Monday, December 15, 2014

Indulgences: What they are and arent

I was looking at some sort of article describing military rosaries.  Apparently there's a resurgence in men wanting rosaries that look more manly and less like jewelry.  The person wrote that he designed a military rosary replica, using a Pardon Crucifix because it has indulgences associated with it.  Yes, it did until it was left off the Manuel for Indulgences from the 1980s.  Now any sacramental used in a devote way in order to obtain an indulgence is associated with indulgences.  Sorry that was a rather wordy way of saying if you decide to pray the rosary while using your blessed rosary you could gain an indulgence.

But what are indulgences?

Basically they are penances which remove punishments from sin.  God is the God of justice.  If you sin, you will end incur a punishment that you receive in this life or during purgatory.  You can accept your punishment by gaining an indulgence. 

Indulgences do not mean you have been forgiven for sin.

Let me repeat that:  the only way you can be forgiven for sins is to ask for God's forgiveness and go to confession.  An indulgence has nothing to do with the sin being removed.  An indulgence only remits the punishment part. 

I guess an illustration is in order:  Say you are a small child.  You see your brother with a toy that you want.  You slap your brother and take the toy (sin).  Your mother (the Holy Church) tells you that you've done something wrong.  Woops!  You ask to be forgiven, and you are.  So you go back to skipping around?  Uh, no.  There's usually a punishment involved like returning the toy and time out.  You are still forgiven, but still incur punishment. 

If you want to know what to do to gain an indulgence, here's a link with more details.  

A number of Protestant churches believe once you are forgiven that's it.  You get off scott free. 

Let's look at what CARM says and break down where they go wrong. 

Granting an indulgence of a certain number of days or years means that is how many days or years is removed from the time of punishment a person must undergo in purgatory.

In the past the Church used "days" for partial indulgences.  No one was sure how many exactly were remitted.  This was a best guess estimate in ideal circumstances which confused believers.  So in the 1980s they removed the "days" association.  CARMs a little behind the times on this update.

On the inside of the cover of the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism published in 1969 there is a prayer....

To further illustrate how behind the times the CARM article is they use an example from the 1960s.  Again we no longer associate days or years to saying certain prayers for partial indulgences.  

It is ridiculous to think that reading doctrine and saying a prayer removes time of punishment in the Catholic-invented place called purgatory.  It is nothing more than a means to control the Catholics and keep them dependent on "The Mother Church."

Purgatory is in the Bible so are prayers for those in purgatory.  Jesus makes numerous allusions to purgatory such as being purified by fire and needing to come dressed appropriately to partake of the wedding feast.  See Matt 12:32 and 1 Cor 3:11-15. Also you don't have to use your indulgences on yourself.  They can be applied to those in purgatory.  My son, who is four and thus is usually in a better state of grace then myself, frequently lights a candle and says the Jesus prayer to remit time in purgatory for his Great-Grandfather.  

I'm not sure how the use of purgatory and indulgences keeps one dependent on the Church either.  Indulgences are not mandatory.  You can use them or simply spend time in purgatory being purified.  It's a choice.

In short, this treasury of the church of Rome is a means by which it keeps its people dependent upon its sacramental, ecclesiastical system.  Without participation in Roman Catholic Sacraments, future punishment will be far more extensive. 
Actually it's Christ who brought the sacraments as a way to receive His Graces just as He created the Church to administer them.  I would not say it's the only way because in the Old Testament many people receive Grace without accessing the Sacraments.  However the sacraments are the most available way. 

As for future punishments being more extensive, I have to laugh at that one.  Punishments are incurred from personal sins.  Just like the severity of sin varies with individuals so too do the punishments.  You can't very well expect a person who led a horrifically sinful life versus one who did not based on their own understanding to incur the same amount of debt.  And the Church discusses this extensively when discussing sin.  You can be saved outside the Church if you live in North Korea for example because God is a God of Mercy.

 The Roman Catholic Church keeps its people coming back to it, dependent upon it, needful for the dispensing of the treasury of merit that it has at its disposal.  Instead of the Roman Catholic being completely sanctified and justified in Christ, by the work of Christ on the cross, the very propitiation offered by the Lord in his sacrifice is usurped by the Roman Catholic Church.  The power and priesthood and mediatorship of Christ is replaced by that of the Roman Catholic Church, and it becomes the means by which the so-called people of God are relieved of their sin punishment. 

As I already explained one does not need to gain indulgences.  Actually the Church believes that Christ sanctifies and justifies completely through His work on the Cross.  St. Paul actually discusses how we can participate with Christ.  Gaining an indulgence is merely working off a punishment.  While the Bible discusses forgiveness being freely given and completely unearned, it does not say that punishment is completely remitted.  As I've already said, there are many Biblical illusions to purgatory and the need for purification.  I've also said that it was Christ who established the Church and not some sort of metaphorical church but a real Church of Believers.  So far most of the article is pot-shots at the Church's authority.  It does not actually show Biblically or otherwise that God not punish or purifiy.  

This is a blasphemous claim of Rome that detracts from the power and glory and sufficiency of the cross.  All Roman Catholics should stop looking to the church as its means of salvation and/or as a means of deliverance from punishment.  Instead, the Roman Catholic should look to Christ alone through faith alone for the forgiveness of his/her sins.
Read Col. 1:24.  If any Roman Catholic believes that the Church is the means of salvation and means of deliverance from punishment, they've got problems.  All Catholics believe that Christ saved us and Christ delivers us.  The Church has been given its authority from Christ to "bind and loose."  It does not hold this authority on its own. 

The obvious problem with indulgences is that they negate the all-sufficiency of the cross. It was Jesus who took our punishment.  He took our place, so that we do not have to suffer any punishment for our sins so that we might be made right with God. We are not saying that sins do not have consequences and punishments.  We are saying that being made right with God is not by our suffering but by Christ's.
"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  6 All of us like sheep have gone astray.  Each of us has turned to his own way.  But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:4-6).
There is a common Protestant theory that Christ's sufficiency on the Cross did away with everything.  What the Cross did was 1)forgive sin and 2) remove eternal punishment ie hell.  You still have to do something to receive forgiveness and remove eternal punishments.  Catholics believe in confession and baptism.  Protestants have a variety of different techniques like altar calls, believer's prayer, etc depending on the flavor and variety of denomination.  What one forgets is about temporal punishments (Heb 12:5).  The Bible discusses that God forgave Adam and Eve, but they were still cast out of Eden.  The Israelites ended up going to the Promise land but had to wander the desert for 40 days.  Temporal punishments were not removed.  Please see above for references to purification by fire.

Expiation is "a term associated with the removal, cleansing, or forgiveness of sin."1 But how does a person expiate or cleanse himself of his own sins?  He doesn't.  If there were a means by which we could cleanse ourselves on our own sins, then God would have provided that.
This whole paragraph doesn't make any sense.  First he says that a person can't cleanse himself of sin and then he says that if God wanted that to happen, God would have provided a way.  First of all, God cleans us of sin.  We can't do that.  An indulgence isn't about the remission of sin.  It's about the remission of temporary punishments.  He's conflating two things and seems to be doing so for half the article.  Secondly God does not force us to accept his Grace.  There are some Protestant denominations who all but say that the elect are forced into salvation, but Catholics believe in free will. In other words, you have to cooperate with God in order to receive salvation.  God provides methods in which we can cooperate.  
Nevertheless, out of the teaching of purgatory and temporal punishment comes the teaching of indulgences--a means by which punishment for sin is reduced through a person's own sufferings.  How horrible is this teaching since it reduces the power and glory of the cross and says we can expiate our own sins instead of trusting in Christ alone for this.  The Roman Catholic Church needs to recant its false teaching and urge its people to look to Christ alone and not to its mediatorship, its priesthood, its treasury of merit, its sacraments, or its rules and regulations for the salvation of souls.
The indulgences practice is not a biblical teaching.
I'm not sure why this person thinks an indulgence is personal suffering.  While there is redemptive suffering, gaining an indulgence isn't met through redemptive suffering.  An indulgence involves confession, reception of communion, and doing some pious act such as praying the rosary in a group or reading the Bible for half an hour.  I've yet to hear a Protestant refer to such as as suffering.  And again he is conflating expiating sins with remitting of punishment.  How can one have a fruitful dialogue if one doesn't make a good argument and instead puts all sort of inflammatory and wrong information on a web page?  The practices of indulgences is in the Bible just not in the Protestant version.  The terms purgatory and indulgence aren't used in the Bible, but neither is the term Trinity.

I hope this helps clarify and demystify indulgences.  If you got a question, please post it in the combox.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


When I was nine, I stayed home by myself all day.  This was not the first time my parents would allow me stay home by myself, but it was the first time all day.  I would take my bike out of the garage one day a week, and then pedal my way to my piano teacher's house for lessons.  I'd pedal on back home and put my bike back in the garage.  I was careful to make sure that the front door was locked, and that the garage door remote was in my knapsack along with the books.  I was responsible. 

But today if my parents allowed me to do that in Ontario, it would be illegal.  It would also have been illegal for me to watch my younger brother at home all day when I was 11.  The age in which you can stay home by yourself is 10, and you have to be at least 12 to watch anybody else.  You're also expected to take a course on it. 

Thankfully the law is not strictly enforced.  Last year there was a case where a mother left her 9 year old at home by himself for an hour.  I'm not sure if it was Christmas shopping or a job interview, but the babysitter canceled and the mother was stuck.  CAS investigated but determined that the 9 year old, despite being under the age limit, was mature enough to have stayed home by himself.  In other words, she wasn't being neglectful.

It's also illegal to leave anyone under the age of 12 alone in the car.  Just to remind you: yes they can be 10 and at home alone, but not alone in the car.  Not even to go pay for gas or make a deposit at the bank.  To me that's ridiculous.  If you can trust a 10 year old to warm something up in the microwave without setting the house on fire, why can't you trust that if the 10 year old gets too hot or cold they would do something about it like walk into the store?

To me this whole thing is an overstepping of government, a violation of subsidiarity.  A parent is capable of assessing their particular situation and deciding what risks are okay for their child and what aren't.  It may be legal for a 10 year old to be home alone, but what if that child had some sort of disability and should not be at home alone?  What about the mature 9 year old like I was? 

I just get tired of everything about parenting being turned into legal jargon and big time prosecutions.  The state started intervening in abuse cases in the 70s that were true abuse and neglect cases.  Now parents are fearing prosecution for leaving their 9 year olds at home for an hour.  Now parents are afraid to get second opinions or go into different hospitals for fear of child abuse allegations (see Pelletier case).  Now parents fear leaving their infants strapped into car seats out of the cold and wind to go pay for their gas.

Whatever happened to parental discretion?  Why is society infantalizing children?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Santa Ate My 4 year Old

It's that time of year again....the time with the Catholic blogsphere blows up over who chooses to participate in the Santa mythos and those who don't while those who fall somewhere in between gape in horror.  I fall fairly securely in the category of those who don't.  I grew up on the other side, but my parents weren't the type who kept trying to perpetuate the fantasy (yes, there are those).  When I asked, they told me under pain of keeping it to myself (younger brother you understand).  My husband also grew up on the other side, but he escaped the pain part since he has no siblings.

I'm not writing the post with the intention of telling people what to do.  This isn't what this blog is about.  It's merely about explaining things and how I see them.  Take it or leave it.  Boo and hiss or applaud.  It's my party over here.

So here's why I'm glad we don't perpetuate the Santa mythos. We don't avoid it.  We have books and movies.  It's just that we are completely honest that it is a myth just like Hercules or Star Wars.  And just to clarify what I mean by Santa mythos, I mean pretending that Santa consults his lists of naughty and nice, then shows up on my roof with his flying reindeer on Christmas eve, jumps down my chimney (which I don't have) to leave behind either presents or coal, eats cookies, and ends his evening drinking hot coco snuggled up next to Mrs. Claus while giving his elves a much needed break.  Not the real St. Nicholas who punches heretics and bails girls out of prostitution.

Go ahead.  Make my day.

1) It's just creepy

So yesterday I took HB to the store to pick out a present for someone else who otherwise wouldn't be getting anything for Christmas.  He pitched a fit over not getting something himself.  Some older guy comes up and says "Santa Claus is watching" repeatedly while suggesting he should take HB home with him.  Not to mention that he touched HB and I was about to get all kung fu ninja on old guy until he stopped.  Creepy.  Not only was he giving me the heebee geebees, but the whole "Santa Claus is watching" is just as creepy.  While I'm sure St. Nicholas is up in heaven watching out for me, I doubt it's to see if I'll screw up because let's face it I'm a sinner so I will.  I like to think that St. Nicholas is up there rooting for me and looking out for me.  It's a huge difference and not one I think HB needs to get confused about especially if it turns out he is indeed autistic.

Let's see...nice...naughty...naughty

2) Going Over Board with the Mythos

People go way to overboard with the mythos.  And it's confusing my son.  Today HB came home with a letter from Santa in his backpack complete with his name printed on this letter.  It's one thing to play pretend, but it's another to constantly play up the mythos.  Does a 4-5 year old really need a letter from Santa?  I didn't get a letters from Santa.  Isn't it going a bit overboard with the whole pretend thing?  It's way more than even people who LARP do.  At the end of the day those who perform Live Action Role Play, take off the suits and get back to their day jobs.  Come on now.  Let's cut it back a bit, m'kay?

Star Wars LARPing.  Pic from Master Alexus CC License 3.0

3) Lying

Some people get caught up in the Santa mythos that they seem to forget that it's a myth.  You tell children that they get presents from Santa.  And when they start to suspect something, you tell them (again) that Santa coming down a chimney to leave toys is totally true.  At some point, you have to be honest with your child.  Why not simply be honest with them from the beginning?  It's pretend, make-believe, a myth.  And you know what, they can still enjoy the mythos knowing it's pretend.  My 4 year old loves Star Wars, but I tell him that it is totally a myth.  It's still fun, but totally pretend.  Why can't we keep the cultural elements and the goodness of jolly Ol' Santa without all the deception?  I mean isn't that why there's a thing that adults do called "Secret Santa?"

Norad meeting with Santa prior to tracking.

4) Eclipsing Christ

One of the commenters on another person's blog said that she grew up in a communist country.  In order to squash all religious stuff, they played up the Santa mythos big time.  While in the US and Canada, we all have the right to focus our attention on Christ and to worship him, he still gets eclipsed by the culture gone mad over Santa.  There are more movies on television about Santa than there are Nativity ones right now.  That's just wrong.  My four year old comes home singing songs about Santa, but no songs about Christ.  And he goes to a Catholic school.  Santa should be serving Christ.  Christ is the one we're supposed to be waiting for.

5) Gluttony

The whole Santa mythos is linked tightly with presents.  I'm trying to teach my children that money doesn't grown on trees and more serious things like good stewardship.  This is very difficult with Black Friday sales (yes, they are in Canada too), Christmas wish lists, and so on.  Retailers don't care about frugality.  They use your children to whine, cry, and throw fits in order to make profits.  So your children learn about the emptiness and sinfulness of gluttony when they should be learning about saving and giving.  No wonder people are in debt.  HB is apparently not getting the right message. 

Taken by Husky CC License 2.5

It doesn't matter which side of the Santa mythos you decide to be with your family.  It is still good to be aware of the pitfalls and tread carefully.  As for me and mine, it's better to avoid them as much as possible.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

HB and ADHD?

When I was dating my husband, he confessed that he had odd habits as a child.  "I used to walk around and mess with my fingers while pretending.  I also used to flap my hands."  His friend teased him about flipping his pencil incessantly during exams.  I began to suspect that my husband had undiagnosed ADHD and that flipping things around was his coping mechanism.  It didn't help that my husband marvels that I can "sit and stair at the walls" or that he has to shush me while driving because he can't talk and drive at the same time very well.  Sometimes he makes wrong turns.  If he gets distracted in the morning, he forgets where he was in his "morning routine" and will forget to do things like brush his teeth.

Last summer I suspected that HB's rambunctious behavior was ADHD related.  It didn't help that he clutched to small objects, thus reminding me of my husband's need for flapping pencils.  My babysitter was ADHD so I asked her her thoughts.  She said that once he started school they would figure it out, but she kindly loaned me a book about ADHD.  I read the first bit of it.  The author says that she can say with almost certainty that a child who cries a lot during infancy (outside having an underlining medical condition) will develop ADHD.  My face falls.  That describes HB's infancy.

We start school and the teachers notice something is up too.  But the doctor calls us in saying he suspected Autism (although not ruling out ADHD).  I find myself crying.  Not because ASD is something awful, but because it feels wrong.  It's so frustrating, and I can see HB trying so hard.  I don't want him to feel discouraged.  It's pinnacle that he have the right diagnosis.

The doctor wants some more of HB's background so I contact his previous school from the States.  The school that's run by the department of psychology.  She tells me she doesn't think he has autism.  She's worked with ASD kids.  He never displayed any classic symptoms, but he seems like a candidate for ADHD.  Waves of relief.  Perhaps the doctor will bare weight to her thoughts.

I pick up HB from school.  Almost every afternoon, I can see he's exhausted from having to focus so much.  He let's it go on the walk back home so I have to prod him.  "Look, there's C and her grandma.  Let's go catch up to her."  "Okay."  he chirps gleefully.  He runs up ahead to catch up to her.  He walks behind them for a while until he finds a stick or a big snow pile and then he bends over to examine it.  I prod him to catch back up.  He waits with them at the cross walk looking around him, but clearly encouraging me to stand close to him.  Sometimes he has so much trouble not dawdling that I put in the stroller. 

He needs some help in the bathroom.  I lean over and end up bumping my head.  "Ouch!  That hurt."  I say.  "Did you hurt your head?  Oh, I'm sorry.  Here let me kiss it, Mama."  And he kisses my head.

Later I'm in the kitchen and he runs into to give me a just because hug.

He goes upstairs at night and his dad helps him to brush and floss his teeth.  "Mom!" he shouts.  "I brushed AND flossed my teeth!"  He's so proud. 

None of it looks like ASD to me.  I just want my kid to have the right diagnosis.  I want him to focus on both the things he enjoys and the things he doesn't so much.  I want the fits that he throws over transitioning from to a new activity to subside.  He's trying.  But it's tough.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I spy...

These are images from Twitter taken from HB's school's account. Can you spot HB?  Can you spot Knee?
Today at an afterschool event.
Canadian Thanksgiving Day celebration (held in October):  School Bingo
Today at the same after school event.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sts. Damian and Cosmas

So this upcoming new liturgical year my new blog patron is St. Damian. He was chosen for me at random. His feast day is celebrated with his twin brother St. Cosmas.  In other words, I've ended up with not one but two patrons.  Their feast day is September 26.

The brothers were physicians who offered up their services for free; as a result they are the patron saints of doctors.  Born in what today is Turkey, they were martyred for refusing to recant their faith in what today is Syria.  And in Brazil, they are known for their protection of children.

I'm not entirely sure what role they will have this year in my blog (and family's life).  Will someone suffer from poor health?  Will we benefit from someone's generosity or will we offer our own to someone else?  Will the boys need some sort of protection?  Is this the year of the boys becoming closer as Knee gets older?  Time will tell.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary who was known for bringing food and clothing to the poor has been most beneficial in my boast to be a good mom and crafter.  And I think her for her patronage.

Sts.  Damian and Cosmas pray for us!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The problem with the teachers

When I was five, my dad went into a parent-teacher conference.  The teacher expressed concerns that instead of playing with the toys during free play, I would park my butt in the book nook and read.  My dad was flabbergasted.  A teacher concerned about a child's interest in books?  He looked around the room and noticed that on the chore chart boys were assigned to take out trash and girls to pick up.  He essentially said she was sexist based on the chart.  She never bothered him again.

I'm not autistic.  I get social cues.  I'm just odd.  And as a result ran into difficulty with many elementary school teachers.  It was bad since I'm an auditory/kinesthetic learner.  So I read everything outloud to myself.  And teachers expect you to be quiet all the time.  I also sat on my feet and ate mayo sandwiches.

Guess who else eats mayo sandwiches?  And according to his teachers has no friends.

Yep.  HB's teachers have repeatedly said that he has no friends.  But I know this isn't true.  One of his friends is C, a girl in his class.  She's actually only a couple of weeks older than HB.

I know she's his friend because she lives further down the street and we're usually running into her on the walks to and from school.  And if we get behind her, HB asks to catch up with her.

I know she's his friend because at the first snow HB specially called out to her and to tell her that even the table outside had snow on it.  Then he proceeded to make a snow angel next to hers.  They also race up and down the playground.

So you can imagine why I'm very leery of the autism diagnosis.  Especially since I know his teachers' claims aren't true.  I would be more open to it if I thought they were being honest.  I would be more receptive too if my husband also didn't find it all so head scratching.  HB doesn't have imaginative play?  That's news to us.  My husband remarked that he stuck a box on his head and walked around pretending to be a robot.  HB conversations are normal.  He can read facial expressions.

Yes, there is other peculiar traits that he has.  But is it autism or something else?  The tantrums he has are like autistic ones but also like psychological ones, ones you find in different disruptive behavior disorders where he is defiant of authority (and he does take things) or mood disorders, which are hereditary (and since that runs on both sides of his family tree does not surprise me at all).  Unlike a person with autism, HB doesn't like to be separated during the tantrum.  He can actually express specifically what's bothering him "I can't find my cardboard."  And once it's resolved; it's resolved.  He also gets moody, for lack of a better explanation.  And he likes to be hugged and touched.  Although less so than some children.  I find sometimes he just needs a few minutes of slowing down and snuggling before he can move onto the next thing.  I don't think the pedi has taken that off the table yet either, but he's basing his theory largely on what the teacher's say and I'm thinking it's taking us off course.  If you ask me, I think we should be looking into more of a mood disorder not autism, but then again everyone else thinks they have the answer.