Beginners should start by trying to obey just one commandment.
Find the Ten Commandments a bit of a challenge? Well, pick one of the easiest to obey, and start with that. This is what I have decided to do, and so now I give you the ECCLES PLEDGE: I promise not to commit murder. Or at least, not very often. This leaves me with more time free for other sins, such as coveting my neighbour's donkey, stealing, or bowing down to graven images.
Eccles's Anti Moly is very pleased that Eccles has pledged not to murder her.
Of course, for some people, even giving up murder is too ambitious. As Cardinal Kasper says, we should show compassion even towards those who have chosen a serial-killing lifestyle. If - like so many of my readers - you are a serial killer, then may I respectfully suggest that you start by cutting down a little? Say one murder a month? I believe that you can buy little sticky patches to put on your arm, which give you all the stimulation of serial killing, without actually having to go out and commit the sin of murder.
Likewise, if you are given to adulterous affairs, bishop, then the gradualist approach is to progressively reduce the number of marriages you break up, until you are down to one at a time, or even none!
St Augustine of Hippo: "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!"
Now, how does this work for people who are divorced and remarried? Will they gradually be admitted to communion? Well, the first time they approach the altar steps they will be condemned by the priest in thunderous tones: "BEGONE! ADULTEROUS VERMIN!" Then the next time, the priest will say "Oooh, you are awful, but I like you!" but still refuse them communion. Until eventually the priest will say "Well, what's the odd sinful lifestyle between friends? Probably, Jesus was only joking! Come and join in the fun!" Thus our separated brethren are ACCEPTED once more.
Or they could give up their second marriage bit by bit. They might start by sleeping in the garden shed, to avoid the temptations of the flesh. Eventually they could return to their previous spouse: this could be awkward if he or she has remarried, but, hey, it is better to have three in a bed than only two, if it's the wrong two.
Thou hast had seven husbands... even if they are on the small side.
Well, I hope you have found this little guide to gradualism helpful. Next week, we explain how a compulsive bower down to graven images can gradually repent, so that soon they simply give graven images a polite nod when they pass them in the street. Thus, according to my brother Bosco, they will have done almost all that needs to be done to assure Salvation.
Even cardinals can be saved.