 16, 2015

Sorry if I cause confusion. Henry of Huntingdon was the 12th century man asking for prayers. Marc Morris is a contemporary academic who posted this interesting find.

2. Brian - July 16, 2015

I read a number of Catholic blogs; they are just about my only (limited) connection to mass media. Yours I find most interesting because of your array of relevant, interesting topics like this one and the conclusions you draw from them. The living connection to this man from ancient history is indeed inspirational. I will also mention the book reviews you sometimes do such as the liturgical guide, “Treasure and Tradition”. A fantastic book and also a resource for witnessing to the Faith. Or “The Catechism Explained” by Spirago which you reviewed recently. I purchased a copy, previously owned by a Priest with his prayer cards intact. A great resource for me right now given the confusion and discouragements of the times.

Anyway, thanks for your time and talent putting out this blog!

3. Boniface - July 16, 2015

I put this together on indulgences awhile back.


4. TF - July 16, 2015

I think you might misunderstand the old system of indulgences. The durations alotted to them were the equivalence of monks or some holy persons praying for you for that duration. So an indulgence of 30 days was not 30 days off of Purgatory but the efficacy of 30 days worth of prayers for that soul. You’d have to look in the Catholic Encyclopedia or something for details; this is from memory.

Tantumblogo - July 16, 2015

Pre-1500, there were writings that indulgences did result in “time off” Purgatory, not that they were simply equal to laborious prayer on someone’s behalf. This was widely understood at that time. But the whole matter of the protestant reformation may have made this belief embarrassing, so it was subtly changed to the one you describe. I’m terrible about doing this, but I can try to find the history book that describes this phenomenon, but there was definitely a change, first in emphasis, and then almost in presentation if you will, regarding how indulgences operated.

I took this belief to be widespread pre-1500 but I may be distorting it in memory.

LaGallina - July 16, 2015

I didn’t know that indulgences WERE NOT considered actual time off from Purgatory. I thought that was just a given — 30 days indulgence meant 30 days less time in Purgatory. Now I’m confused.

Tantumblogo - July 17, 2015

Stick with me, kid. Yes the concept has become much more muddled in recent times (recent being maybe a century or two). Reading a history of the Church in Spain around the time of the end of the Reconquista makes clear that people at that time understood indulgences along the same lines you did. So do the writings of Saint Juan of Avila. I also recall Saint Alphonsus understanding it the same way – doing a certain indulgence means X amount of time off Purgatory.

As I stated, however, under constant protestant attacks that view has been modified to be understood even by most traditional Catholics to be as some other folks related: equal in merit to doing really hard prayer penance for XX days or years. Which I think is confusing and also very difficult to translate into “how much does this help me in Purgatory,” or which devotions/prayers are most efficacious? I also think it a bit illogical – if a plenary indulgence removes ALL temporal debt due to sin, why would a 300 day indulgence not remove “300 days” time in Purgatory?

Of course, after VII it became even more nebulous, where you can only get “partial” or plenary indulgences.

I don’t think this is dogmatic at all. That Purgatory exists, is a place of final cleansing of the temporal debt do to sin, and that we can do things in this life (or others can do for us) IS certainly Catholic Doctrine, but I don’t think the actual mechanism of how that occurs is. The point being, Catholics in good conscience can disagree on these points.

TF - July 17, 2015

I did not know that part of the history. Thank you. I do know that it is up to the Church hierarchy to determine how indulgences are granted, and it obviously can change. There is merit to the argument that it was a little confusing before the last change, but of course we don’t need to understand it in order to recieve the benefits.

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