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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

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.

15 comments:

dairylandiva said...

Yo Sista!

Why is the one symbol/painting called the Infant of Prague?

Askinstoo said...

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Sister Mary Martha said...

Miss Diva, It's call the Infant of Prague because it's a statue of the Baby (infant) Jesus and it resides in Prague. It's really not rocket science.

One of these days I'll tell the story of the infant of Prague.

Mr. Askinstoo,
I'm not allowed to make "extra cash". You are encouraged, however, to make donations to retired nuns. Retired nuns do not receive social security and are in dire need. Take that extra $900 you make and give it to your favorite order. Perhaps the ones who taught you as a child.

Christopher said...

Some building in Prague fell down and the only thing not damaged was a statue of Jesus wearing a weird king outfit.

Looks like your "blog" has finally got some "spam" in it.

Conger said...

Hey Sister,
I've had to answer a lot of questions about the Holy Mother - thank God for Scott Hahn's book Hail Holy Queen - but I still get boggled down answering why ask her or any of the saints to intercede on our behalf for that matter. Why not go straight to the God? a) He already knows what you need and b) You’ve already asked so why do you need more than one person praying for you?
I answered by stating the obvious, its like asking your congregation to pray for you, but one separated sister replied by saying she doesn’t ask anyone to pray for her she simply asks God. I thought that was sad and pray for her anyway.

Love your on-line essay.

Andrew

Christopher said...

If "original sin" is passed from one generation to the next, and Jesus didn't get it from Mary, then, logically, Mary's parents would've had to have been free of sin. And their parents, and so on. Eventually we would end up all the way back with Adam and Eve who we know were the original sinners.

Something about this theory doesn't make any sense.

Sister Mary Martha said...

I can see I'm going to have to explain all about the Infant of Prague. There is a 'building' involved, a Spanish Queen, some very pretty doll clothes, financial stablity, missing hands, a dedicated priest...a war...

On to Mary.

First, The Immaculate Conception, while we're still with Christopher, was one of God's miracles, that's why it's only Mary. Duh.
Even though she had the choice to say no to the angel Gabriel, God knew she wouldn't...she could have..but God knew..don't think about it too much, your head will explode.

That's why they call it a "Sacred Mystery". "Sacred Mystery" is "Catholic" for "let it go."

Conger,
That poor arrogant woman. Who does she think she's going to be in heaven with? Just she and God I suppose.

Oh well, The Pope would be the first person to tell her, fine, just pray to God, not a problem.

I wonder if SHE ever prays for anyone else? That would be a good question to ask her.

Christopher said...

Why didn't God just "miraculously" make Jesus free of sin and leave Mary out of the equation?

I think there is some question about Joseph going off to get wood. Tektwn, the word used to describe Joseph's profession,
has most popularly been translated to "carpenter," but it also can be read to mean stonemason, craftsman, or general contractor.

If Joseph was a buider he was probably working in stone. Anyone that has seen The Life of Brian can tell you those people lived in stone buildings.

However, there is some evidence in the bible that Joseph worked with wood, making yokes and ploughs for farming.

All of this makes me wonder how modern people can believe in the literal truth of the bible. When we can't be 100% sure of the meaning of one simple word, it must surely call into doubt the meaning of the entire thing.

Sister Mary Martha said...

That's the "Sacred Mystery" part, Christopher. And what do we mean by "Sacred Mystery" did I tell you? Anyhow, we have Mary's word for it. She went around calling herself "the Immaculate Conception:, once in 1830 as part of her self portrait on the Miraculous Medal (it says right on there "oh Mary, concieved without sin, etc. etc.") and to Bernadette at Lourdes, by way of introduction.

Joseph's work with stone is reflected in his patronage and ability to buy and sell real estate. You know if you are selling a house you bury statue of St. Joseph in the front yard...there are rules, not any which way...and the house will be gone in a snap. If you have a condo a flower pot will do.

One of the great joys of being Catholic is that you don't take the Bible literally in the first place. So you can breathe a sigh of relief there.

EC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EC said...

Sorry, had a typo. Can I ask a burning question I have wondered since I was a little kid? Where did the dinosaurs sit on the Ark?

Sister Mary Martha said...

Noah's Ark, like Adam and Eve, is just a story. I hope everyone stops looking for the thing.

One of the great things about being Catholic, as I mentioned to Christopher, is that you don't have to take the Bible literally, exept that it is the word of God, who was a FABULOUS story teller.

Jesus really took after him.

EC said...

Really? Here I thought it was suppose to be true. I think I like Catholicism (sorry if I wrote that wrong) even more!

What about Adam and Eve? I mean, does that mean we can't blame Adam/men for weeds anymore?

Sister Mary Martha said...

Everything in the Bible is true. Some of it didn't happen.

Weeds? Men? Men are responsible for weeds? I'm not sure to what addled idea you're referring.

Christopher said...

I don't remember anything about weeds either. I do remember that god made the snake to crawl on its belly, and the snake was like, "Big whoop. I already don't have any freaking legs."