Friday, March 7, 2014

Lent Day 2: of Rocks and Indulgences

I'll Have the Rocks, Please

If Lent becomes wearisome, consider our Orthodox brethren. On the first day, they give up meat. And dairy and eggs, too. Repeat each day until Easter. (Actually, they work into it over a couple of weeks, with Cheesefare Sunday being the last day for dairy.) They're basically vegans. By a quirk of ancient taxonomy, shellfish are always on the menu, though. Somehow they got classified as rocks.

Indulge Yourself

I have taken a comment to heart and put the Holy Father's intentions on the sidebar to the right. They are considered so important that they are one of the standard requirements for gaining an indulgence. If you say a rosary with your family or in church, for example, or read Holy Scripture for just half an hour, you can earn a plenary indulgence.

The standard requirements are:
  • Sacramental Confession
  • Reception of Holy Communion
  • Prayer for the Intention of the Holy Father (typically an Our Father and the Creed, but you are free to substitute another prayer)
But then comes the fine print. You cannot be attached to any sin, even venial. Basically, if you are not attached to any sin, you probably don't need much Purgatory, anyway. But even a failed attempt will gain a partial indulgence, and the effort will do you good.

Why should you care about a Medieval superstition like indulgences? Because it is beautiful part of your heritage, updated as recently as 1967. Purgatory is obviously where we all want to go, but why spend any more "time" there than you have to? Furthermore, indulgences are the Church's generous way of encouraging you to do things you should be doing anyway. Finally, in the event you actually pull off a plenary indulgence, you would have a nonstop ticket to Heaven -- up to that moment, anyway.

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