Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Background Image

Understanding Indulgences in the Catholic Faith

Joe Heschmeyer, author of The Eucharist is Really Jesus, explores the misunderstood topic of indulgences. He explains the historical context and biblical perspectives on indulgences, addressing misconceptions and highlighting the fine line between legitimate spiritual generosity and the improper commodification of spiritual goods that tarnished the reputation of indulgences in the past.


Cy Kellett:

Hello and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding and defending your Catholic faith. I am Cy Kellett, your host, and anyone who has ever found themselves in the position of regularly defending the Catholic faith, whether online or in person, has come up against indulgences. They got a bad name at one point, unfortunate that they got a bad name because they ain’t a bad thing. But we’ll talk about indulgences this time with our guest, Joe Heschmeyer. Joe is the author of The Eucharist Is Really Jesus: How Christ’s Body and Blood Are the Key to Everything We believe, among quite a few other books. And he is the proprietor of the podcast, Shameless Popery, where he does extended conversations about very important topics for Catholics, for other Christians, for everybody. Check it out at Shameless Popery wherever you get your podcasts. Joe Heschmeyer, welcome.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Thanks. Good to be here.

Cy Kellett:

We have a … What do they call it? A blog, here at Catholic Answers, and it’s called Indulgences. And I have to mention it because I’ll be in trouble with Thomas if I don’t. If I start a podcast that’s about indulgences and not mention Indulgences, then I’m in trouble.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I appreciate you indulging him.

Cy Kellett:

I’m happy to do it. And indulge means what? What does that even mean? What am I talking about when I … Because it’s true. You could say indulge someone. Indulge means to, I don’t know, not object or to overcome whatever your objection is and to allow them to go on. Or to indulge myself is to not fight against temptation, I suppose.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I just looked up the dictionary definition of indulgences, or excuse me, of indulge, and it’s a verb. It means, “To allow oneself to enjoy the pleasures of. We’ve indulged in some hot fudge Sundays.” That’s not the meaning we’re using here. The second, “To become involved in an activity, typically one that is undesirable or disapproved of. I don’t indulge in idle gossip.” And it’s funny to me, I had not thought about that, but we do use indulge in these seemingly opposite ways of either I did this thing I didn’t want to do, or I did this thing I really wanted to do but shouldn’t have done.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, right. Yeah. But there is a-

Joe Heschmeyer:

So you might need indulgences if you’ve been indulging in [inaudible 00:02:22]-

Cy Kellett:

If you’ve been indulging … Yep. Right. You might be in need of an indulgence. All right, so let’s start about with how indulgences got a bad name. Primarily, now, I suppose there’s various ways they got a bad name, but I think the primary way they got a bad name is that at a certain point, really when the church was at the peak of her civil powers or her civic powers and very wealthy, some people treated indulgences as a money-making scheme rather than as a gift that the church can bestow on people. And so not everybody did … Sometimes it’s exaggerated how often this happened, but if it happened even once, and it did happen at least once, probably quite a bit more than once, then it was a terrible sin that was engaged in and it gave the whole thing a bad name. Is that fair to say, Joe?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, I think that’s very fair to say. And I would actually back up a little bit and say anyone who has not grappled with this spiritual reality is not in a good position to condemn indulgences. And the spiritual reality is this. The Bible rewards charitable giving. And this is … You see it all over the Bible, but just to give one example, 2 Corinthians, chapter nine. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that God loves a cheerful giver. And that he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Then a few verses later, he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

For the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the Saints, but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. So that notion that God loves a cheerful giver, that he’s not going to be outdone in generosity, is solidly, completely, thoroughly, explicitly biblical. Where’s the problem? It is wrong to try to buy spiritual goods. So we see that most explicitly in somewhere like Acts chapter eight. Simon, Simon Magus or Simon the Magi, tries to buy the gift of confirmation and St. Peter condemns him and says, “Your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money.” So when we’re dealing with spiritual realities, these gifts of God, we can’t buy them. But if we’re generous with our money, God might give them to us as a reward. You see the fine line there? This is something where we want to be very clear.

The example I like to give is giving to a political candidate is politically protected and even encouraged expression of First Amendment expression. But bribing a candidate is illegal. When you really get into the weeds of, “Well, if you support X, I’ll give you a bunch of money and if you don’t support X won’t give you a bunch of money.” Well, which side of the line is that on? Are you saying I only want to support pro-life candidates or you saying I will buy your vote with my money? And so you can see how there’s a good thing and a bad thing and the boundary between the good thing and the bad thing is sometimes a little blurry. So I give all of that to say Catholics and Protestants, all Christians, need to grapple seriously with the fact the Bible says these two things and not just focus on one or the other because that’s not an actual way of doing theology.

Having said that, the story of indulgences is originally indulgences were given for certain actions, like going on crusade. And so if you were a young and able-bodied man, you could have this indulgence for going on the crusade. Now, leave aside what anyone thinks of the crusade. The problem was you had people who weren’t in a position where they could go on crusade, but they might be able to financially support someone else to do so. So why would their sacrifice not count? Sure, they’re not putting their life on the line, but they’re enabling someone else to go on crusade who wouldn’t have been otherwise. So we want to support that kind of giving. And so you have those kind of things. In the particular case that led to Martin Luther’s revolt with the 95 Theses and what starts the whole Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church allowed indulgences tied to helping build St. Peter’s.

And so there were financial gifts to build up St. Peter’s. Now that is a true spiritual good. If you’re doing it for the right reasons. That is exactly the kind of thing that St Paul’s very clear, God’s not going to be outdone in generosity. Look, 2 Corinthians is a fundraising letter in no small way. And what he is doing in 2 Corinthians is not that different than what the Pope is doing in terms of encouraging people to give money to build up the church and promising them spiritual rewards if they are faithful to that call. And so the problem then isn’t that initial call.

The problem is some of the preachers of the indulgences, people like Johann Tetzel, are preaching them in a way that sounds much more like transactional. Much more like the sin of simony. And to be clear, the Council of Trent condemns that. They condemn the sale of indulgences. They don’t condemn indulgences. This is a common misunderstanding. They condemn the sale of indulgences. Maybe even more surprising, Martin Luther initially didn’t condemn indulgences either. So here’s a little bit of a historical theological trivia for you, Cy. In Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, he only condemns with an anathema one proposition. Do you know what that is?

Cy Kellett:

I have no idea.

Joe Heschmeyer:

He condemns anyone who … He says, “Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.” So he never damns Catholics. He actually damns all future Protestants. Which is surprising when they celebrate Reformation Day about how great he is for the 95 Theses that they’ve apparently not read. He is not saying indulgences are bad. He’s saying there are abuses around indulgences. And the Council of Trent largely agrees with him.

Cy Kellett:

So Tetzel, who you mentioned, is often … I don’t know if he ever said this, but he is often accused of saying, “As the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Meaning you could give money to the church to get your dead relative out of purgatory.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. So it is difficult because most of what we have in terms of Tetzel comes from Luther who hated him. And he certainly claims that he said something like this. In the 95 Theses, 27 and 28 deal with Tetzel. It says, “They preach only human doctrines, who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory. It is certain that when the money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.” So he was against what sounded like a very transactional view, like X amount of money will get your friend or relative out of purgatory. That does seem to be a pretty clear violation of this Christian idea of God rewarding generosity. When you start putting price tags on, here’s what you can get for different amounts.

Cy Kellett:

And then there was a extreme [inaudible 00:09:43] upon this whole thing, which is to say that the dead don’t need anything from us, which is … it’s certainly not a view that I guess virtually any religion has ever held, but certainly Christianity did not hold it up until this moment. One can understand why people would go to that extreme, but it is an extreme to say that there’s nothing that we can do for the dead.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Oh, not only is it an extreme, it’s an un-biblical extreme. And I say this … So I wanted to give a little bit of just a snapshot of the practice. This is not some Catholic invention. Jews believe in purgatory or something like purgatory. If you read the Jewish encyclopedia article on purgatory, Rabbi Kaufmann Kohler, I believe, gives an explanation of this and looks at the Jewish roots of this belief in purgatory. And certainly Jews have been praying for the dead as long as we find Jewish prayers. So the practice of sitting Shiva and praying for 11 months after a dead relative and you’re praying for them to be purified pretty explicitly. Look, it’s like this. If there’s no such thing as purgatory, then there’s no need to pray for the dead. Because those in heaven have no need for our prayers. Those in hell cannot use our prayers. It’s too late for them.

And so unless there is something like purgatory, then it makes no sense why the Jews have always prayed for the dead, why the early Christians prayed for the dead. And you can find those beliefs all over the place. Now, you can find … We can quibble about the nature of what purgatory is like, how long, what it looks like, that sort of thing. But that’s not really the question. The question is much simpler than that. The Book of Revelation says nothing impure enters heaven. And all of us, with hopefully some exceptions, we find ourselves sinning and being attached to sin. We are not ready, at this moment, to stand in the presence of God. And so what’s going to have to happen is God either breaks his own rules and lets sin into heaven or he purifies us of our sins.

And that notion of purification or purgation is where purgatory comes from. Now that starts in this life. If you’ve ever been seriously committed to the Christian life, you know that God is working on you in purifying those sins and helping you to be less attached to sin, helping you to be less sinful. So hopefully you do all of your purgatory here. But if you don’t, the only two possibilities are you therefore don’t go into heaven or God purges your sins in some way after you’ve died. And so I think when you put it that way, it’s clear why logically that has to be the case if we take scripture seriously about nothing impure being in the sight of God. So then you add to that 2 Maccabees 12, where you can see them praying for the dead, that they’ll be purified of sin. 1 Corinthians 3, which compares it to being passed through fire in terms of purification.

All of those references now make sense if you have the backdrop of saying, well, why would this spiritually be necessary? If Jesus died on the cross, why do we have to worry about sin at all? Well, it’s like, well, Jesus died on the cross and you have to worry about sin every day. And we’re told to worry about sin. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling like a roaring lion looking for something to devour. So we’re not just told Jesus did it, don’t worry about the devil. No, Jesus did it and so now you actually can be saved, but you still have to fight sin every day.

Cy Kellett:

All right. So that’s the historical bit then, that there was certainly, there’s the biblical foundation and the foundation in reason that God does in fact want to reward acts of love and charity and does in fact reward them. This theology got abused at various times with either the selling of indulgence or things that were very close to the selling of indulgences. And then this sparks a powerful reaction in which indulgences themselves, but even beyond that, the whole idea of assisting the dead in any way is rejected by many, many Christians. So having-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Can I say something real quick on that? I know I’m probably belaboring the point, but the reason I mention this is something we all have to deal with, is that both Catholics and Protestants can preach something that sounds like the prosperity gospel. And it’s just basically, if you give me some money, you’re going to get more money and you’re going to get a lot of prosperity and you’re going to get … And we have to always be on the lookout for that without denying all the stuff that you see in 2 Corinthians that can sound like the prosperity gospel. That God really does reward generosity.

We have to grapple with that seriously. The fact that this happened to be in the context of indulgences is more accidental than anything else because it could be the sale of any other spiritual good. It could be, if you help build this church, God will reward you in this life generously. There’s a scriptural basis for that, but you can easily turn that into selling of spiritual goods. So the fact that Protestants don’t believe in purgatory doesn’t mean that they’re exempt from the spiritual danger that came up with the sale of indulgences.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, so then, if I may, I wanted to ask you about the mechanics of the indulgence then, because even many people who will say, “Okay, I accept what the church teaches on indulgences,” the mechanics absolutely baffle them. They have no idea. And I feel like whenever I think about indulgences, I have to think about them. It doesn’t come naturally for me to go, oh yeah … I have to go through the steps. It goes like this and then this. So first of all, what does an indulgence do? Does it forgive sins or does it take away the temporal punishment due for sin, which we often hear, but we rarely know what that means? What are we saying an indulgence does?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, I’m glad you asked that because the idea that it forgives sins is a misconception and a dangerous one. It isn’t like you can go and commit a terrible sin and then say, “Oh, but I’ve got $50 towards an indulgence.” Or, “I’m doing this other thing that’s going to actually earn an indulgence and therefore I’m good to go.” No, that’s not. So the Catechism makes an important point, which is that to understand the whole idea of an indulgence, you have to first understand something more basic. So paragraph 14 72 of the Catechism says, “To understand this doctrine and practice of the church, indulgences, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence.” So there’s two consequences of sin. The first, the eternal consequences of sin. Grave or mortal sin that cuts us off from communion with God and makes us incapable of eternal life. And this is the eternal punishment of sin. Pretty straightforward.

But there’s another sense in which sin, both mortal and venial, hurts our relationships. And it hurts our relationships with others. And that may be even to non-living things. It can be an aspect of creation. So for instance, the person who drinks too much may develop an unhealthy attachment to alcohol. The person who eats too much, the person who gets addicted to porn, the person who does any of these things. Sin creates unhealthy attachments. It creates disordered relationships in our life, in this world. And those relationships can be repaired by an instantaneous transformation. And sometimes God does that. But that’s very much the exception rather than the norm. Usually the Christian who realizes this behavior or this pattern of behavior is sinful, they spiritually repent of it.

The eternal consequences of sin are gone but there is still a disorder in the soul where they still desire those old sinful ways or they still have a disturbed relationship in some way because of their sin. And that can take days and weeks and months and years of having that being continually purified by the Lord. So I think that’s the second thing. Those are the temporal consequences due to sin. That realm, well, the temporal consequences due to sin that occur after death, purgatory, that is what we’re dealing with with an indulgence. It’s a promise, using the body of Christ, the church, as a guarantor, that you won’t have to spend time in purgatory. Because God can and will instantaneously reward you through the cleansing quickly rather than slowly in response to this indulgence.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, so I go … Say the church says that you could receive an indulgence by praying the rosary with other people, which I think you can. If you pray to rosary together with others, I think there’s an indulgence that comes with that. Who gets the indulgence?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Ah, you can apply it either for yourself or to someone who’s already dead.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, so do I have to know the dead person?

Joe Heschmeyer:

You mean personally? No, you can say for the soul most in need of it in purgatory.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, okay. All right. I’ve heard a lot of people say that. So maybe you should pick the third most needy or something. Because-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Well, I think if everybody else is choosing, then you’re going to skip the neediest person.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, yeah. Okay. Well, okay, well played Joe Heschmeyer. All right. So if I get the indulgence for myself, that means I’m guaranteed to go straight to heaven when I die?

Joe Heschmeyer:

It is trickier than that. So there’s two things. One, there are two types. There’s plenary and then partial. Plenary just means total. And so depending on your spiritual disposition … So in order to receive an indulgence, a full indulgence requires that within the span of time you go to confession, you go to mass and receive communion, you pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, you have complete detachment from sin. That’s the kicker. And so what does it mean to have complete detachment from sin? It doesn’t mean you don’t have concupiscence. It doesn’t mean you don’t have original sin’s effects in some ways, because you do. It means that you’re no longer sinning or holding onto sin or making some space or dominion for sin, even venial sin, in your heart. The person who says, “Yeah, I know I’ve got this vice, I know I’ve got this peccadillo, but I’m just going to let this one stand, but then the rest of my life I’m going to give to God.” You can’t receive a plenary indulgence if you’re in that state. You can receive a partial indulgence, but that’s it.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, okay. Is that the same for … Say I want to win an indulgence … I don’t know if win is the right word, but gain an indulgence. I don’t know how to talk about it. But for a person who’s in purgatory. And I still have a little bit of attachment to my gambling addiction or whatever. Okay?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yes.

Cy Kellett:

So does that mean that they only get a partial indulgence?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, it does. It does. Because you’re doing a smaller act of charity. Because the idea spiritually behind indulgences is that the parts of the body of Christ are looking out for one another. And the same way that, look, if one part of the body in your body is infected, other parts of the body respond to that. Your heart starts pumping white blood cells and other science-y things I don’t really understand happen. And so the whole body fights infection, fights disease, and that’s part of how the body of Christ works. If you stub your toe, that small little toe sends pain signals throughout the entire body, the entire nervous system lets everybody know, “Hey, there’s a problem.” So your whole body might clench up. You might do all these things because the body wants to protect its own. And so similarly, in the body of Christ, one of the reasons we win indulgences for those in purgatory is because the body protecting its own. That the body of Christ includes the holy souls in purgatory, as well as the souls in heaven.

And so just as the souls in heaven are praying for us, we are praying for those who are being purified, to help them in their purification. Our prayers are more effective if we’re holier. This is a basic biblical idea that people miss. The prayer of a righteous man has great effect, but that language of the prayer of the righteous tells us our holiness actually matters in terms of the effectiveness of our prayer. And so that’s why a less holy person is not capable of a total indulgence, but they can still do a partial one, which is tremendously helpful. And the sheer fact that they’re doing that helps the person doing it along the road to becoming holier.

Cy Kellett:

Is it possible that I would pray for a plenary indulgence for someone and try really hard and then not know whether I had gained that for them or not? I don’t know if I was-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. Because you don’t know how detached you are from sin. And the nice thing is, even if you don’t achieve a plenary indulgence, it’s still a partial. Your efforts are not unrewarded. It isn’t like, “Well, you were 30 cents short, so you don’t get it.” It’s not like that. Whatever you do, God will reward that. And the more generous you are and the more detached from sin you are, the better.

Cy Kellett:

All right, so the people in heaven are perfectly righteous, right? They’ve been completely purified.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

So why don’t they just pray a rosary and win the indulgence for the person?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. Why do we need to pray at all? I don’t know.

Cy Kellett:

That wasn’t my question, but okay. If you want to go there-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. I-

Cy Kellett:

My question was why don’t … Like St Francis, okay, he’s there for all eternity. He’s super holy, pray for rosary Francis and get somebody out of purgatory. Why would you want a mere person down on Earth doing it? Do you see what I’m saying?

Joe Heschmeyer:

I do. The line I always go back to is in Matthew chapter six, in which Jesus tells us, “Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you ask him.” And then he gives us [inaudible 00:24:03] father. And I’m like, “Wait a second, Jesus. Why do I need to do this? You just said, he already knows.” I can’t tell him anything he doesn’t know already. And yet I’m still being asked to pray. And so in all of this, we shouldn’t forget that the point of this isn’t just that the souls in purgatory need our help, it’s that we need to become the kind of people who help. And God wants us to become those kinds of people. And if he just does it all himself, or if the saints in heaven just do it all themselves, then we never become the kind of people we ought to be. So we don’t become saints.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, so what is the treasury? Because sometimes you hear the word treasury associated with indulgence. And tell me about the treasury. What is that? Why do we use that financial term?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. Because it’s the riches of merits. I know that sounds very strange. When Protestants hear terms like treasury of merits, that sets off all kinds of alarm bells. But the basic idea is this. Catholicism, unlike some forms of Protestantism, makes a clear distinction between what you’re forbidden to do, what you’re permitted to do, and what you’re encouraged to do. So sin is always forbidden, but then there’s what you’re permitted to do and then what you’re encouraged to do. And there are some things that are good actions that you’re not morally required to do. You could always give a little more money to the poor. And so if you say that you are required to do every morally good action, you would have to say everyone is constantly sinning because no one is ever doing literally the maximum of what they could be doing.

Cy Kellett:

Right. Right. I see what you’re saying. Yeah. So there’s some things that are obligatory. I have to be just. But there are some things that go beyond the requirements of justice. I can do them if I choose to, but I’m not sinning if I choose not to do them.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Exactly. These are what are called spiritual councils. And so Jesus is actually pretty clear about this. So for instance, celibacy is one of these. To those to whom it is given, Jesus encourages them to follow that. But clearly celibacy is not a requirement for the Christian life. We don’t say marriage is evil. It’s not. Marriage is good. It’s a sacrament even. But there’s still a higher thing that some people are called to and some people choose, but it’s always a free choice. And so likewise, the life of apostolic poverty, where you give up everything you have to be free of an attachment to worldly goods. There are people, like the Franciscans, who will live that kind of radical poverty voluntarily. That is not a requirement of the Christian life. And there was actually a sect within the Franciscans that went in the radical direction of saying property was evil, everyone had to live that way.

And the church was like, no, no, that’s not true. Everyone has to be generous. Not everyone has to live that kind of radical poverty. And then likewise, even with obedience. There’s some things everyone has to obey. Other people will voluntarily place themselves under a religious rule, religious life. If you become a Benedictine and you follow the rule of Saint Benedict, you are allowing your will to be controlled freely. You’re saying, “I’m going to follow these rules that are not ones that I’m morally required to follow.” Someone who isn’t a Benedictine and doesn’t have to get up at the same time, they don’t have to pray at the same time. So in all of those things, poverty, chastity, and obedience, these are spiritual councils.

There’s all sorts of things that are like this in the spiritual life where you see a guy on the side of the road, like I gave the example of or alluded to earlier, you might be invited to help him in some way. That doesn’t mean you are morally sinning if you fail to do so. So those are the things that we discern. So all of that is important. When the saints go above and beyond what is required of them, that’s what we mean about merit. That they’re doing something more than is the bare minimum.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. So then that merit can be attached to someone else. It can be almost given to someone else to help them in their situation.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yes. And so St. Paul gives the example of a believing spouse helping to win the conversion or the salvation of their unbelieving spouse. That how you live actually has that effect.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. All right. So in a sense, what the church is saying when she talks about this treasury of merits is there are many people who in Christ and Christ himself certainly has infinitely filled the treasury of merits. But there are all these others, like the saints, the apostles, the holy men and women all throughout history, they have in some cases chosen lives of charity that are far in excess of what was justly required of them. And they have added to this treasury of merits and the church has the authority to draw on that and say, “I’m going to give it out if you do this, if you … “

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, because what we’re really doing is saying to God, on behalf of the body of Christ, “Look, this person is sinning, but this other person … This person sinned. They did something wrong in the past. They’re in the process of being purified. But look to the other part of the body here where this person has greatly pleased you through what they’ve done.” And so by appealing to this union we have in the body, that’s at the key of what’s going on there spiritually.

Cy Kellett:

Joe Heschmeyer, thank you very, very much. I appreciate this. It all comes down to being in communion with one another and being able to love one another and that love having an actual effect. It seems to me that the route of this-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. So Abraham and Lot. Abraham is very holy and it saves the life of Lot and his family. The church puts this in language that can sound too transactional to some ears, but it’s describing this basic biblical reality.

Cy Kellett:

Right. Right. Because Abraham is a holy man and a righteous man made righteous by his faith. He can say to God, “Well, what if there’s 10 people there? What if there’s five people there?”

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, but notice … Right. Well, he doesn’t go down to five. It would’ve been good if he did for Sodom and Gomorrah’s sake. He nearly saves an unholy city.

Cy Kellett:

That’s a good point. Yeah. Right. Right.

Joe Heschmeyer:

But even when he doesn’t save Sodom and Gomorrah, we’re still told in Genesis 18 that God looks at Abraham and saves Lot and his family. Now critical to that, Lot and his family are also holy, but they were not saved by their own merits. Abraham going above and beyond-

Cy Kellett:

Is what saved them.

Joe Heschmeyer:

-is what saves them.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Ah. Joe Heschmeyer, thanks very, very much. You should write more books, Joe. You’re really smart.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I just keep having kids that get in the way of that. So that’s my excuse now.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, well that’s a good excuse to have. That’s it. Have more excuses. The Eucharist Is Really Jesus: How Christ’s Body and Blood Are the Key to Everything We Believe, that’s the latest book from Joe Heschmeyer. You can also find him at Shameless Popery because Joe is in fact a shameless papist. Thank you, Joe Heschmeyer.

Joe Heschmeyer:

My pleasure.

Cy Kellett:

And thank you to our listener. Thanks very much for taking the time with us. Send us an email if you want to comment on this episode or any other episode or suggest a future episode. Focus@catholic.com is where you can reach us. Focus@catholic.com. And wherever you listen to this podcast, because you’re listening to it somewhere, if you’d give us that five stars and then a nice review, even if it’s just a few words, I am told, even though I am no expert at anything technical, that that actually helps considerably in growing the podcast. So you will be doing us a great service and we’ll be grateful to you for it. If you just give us all the stars you can and whatever nice words you can think to write. I am Cy Kellett, your host. That does it for us. We’ll see you next time, God willing, right here. [inaudible 00:31:59].

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!Donatewww.catholic.com/support-us