You may have read that the Catholic Church is giving out indulgences again. Then again, you may have wondered: What is an indulgence? The Church used to sell indulgences and that was a huge controversy, which led some to start new churches in protest. Now they claim not to be selling them. But that claim does not fool me! It's a form of barter they're pushing. It's like saying you're not buying a car if you exchange it for something else. Barter is selling, I say. And what's an "indulgence" if you have to buy it? Or barter for it?
This is a blog for indulgences. You can get one entirely for free. Right here. No questions asked. If you have a desire to turn over a new leaf or you just want to feel you've put certain things behind you, there will be no bartering over what those turned pages looked like, no questioning of your will power to do so, no prayers or other holy actions required. No requirement to be Catholic. No requirement to be Christian. No requirement to believe in God or anything about God. You can be an atheist. You can be agnostic. As I say, no bartering whatsoever! It's free - for all who truly want it. And whatever "truly want it" means to you - that's fine with me.
Indulgences: When I was kid, you could get these holy cards that told you if you said so many Hail Marys or Our Fathers, you'd get so much time "off" of purgatory. Purgatory was this place you were supposed to go after death. Where by some means you'd be engulfed in flames for a specified time. It was better than Hell. But it never sounded much better to me. And to be honest, while I never doubted the existence of God, whom I thought of as a kindly Father (yes, with a long beard), I never really believed the stories about indulgences.
Confession: Indulgences were somehow related to confession, but I never really did figure out how. Now they've revived indulgences and to me it seems like nothing more than a way to get people to go to confession. What will they do in there? It's a secret. You have to go and tell your sins. Or make some up, like I used to do as a kid, when they made us line up and go to confession. How did I know what I'd done wrong? Even when they punished me, I always felt it was undeserved (except for that time I dropped a rock on a kid's head from the top of the slide - I think I testing gravity). Besides, around that same time, when they taught me about confession, at age 5 or 6, I caught on right away. I understood that if you did something and you felt bad about it and told God you were "sorry" that was the end of it. God was ok with it. They told me that. I got it right away! But somehow the adults didn't seem to understand the message as I had - right away - when they told me about it. Didn't matter if you were sorry; they punished you anyway. I think that was when I stopped believing in confession. So when I had to do it, I just made stuff up. Stuff like: "I disobeyed 5 times. I talked in school 10 times." Whatever.
Penance: After confession you had to do Penance. That was the Hail Mary and Our Father part. Now here's the thing. We were taught that Hail Marys and Our Fathers were prayers. We were forced to say a lot of them when we had to pray the rosary. That was so boring! Saying the same prayers over and over and over. Well, by the time I'd said them just a few times, I had them down pat. Why say more? Anyway, back to penance. It was confusing, you see. On the one hand we were taught these prayers. But on the other hand, after the forced confession (not as bad as harsh interrogation, but still forced), you had to say these prayers, could be 3 Hail Marys and an Our Father. So they made praying into punishment. How sane is that??? (As a kid I actually used to "talk" to God, on my own, like a friend. But I digress...)
So now they've started up these indulgences again. Is it to make people believe in Purgatory? Not gonna happen! Is it to get them to go to Confession? Well.... to me that's bartering, you see. It's the same thing as selling the indulgences (the time off purgatory). Besides, if you don't believe in purgatory, why would you want to barter over it anyway?
But you might want an indulgence. You might like the idea of a free pass.
Forgiveness, like I heard about it as a kid. The kind where you simply say you're sorry - in your heart - and you're totally forgiven.
That's why I put up this blog. You can have an indulgence right here. Right now. Free pass! You can walk away feeling free and light and peaceful. Like you've just come from a nice shower. Like you've walked under a waterfall on a sunny day surrounded by green trees and blue sky and whatever else you'd like to imagine.
So please feel free to come to this blog any time you like. Any time you'd like an "indulgence" - for free. No questions asked. A nice blessing of whatever type you'd prefer. Inner peace. A little humor. A bit of sanity in a crazy world.
(first published at TPM Cafe)