A few weeks ago I was reading the New York Times when I came across an article about how the Catholic Church is re-emphasizing Indulgences among its members. In an effort to get more of their flock back into confessionals they now are bringing indulgences to the fore front, reminding us that if we are in a state of grace (going to Confession, free of both mortal and venial sin, and receiving Holy Communion) we are eligible for a Plenary Indulgence, if while in this state we do things like recite the Rosary in church with a group of people or as a family in our home.
I also read in our church bulletin that the Pope has granted a Plenary Indulgence for a pious visit to St.Paul’s Basilica in Rome during this Year of Saint Paul. If you can’t make it to the Eternal City of Rome, you may visit a designated holy place named for St. Paul to fulfill the condition of a pilgrimage.
What is a Plenary Indulgence, you might ask. Well, come to find out, when you go to confession and you are absolved of your sins by the priest, you still face punishment for sins committed. This punishment is done in a place called Purgatory. But..if you receive a Plenary Indulgence and do not sin again before you die, you have a one way ticket to Heaven. Okay………..
Here’s where I have a problem. First of all, when you look up the word absolution, it not only means forgiveness, but redemption, you know, “off the hook”. I am very confused by this religion I call mine. There are too many levels up there, it’s like a video game for Pete’s sake. Don’t even get me started on Partial Indulgences. That is time off for good deeds done. They don’t tell you how much time, because, duh, it’s Eternity! Oh and by the way, you have to ask for an indulgence or You Don’t Get One!! I thought the whole idea of doing good was not asking for anything in return.
I am officially confused. In the last 58 years we have dropped St. Christopher, said it was okay to eat meat on Friday, okay to miss Sunday Mass (as long as we had a good reason), bid farewell to the Mass in Latin, and countless other things we believed in.
So I practice something called Cafeteria Catholicism. I take what I can stomach and leave the rest. I love the Lord and I was born into this Religion, and quite frankly don’t see anything else out there that appeals to me. But every once in a while I have to sound off.