About Me

My photo
Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mel in Hell

I had intended to devote this week to the Blessed Mother but Mel Gibson, our hero, got drunk and beligerent and arrested. We are, of course, praying for his soul and hope he has gone to confession.

Matt Drudge not withstanding, it is not for us to judge Mr. Gibson's sins, what he has done and his remorse or lack thereof. That is between him and his Maker.

But just for the sake of argument.....what ARE Mel Gibson's sins, anyhow? If he toppled off a cliff in Malibu right after his anti-semitic tirade, in what layer of hell would he have landed?

First of all, it is important to know there are two types of sin: mortal sin, a death blow to the soul and venial sin, lesser sins that just land you in Purgatory. "I was late for Mass." Venial sin. "I missed Mass altogether and went to the mall." Mortal sin. (Kathi....with an "i"! I hope you are paying attention!)

Hell would be in order if Mr. Gibson has committed a mortal sin and then died without a hearty act of contrition and the benefit of absolution by a priest. Since we know there were no acts of contritions during the arrest and tirade and no priest visible on the video tape, if Mel toppled off the cliff, what sins are his soul loaded with from his evening of editting the "Apocolypse" and swirling down PHC?

It's not a sin to drink. Your parish priest will back me up on this. It IS a sin to drink in access. Drinking to excess is a venial sin, meaning a stretch in Purgatory, but not doomed to hell. It is also a near occassion of sin, because you may be tempted while under the influence to do God knows what. If you cause anyone else to sin, you own that sin, too. Now you have a double sin. More Purgatory time.

But now Mr. Gibson flops behind the wheel of his car and endangers the life of others. Everything he does from this point on, as far as I can tell, falls under the fifth commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill." This includes hate and anger. Anger, venial sin. Hate, mortal sin.

We're not sure the level of Mel's ire here, but it sounds, well, mortal-ish.

Depending on what the Road Warrior said, exactly, we have any number of mortal sins for the anti-semitic remarks and no doubt a large number of venial sins falling under the Second Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain" and under the Sixth Commandment "Thou Shalt Not commit Adultery".

I know that might confuse you a little. Adultery? Huh?

In the Catholic church all sex related sins fall under the Sixth Commandment. We like to extrapolate. If the star of Lethal Weapon used sexually explicit language, venial sin.

So Braveheart's score would look something like this:

Mortal sins:
Drunk driving
Being filled with hate

Venial Sins:
Getting drunk
Being Angry
Taking the Lord's Name in Vain
Resisting arrest
Saying filthy things

This is a conservative estimate and not based on actual events. Resisting arrest, by the way, falls under the Fourth Commandment "Honor Thy Father and They Mother" a courtesy that extends to authority in society (so long as that authority is not abused.) And all nuns.

Luckily the heroic man who brought us "The Passion of the Christ" did not topple off a cliff or get murdered in the pokey so he has a chance to set things straight with the Lord. Hopefully his penance will be 5 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Mary's and a large donation to retired nuns.

What's the Deal with Mary?

This morning
I heard Sister Mary Fiacre mumbling. She's not a complainer, I don't think. If she is, we can't understand much of what she's saying anyway. I leaned in to see if she was making a request or some sort of comment, hard to do either if you don't know what' s going on around you. She doesn't.

I caught a word or two...and realized she was saying the prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Good choice! And how remarkable that her devotion to Our Lady is so ingrained as to be able to mumble out this prayer in her decrepit condition! If I wasn't so old myself I would have to say, "Way to go, Fiacre!"

In my life and travels I have encountered many many people, mostly 'separated brethren' (we used to call them the 'lesser faiths', but we don't want to go all  'Mel Gibson' on anyone), who simple do not understand the Catholic devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

What's the deal with Mary?

So let's take a trip down Mary Lane and figure this thing out, dispel some myths and set the record straight.

Let's begin with the most common misunderstanding in the world of Marian devotion (as the devotees like to call it....picking up the jargon already!):

CATHOLICS DO NOT PRAY TO MARY! Get that through your thick head!

We don't pray to saints, either. (Mary, by the way is a saint). We pray for their intercession. Calm down. It's just a fancy way of saying that we are asking them to pray for us. In our little shop, we have patron saints for every occasion. On the front of the medal is a picture of the saint and on the back, three simple words, "Pray for us."

So you have no problem, unless you are an atheist or a fairy wiccen, asking people to pray for you. You do it all the time, especially when you need something or you get scared, poor things. "Dad's having an operation!" "Little Bobby might be a junkie!" "If I don't pass this test I'll have to work at Wal-Mart!" "Pray for me!"

Asking Mary to pray for us is one hundred per cent no different than that.

So unless you plan to never ask anyone to pray for you ever again, you better shut up about Mary. I'll be asking you to pray for me and Mary to pray for me. I need all the help I can get.

And here's a little bonus: who do you think has Jesus' ear? Who has more pull? Me? or His mom!

Remember this story? Jesus and His mom are at a wedding and the hosts run out of wine. You remember this one! Jesus has actually not 'outed' Himself as the Messiah, has not performed a miracle or said peep about what His plans for the future outside the carpentery shop might be. Mary calls Him over and simple says, "They're out of wine.........dear." And He actually whines around about how He's not going to blow his cover just yet, blah, blah, blah.

Apparently, she shoots Him a look, because the next thing you know, not only is there wine, there is the best wine ever.

What do we learn from this? Jesus listens to His Mother!

And on top of all of that she's sssoooooo nice.......except to the children of Fatima, but that was for their own good.

She took them, under age 9 all three of them, on a trip to hell and told two of them they wouldn't live long and they better get their ducks in a row. A kindness to the little sinners, really. Then she knocked the sun out of the sky and made it spin around to prove she meant business. Left a letter that made the Pope cry....tough love.

For the rest of us, who don't get the priveledge of a private audience, she is that beautiful lady in blue, the mother of all mothers, to whom even Sister Mary Fiacre still speaks. Wish she's speak to me. We have to take a guess on a daily basis what she'll eat when you put it in front of her and what she'll flip onto the floor. The old dear.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Q&A with Sister Mary Martha

Well, we've covered a lot of ground in a month's time. Time now to pause and reflect.

We've talked about Purgatory, sin, near occassions of sin, the devil, hell, exorcism, several lives of the saints, Fatima, the immortal soul and why your pet isn't going to heaven.

Of course it's all the tip of the iceberg isn't it?

Next week I'm going to devote several essays to Our Blessed Mother, why she's so popular, what she has to say, who gets a visit from her and what we think about all of that. You might want to alert the people of lesser faiths...I mean...separated brethen...as they seem to have a bee in their bonnet about the Catholic view point on Mary.
An Angel Ponders

Meanwhile I thought we could spend a day or two answering questions. I know you must be brimming with curiosity. Let me lay to rest the answer to two really stupid questions I get all the time:

1. Do nuns have ears?
answer: How stupid are you? How else do we catch you whispering to your neighbor during Mass?

2. Do nuns have hair?
answer: yes, but not much. In the old old days, the early days of the church and whatnot, a woman's hair was her one great adornment. Regular people didn't have access to fancy clothes and cheap costume jewelry. A woman's hair was the one thing she could 'fashion'. So we lopped that stuff right off to show our humility and we still do. A good tradition and cooler in the summer.

Now onto more meaty issues! Fire away!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Katmir and the Seven Sleepers

For most people the weekend means running a few errands, sipping a latte and reading the Sunday paper.

For us nuns it means visiting the sick, getting the church ready for Mass, which because of everyone's busy schedules and laziness now also is held on Saturday AND Sunday (God asks for ONE day and what do YOu do? "I need to go on Saturday so I can read the paper and sip lattes on Sunday!"), grading papers, manning the soup kitchen, and scrubbing the cement steps of the convent and the church with a stiff wire brush.

People. The weekend is your golden opportunity to embrace the corporal works of mercy. Can you name them? There are seven, only one of which you might want to skip. That leaves the other six to occupy your time on Saturday and the seven spiritual works of mercy on Sunday.

The lives of the saints are, if nothing else, a history of selfless acts of piety, charity and aid to human misery. St. Bartholomew was skinned alive! You're whining because you're lactose intolerant!

It's your one day to sleep in? Too bad. You can sleep when you're dead. And consider the havoc too much sleep can bring.

Yesterday was the feast of the Seven Sleepers. (I would have talked about it yesterday, but my alarm didn't go off. Set my whole day back. Usually, Sister Mary Fiacre's snoring wakes me anyhow, but yesterday she was so quiet we thought she was finally dead. But God doesn't want her yet.)

Seven Christian boys in Ephesus (Mary's home town) were put on trial by the emperor Decius and sentenced to die. The boys gave their property to the poor and went into a cave to say their final prayers with their dog, Katmir. They prayed and fell asleep. Katmir, too. Meanwhile the soldiers of Decius tracked them down and walled up the cave. Eventually their story and their names were written on the wall. (Maybe not the dog's name.)

More than 200 years passed.

The Roman Empire became Christian. A cattle owner decided to use the cave for his herd and knocked down the wall. The boys, thinking they had only been asleep over night, couldn't believe how hungry they were (the dog, too) and sent Diomedes into town for bread for what they believed would be their last meal. (Remember they had been condemned 'the day before'.) He tried to pay for it with his ancient coin. This made everyone take notice. The bishop was called, the other boys were discovered and much rejoicing transpired.

Now here's the thing. They were really dead in there and rose again. We think. That's why everyone rejoiced, because at that time in history there was a big fat argument going on about the whole resurrection idea and this incident put the Ka bosh on that.

So after the party they all went ahead and died for good. Katmir, too.

The Seven Sleepers are mentioned along with their dog in the Koran. Katmir is mentioned as one of the nine animals in paradise. Which is how we know the Koran is wrong, since the only dog in heaven is St. Roch's dog, Licky.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy:
Give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. (on that last one....don't try this at home.)

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy:
Convert the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive injuries, pray for the living and the dead.

No where in there is a mocha frappacino with soy.

The Exorcist

The heat wave really got to Teddy, our covent cat, today. He got a crazy look in his eye, crazier than his normal look, and ran like the devil was after him through the halls. He ran up one side of Sister Mary Fiacre and down the other. I think she actually woke up for a moment or two.

Perhaps the devil WAS after him. We know the devil is after all of us. He is very busy. He is like Uncle Sam: He Wants YOU!

Many people want to know if the Catholic church still does exorcisms? Gee, what do you think? Is the Pope Catholic?

The devil, who has always been very active in his relentless pursuit of your pea personal soul, who has been coming after you through Ouija boards and Dungeons and Dragons games, Tarot cards and seances, who probably invented astrology and the Magic 8 Ball, now has even easier access to you than ever. He's on your TV. He has your email address.

So yes, we still do exorcisms. I use the royal "we". I don't do them.

Here's how it works: First someone must determine that you are possessed. So first, you are going to a regular doctor AND a shrink. We'll try some zoloft or something. If you are still speaking in some unknown language you've never heard before, have an intense hatred for holy things and/or have abnormal strength for your size, it's time to talk to the bishop.

Only the bishop can order an exorcism and only a priest can perform one. That's because it might be rough going with the demon (I know you've seen the movie!) and if just anyone tried it they might cave. Or be fooled. We need someone really strong willed here. The devil is no match for a man who can live his whole life celibate.

If we can drag your possessed self over to the church we will. But if you're too much of a demonic mess we'll make it a house call.

It's long. It's ugly. It's knock down drag out steel cage match. Two men enter, one man leaves, stuff.

If you're hosting an exorcism how can you prepare? Make sure you have plenty of holy water, and if you can, get your hands on a first class relic of a really holy saint. (I'm serious, it's in the exorcism manual.) A relic is some piece of the saint: a bone, a lock of hair, his head... there are 3 types: first class, which is a piece of the saint, second class, which is something that touched the saint, like his toothbrush or a piece of clothing and a third class relic which is something that has touched a first class relic (like if you wipe your hankie across St. Rita's fingerbone).

For the exorcism you need to spring for first class. Easier said than done, since the church doesn't hand them out the way they used to. All the relics are kept in the Vatican reliquary with one guy in charge and if you beg him he may open a jar and slice off a little something for you. Nowdays first class relics only go to parishes for the altar. (Every altar has one.)

The absolute best first class relic you can get is a piece of St. Benedict, Mr. Exorcist, the patron saint of exorcism. Fat chance you'll lay your hands on that! You could pretend to be the parish priest of the new parish of St. Benedict and write the Vatican for your relic. But then you'd be lying and cheating opening the door for the devil to possess you. Fool.

Just get some holy water, and like most things that have to do with your relationship with God, leave us in charge.

By the way, the site counter here is broken due to a power outage. If you stop by for a visit, please leave us a message so we know you were here. We'll read them all to Sister Mary Fiacre over supper. She'll think it's messages from all the boys and girls she used to teach, but that's okay.

for your exorcism needs: http://www.etsy.com/view_item.php?listing_id=358675

Monday, July 24, 2006

July 25th St. Christopher Please get over it.

Busy week for important feast days! Today is the Feast Day of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. This is a fabulous opportunity to discuss how a person becomes a saint and what it means to be a saint, since in fact, St. Christopher never existed. At all, ever. At yet he remains one of the world's most popular saints, hanging from every key ring and luggage tag and clipped onto visors everywhere.

How does a man who never existed become one of the most famous saints ever?

You did it.

Let's take a moment and look at the story of St. Christopher so you can understand why he was booted off the calendar of saints back in the 60's. You can find the story of St. Christopher (written by your's truly) here by clicking on our shop icon to your left and look at St. Christopher. He's at the top of the shop today, of course. Go ahead and read that.

I'll wait.

So you see, the story of St. Christopher is a little like the three pigs or the three bears. It has that fairy tale "3" thing at the beginning and then the Christ child story, which seems charming and then on further examination makes no sense. Why wouldn't He have been heavy the whole time?

Let me explain how this happened. In the first place a saint is someone who is dead and in heaven. Period. Everyone who ever lived and is now in heaven is a saint. But since we don't know who made it and who didn't for a fact, in order to call a specific person a saint we need proof the person is in heaven. So we look for miracles performed by the person. The devil is up to no good. He doesn't do good things. Something miraculous happening after praying for the intercession of a person you think was good enough to make heaven proves that person is really there. See? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

But not so fast. It has to be a miracle. Not "wow, my mother didn't say anything nasty when see called today!" Not a dimestore miracle. Not even "all those people died in the bus crash on the bus I just stepped off of." That's great for you (AND bad grammar) buit it's not a miracle. It has to be instant and unexplainable.

A saint needs three of these to be canonized, which means the person is worthy of veneration and is in heaven.

And how does this happen? That's where YOU come in. You get to pick who you think is worthy, pray for their intercession and report those miracles. For example, you could look up the list of people who have been beatified (almost a saint but waiting for the third miracle) and jump on the band wagon. Your miracle could seal the deal. AND you'd have a miracle. It's a win-win situation.

So how did Christopher get in? The church didn't used to go through so much trouble. If the faithful were into the person, and the church had no objections to the person and miracles were reported and more and more people jumped on the bandwagon...saint. The same way reality TV became so popular, I imagine. It's really not very good, is it? But you watch because everyone else does and you won't be able to keep up your end of the conversation tomorrow at work if you're left out.

You made reality TV popular and you made St. Christopher so popular we can't get rid of him anymore than they're going to cancel "Survivor."

I don't mind. It's good story. I especially like the part where the hermit tells Christopher he has to serve others. He didn't mean wait tables.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 24th St. Christina the Astonishing

I remember reading a list published somewhere of the worst Catholic Saints. I usually just ignore such inflammatory claptrap (and unfailingly from the 'separated brethren, as we are now to call them) but one name jumped out at me, the name of today's saint: St. Christina the Astonishing.

I can understand why someone would be a bit startled by her story...after all, "astonishing' is right in her name. But I think she is a saint anyone would be proud to adopt as their patron.

St. Christina and her two sisters were orphaned when Christina was 15 years old. She was a pious girl and as the pious sometimes are wont to do, she didn't take very good care of herself. I think a lot of the pious just figure," oh well, I'm not going to have my body someday anyhow, why not just let it go."

When she was 22 years old Christina died, but during her own funeral, right after the Agnus Dei, she suddenly blew out of her coffin and flew up to the church rafters, which pretty much cleared the church except for the parish priest and her devoted sister, who stayed to try to talk her down. She refused to come down, however, because of the horrific smell of "human sin."

You see, while Christina was dead she was taken on a tour of hell where she saw many people she knew. Then she visited Purgatory and saw even more people she knew. And then, being a saint, she went to heaven, but was given the choice to come back to earth and suffer for the souls in purgatory to get some of them out.

Here's how Purgatory works, you stay there suffering horribly (but very happily because you are indeed going to heaven...you don't fall through a crack in the Purgatory floor and drop into hell) until your soul is cleansed. But you can get out sooner if people here on earth (we're called "the Church Militant") say special prayers for you or even better, take up some of the slack by suffering for you.

So back St. Christina came, right after the Agnus Dei, devoting her life to suffering for the souls there, but trying to stay away from everyone else here who smelled to her like rotting flesh. She balanced on fences and twiggy branches with the little birdies and stuffed herself into ovens and stood on rooftops.

She looked like a homeless person.

She is the patron saint of psychiatrists and people with psychiatric disorders. And outright loonies.

And don't you just feel that way sometimes? How many times have you said to yourself, "Am I crazy?" Wouldn't you like to balance on a fence somewhere instead of going into the office? Or crawl into the microwave at the office, if you could fit? Wouldn't you like to stay in your pajamas and walk around town? Doesn't everyone else just stink sometimes?

And aren't you just astonishing?

Celebrate the feast of St. Christina the Astonishing today. Continue on your astonishing path and risk being misunderstood.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Teddy Goes to Heaven...NOT!

I have received a communication from someone about my last essay. An irate "customer"! The letter had a heading on it, "Mysterious Ways", so I thought to myself, "here we go...someone is going to complain how rotten God has been to them because they have to go through life with frizzy hair and large pores and how I couldn't possibly understandwhy they refuse to be grateful they are alive ."

But no. This young woman was irate because we tossed the mouse over the convent wall! * I even learned some new words. Vegan, for example.

She seemed to think we should have had more respect for the lost life of the little fellow and even given him a proper burial! She included a picture of the money she wasted that could have gone to the poor on her own dead pet's tombstones!

Well, she will be getting a letter from me let me tell you! And she will learn a few new words! Immortal will be one.

Why did we not bury the dead mouse and pray over him for a happy trip to heaven? Because he's not going. Ever. We tossed him over the convent wall and into the alley because he's just as good as gravel in his current state.

Human beings go to heaven (or hell, or languish in Purgartory til their souls are perfect enough for heaven...they used to go to Limbo, but limbo is closed). They can do that because they have an immortal soul. Animals including your beloved "Rags" and our beloved "Teddy" (the convent cat) go nowhere at all. Worm food.


I know it's upsetting for some of you. I know you'd like to think your beloved dead pet is waiting for you in heaven. Tough luck. He's not. He didn't have an immortal soul and so when he died he ceased to exist. Poof.

Get hold of yourself now and let's think this through. If your little "Rags" gets to go to heaven then every dead animal that ever walked the planet should get to go. It's only fair. Every hippo and porcupine, every snake and lizard, all the alligators that ever lived, each and every mouse and rat, badgers, all the dinosaurs and mastadons, every parakeet and vulture...are you getting the picture? Every one that ever lived.

What? They don't get to go because they didn't have a special dish with their name printed on it? Logic tells us that if your little "Rags" got to go then so did every other furry, slimy, multilegged, roaring, barking, hissing creature. All the bleeding heart animal lovers who insist that all the animals be spayed and neutered to prevent overpopulation: Welcome to heaven!

Stop sniveling! If you get to heaven you can ask St. Rock if you can play with his dog. St. Rock had a dog who cared for him when he was ill on earth . When he got the heaven he looked around for his dog and was informed that there are no dogs in heaven (or dinosaurs or porcupines or owls). When St. Rock refused to enter the powers that be in heaven caved and let in St. Rock's dog. St. Rock is the patron saint of dogs and dog lovers. Maybe...and this is a real leap...maybe if you live a saintly life they'll let you bring your dog.

*see "Mysterious Ways"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mysterious Ways

There was funny smell in the convent last evening. We are not strangers to odd and sometimes unpleaseant odors eminating from Sister Mary Ficare, poor dear, but after careful inspection we discovered that she was 'clean', as they say on police programs.

Sister St. Aloysius and I had to spend more than an hour like two blood hounds on the trail of an escapee from the chain gang to trace the stench to the bedroom and at long last behind and under the night table. A dead mouse. Not even our glow-in-the-dark statue of Our Lady of Fatima had helped him.

Feeling no need to give the mouse a proper burial we flipped his carcass over the convent wall into the alley. Sister St. Aloysius, with her weak constitution and ES Syndrome* had to lie down. With SisterMary Fiacre already deemed immaculate, I had time to reflect.

We never have to worry about vermin at the convent. Health care costs, gas, food, the state of our immortal souls, yes. But we have a cat who takes care of one of our needs and sometimes leaves the evidence of his hard work as a gift.

Not the kind of gift anyone wants, but certainly something the cat was proud to give.

And isn't that the way God works? Not giving us something we would necessarily want, but letting us know that He is around, thinking of us.

Think of that the next time you bemoan the size of your nose, or any other things God gave you that you don't like, remember that, like our cat, His way is not our way.

*ES Sydrome: "Easily Startled"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hell on Wheels

Today's opportunity to suffer came from the weather which felt as though the sun had parked in our parking space outside the convent. We have just the one parking space because we have just the one car, a 1996 Toyota with 125,00 someodd miles on it from driving around performing corporal works of mercy. I'm the only driver as Sister St. Aloysuis is too nervous to drive and Sister Mary Fiacre can't tell the difference between her Lazy Boy and the highway.

Our car is "Mary" blue and the combination of the intense heat and the sky blue of Mary put me in a mind to think about Our Lady of Fatima, where the sun itself, the fires of hell and Mary all converge.

For the uninitiated, Fatima, Portugal, is a place where the Virgin Mary appeared to three peasant children. Not all Mary sightings are approved by the Catholic Church. The grilled cheese sandwich, no. Mary on a tree somewhere, nice try, but that's called bark. Mary on a Chicago underpass, the image made out of smog and goo....what do you think?

Fatima is approved with a capital "A". Mary had lots to say to the three peasant children. She tends to have a recurring theme when she appears to anyone, which is basically, "Jesus is very mad at everyone. He's pretty much up in heaven saying to me (Mary) 'hold me back! hold me back!' The only thing standing between you and Jesus' wrath is me. So straighten up. Pray the rosary. A lot. Then maybe, maybe Jesus will calm down."

That's pretty much the message of Fatima. To drive home what the stakes really are involving Jesus' wrath, Our Blessed Lady took the three peasant children on a visit to hell. (See what made me think of this? Mary blue, intense heat?) Now maybe you'd think twice about taking a 9 year old, a seven year old and a six year old to a movie rated "R" for violent content, but Our Blessed Mother saw fit to show these 3 dim bulbs what they were in for in graphic detail.

In hell, some mystic saints have told us, our flesh is continually burned and ripped from our bodies. The fire burns inside and outside the body as though the veins were pumping fire. Plus, there is psychological torture because you know you are stuck there forever. And you blew it. You had a chance to just say the rosary every day and stop swearing all the time and go to Mass on Sunday and quit thinking about S-E-X every second, but no. You skipped along drinking lattes and reading the paper on Sunday morning and screaming heaven knows what at the guy who cut you off. You lost your Rosary right after you got it for your First Communion in the second grade and you think sex is FUN. So there you are burning and tortured forever.

Mary didn't even have to pay for a ticket for the show for Lucia, Jacinta and little.....Pedro...or whatever his name was. She also informed Jacinta and little.....Juan..or whatever....that they weren't long for this world so they didn't have time to mess around getting their affairs in order. You can see that Mary was very kind to those two, giving them that heads up and all.

On her last visit Mary proved she really was appearing, even though no one but the peasant stock children could see her, by letting the sun drop from the sky, dance all around, yo-yo up and down and return to it's place. Better than a Spielberg movie. That sun dropping thing, that will get your attention.

We could use a dose of Mary's tough love today. But she doesn't like to repeat herself.

If you have any questions about Fatima or other Mary appearances feel free to ask!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Opportunity Knocks

This evening Sister St. Aloysius and I ventured out to the grocery store to take advantage of the triple coupon shopping days. We have to eke by on my meager teaching salary because it's all we have between the three of us left at the convent. Sister Mary Fiacre thinks it's 1952 and Sister St. Aloysius has a nervous condition that prevents her from teaching. It's called, "I'm terrified of the children in this classroom syndrome" or ITCCS.

I didn't realize that going to the grocery store could be such a grand opportunity to free souls from purgatory.

You see, any time you offer up your own suffering toward the plight of the poor souls being tortured by the hour* in purgatory, you help them get out sooner. Matching the coupons to the items on sale, making sure the coupons weren't expired, and buying the correct number and brand of items had to be worth 50 souls, easy.

Having Sister St. Aloysuis bash me in the ankles with the cart when I least suspected it, even though she managed to do it five or six times, another 50. Not telling her I'd like to tape her veil around her like a mummy with duct tape...at least ten.

This was all compounded by the loud and inane music, an inescapable auditory onslaught of Barry Manilow, Burt Bricabrac, Girls from Eponema, Going Round in Circles, ABC's, and many other tuneless mosquitoes that make any normal person want to jab kebobs from the meat department in their ears. Of course, we can't afford kebobs from the meat department, so I had another opportunity to free souls. Thousands of souls.

We also gave a young man in the store a grand opportunity to make a pious sacrifice with our full cart, folder full of coupons and express registers closed for the day. I did hear him praying to Our Lord, I think. Bless him.

*one hour in purgatory=sixty years earth time

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I'm not sure if I usually appreciate it when people make up words. The word 'blog', for example, unnecessary. "Online essays" would suffice. Also, the word 'blog' sounds like something my Polish grandmother made out of leftovers involving cabbage. What does a person mean by 'multitasking', except to say that they are very good at being very busy?

The other day I was telling my students the story of St. Sebastian because, as we are so often told by our current President, we are at war. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of soldiers. And little boys love his holy card.

He is also a really good example of how a saint becomes a patron saint of anything. We have patron saints for everything. Illnesses and phobias, career choices and vocations, every country even has it's own patron saint. Usually it is because the Saint had something to do with the situation for which one needs heavenly help.

St. Sebastian was a soldier, so it's a no-brainer that he is the patron saint of soldiers. He joined the army to evangelize the pagans in the ranks, so he is the patron saint of army chaplains. All you need to do is take a look at his holy card to see that he is also the patron saint of archers and archery. Since he was poked full of holes he is also the patron saint of pin makers.

The army hadn't taken well to his self appointed chaplain job, so they tied him to a tree and made him the patron saint of archers, archery and pin makers. St. Irene managed to get him out of there and nurse him back to health. That's how he became the patron saint of athletes, because his body was so strong.

Then St. Sebastian went back to give the army a piece of his mind about the whole event. So they clubbed him to death. He is not the patron saint of clubs or playing cards.

But he is the patron saint of plague victims. After he went to heaven he cured some people of the plague.

I'd say the word 'multi tasking' was invented for people like St. Sebastian. Also, the term 'target practise' .

Friday, July 07, 2006

Have a Sorrowful and Holy Friday

OH how very casual we've become in our prayers. Why just the other day I heard a young man who had tripped on the sidewalk shout, "Jesus Christ!" Although any time is a good time to pray, how odd to just shout our Our Lord's name like that.

Just when I was mulling this over it came to my attention that perhaps he wasn't praying at all, but taking the Lord's name in vain! How did it come to my attention you may ask? The Lord works in mysterious ways.

I was watching "Deal or No Deal" with the other two sisters in our house. There are only three of us left now. Sister Mary Fiacre who is 92 and doesn't know what she's watching, and Sister St. Aloyisus who prays the rosary during the program for the scantily clad briefcase toting models. As none of it tempts me to sin, I enjoy the show. In any case I am the only one paying attention, a role I've become accustomed to in and out of the covent walls.

Suddenly there came a commercial for a restaurant called "TGI Friday's" featuring young people gathered for whatever platter of food was on special that week. I could not make out what the TGI could have possible meant. "The Good Ingestion"? "Two Gallon Iced-tea"? "Twits Gather In here"?

The next day while reading the news on Catholic Online it occured to me to Google TGI.
I nearly fainted when I saw that TGI Friday, represented by beer swilling leering singles lacking even table manners, stood for "Thank God It's Friday"!

This is wrong on so many levels! Friday should always be a day of fast and penance, Vatican II not withstanding, because it's the day Our Lord died and after what a horrible day he had that day, it's the least we can do to go without a little once a week.

To make Friday of ALL days the day to gorge and guzzle with the mob from work! And then on top of that to have the audacity to actually THANK GOD for the opportunity, boggles the mind.

Here's what you need to thank God for besides your life and salvation: the fact that three Sisters are still around to pray your sorry soul out of purgatory. Well, two and a half. Sister Fiacre isn't with it enough to do that a lot of the time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Today is the feast day of St. Fermin.

You probably don't think you know who St. Fermin is or anything about him, but unless you've lived most of your life under a rock you really do know something about our saint of the day.

What happens every July 6th?

Here's a hint: Ernest Hemmingway. Hah! I bet you wished now that you had paid attention in English Class or read something besides the first three pages of "the Old Man and the Sea"!

Every year in Pamplona Spain a herd of bulls is loosed into the street where anyone fool hardy enough jumps out and runs with them, trying with all their might not to run under them. Or too closely in front of them. And every year people all over the world shake their heads wondering how on earth human beings came up with the idea to unlease long pointy horned hooved tonnage into the streets, let alone jump into the middle of all that weaponized cattle.

They got the idea in the 3rd century when St. Fermin met a martyr's death by having his feet tied to a bull which dragged him to death.

St. Fermin is so holy that the celebration of his blessedness goes on for 204 hours and includes chanting the St. Fermin chant (not sure what that is; perhaps 'please stop'), the running of the bulls in his honor, bullfights and sangria.

We can honor St. Fermin more safely by simply doing our duty. Perhaps someday there will be a festival in your honor based on how well you swept the driveway and set the table.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 5th A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Today is truly a day for mourning and penance. Today is the 60th anniversary of the invention of the bikini swim suit. That means for 60 years women of all ages (and body types!) have been leading men to sin on beaches and in magazines, on cruise ships and in Elvis movies ( a category of sin in itself).

Perhaps it has escaped some of you ho wmany sins you may be commiting by wearing a bikini swim suit.

Well, let's examine that. Obviously the first purpose would be to show off the body. You're body was not made by God to show off. It was made to work hard and make Catholic babies. Or for whatever else God wants to do with it. Sin one: Pride.

And WHY do you want to show it off? Why to be attractive to men of course. And just HOW are you going to attract them, with S-E-X. Enough said.

So that's a double sin on you: 1. your sin of wanting to tempt men and then when you meet your 'goal' 2. you are responsible for the sin you have caused in another. He's responsible too, but so are you, that's just the way it works. Sorry if you don't like it.

Now get this: each waggle of the hips for your sorry purpose is a sin, each long stroke of sun tan oil down your back for the 'lucky' boy you've chosen for the job is a sin, each bounce of whatever it is that is bouncing and shouldn't be as you run for the water is a sin. And each and every one of these sins is at least a double sin on you. If the beach is particularly crowded the numbers rival the amount of money spent on the Iraq war.

Yes, today is a day of penance and mourning. There's only three of us left here at the convent to pray for your immortal souls. You are going to have to pick up the slack.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

July 1st! or the Beach is the Back Alley of Sin

July 1st! or the Beach is the Back Alley of Sin

Yes, it's very tempting to wear very little on a hot day. But look at me! If I can do it , you can do it. Sure, you'll be uncomfortable. But ...what does all this heat remind us of?

The fires of hell and the suffering in Purgatory!

You can offer up you discomfort for the Poor Souls in Purgatory and stop boys from sinning all at the same time!

Think of the heavenly points you'll rack up for the Poor Souls in Puratory by keeping your arms and legs covered and away from the prying eyes of the weak and the wicked. Sure it's boiling hot. But it's boiling hot in Purgatory where time goes very slowly, too.

Just how slow does the time go in Purgatory you might ask?

St. Catherine had just spent the night at the bedside of a dying man. After he passed on she retreated to her cell to pray for his soul. She had been praying for a little while when the man appeared to her in flames. "Please blessed Catherine!" he begged. "Pray for me! I've been in Purgatory for 60 years!"

"I'm sorry sir," said the saint. "I don't know how to tell you this...but you've only been dead an hour!"

So there you have it: One hour in Purgatory=SIXTY YEARS!

and remember! you can offer up your own suffering by not going sleeveless in the boiling heat for the souls that are suffering in Purgatory right now! Or you can offer them up in advance for when you get there yourself. Ka-ching! (Although that would be pretty selfish and might land you another few hours there...hmmm a few hours....ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS! Better to just rely on the kindness of strangers to pray you out of there when it's YOUR TURN)

Have a blessed day!