Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Dominus Is Free, But That Vobiscum, Ah, That's Gonna Cost You

OK, we'll be the first to admit that we didn't pay a whole lot of attention back in catechism class, a fact that often got us whacked by sister Victorine as she patrolled the aisles overseeing our progress in the class workbooks (Complete the following sentence: Christ died for your: a) Posse, b) Sins, c) Fashion mistakes, d) All of the above)

In the long run though, we feel vindicated in spending more of our time fantasizing about the buttons on Delores Bronsikowski's blouse than the ruminations of the speaker du jour about the debate about whether salvation comes by faith or good works. We feel that way because the things we were supposed to learn back then have all been changed. First they did away with purgatory, then they brought indulgences back.

This makes no sense to us because were awake in class the day they told us indulgences were created to get your sinful little hiney out of purgatory. So if there's no purgatory, why do we need indulgences?

"Cash flow," said Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn. "How you think we're going to pay for all those judgements?"

There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one, but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day. "We're willing to waive that one indulgence per sinner per day for the charitable contribution part. If you contribute to the right charity," said Bishop DiMarzio.

"Collections...erm...I mean confessions have been down for years and the church is very worried about it,” said the Rev. Tom Reese. Indulgences are a way of reminding people of the importance of payment...uh...penance. “The good news is we’re not selling them,” he added. "Yet. In a secularized culture of pop psychology and self-help, he continued, “the church wants the idea of personal finance back in the equation. We figure two, three years tops and we'll have convinced the babushkas to throw in a little extra green for the pagan babies again. Oh, and hey Mr. politician? Want a get out of jail free card for your little dalliance with Wanda LaFlame? Make the check to 'Go and sin no more, Inc."

Among liberal Catholic theologians, the return of the indulgence seems to be more of a curiosity than a cause for alarm. “Personally, I think we’re beyond the time when indulgences mean very much,” said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, a professor of theology at Notre Dame. "I mean how much you going to take in? Three, maybe four mil? That's chump change when the pencil necked little geeks who had their butts patted by Father Fondle are getting 15, 16 17 mil a pop."

Octavia Andrade, 64, laughed as she recalled a time when children would race through the rosary repeatedly to get as many indulgences as they could — usually in increments of 5 or 10 years — “as if we needed them, then.”

OK, let's think about that: If heaven, hell and limbo exist in eternity, outside of time, how do you tell when your five years is up, and would it even seem like five years since you are, you know, outside of time and all that?

"The latest offers de-emphasize the years-in-Purgatory formulations of old in favor of a less specific accounting, with more focus on ways in which people can help themselves — and one another — come to terms with the church's deficit," said Rev. Kieran Harrington, spokesman for the Brooklyn diocese. "And speaking of terms, how would you like to guarantee that after your death, you'll pass right on by purgatory and head straight for the pearly gates? Well, we can make that happen for the low low price of only $11 a week. That's less that 39 cents a day. A small price to pay for your eternal salvation."

After Catholics, the people most expert on the topic are probably Lutherans, whose church was born from the schism over indulgences. “It has been something of a mystery to us as to why now,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Root, dean of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C., who has participated in those meetings. The renewal of indulgences, he said, has “not advanced” the dialogue.

"Dialogue this," responded Rev. Harrignton. "We already explained to you yokels that your church is whack, so STFU about indulgences or we'll go all inquisition on your scrawny Martin Luther behinds."

Hmm...Looks like President Obama isn't the only one with a stimulus package.


Anonymous said...

"Of People and Pandas" and the glorious "Wedge", what right wing Republicans will do on the whole, just to keep business rolling and people on "The Yellow Brick Road"...thank "HEAVENS" for Judge Jones and the real intellectuals with true hearts and soul.
Religions cost wars, violence, greed and turn back the clocks of time...and we sure do not need to go there, ever, ever, again.

Anonymous said...

Can anybody tell me what happened to the Bishop who said the extermination of Jews was b.s.? (Apparently, the cops were taking a closer look at him.)
And can anybody tell me why we have a pope who is totally detached, as usual, from realities?
Sick of it.

Ironicus Maximus said...

Hey, here in the marbled halls of IM Central we're all about the service, you know? Check it:


Anonymous said...

I think one of the Kennedy girls, who married a "left winger" to put it lightly, was the first, publicly, to condemn priests for all their pedophilia . That was way before the Church got sued and lost half its real estate "for punishment".
Personally, with all the dieting, and meditation, and green planet bust, doesn't it all seem quite uselessly redundant unless you rent the church/synagogue/temple, for a one-time wedding, funeral or christening? Who else has the big roof and all the chairs?