Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven. Catholics believe we can do that. We say we gain merit. Martin Luther, however, felt that we were so thoroughly sinful, that it is only by clothing ourselves in Christ's goodness that we can be saved.
From my seminary days I have two memories of fine men who strove to store up treasures in heaven. One memory is of a very old priest who was known as Doctor Mee. He couldn't teach or preach anymore, but he kept slipping into our library, bringing books back to his room.
One day, in thinking of the futility of Doctor Mee going on with his studies, I stopped on the stairs, wondering about it. Another priest, coming on me standing halfway down the steps, asked me what I was thinking about. When I told him it was about Doctor Mee studying when he could no longer teach of preach; surprisingly enough, he told me he had wondered about the matter, and it prompted him to ask the old man.
Father Mee told him that he felt his capacity for enjoyment in heaven could be expanded by all that he questioned about while he was alive.
My other memory of a man storing up heavenly riches concerned Billy Mayor. He was a big boy with a great backhand. When I was eighteen, and away at the seminary, Billy wrote me that in June he was going to become a Trappist monk, and he hoped I would be home soon enough for us to have a final tennis game.
We played, with Billy beating me; then we lied down on the lawn with Billy downing a beer. I told him that a big eater like him would be starved in a monastery. He said, "They have great bread and cheese."
So I told him, what happens when you get tired of just bread and cheese. And Billy looked at me, wondering if I had learned anything in the seminary. Then he said, "Why, Tom, that's when the merit starts."