During times such as Christmas we all tend to indulge ourselves. This isn’t a problem is you’re Protestant but for Catholics, being indulgent is the province only of priests, not the laity. However, priests – even il papa himself – can overindulge at times: in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II indulged the Roman Catholic Church to the full, and from January 1st, New Year’s Absolutions were being handed out left, right, and centre.

As the temporal effects of sin can be so readily pardoned in this way, it isn’t uncommon to question how people may be made better. Through history, we can point out any number of people in the church who haven’t lived up to their holy calling. For instance, the Borgias (who bought the papacy in the early 15th century) make Genghis Khan seem like Mother Teresa.

To encourage people to live a holy life, the Roman Catholic Church will take a leaf out of the police handbook. During certain days, the police double fines and licence demerits for breaking traffic laws. Using this as an example, the Church has developed a means that she hopes will encourage Catholics to strive to be more like Christ Jesus.

The Treasury of Merit has traditionally been the only storehouse of wealth that exists to give to its clients. It expects them to be in debt. But now the Church has decided to close the Treasury during certain holy days. Any sins committed over this period will incur standard penance, although the merit will not be credited to the individual until the end of the holy day period. For merit to be applied immediately, quadruple penance will be required for venial sins, and mortal sins will require ten times the standard penance.

At the end of the holy day period, the Treasury will operate as usual. Any merit accrued in the interim will be credited at this time and the commensurate amount of grace imparted to the individual.

It is hoped that this initiative by the Church will encourage Catholics to live holier lives. We apologise for any inconvenience.

copyright 2008 Troy Grisgonelle.

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