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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Saturday

Now I know why I never really tackled Holy Saturday.  For one thing, the faithful tend to just kind of ignore it. Everyone is cleaning the house for Easter, buying a ham and preparing casseroles and Easter baskets, and looking forward to doing whatever is was they gave up doing for Lent.  I realize that many people do observe this holy day (it IS called HOLY Saturday), but really, I think there is some confusion about how we're supposed to feel.  And therefore some ambivalence.

Are we supposed to be sad? Or sad with joyful anticipation because we know how this story ends? Do we align ourselves with how the Apostles must have felt on this day, the confusion and grief they must have been experiencing? Or, since we know we've now been redeemed, are we joyfully picking an Easter hat? Yesterday I mentioned that many things have evolved, changed and been revisited by the Church. Holy Saturday traditions have changed over and over again.

In the early Church, the whole day was a sad vigil for the joy to come. It was the only Saturday where the faithful could (and did) fast all day. The service began in the evening and went on all night. The catechumens were baptized.  The "Alleluia" which has not been sung all during Lent, was timed to be be sung as Easter dawned. Every one broke their day long fast with Holy Communion, including the new folks who were receiving it for the first time.  That's quite a big deal of a day and night.

But then the vigil was moved back to the afternoon and finally it was moved to the morning. The fasting stopped. The tone of the vigil itself changed from sadness with joyful anticipation to just joyful anticipation (and they weren't even headed over to pick up a Honey Baked Ham back then).

Speaking of food and fasting (and Honey Baked Ham), during the middle ages meat, milk and eggs were forbidden throughout Lent. So on Holy Saturday, these foods were about to be back on the table (perhaps the true origin of the splendid Easter egg). They were being prepared for the Easter feast but they were brought to be blessed by the priest first. This tradition still goes on in some places around the globe.

That was then. So now?

Holy Saturday is the final day of Lent.  There is no Mass offered. There is a Mass in the evening, so don't be confused. The on the liturgical clock the new day begins at sundown on the previous day. So while you may believe you're going to Mass on Holy Saturday, you're actually attending the Easter Vigil Mass. Just to confuse you more...it's not Easter until dawn, so there is no Communion at the Easter Vigil Mass (except for those in danger of death).

And the tone? Well, remember the day long fast of the first 7 centuries? That got moved back along with the Mass. Then the Mass went away. But for a very long time, the fast stayed. It also got moved to the morning and stayed that way until 1956.  It is no longer required, but many people still fast all morning on Holy Saturday to commemorate and contemplate the sadness of the day, leaving the rest of the day for joyful anticipation of Easter and macaroni and cheese.

And that salad with tiny little marshmallows in it.

Here is what to expect for Holy Saturday. The altar, stripped bare for Good Friday, remains that way as we, the faithful, wait at the door of the tomb, contemplating Christ's suffering and death. It should be the most calm and quiet day of the Church year. Jesus is in His grave and we mourn. During the rest of Lent we align ourselves with the suffering of Jesus. On Holy Saturday, we align ourselves with the suffering of Our Mother Mary.

And while you are melting cheese in a saucepan, we'll be lining up the Easter lilies around the altar for Easter morning. The pews are done. The carpet is vacuumed. Chocolate bunnies are welcome.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On the Home Stretch

It's Holy Week! Thank goodness we've covered everything you need to know in past posts.
Holy Thursday
Good Friday.

Okay, not everything. I haven't had much to say about Holy Saturday. Perhaps we'll cover that tomorrow, at last. Plus, the Catholic Church is 2,014 years old so a lot of things have been added, streamlined, edited, expounded upon, re-visited, re re visited and ritualized. But at least we've provided a tutorial about what goes on and why over the next 4 days.

And by now, whatever you gave up, you've slogged through. I hope it was difficult. It was supposed to be difficult. Not ridiculously difficult, like having a broken leg or shingles or getting hit by a bus. But difficult enough to have had some growth down there in your soul. Like having an annoying old Auntie park herself at your house and hint that you do everything wrong and then tell you how much she loves you. That kind of difficult. Something that bothered you every single day of Lent. Something that you had to think about every single day of Lent.

You're now a better person for it. Congratulations! And you have this opportunity every year! (Or every day, if you're a nun.)

Here's what I gave up for Lent: using two spaces after a period while typing. Using two spaces was beaten into me by Sister Mary Teresa, the high school typing nun. Typing away on ancient typewriters that you had to have the fingers of Thor and the dexterity of a Vegas card dealer  to manipulate. I can still hear the clunk, clunk, clunk of the keys all going down in unison as we all typed and the grind of the carriage.

"What's a carriage?" at least half of you ask.  "What's a typewriter?" your children query.

Of course, that is not what I gave up for Lent. It it, however, an example of the minutia with which we now occupy our minds. This is precisely why we have to challenge ourselves and shake things up.

So I hope you gave up something good. Made it count. Because you were trying to align yourself with the suffering of Jesus and He certainly made it count.

And you still have until Saturday to do it. Hooray for you!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Back from the Dead. Literally.

I can't believe so much time has passed. It's seems like years since I've visited you all. It also seems like yesterday. I'm glad at least you could comb through some of our old posts for Lenten guidance. Heaven knows we've been prolific on the subject through our years here.

It's just the two of us now, Sister St. Aloysuis and I. Sister Mary Fiacre has gone to Jesus.

One never knows how one is going to react to the death of a loved one, a sister, a Sister, a person for whom we cared intimately. She seemed to be our reason for living for such a long time, our schedule was built around her for many years now. What we ate or didn't eat, fashioned to interest her appetite. Whether we were awake or asleep, depended on her. And finally, we slept with one eye open for many weeks.

I had an idea of how I would react. That feeling of emptiness when the person is no longer there to take up every waking thought. The sweet preciousness of caring for someone who needs so much care. At first there was a sense of relief, since we spent so much time on high alert, lest she be in distress. And then that hole that is left in your world.

But I didn't expect this.

I'm jealous.  Jealous!  She's in Heaven! Or at least in Purgatory, where Heaven is guaranteed!

I find myself saying things that jealous people say. "I'm happy for her!" That sort of thing. I'm not lying. I do feel that way. But always with that tinge of jealousy for what she now has and I do not.

Jealousy is, of course, a sin. It doesn't feel sinful. I'd better beware.

There is so much to do after a person goes, that you don't really think about. Forms to fill out, things to mail and places and people to call, arrangements to be made. So that's why we haven't been visiting with you here.

Our little household is up in the air a bit. We're not sure yet whether someone new will join us or we will have to move ourselves, or whether things will just stay the same.

Well...not the same.

And here we are in Holy Week! It will seem so strange to get the church ready without Sister Mary Fiacre standing by...sitting by...in her wheelchair. Packing her snacks. Just the other day we realized when we went to the clinic that we could park far away! We always had to park as close as possible to the doors. No longer.

We're packing up the Murphy's Oil Soap. And just us two.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

What Should You Give Up for Lent Made Easy

So here we are! It's Lent! Get out your hair shirts. Put the Pringles can down. Back away from the TV. Take a break from Facebook. Stop wearing shoes.

There are so many ways you can experience the period of atonement and sacrifice that is Lent. Here at the cyberconvent, we have our hands full so we haven't put much thought to what to give up this year. Thank goodness we stumbled across this.

What Should You Give Up For Lent?

Beware, the language is not completely, well, nice. But we're adults here.  It's not that bad. Just don't use that language yourself. Or, if you're already using that language, give that up for Lent. BOOM! You're welcome.

Now, how telling them that my favorite muppet is that Swedish Chef thing got them to pick giving up coffee for me is beyond my feeble comprehension. But they really nailed it, I have to say. The people around me are thrilled if I don't give up coffee for Lent.  If I did it would be a huge sacrifice FOR THEM, just to tolerate being around me. I have given up putting milk in my coffee, so that I don't actually enjoy it. But give it up?  That's dangerous.

Literally dangerous, to myself and others. I'm blind until I have my coffee. It's one thing to go to Mass and pray before having coffee, blind, it's another to actually work and be available to speak to people and that sort of thing.

But who am I to question BUZZFEED's amazingly accurate Lenten pick? 

A person who is about to unleash their uncaffienated self on the world, that's who.

Keep in mind that once you give up something for Lent, you're not allowed to moan and groan and complain about your deprivation. We are aligning ourselves with the suffering of Christ on the cross and He did not complain about opening the gates of Heaven for you or dying for your sins. You have to pick something that will cause you to suffer on some level and then put your big boy and girl pants on and deal with it.

It will make you a better person, I promise.

And, as always, lose weight and stop smoking on your own time. This is not about your looks or your health. You can't give up candy for Lent and then grin because your jeans fit nicely. And you shouldn't be smoking in the first place. What about "your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit" don't you get? Cut that out. It's not a sin to smoke.  But Jesus wants you to quit.

Let us know if you get an accurate pick.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Got Judas!

Oh no, I got Judas Iscariot!! I was wondering if he'd be an option and sure enough he's the one I get. Here's what it says: Black sheep, loner, ne’er-do-well, rebel… You’re the kind of person who’s never really fit in with the crowd and you’re okay with that. You do your own thing and live by your own rules. (Also, people don’t really seem to trust you for some reason. You might want to work on that.) Can I still read your blog or am I banned?

You're not banned. But watch out next time you walk through a field. You might burst.

The responses to yesterday's post were our laugh of the day!  Somebody actually got Judas! Glad I didn't have a mouthful of anything when I read that.

There are only two people in history that I can call to mind that are indisputable pariahs. No children (except perhaps the children of crazy people) are named for them. Their names are synonymous with betrayal, death, evil and mayhem. Hitler is one. Judas is the other.

The Judas kiss.

The comically cheery description of why our poor reader is most like Judas completely ignores centuries of connotations that all point to one thing: that person in the inner circle who is so evil he leads an innocent lamb to slaughter.

For his own gain? We don't know. The way we've always viewed Judas is that he became aggravated that Jesus wasn't overthrowing the Romans and snapped one day when a woman washed Jesus with some expensive perfume. Judas thought the money should go to the poor and Jesus told him to relax, just this once.

Which, by the way, is something we should keep in mind when we overly admonish ourselves for being too little, not doing enough, failing.  Even Jesus gave Himself a break.

But right after that Judas betrayed Jesus for the sum of thirty pieces of silver.

Scholars have gone round and round trying to figure out the Judas story.  He died several different ways. There are many theories about what little we do know.  He wanted a physical uprising. He didn't betray the whereabouts of Jesus, but His private teachings (which the Sanhedrin used at His trial).  Iscariot isn't about where he was from, but a nickname Jesus gave him, like calling Peter the Rock.

It's true that Judas may have felt like at outsider. He was the only non-Galilean. He kept the money for the group. No one likes that guy.

It's also true that we shouldn't see Judas as all bad. He was, after all, chosen by Jesus, the Divine Master (His nickname), to be in His inner circle.  What we need to remember about Judas is that even one such as this could have a colossal fall.

Another thing to keep in mind when you're beating yourself up about your lack of faith or you failings and inabilities to be the best follower.  Even one of Jesus' hand picked disciples failed spectacularly.

For the record, I got Matthew. And that doesn't fit me at all, either.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Cyber Quiz

We have been here at the cyber convent a long time. During all of this time we've always had the eighth grade boys to help out with anything computer or internet related. We've been here so long, they are not the same eighth grade boys as when we began, and truth be told, at this point I think the kindergarten boys and girls would be almost as savvy. I recently had a young mother opine to me that her toddler was not potty trained but he could program the DVR. Whatever that is.

I know what that is.

Because that is the joy of having young people around all the time. You get to see whatever is the latest thing.  Of late they've been fascinated with all sorts of "which character from some TV show are you" websites.  "Which Harry Potter character are you?"  Then you take some sort of half baked test and the website tells you you are "Ron".  There are dozens of these. Pointless.  How can they tell if you are "like" some character when that character is entirely fictional?

It makes more sense to me to have one that would be "Which Founding Father are you?"  There probably is one of those.

But today, they emailed me the link for "Which One Of Jesus' Disciples Are You?"  So I had to take that test.  If I had to just guess, I would have said maybe "Peter", because he always seemed to struggle so much to figure out what to do, while at the same time having no qualms or doubts in his belief.

I'll be interested to see who you get.  How would they even know if you were like Jude?  We know almost nothing about him.

Who did I get?  I'll tell you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lightening the Load

One of the things that happens when all around you is a bit sad and grim and people talking in low voices, is that folks send along things to cheer you up. It's a swell idea, really, because who really needs to spend every moment grim and sad and talking in a low voice. One of the most welcome sounds in a sick room is laughter.

And this made us all laugh.

Don't tell Mr. Schlephorst that this is how we really feel.