Apparently the Catholic Church has brought back indulgences. I was surprised--despite my years in Catholic school--to learn from this article that when you go to confession and get absolution for your sins, you still have to pay for them in purgatory for a while before you get to go to heaven. The emphasis on forgiveness is one thing I've always liked about Catholicism. But is it really forgiveness if you still have to pay?
Apparently you can get an indulgence if you go to confession, receive holy communion, say a prayer for the pope and achieve “complete detachment from any inclination to sin.” The prayer for the pope seems pretty self-serving. But what I'm most stuck on is the complete detachment part. Is that really possible? I can't imagine. And how meaningful is it to confess something you no longer have any inclination to do? That seems pointless.
Oddly, this article did make me want to go to confession--something I haven't done since my very first confession back in about the third grade. It's not the desire for absolution; I've always said that if there is really a god who sentences people to eternity in hell for their mistakes, I want to go to hell to be part of the revolution. But I do like the idea of a ritual that creates a space for me to reflect on how I would like to live my life differently. The thing is, I suspect the stuff I feel most guilty about doesn't necessarily match up to the stuff the Catholic Church views as sin. Like smoking. Is that a sin?
And would I have to confess every sin I've committed since the last time I went to confession, more than twenty years ago? Even the stuff I've come to terms with on my own? Or what about premarital sex with my now-husband--does that really matter now that we're married (putting aside the fact that I don't feel any guilt about it whatsoever)? If I do go to confession, I'd better tell the priest ahead of time that he'll need to clear his schedule for a couple days.