About Me

My photo
Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Fiacres

Sister Mary Fiacre has been going to bed ever earlier, it seems. We think one of these days she'll just...well, you know. When I say 'going to bed', I don't mean to imply that she yawns and stretches and says, "oh my, I think I'll turn in." What actually happens is that she starts to nod off, then slowly falls forward. We put her to bed so she doesn't hit the floor. Then she's good to go until around 7 am. Which is perfect because it means I've had coffee before I have to wrestle her back up again.

Now that's she's safely ensconced for the day, I will confess I feel terrible. Tomorrow is her feast day! She comes from the very old Catholic tradition that your feast day is a bigger deal than your birthday. She won't know one way of the other what tomorrow is. I could tell her it's Christmas and sit her out in the hot sun with a parasol and dance the hula around her. Wouldn't matter one way or the other to her. Although the hula would make her smile. Anything with lots of movement makes her smile. We should take her to a Nascar race.

Let me tell you the little bit I know about Sister Mary Fiacre. She was still somewhat lucid six years ago when I first met her, but she was already just about to say goodbye to walking forever. Her legs seem very sturdy. In fact, she's very, well..... bottom heavy. Her thighs are especially large, but from the waist up she's a more normal size.

Why? Because the young woman who eventually became this old bird in the wheelchair was once a circus performer! Back when the circus was actually an exciting form of entertainment and not the creepy animal rights activist magnet it has become nowdays. She was an aerialist! She was the catcher! She entered the Big Top on an elephant!

I have always noticed that circus women have big thighs.

Anyway, all that hanging upside down by her knees and ankles have ruined her joints in her old age. It's that simple. She didn't have a dramatic fall while swinging by her teeth from a noose. Although, come to think of it, she is a little low on teeth.

So how did she go from the scantily clad swinger to grade school nun?

Her joints were already ailing her in her early twenties and one of the other performers suggested that she give up the trapeze and join his act and allow him to shoot her out of a cannon. She decided right then and there there had to be more to life than that.

She didn't go directly from potential human cannon ball to second grade nun and she hasn't fully elaborated on the journey. She has, however, waxed poetic about how fulfilling her life was teaching the second graders and preparing them for First Holy Communion.

I did have the opportunity to ask her how she came to choose St. Fiacre. It was simply that she saw her students are her own little garden.

Here's the story of St. Fiacre. He was really learned but wanted the solitude of being a monk. To escape his fans, he moved from Ireland to France. There he was given by the local bishop a tract of land. The bishop told him he could have as much land as he could turn over in one day. Fiacre walked around a huge area with his staff and whatever he pointed to turned over. Trees were uprooted even.

There he had the most fantastic vegetable garden. He grew healing herbs. His big fat miracle with the land drew hundreds of people to the monastery he built. He was a very famous healer. He healed everyone who came, but women were not allowed inside the monastery (normal practise of the time, not Fiacre being a pain).

Suddenly the story of St. Fiacre and Sister Mary Fiacre intersect. A woman who ignored the rule and entered the monastery became disoriented and lost her marbles. Her marbles were never returned to her.

St. Fiacre is also the patron saint of cab drivers (and...what you use Preparation H for. There really IS a patron saint for everything!) because in France cabs are called fiacres, not after the saint, but after the hotel that bears his name. The St. Fiacre Hotel was the first to have rented carriages.

Oh well. We still have that day old cake from yesterday. And the milar balloon with Winnie the Pooh. We can tell her it's St. Fiacre. Would that be a sin?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Infant of Prague

The store trip of the week is over. It was touch and go there for a while trying to get Sister Mary Fiacre out of the car. It was tempting to just leave her in there, but it's still pretty hot out and we didn't want to end up on the evening news.

We managed to save $70 by shopping with our coupons and buying only items that were on sale in the first place with them. That and the other items we bought on sale cut our bill in half and we had a moment of celebration by purchasing a day old cake. The checker thought it was for Sister Mary Fiacre and gave her a milar balloon with Winnie the Pooh on it. I'd love it if the milar balloons at the store had saints on them! Today would have been a good day for the Infant of Prague.

And so it is. We keep out little Infant of Prague statue in the kitchen so he's comfortable.

Look, we know it's a statue and it isn't comfortable or uncomfortable. We're not stupid. But the idea is to honor the Infant of Prague, so the the toasty kitchen it is. Luckily he has been on the refrigerator all this time and not the filthy stove.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Yes you do! You've seen this statue and pictures of it over and over. The ornately dressed little baby Jesus with a crown bigger than His head holdling the world in His chubby baby hand. He has many outfits, as though He was made by Mattel, and He changes clothes, wearing matching togs to match whatever Father wears at Mass each day: green for everyday, white for special occasions, purple for Lent, red for a martyr's day. Father never wears ermine, but the Infant does, on His collar.

The actual Infant of Prague was the wedding gift of a Spanish queen for her daughter who was marrying into the Czech royal family. The daughter passed it onto her daughter.

As long as the Czech people honored the Infant of Prague everything was hunky dory. But gradually people forgot about the little shrine in the cathedral. No doubt someone got sick of buying doll clothes and changing Him and dusting Him and the like. Prague was over run. By the Swedes. (Apparently before they invented Ikea they were more aggressive.) The Cathedral was in ruins.

Now there was one priest who especially cared for the Infant of Prague, and when the smoke cleared he dug through the rubble and found the statue. It was okay, but it's little hands hand cracked off. So the monk cleaned up the statue and put it in a place of honor again.

Then one day, while he was praying before the statue the priest heard a little voice saying, "give me my hands....." (This part always reminds me of the end of the movie, "The Fly".) The priest felt very bad that the Infant had lost His hands, so he had a whole new statue made.

The old statue kicked the new statue off the shelf. At least that's what I think happened, since the new statue was found smashed to bits and the old statue had no hands to push him off.

Then the priest had new hands put on the old statue and Prague has been fine ever since. More or less. Certainly, the Swedes turned their attention to "blomgort" end tables , how to make directions without using words and lingonberries.

So that's the deal. If you honor the Infant of Prague He will bring you stabilty. In particularly, financial stability. It's a pretty good deal. Notice the word "stability"....not rich, well off, cushy...just what you need. Which, by they way is also not your call. God will decide what you need.

Our Infant of Prague is not the fancy kind who comes with a box of changable outfits. It's just a little plastic guy. Really hard plastic, though. Nicely painted.

For one thing we have our hands full changing Sister Mary Fiacre. We don't need to be changing a doll. And besides, we can't afford the fancy kind.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Catholic Guilt

Wednesday is grocery shopping day around here. That's because we've clipped and filed the Sunday paper's coupons and matched them to the store's sales, which start on Wednesday. So today, in what little spare time we have, Sister St. Aloysuis and I went through the coupon file to throw out expired coupons and make sure we use the ones that are about to expire. The ones, as she puts it, that are on 'death row.'

I always feel a little bad when I throw out a coupon that I've clipped and never used. As though I'm somehow throwing away seventy cents ( if I throw out a thirty five cent coupon...because our store doubles). When I said this out loud, Sister St. Aloysius remarked, "Catholic guilt."

You might well imagine my queasy feeling when I hear this phrase, in no small part because on more than one occassion some grizzled middle-aged man or woman has approached me out of the blue, poking their gnarly fingers in my face and exclaiming, "You're responsible for my Catholic guilt!" I realized they don't mean me, personally. At least I think they don't. I think they mean some nun or nuns they had in grade school that I manifest to them. I think that because I've also had grizzled middle-aged people say to me, "You look like every nun I every had!"

Anyhow, it started me thinking...what IS Catholic guilt exactly. I googled it and came up with this: Catholic Guilt.

Oh well.

My first thought is the psychological effect the Cathechism has on youngsters when they discover that every thing they do is a sin.

Now I realize this isn't literally true, but look at it this way. When you go to public school (pathetic spiritually deprived) and you talk to your neighbor (the kid sitting next to you, for the spiritually deprived), you may get in trouble (or not, considering the state of things) but you were simply talking to your neighbor when you should be paying attention.
But in the Catholic school you are sinning against the fourth commandment. Not only do you know you're sinning, you even know which commandment you're breaking.

AND....if your neighbor is listening to you and giggling with you, you've sinned twice! Because you are responsible for the sins you've caused in others.

AND....if you're just waiting until Sister turns her back to talk to your neighbor but she never does turn around (because, believe me, she knows better than to turn her back on the likes of you!) you've sinned anyhow, because you fully intended to sin against the fourth commandment on the first opportunity you got.

That's one heaping pile of guilt.

I think there is more to it than that, however, once you become an adult.

But first I would like to hear your thoughts on how you would define Catholic guilt.

Please respond by Wednesday since I won't have time to read anything on store day. It's going to be quite a trip this week because we've decided to take Sister Mary Fiacre with us. We feel guiltly leaving her home.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

La, La, Lalalala Live for Today

Things can always be worse.

We all have our jobs to do.
Sister St. Aloysius and I split Sister Mary Fiacre duty, which is a vast array of mop ups, wipe downs and near misses, sprinkled with searches and chase scenes.

After that, we have our chores here at the convent that we split between the two of us. Yesterday I noticed the stove top, which is Sister St. Aloysius' assignment and always has been. (I clean out of the refrigerator and defrost. Yes, I said defrost, it's that old.) The stove top is absolutely filthy. Filthy! Since Sister St. Aloysius also does the cooking (I do the bathroom, an even trade, I think, for tedious chores), I haven't really looked at the stove top in I don't know when. Maybe last Thanksgiving when she asked me to stir something, at which point, who could even see the top of the stove with all the pots and pans and drippings and basters?

When I brought the amazing stove top to her attention she calmly explained that yes, indeed, it has not been cleaned. At all. Since she's been here. Four years.

After I squelched the urge to throw up, I asked her why that would be the case, four years of not touching the stove top. This is her explanation:

"Well, you know, before I entered the convent I had a brain tumor."

(Can I just stop here and remark....this explains SOOOO much.)

"It's really the reason I entered the convent. Because it made me think, 'what if this were the last day of my life? How would I want to spend it?' And I would never in a million years spend the last day of my life cleaning the stove top. Since I live each day as though it were my last, I never clean the stove."

I had to go sit down.

I prayed for the intercession of St. Therese, the patron saint of people who have to deal with the annoying habits of others, especially in places where you can't escape the person and their annoying habits.

I decided to clean the stove myself. Sister St. Aloysuis has agreed to actually clean the refrigerator as the situation with bacteria might kill Sister Mary Fiacre and myself if it goes unchecked. Somehow this logic does not apply to the stove top. I can't argue with it because it has, in fact, been four years and all three of us still live.

But I'll tell you what, it really made me rethink this idea that you should actually live each day as though it were your last. It seems like a really great concept. Sorting out the important from the unimportant, the monumental from the petty.

But in the real world, nothing would get done. I can't imagine what the bathrooms of the world would look like. ugh.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Olive Oyl in the Factory

When I was a little girl I really enjoyed Popeye and Olive Oyl. There was one cartoon in particular where Olive was working in a factory and got conked in the head. She was sleepwalking around the factory with dangerous choppers and slicers and swinging things whooshing just in front of her and behind her. Popeye is hit by every single thing while trying to rescue her until he eats his spinach and breaks everything in the factory to go get her.

(What a methaphor for life! As dangerous as it looked Olive never needed any help and Popeye broke everything for no reason. As we always told the second graders, "Mind your own garden.")
I feel like Olive Oyl in the factory on a daily basis. Driving Sister Mary Fiacre for her doctor's appointments and trying to keep her from bumbling out of the car at any moment while Sister St. Aloysuis gasps at every other vehicle on the road causing me to slam on the brakes every two feet while other driver's honk and commit sins in our direction, causing Sister St. Aloysuis to gasp again...you get the picture.

We lost Sister Mary Fiacre for a full two minutes at the entrance of the clinic until the valet returned her. Apparently she had somehow gotten back in the car. Remarkable for a woman who can't walk. Eating her spinach, I guess.

And yet, I don't worry. I leave it all up to my guardian angel.

It is one of the tenets of the Catholic church that every single person has a guardian angel, even Saddam Hussein and Tom Cruise, whose angels are very embarassed for them.

Your guardian angel is there to guide and protect you. I'm not sure how that works, with free will and all. Maybe they somehow guide you so that things that aren't supposed to happen to
you don't happen. Like Olive Oyl in the factory.

Some people become so enamoured at the idea of a guardian angel that they give their angel a name. I believe Bishop Fultion Sheen called his 'Fred."

Now far be it from me to admonish Bishop Fulton Sheen, who is up for sainthood, but you can't name an angel 'Fred'.

Angels are not human. They are not dead people living in heaven who have been reassigned to earthly duty. That's "It's a Wonderful Life", not reality. Angels are some other entity all together. No sex is involved.

If you want to name your angel, give him a nice gender neutral name. (Him is gender neutral in this sentence structure. Look it up.)

Yes, I know there are famous angels with the names Michael and Rapheal. God named them. You're not God.

Whatever you name your angel, be at peace in the knowledge that you won't be flattened by a steamroller or break your leg (unless God wills it) with your angel ever vilgilant.

Unless there is another War in Heaven. This worries me constantly now, since Sister St. Aloysius pointed out to me that the angels did have a war once in heaven. There is no guarantee that war couldn't break out in heaven at any time. Then our angels might be called up, like grandmothers to Iraq.

If that happens, we may lose Sister Mary Fiacre for good one of these days.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Just Eat the Chocolate

It's happened again. The Virgin Mary has appeared on some more food.

The Catholic Church will not comment.

I'm all for finding inspiration where ever one can. I've never understood, for example, why the lesser faiths...I mean...separated brethran... dumped the saints, except for a couple of really big ones like John or Peter to name a church after. Why wouldn't you want to read about and follow the example of the people who managed to get it right? What's so wrong about being reminded of them by looking at a statue or a holy card? It's especially inspiring because the holy card artists make them much prettier on the holy card than they ever were in real live. If you don't believe me get a load of the real St. Catherine LaBourre sometime. Whew! Not surprising she became a nun! She's really pretty on her holy card though, just like how she looks in heaven where she doesn't even have to be air-brushed. oh well....

Where was I? Oh yes, Mary on food. Actually this time she isn't ON food...like the grilled cheese sandwich. She IS the food. Apparently some chocolate making machine dripped out a little Mary statue in chocolate. Not on purpose. This is just some drippings that globbed out next to the machine and the workers thought it looked like Mary. I think it looks like an owl.

The Catholic church really doesn't like this type of thing. It's kind of demeaning. People joke about it, the sandwich ends up in Vegas. Nothing good can come out of it.

In Chicago not long ago, oozy gooey freeway drippings formed a Mary image in a underpass on the expressway that stopped traffic for weeks until the city, in an effort to dissipate the crowd, washed it off. It came back, which seemed to only inspire the faithful all the more that it was some holy sign.

It was lime.

A year or two back Mary seemed to appear in the bark of a tree in the parking lot outside the General Mills plant where they make Count Chocula cereal.

It's just not right.

The church is only interested if it's really Mary and she shows up in a respectable way and says venerable stuff that doesn't negate any of the church's teachings. It's hard to do that from a luncheon platter, or from behind the chocolate machine. If we get lax here, think of the horrific things people could start seeing Mary in. I shudder to think.

And yet...if it gives someone pause, or hope, who am I to be the wet blanket of Mary sightings?
I draw the line if someone takes it as a 'sign'. When the sun spins out of the sky, or a healing spring pops up, or she shows you a vision of hell, there's your sign.

Anything else is a glob of half melted chocolate or tree bark or lime stains.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Where is St. Patrick when you need him?

If you're one of those people who wants to yammer about how there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with, please keep it to yourself. You're about as much fun as the person that sits behind you in the movie pointing out how this and that could 'never happen'.

By the way, the next time that happens to you, you have my permission to turn around and say to the yammerer, "Martha and Mary didn't think Lazarus could rise from the dead either." That will frost their cookies.

I digress.

Seeing promotions for this upcoming film, "Snakes on a Plane", put me in a mind to think about St. Patrick and the age old fight of religion and science, which is a bogus as the premise of this movie.

Yes, we had a little trouble with Galileo, but the Holy Father apologized to him just a couple of years ago. I'm sure the whole Galileo family breathed a sigh of relief.

The story goes that St. Patrick drove all the snakes in Ireland into the sea. We realize that never happened. How do we know that never happened? Because the last snake argued with St. Patrick until St. Patrick tricked the snake into going into a box. Talking snakes were out after the Garden of Eden. So we get it, okay?

Snakes were never in Ireland because it's an island. Even if there HAD been snakes at some point who came there before it turned into an island, they all froze in the ice age with no help at all from St. Patrick.

Like the story of the Garden of Eden, the story is a metaphor. Was there one man named Adam who ate an apple and brought sin into to the world? No. Was there even a garden? Apparently not, because the dinosaurs would have eaten it.

What does the story tell us? That we were sin free until someone sinned. Then God promised a Messiah to save us from sin. For some reason he let millions of years pass before he sent the Messiah, during which everyone went to Limbo until Jesus opened the gates of heaven.

Which is why you should also calm down about Armageddon. God seems to let millions of years pass between Messiah comings and goings. It's only been 2006 years, so there's a long way to go. Just be good and mind your own business.

So what's up with St. Patrick? He drove all the pagans out of Ireland. It's a metaphor for snakey pagans. Snakey, snakey pagans.

Take St. Patrick with you to the film.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I believe I have mentioned before that the three of us here at the convent, Sister St. Aloysius, Sister Mary Fiacre and I, watch CNN so we know what to pray for. Mostly that's a no-brainer, what with the war...s, plural: ones with bombs and ones in the ether like 'the war on terror'.

But today during our lunch we happened to see this item. I'm not sure you can watch it without sinning as it might lead you to impure thoughts...ones you don't even want to have, for a change. I'm certain there will at least be a near occassion of sin involved, so please say some Hail Mary's while you look into this:

I'll wait here.

Unintentionally Filthy Naked People

Now this hasn't happened yet. But let me tell you that some people, people with SISTER in their title will certainly never fly again!

Not that we fly all that much. Pretty much just to an assignment if we're reassigned, and even then we usually drive in an old Toyota.

But after this, we'll walk across the country if we have to!

"Oh Sister," you say. "This is exactly why they need to profile people. Then Grandma's and nuns won't have to suffer this indignity."

Well, I have news for you. There are so few nuns around anymore that just about everywhere I go little children ask me if I'm with the Taliban. So who do you think is going to be suddenly naked on screen at the airport? The woman with the big black veil, that's who.

I created a Slide Show! Check it out!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Today Sister Saint Aloysius and I were going through the couch cushions and coat pockets and everywhere else we could think of looking for loose change. Money is tight at the convent even though Sister Mary Fiacre doesn't eat much. Truth be told she eats like a horse, we just don't feed her much. Lets' face it, she doesn't need the fuel. She would continue eating as long as there is food in front of her.

Anyhow, this being Sunday, we were looking for a little money with which to tithe, when I ran across a medal in a box on the shelf. I had forgotten that we ever had such a thing, but here it is. The pagan baby medal. You can see the Pope himself blessing two former pagans right on there. Don't they all look happy? And so well groomed. We used to give these to the children whenever they bought a pagan baby.

All the children would put their loose change in a can on Sister's desk. Each pagan baby cost five dollars. When we got five dollars the children would pick a name for the pagan baby, send the five dollars to the priest at the mission who would snatch the baby from an eternity of suffering and baptize it with the name we sent along. Then we got a certificate and the children got a medal. All for $5. Sally Struthers, eat your heart out.

I've lost count of how many pagan babies we have purchased from the jaws of hell over the years. Roughly ten each year in each class room, 3 classrooms to a grade level (during the baby boom), first through eighth grades (the kindegarteners used their nickels for milk, the older kids can get rickets and offer it up). I might need a slide rule here.....if each classroom was saving at least ten pagan babies, then our school alone would have grabbed 240 little souls away from an eternal life with Mr. Satan, (formerly St. Lucifer). Over how many years? I've lost track. And at how many Catholic schools across the country or even the world? Mind boggling.

But that's a boat load of pagan babies. We may have run out of names. We may have had pagan babies named "Chip" and "Jessica" or "Smiley".

I got to thinking about all those former pagan babies when it struck me! We need to have a pagan baby reunion! I did meet an actual former pagan baby once. He had become a priest, so the system really, really worked.

So tell everyone! Log in here at Sister Mary Martha and make yourselves known. We know you're out there! We'll have a party! We'll have cake..........unless Sister Mary Fiacre gets her mitts into it. She'll eat the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Alright where was I? Distracted by Mel Gibson, the possiblity of war in heaven, Fidel Castro's intestines, I've dropped the ball in the story of Mary.

So what do we know so far: No one prays TO Mary, we ask her to pray for us, just like we would ask anyone and everyone to pray for us. Her life story is told while saying the rosary.

Well, not all of her life story. I think I've mentioned Tradition with a capital "T". These are things that are not found in the New Testament in black and white, but things that we accept as true because logic dictates they are true. The Immaculate Conception is one of those things. Mary must have been conceived without the stain of original sin on her soul or she would have passed original sin onto Jesus. That can't be right. So Mary never had original sin. Voila! It stands to reason.

Somehow the story of Mary's parents made it into the archives, too. I have mentioned the story is found in the gnostic gospels which has buckets of information that is simply not to be believed, the killer baby Jesus stories, Mary Magdelene as the lover of Jesus (imagine the look on my face as I type that!)...the list goes on.

But out of the gnostic gospels we find the names of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, an old childless couple. One day when Joachim went to the temple, the rabbi gave him an earful about being childless and Joachim is so embarrassed that he ran off to live in a cave. Anne is at home crying her eyes out about the whole mess. This goes on for quite a while.

Then an angel came to each of them. I'm not sure if it's the same angel, or two angels came or it's Gabriel running all around or what. In the New Testament, which we do take as gospel (pardon the pun), in one story there are two angels at the tomb waiting for the apostles after Jesus has risen, in another one there is one, and in a third there are none at all. Oh well. He rose. Anyhow the angel informed Joachim and Anne that they will have a baby.

Anne is so excited she made a promise to dedicate the child to God. Joachim rushed home. They met tearfully at the gates of the city. It would make a great movie of the week.

When Mary is born, Anne never lets the child's feet touch the ground for three years. When Mary is three her parents take her to the temple where she becomes a temple virgin and learns to sew and weave. That's the last we hear about Joachim and Anne.

Anne is a pretty celebrated Saint in the Catholic church. Joachim...not so much. Maybe because too many people would confuse him with Mary's husband, Joseph. Maybe because we felt sorrier for Anne in the first place what with Joachim embarrassing her by running off that way, so there she sat barren and abandoned. Or maybe we just like the idea that Anne was so thrilled with her daughter that she lugged Mary around for three years. I wonder how Mary learned to walk. She had to have learned to walk. You couldn't get by without walking back then, and she did follow Jesus all around....hmmm.

Now there comes a point where Mary can't be in the temple anymore at that certain age where girls become women. She's pledged to remain a virgin, but she can't live at the temple. What to do? The temple elders gather up all the eligible bachelors in town, young and old. They each have to put their staff in a pile. Joseph, an old guy, wins when his staff miraculously grows a rose.

Joseph has the same reaction a person has when they go to a Tupperware Party and win the big prize, which is that YOU have throw the next Tupperware Party (how do they get away with that?). Marry the girl that has to remain a virgin? No, thank you.

But an angel comes and tells him, "Look just go along with this, here." Not sure which angel, a new one, one of the Joachim and Anne ones, Gabriel... Anyhow he goes along with the plan.The angel must not have told him the whole plan, though, because he's not happy about it, it seems. He leaves his very young wife alone for a long time while he goes far away to 'work'. (I guess he had to go get some trees or something.) When he returns she is pregnant. He must have felt like such a sucker! Not to mention old and unwanted. I'm sure there must have been some shouting.

Back goes the angel to explain further. At this point everyone is finally on the same page. And this is where the New Testament picks up the story, when a very pregnant Mary has to travel with her husband to Bethlehem.

There is no historical evidence of any of this until we find the couple on their way to Bethlehem. But it all makes sense.

St. Ann is the patron saint of Grandmothers and mothers.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The War in Heaven

On an average day, it is Sister St. Aloysius who is in a dither. She's a bit of a nervous Nelly, easily startled, bug-eyed little thing. Now she' got me in a dither with a question I can't answer! Perhaps our dear readers will have some theories to share.

Here's what happened. We were watching CNN That way we know exactly what to pray for. The news is so terrible about the MidEast Crisis that I believe I must have said something like, "I pray that there is a day with no war...of course...the only place that will ever happen is when we are all in heaven. Ha ha."

And Sister St. Aloysius said, "Sister Mary Martha, there was a war in heaven, too."

Now right away you want to just pretend you didn't hear that. I can see the goose bumps rising on her wrist (her arms are covered). She could be in a swoon within the next ten minutes.

But she is correct. There was a war in heaven. That's how we got Satan.

You remember the story there. Heaven is a happy place with God and his angels when suddenly one day Lucifer, the biggest, prettiest, most favorite angel decides that since he is so big and pretty, why should he be worshipping God. He decides he could run heaven, or whatever, just as well as God.

A big fight breaks out between Lucifer and his minions, and St. Michael the Archangel and his army. Lucifer loses. God invents Hell and throws Lucifer and the losers into it.

They've been mad as you know what ever since and can't stop picking on everybody.

So I said to Sister St. Aloysius, "Oh dear, that was a long long time ago. All the bad people and angels were cleared out of heaven and it's a happy, happy place now."

And she said, "Yes, but what's to stop it from happening again? If it happened once, it could happen again."


I can't really argue with that, can you?

It happened because Lucifer/Satan had free will in heaven. So does everybody there. So.....

Sister St. Aloysius and I are having some herbal tea. We've turned off Wolf Blizter. We're praying to St. Michael.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Killer Baby Jesus

I was going to start on Mary's life story today but I've been sidetracked again, this time by one of our 'guests' here on the blog. (I really don't care for that word, blog. Besides the fact that it's made up, it really sounds like something my grandmother would make us eat.) "Christopher" has visited us a couple of times and it turns out he has a blog of his own. He mentioned that he had an "all religion" day on his blog and my curiosity got the better of me.

Low and behold! What do I see! A link to an article about some tiles in England depicting looney stories about the life of Jesus as a child! (I am as amazed that I know what a 'link' is and how to use it as I am to find these killer baby Jesus stories!)

At first I didn't want to say anything to any of you, lest you see it and be corrupted. But as I thought it over I decided you should have a gander at it so you can put these types of things out of your mind. "Christopher" has done us a service: http://top5daily.blogspot.com

Go have a look. I'll wait here.

Before anyone decides that since someone put it on a tile it MUST be true, let me tell you I know all about the killer baby Jesus stories. You don't have to rely on some tiles from the 14th century to read them. You can google "The Gospel of Thomas". (That's right, I said Google. Imagine the look on my face as I say this. Blog, link and google. What's the world coming to?)

The New Testament as we know it today was sealed in cement in the 4th century at the Council of Nicaea. We put in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. There was a really big argument about the Apocalypse stuff. A lot of people wanted to leave that out because they thought it would confuse people.

(Were THEY ever right! Why just yesterday I had to listen to stupid Paula Zahn ask with a straight face, "Is THIS Armageddon?" The answer is NO, Paula. .......Forgive me for calling you stupid. You're remarks are stupid. I don't even know you. Where was I?)

That stuff went in and everything else was out. A lot of other 'testaments' were around by then, 300 years after the fact. So many crazy stories and fake gospels were floating around we decided to put a lid on it. The Gospel of Thomas is the perfect example of what type of thing got thrown out and why.

See, in the Gospel of Thomas, little Jesus is God, but also a little boy and doesn't know how to use His 'powers' yet. (Superboy could handle his, but according to Thomas, Jesus Christ the Son of God was a train wreck.) For example, little Jesus is playing in a puddle when another child bumps into Him. Jesus strikes the child dead. The adults scream, "Jesus! Don't do that!" So Jesus, apparently begrudgingly, brings the child back to life. I say 'apparently' because as the child walks away Jesus throws a look over His shoulder and strikes the child lame!

This type of thing goes on all through Jesus' childhood to the point where the people in the town are begging the Holy Family, "Pllllleeeeeeease mooooooove........"

My favorite killer Jesus story is the last one. Some children are playing on a rooftop. Jesus is no where near them. One of the children falls off the roof and lands, splat, dead. Jesus, with His horrible rap sheet and His frightening MO, is blamed. So Jesus brings the child back to life, not because He is the loving Jesus, Son of God, but so the child can tell everyone that Jesus didn't do it.

Let's roll our eyes together, shall we?

On top of the fact that the stories are silly and outrageous, they were written more than a hundred years after Jesus (having died young) or the apostles walked the earth. So this whole mess was tossed.

But...the thing is....a lot of the story of Mary comes from these same gospels that were thrown out. The Mary stories have become what we call Sacred Tradition. When the church uses the word tradition with a capital "T" it means they want you to pay attention.

So yes, to the story of Mary, no to killer baby Jesus.

As for "Christopher" the jury is out. He does seem to question "the rapture", and that's a very good thing.

Knock Wood

Sister St. Aloysius has organzied a rosary party to pray for the downfall of Cuba. We're very excited although we haven't picked the mysteries for it yet. I say, go for broke and do them all! It's also up to her to pick the Mary statue she'd like at the party. I vote for Fatima, the obvious choice against Godless communism. Sister St. Aloysius is so excited, she had to go lie down.

I promised I'd tell you the life story of Mary and I realized that the best way to do that is to use the rosary, her very special prayer, which is also the story of her life.

Again, for the separated brethren, which is how we refer to the lesser faiths since Vatican II (somebody PLEASE tell Mel Gibson), maybe we should first explain what's the deal with those beads.

WHAT IS THE ROSARY? (and if you need one click here)

You've all seen people with their beads clacking and their lips moving and wondered...."HUH?"*

The rosary is a meditative prayer. Mediative, as in chanting and meditation and "oooooohhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm." Except instead of emptying the mind we fill it with thoughts on the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of his mother.

Hail Mary after Hail Mary.

How did we come up with this thing? Way back when, monks had to 150 "Our Fathers" every day. It was hard to keep count. So they put 150 rocks in their pockets, walked around in a circle and dropped a rock out of their pocket for each Our Father until their pockets were empty. Then they would go drink beer. (They invented beer. I think they had the old Egyptian recipe.) I guess the nuns picked up all the rocks. Somebody had to. We didn't complain.

One of those Einsteins put those rocks on a string.

Somewhere in there the Hail Mary was invented. It's a really old prayer. It used to be just the first part: Hail Mary (which is a Roman expression of honor) full of grace, the Lord is with thee. (that's what the angel Gabriel said to Mary when he told her the big news of her impeding motherhood.) Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb. (This is what Mary's cousin Elizabeth ...who was John the Baptisi's mom...said to Mary when they got together for a visit. Then they added "Jesus"...they added that to the prayer later so everyone would know who we were talking about.

So that was the whole prayer for a long time: Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus. The end.

Then there was this big heresy going around that maybe Jesus wasn't God when he was born. Maybe he 'grew into it'. And when that heresy was finally put to rest for good, the people were so happy took to the streets, like the expatriate Cubans in Little Havana after they heard Castro was really sick, shouting, "Holy Mary Mother of God!"

So that's the next line of the prayer.

Now as long as you've got her attention you may as well ask for something so the last part is: Pray for us (notice for the millionth time we are not praying TO her) sinners, now at at the hour of our death. Amen.

That's Mary's prayer that we say 50 times while saying the rosary. But to get to the 150 prayers of the old monks we have to go around the rosary 3 times, which is what you're supposed to do but everyone's lazy and they don't. They're lucky to get through it once without answering their cell phones.

During all of this you'll be lost in thought over incidents in the life of Mary that we've divided into three easy parts: The Joyous Mysteries (happy times in the life of Mary with Jesus, like his births and whatnot), The Sorrowful Mysteries (you can figure that out, can't you?), and the Glorious Mysteries (the highly unusual events, like Jesus ascending into heaven, rising from the dead...but in the right order). There are 5 events in each set of mysteries.

And since you're too busy to go through all three sets in a sitting, we've divided it up for you over the course of the week so you still have time for a frappacino. (Please imagine the expression on my face as I say that.)

Joyous Mysteries on Mondays and Wednesdays, Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, Glorious on Thursdays and Sundays. The schedule changes during Lent adding another Sorrowful Day, and during Advent adding another Joyful day.

But then a couple of years ago the Pope added a fourth set of mysteries called, 'The Mysteries of Light!" That moves the whole schedule over and puts the Mysteries of Light every Thursday.
If you're confused just remember "Luminous Mysteries Thursdays" instead of Seinfeld.

I think this schedule might be what put Sister Mary Fiacre over the edge and reduced her to the mumbling state she's now in. I have a large chart on the kitchen chalkboard right below the grocery list to keep it straight for myself. Sister St. Aloysius has it memorized.

*The expression "knock wood" came from the days of religious persecution in Ireland. People would warn each other to stop praying so as not to get caught and maybe even killed by clacking their rosary beads together. No wonder 'knock wood' comes before good luck.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So Sorry for Fidel

I remember when the feds broke into that house in Little Havana and dragged little Elian Gonzales away from his new life in Disneyland. I was completely distracted from the human tragedy ( for which much penance was in order) byinterior of the house where little Elian was holed up. Like a religious version of Marth Stewart, I may have been the only person to notice that there were Mary statues sticking out of everything. They were under the bed, on the shelves, poking out of the toy box, all over the walls.

I thought of it today as again I was distracted as I watched the people in Little Havana. They were cheering, to put it mildly, the illness and possibility of death of Fidel Castro.

Let me say, that even though Mr. Castro is a monster who may roast in hell forever*, we don't get to cheer about it.

But what distracted me this time is his illness: Divericulitis. Or diverticulosis. One or the other, one's acute, the other is chronic. His must have been acute, hence the surgery.

It appears, like many people who were tortured to death, Castro had a hunk of his intestine removed. If he's lucky, they've reattached his intestines back together where the hunk was removed, remaking it into a continuous tube. If he's unlucky, that won't work and so his intestines won't work either and he'll have to wear a bag forever. You won't want your nose anywhere near what happens when that bag is emptied.

My ears perked when I heard of his diagnosis because I can't tell you how many people I know with this intestinal problem. If digestive disorders were a fashion, diverticulitis would be on "Project Runway."

Poor old Sister Mary Fiacre is a sufferer. Her doctor tells us that what she eats doesn't matter. "Really?" I say. "It doesn't matter what a person with a digestive disorder eats.?"Okay.
Whatever else we have trouble getting Sister Fiacre to do, eating is not an issue. Sometimes while I feed her I like to sing that song, "There was an old lady who swallowed a cow, she swallowed the cow to catch the dog, she swallowed the dog to catch the cat, she swallowed the cat to catch the bird, she swallowed the bird to catch the spider, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly but I don't know why she swallowed the fly...perhaps she'll....not be bothered with her diverticulitis today...."

Once in a while she has to be hospitalized and pumped full of antibiotics, but it's not from anything she ate. It's because what she ate got stuck in her intestines and got infected. No one in Little Havana cheers .

I realize that it is as difficult to pray for a man like Fidel Castro as it is to change someone's colostomy bag, but we must hold our noses and do just that. Not for his swift recovery and freedom from pain...he can just offer that up. We must pray for his immortal soul. If he says he's sorry before he dies, he might stay out of hell. Keeping people out of hell is our whole job here at the convent.

Communism has been mostly irradicated in the world. It's been stuck in Cuba for two generations like an errant strawberry seed in Sister Mary Fiacre's intestine.

Maybe that hunk of communism is about to finally be removed. If only the hospital were full of Mary statues.

*The Catholic church never ever says one is in hell. The worst monster may have had an epiphany at the moment of their death and thought, "What was I thinking?!!" It doesn't look good for Fidel Castro, however, as he attended Jesuit school as a boy and knows better.

Meet the Parent

I only met Sister Mary Fiacre about five years ago. She still spoke a lot back then and some of what she said actually made sense. She told me back then why she chose St. Fiacre as her namesake. Her beloved grandfather was a cab driver and St. Fiacre is the patron saint of cabdrivers. (It's even the French nickname for cabs. Ironically, he is also the patron saint of the problem people get when they sit on cold cement all day which I am loathe to mention but which has in common a common root found in the word "asteroid." Sister Mary Fiacre sits all day. Perhaps her choice of patron was visionary.)

I mention this because I feel like I know Sister Mary Fiacre quite well, even though I don't know the hard cold facts of her life.

We don't meet the Blessed Mother all that much in the New Testament. She is mentioned a handful of times: A story or three about Jesus as a child, the wedding at Canaan, at the foot of the cross...there are a few more, not much.

How did we get so wild about Mary? We do love her especially. What's not to love?

Ever notice that she's always in blue? And she always wears that big drapey outfit? That's no accident. She could have appeared to Bernadette in a smart Chanel suit. She didn't.

Way back when the official way to adopt a child, right in the court room, was to drape your cloak around the child. That was the sign to everyone that the child was now yours.

Blue is the color of the sky which is over all of us.

Mary's blue cloak is a sign that she adopts us all. Even the separated brethren and Paris Hilton.

Isn't that nice? Come on...lighten up...it's really nice. It's a comfort.

In 1830 Mary appeared to a little nun named Catherine Labourre and showed Catherine a vision of a medal Mary wanted Catherine to make. Catherine got that done and so many miracles happened to people wearing the medal it became known as the "Miraculous Medal."

But think this over! Mary showed Catherine the medal...which means....the medal is a self portrait of Mary! There she is in her big blue robe adopting away. AND... bonus!...light is pouring out of her hands. That's grace flowing out of her to us.

Even the separated brethren and Paris Hilton have to love that! Mary appeared to Catherine in Paris, by the way.

We'll have to talk more about Mary's visit to Catherine in Paris, because like virtually all of Mary's appearances, she involves herself in world politics when she arrives. When she gave Catherine the medal, she had a larger agenda. But we'll talk about that later.

We didn't know a lot about Mary, but we have come to know her over all these years, even her political leanings. Tomorrow we'll take a look at Mary's life. But for today wrap yourself in the big blue robe and if it's still really hot where you live, offer it up.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mary is Under Mel

Don't get lost, little sheep. Today's essay is underneath Mel Gibson because I wrote it first. Then "the Patriot" went careening down PCH and I felt I had to address the latest news.

So go down under Mel and you'll find, "What's the Deal with Mary?" Which is today's post.

As always, questions are welcome.
Sister Mary Martha