Monday, March 9, 2015

Earning sanctifying grace

One always wants to reduce one's time in purgatory -- and the best way to do this is to earn sanctifying grace. (This is a real thing for Catholics, who don't notice the whole thing is kinda like a board game with prizes.)

Last week I did something to earn a ton of sanctifying grace. I hand-washed four cotton sweaters. Oh sure, you're saying. How hard is it to dunk some sweaters in soapy water? True, that part is easy. But the sanctifying grace stems from my next step.

Reaching back into The Things Mom Taught Me, I remembered that you're supposed to roll the wet sweaters tightly into a towel "log". So that's what I did. I laid the towels down on my rug, smoothed out the wrinkles, and put one unwrinkled sweater down on each towel. Then I rolled them into logs, pushing really hard with my fingers (that's where the sanctifying grace really comes in!) until they were very tight tubes. Finally, exhausted, I laid them in a row on the rug and left them there till morning.

As I walked away from the sweater logs, I could feel the rush of grace coursing into my body. Through my ministrations, I probably lopped off maybe 6 or 7 years from my sentence in purgatory (and they have super-burning fire there, so this is a big deal). The next morning, feeling refreshed by all the grace, I unrolled the towels to see if they were dry. They weren't.

But here comes the theological problem: I never vacuum my rugs. Never. So what I really accomplished when I rolled the sweaters up, was to jam lint, dust and hairs into the fabric of all four sweaters. So at this point, they were clean -- but filthy. Still, I trusted in the lord and moved on. (Sometimes that's all you can do.) Besides the filth issue, the sweaters were still wet. So I hung the dusty things in a window and hoped that the sun would dry them out. Lo and behold, a day later they were dry.

Now all I have to do is take them outside, hang them on a line and beat them with a tennis racket for an hour or so, to get the filth off. Success!

But in the end, I had to face a hairy religious question. Would I continue to earn sanctifying grace with the tennis-racket move, giving me absolutely massive benefits? Or -- and here's the rub -- had I lost all hope of gathering any sanctifying grace by being such a filthy git?

No wonder they have theologians to unsnarl these deep questions of faith. Maybe the Templeton Foundation or Alvin Plantinga could help me out. Or maybe one of my readers is a super-Catholic who already knows the answer. If so, do tell in the comments. Oh, do! My immortal soul is at stake.