“”The Catechism’s talk of “merit”, and even more so of the “Treasury of Merit”, leads me to conclude that the Western Church believes that somehow or other humans can “deserve” theosis, that they can “merit” it and that The Church can dole out additional “merit” from its Treasury to whomsoever it wishes. This looks to me to be the pernicious result of the notions of indulgences and quantifiable “created grace (created energies)”. There is a profound difference, at least as I see it, between the metanoia leading to theosis experienced by those who die to the self and live only in noetic contemplation of the Trinity and practicing the divine virtues and following the Commandments in order to get “merit” which then, apparently, compels God (Necessity again?)to admit the Christian into a union with Him. Do I misunderstand?””
Pope Paul VI wrote the following Apostolic Constitution On Indulgences that hopefully will help you understand this better coming from Latin Viewpoint
Here are a few excerpts,but you should really read the whole thing because it really clears up many misconceptions
Following in the footsteps of Christ,(16) the Christian faithful have always endeavored to help one another on the path leading to the heavenly Father through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods and penitential expiation. The more they have been immersed in the fervor of charity, the more they have imitated Christ in his sufferings, carrying their crosses in expiation for their own sins and those of others, certain that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God the Father of mercies.(17) This is the very ancient dogma of the Communion of the Saints,(18) whereby the life of each individual son of God in Christ and through Christ is joined by a wonderful link to the life of all his other Christian brothers in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ till, as it were, a single mystical person is formed.(19)
Thus is explained the “treasury of the Church”(20) which should certainly not be imagined as the sum total of material goods accumulated in the course of the centuries, but the infinite and inexhaustible value the expiation and the merits of Christ Our Lord have before God, offered as they were so that all of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. It is Christ the Redeemer himself in whom the satisfactions and merits of his redemption exist and find their force.(21) This treasury also includes the truly immense, unfathomable and ever pristine value before God of the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, who following in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have sanctified their lives and fulfilled the mission entrusted to them by the Father. Thus while attaining their own salvation, they have also cooperated in the salvation of their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.
“For all who are in Christ, having his spirit, form one Church and cleave together in him” (Eph. 4:16). Therefore the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who have gone to sleep in the peace of Christ is not in the least weakened or interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the perpetual faith of the Church, is strengthened by a communication of spiritual goods. For by reason of the fact that those in heaven are more closely united with Christ, they establish the whole Church more firmly in holiness, lend nobility to the worship which the Church offers to God here on earth and in many ways contribute to building it up evermore (1 Cor. 12: 12-27). For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8), through him and with him and in him they do not cease to intervene with the Father for us, showing forth the merits which they have won on earth through the one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5), by serving God in all things and filling up in their flesh those things which are lacking of the sufferings of Christ for his Body which is the Church (Col. 1:24). Thus by their brotherly interest our weakness is greatly strengthened.(22)
For this reason there certainly 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 a perennial link of charity and an abundant exchange of all the goods by which, with the expiation of all the sins of the entire Mystical Body, divine justice is placated. God’s mercy is thus led to forgiveness, so that SINCERELY REPENTANT SINNERS may participate as soon as possible in the full enjoyment of the benefits of the family of God.
I have read through INDULGENTIARUM DOCTRINA and have found very, very little which is in accord with Orthodox theology. This, however, is:
“Every sin in fact causes a perturbation in the universal order established by God in His ineffable wisdom and infinite charity, and the destruction of immense values with respect to the sinner himself and to the human community.”
Beyond the foregoing, I am a bit stunned by what +Paul VI has written. I’m going to think about this and write something more tomorrow when I have time. My initial reaction is that this document and its teaching is a result of Anselmian atonement theology on steroids. BTW, I am fully aware of the disgraceful period of 200+ years in Orthodox history when the sale of so called “Certificates of Absolution” by venial hierarchs was common. There’s a reason we say that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops!