Treasury of the Church
A Reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS
I remember a teaching given by one of our Deacons, and it was about the Treasury of the Church... I just knew I had to write about it. It is something we do not normally think about, in fact, I had forgotten about this beautiful gift from God.
Our deacon asked: "What is the Treasury of the Catholic Church?" Many would answer, "Jesus in the Real Presence, the Holy Eucharist." And, you'd be absolutely right, but there is another answer we are looking for...it is, "the accumulation of God's Grace." Each time, some person prays, anywhere in the world, whether today or 2000 years ago, that effort, that Grace is added to the treasury or pool of Grace that is available to all of us to use. That's the answer the deacon talked about. And, that is a beautiful thing. Now where did I hear that before? I don't remember, so I started with the Catechism... I'll give you a hint ... it has to do with indulgences.
If you look at paragraph #1473, you will find: " The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man." That's what an indulgency is, the remission of the eternal punishment of sin. Now, keep on reading, #1474. "The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God's grace is not alone. "The life of each of God's children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person." #1475. In the communion of saints, "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in Purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things." In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin."
And then in the next paragraph is our definition, (#1476) "We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is "not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the 'treasury of the Church' is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy."
The infinite value which Christ's merits have before God - those are the accumulation of God's Grace of millions of prayers uttered by us, the Body of Christ, regardless who uttered them and when. That treasury is available for everyone's use when it or they are needed. How our Lord metes these out, I have no idea, but believe me, that is unimportant. But we know that He grants our requests. He heals. We do not. We can pray for healing and sometimes He heals specific intentions, and sometimes it appears He has not, but I'm told that He always heals, because we are the object of His Love, just as we should have Jesus, the Lord as the object of our love. And I always quote that same line from St. Bonaventure, which I have yet to find in his writings (but am told he wrote it), "if you sin, you do not love God. And if you still sin, you do not love Him enough."
Don't you just love those people who answer: "But we are all sinners." - yes, that is true, but don't emphasize it too often or you'll never be open to His healing. If we desire, and with His help, we can stop that flow of sin. That's how saints are made. Give it a try, use some of that treasury of the Church - that grace that is there to help us. That gift of God of inestimable value.
Now you know it, the Church's treasury is not buildings or the Vatican Museum, however wonderful, or the Sistine Chapel, but the treasury is that intrinsic value of God's Grace which He gives us so that we can be healed, so that our relationship with Him can go on forever. Jesus became Flesh, so that He could be like us in everything, except for sin, and so that we are redeemed. Thank our Lord for that great Gift and do everything possible to stay with Him, in Him, as He wants to be in us.
He is searching for our friendship. He wants us to be his brothers, and sisters, and in like manner he wants us to be brother or sister to one another. The relationship he desires to have with us is a very personal one. A very intimate one. Of religious nuns it is often written, especially in older texts, that their profession is akin to a marriage, and that they accept Jesus as their spouse. That goes for everyone who is serious about loving Jesus, religious or lay person, male or female. Jesus is with us in an intimate relationship. Some people opine it is "too familiar" to call Him our soul-mate (given the worldly connotation of that term), but that is exactly what Jesus is - He is in our soul and we are with Him, and together, God willing, we will be with Him into eternity!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
2010 (Rev. 2019)
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs