Friday, December 21, 2007

Don't Go to Hell, Go to Lourdes!!

I read the strangest thing yesterday. Two things, actually, and I could not help notice the striking contradiction between each. One was in a book and written in allegorical fiction while the other was actual news story representing real events with real people. What strikes me as odd, however, is that what is supposed to be allegorical was actually truth and what was supposed to be truth is nothing more than man's made up tales.

Here is the run down, but I warn you - this really sounds like a bad infomercial:
According to this article from the London Telegraph, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a decreed mititagting the time spent in purgatory. And how much would you expect to pay for such an indulgence? One Million Dollars? $500,000? How about $19.95 plus shipping and handling? Neither actually. All that is required is a trip to a little town in France.

But wait, there's more!

"In August the Vatican opened an airline service offering pilgrims direct flights from Rome to Lourdes." Now that is what I call a seeker-friendly church! What service! What a way to make people welcome! What a way to make sure EVERY member has a false sense of security and instead of trusting in the cross to pay the penalty for sins they can now trust in a stamp on their passport! Wow, sign me up!

But wait, there's more!

As an act of full disclosure, The Vatican has issued a few other requirements to be sure that you receive the proper plenary indulgences that you so rightly deserve. You are to visit not simply the city of Lourdes, but rather

"devoutly visit the following places, preferably in this order -
1) the parish baptismal font used for the Baptism of Bernadette;
2) the house of the Soubirous family called the "cachot";
3) the Grotto of Massabielle;
4) the chapel of the hospice where Bernadette made her First Communion

- and pause to reflect for an appropriate length of time at each of these Jubilee sites, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, some legitimate form of the Profession of Faith, and the Jubilee prayer or some other Marian invocation."
But be sure to act now! This offer is not available in stores, and is only valid until December 8th, 2008!!

But wait, there's more!

For nine days, and nine days only, if you visit "a blessed image of the Holy Virgin Mary of Lourdes in any church, chapel, grotto or other suitable place in which it is solemnly displayed, and in the presence of that image perform some pious act of Marian devotion, or at least pause to reflect for an appropriate length of time, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, some legitimate form of the Profession of Faith, and the Jubilee prayer or some other Marian invocation" you are still eligible for the plenary indulgences. I am sure that a quick Google Search can produce an image within a fifteen mile radius of your house. But remember, this offer is not available in stores, nor is it good until the end of 2008. You must act only between the days of February 2nd and February 11th of this coming year if you want to get in on this extraordinary deal!

But wait, there's more!

If you happen to be elderly, disabled, or for some other reason can not make the travel required, have no fear! Thankfully, the Pope has made a way for you as well! Be advised that "if, between the days of 2 and 11 February 2008, they complete a "spiritual visit" (to the aforementioned places) in the desire of their heart, recite the prayers indicated above, and trustingly offer the pains and discomforts of their own lives to God through Mary." Be sure that you make a note in your day planner, alert your in-home nurse, set your Outlook Calendar - whatever you have to do - but do not miss the days February 2-11 if you plan to truly be a part of the faithful. You early birds, don't try to get in on Fenruary 1st. Forgiveness is not available that day. And for you tardy transgressors, don't make your attempt on the 12th either - no soup for you!

In all seriousness, I wish I was making this up. I wish this were not true. I wish that 1 billion of the Roman Catholic practicioners were not being led astray in such a manner. True, not all Roman Catholics subscribe to the official teachings of the Vatican and I sincerely believe that there are some Catholics who are Christians. I also sincerely believe that there are many so-called Protestants who are not Christians. This includes Presbyterians, Methodists, Non-Denominational, and yes, even Baptists. Further, even Southern Baptists! Unfortunately, our human nature wants us to trust in a works based system rather than to throw ourselves wholly at the mercy of the cross. We want to know that we have had some small part to play in our own salvation, or at least in the lessening of the purification which we must undergo. False doctrine, false teaching, false gospel - which makes it no gospel at all.

And after reading this startling article in the morning, I read what is supposed to be allegorical fiction later in the day. In John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress the main character, Christian, is on his way to the Celestial City after entering through The Wicket Gate. Up to this point he has been weighed down immensely by a heavy burden that has been on his back from the beginning of his journey. He has attempted to rid himself of the burden to no avail. Finally, he finds the answer to relieve him from this burden that has so easily entangled him and weigh him down. He finds his solution; he finds the cross.
"Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
Nor could anyone ease the grief that I was in,
Until I came here. What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here be the cords that bound it to me crack?
Blessed Cross! Blessed sepulcher! Blessed rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me."**
I will take this fiction any day.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph 2:8-9)

"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." (Rom 11:6)

**John Bunyan. Pilgrim's Progress (Lindenhurst, NY: Reformation Press, 1999), p 48

HT:Irish Calvinist


Brian said...

Wow. Welcome back to the pre-Luther era...

KC Armstrong said...

Sad...but true

Like I said, I wish I was making this up...

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

All I can say, brother, is that I really enjoy your style of writing satire. I hope that pope Benny keeps doing and saying such things, because there's a lot of so-called evangelicals out there (many Pentecostals, but also Baptists) and even Eastern Orthodox (that's the church I belong to) that think it would be fun to go to bed with the pope (allegorically speaking, but the image is repulsive, forgive me for making it). Perhaps if he continues his downward slide back into the dark ages, that will make free Christian church leaders think twice about joining his institution or aping any of its practices. As my spiritual elder once said, speaking of the Roman Catholics, "They are in deep darkness." And as I am fond of saying, "The reason why the virgin Mary visits the Catholics so much is to console them because they don't have the Holy Spirit." (Oh no, forgive me again, but I am a satirical fellow myself.)

I'm going to share this post with my co-laborer in Christ, who is a film maker. The advertisement format of your post would really make a good movie short.

Go with God, my brother, and have a good Christmas.

KC Armstrong said...


Thank you for stopping by and posting a comment. I agree that it does not seem to make sense for many "evangelicals" to unite with this type of doctrine. I am all for unity, but this is an attack on the central tenet of the gospel - justification by faith through Christ alone.

If the film ever comes to pass, let me know - I'll be the first to watch!

In Christ,