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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've been pleased to find that some readers have put links to the 'convent' here on their blogs and that some people have seen fit to actually quote some of my ramblings. I'll have to do penance later.

In one such mention, the blogger noticed that although the title is "Ask Sister Mary Martha", there usually aren't questions being asked.

True enough. When I began I thought I would simply be flooded which questions as I am when I do speaking engagements (I do that sometimes and I am absolutely flooded with questions) and that I would never have to think about what I might address on any given day here in cyberspace. But that didn't happen. I have no problem yammering away anyhow.

I do like to read the blogs of others, especially those of my readers and I ran across this one (Sunday Nov. 19). I think she touches on some very interesting points about money and church and I'll leave you all to ponder on your own about all of that.

But near the end there in her essay are a series of questions I feel I must answer.

I tried to simply put the answers in her comments section, but nothing happened when I clicked there, so I'm putting the questions and the answers here. They are questions I've been asked many times and I am happy to have the opportunity to answer them once again.

"As far as worship goes, why do I need to be in a building for an hour or so, with a bunch of other people, sitting on hard wooden benches, singing what someone else has decided will be my musical praise for the day? Why does it have to be Sunday morning? Why can't I be praying and singing my heart out in the car alone and call it my worship? Why can't I be at home, alone, and call it Worship? Why can't my tithe be what I sent to the family who's house burned down?"

1. Why do I have to be in a building for an hour or so ...

God made an entire world for you. A very beautiful one except in cases of mudslides... and the Badlands and the Sahara desert, but we love diversity. Even the stuff we're not too happy about like spiders and alligators are part of the eco-system to keep things looking pretty. An hour is not too much to ask to pay attention.

2. .....with a bunch of other people.....

And in heaven you'll be all by yourself? Singing in your heavenmobile car? People who can't get along with each other IN CHURCH are just about my biggest pet peeve. This includes you "Vatican II ruined my Latin Mass" crowd. Guess what? If a Hootenanny Mass is someone's idea of happiness, which it obviously is, there's going to be some Hootenannying going on in heaven. Unless heaven is segregated into a bunch of people mumbling praise to God in Latin and a bunch of them singing Kumbyah, or however you spell that, we better learn to get along. Being insipid is not a sin. Guitars and bongos will be welcome.

And it doesn't end there. How on earth can we expect the Sunni's and Shiites to get it together when we're arguing over whether or not it should just be a handshake for the "handshake of peace" and finding a new parish when the one we're going to gets a little too huggy. Get a grip, people. Or a hug. I promise you it's not that bad.

And what's with the notion that anyone that isn't you is a 'bunch of other people'. So much for 'the least of my brothers'. Heaven forbid we should hang out with that bunch.

3. ..sitting on hard wooden benches...

Well, any Catholic worth his holy cards knows the answer to this one, so let's all say it together shall we, "Jesus suffered for your sins". Offer it up. Don't you dare bring a cushion. In fact, sit there for an extra hour to make up for the fact that you didn't want to sit there.

By the way, many churches now have padded benches, or padding on their benches. I can't argue with this either, but only because the congregations are so old. I know we have to sit Sister Mary Fiacre on bunch of pillows all the time to keep her old bones from hurting her all day. Perhaps there should still be an unpadded section, especially for the children.

4.... singing what someone else has decided will be my musical praise for the day?

See answers to 1. and 3. Maybe you can put your special song requests in the suggestion box for next SUNDAY MORNING.

5. Why does it have to be Sunday morning? It doesn't. It can be Saturday evening or Sunday at 5 pm. But it used to be only Sunday morning because it's one of the Ten Commandments which everyone would know if they would just stick them up in front of the court houses.

I'm being sarcastic now, forgive me. I don't believe the Ten Commandments should be in front of court houses for two reasons: The court house isn't God's house and almost none of the Ten Commandments are against the law if you break them. God may throw you into hell, but no one is going to throw you into jail. Ironic.

Anyhow, it used to be that Sunday was everyone's day off and a special day for God and now it's
'special day' at the Target and the car wash. And the whole idea of having a day off that everyone had off and could worship together is pretty much whole idea of the community of faith. See answer to #6.

Yes, there are monks and hermits. But they're busy praying for the rest of us to be able to put up with each other.

6. Why can't I be praying and singing my heart out in the car alone and call it my worship? You can. But a whole bunch of people doing anything together has a lot more power than anyone doing anything alone. That's why soccer games are so dangerous and why there are peace marches.

7. Why can't I be at home, alone, and call it Worship? You can. But, see answer to 6.

8. Why can't my tithe be what I sent to the family who's house burned down? Go for it. I really don't see a problem here. You're not Donald Trump so you have decisions to make about how you can best use what money you have. It's admirable that you'd give your money to a bunch of other people.

Of course, I have to put in a plug to jump over to the Catholic church. You will be greeted with a handshake or a hug as soon as everyone stops arguing about how loud the organ was, how the host should be distributed, in what language the Mass should be, how Father dresses when he's not saying Mass, where the screaming babies should be kept .....


ET said...

Sister Mary Martha,
I check on your blog entry daily and enjoy your gospel and your wit. I have also told two friends about your blog and they check on it daily. And they have mentioned they would like to comment from time to time but do not have a blog themselves, so can not comment. I think that is because your blog probably defaulted when you were setting it up to allow only bloggers to comment. I know the same happened with me until my son told me I could go back in the set-up section and change it to "let anybody" comment.
That was just a thought for you to consider.
Thank you for your blog.
Eddie Hunter

Alexa said...

I have a question or two!

1- What order do you belong to sister?

2- Before you became a nun, did you ever think you might like to marry? And if so, did you have a boyfriend you thought you might like to marry?

O=onionboy.ca+luminousmiseries.ca said...

Not a question but a comment of my own by addition to your answer to question #6: One can worship at home, depending on what you calls worship. In a less than complete sense of worship you could choose to pass on receiving the body and the blood of our Eucharistic Lord who is available during the Mass at the aforementioned church with the hard pews {though I understand some non traditionalists have added padding for their bums}. On the other hand one could worship completely at home if one happens to have a resident priest.

Oooo, and Alexa does ask some interesting questions.

Jan B said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

Thank you so much for taking your time to help me with my religious dilemma. I appreciate your online essay and read it every day.


CMinor said...

I may start a bench-clearer by bringing this up, but while we're on the subject of not squabbling I've noticed that a lot of Catholic bloggers seem to go to pieces over liturgical music. My husband being a shameless contributor to some of those guitar masses you often mention, I've occasionally entertained the thought of a post on the theme: "Marty Haugen is not the Antichrist." Nonetheless, I think I'll still skip the Hootenannies if I have the choice, or call them redemptive suffering if I don't.

BTW, if Eddie opens up his combox, I advise him(her?) to employ whatever spam filters are available. We tried opening up the combox once and got daily ads for eczema products and wedding speeches. Those funky letter sequence thingies were a big help.

KatDee said...

Padded pews? I've never heard of such a thing, but the point about aging congregations is a good one. I'm usually the youngest person at weekday mass by a good twenty or thirty years unless one of the young Phillipino nurses at the nearby medical center gets off her shift early.

The only bad part about his is the older bachelors, who are in their late 40s/early 50s or so. They're through sowing their wild oats and hang around the parish, hoping to meet a virgin of childbearing age at mass. I can't get away from them fast enough.

When I lived in Belfast, there was no padding anywhere, not even on the kneelers. My decadent American knees were killing me, but I sacked up and took it in embarassment. I felt like the wimpiest Catholic alive next to those people.

They also sang a lot of hymns that aren't inherently political but referred to banners of true faith and such, which are pretty politically incorrect in that part of the world, but I suppose nobody was going to be offended as there are very few Protestants at Catholic mass.

Carolina Cannonball said...

alexa, good questions indeed.

I am one of those trads that fall apart at bongos & drums... thanks for putting it in perspective sister.

Jeff Miller said...

One irony is that I have found padded pews to be less uncomfortable. My parish added pads to the pews and now they are much more comfortable which I guess is a good thing for the additional penance involved.

I have also found that in many parishes I am more comfortable using the bare floor than the padded kneeler provided. So I can actually offer up using the padded kneeler instead.

radio45 said...

You made my day!! Thanks.

Monica said...

'Marty Haugen is not the Antichrist'

Are you sure about that? :)

My personal objection to MH is, in part, the frequency we use his songs. One might think he was the ONLY hymn writer in 2000 years of church history.

CMinor said...

You have a point there, Monica.
A little St. Louis Jesuits, anybody?

Louis said...

I am so glad I found your blog. It is such a pleasure to read.

Andrea said...

Dear Sister Martha Mary,
No we can't "all just get along."
That would not be true peace anyway. We should not compromise any of our catholic truth in order to just get along. We see the cause and effect of such things as receiving the Blessed Sacrament in the hand, and trying to change our catholic traditions to be more appealing to the world. Its a slippery slope when one starts to compromise. I think most of the pro-traditional Catholics are in great pain because their more modernist relatives don't understand.As well as think we are fanatics because we want to be 100% Catholic.

Monica said...

cminor, consider a hymnal hucked at you! :)

Martin said...


Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Hehehe. Great answers. But I think I will still stick to my Sunday morning bike rides under the heavens, preferably when those heavens are not blowing a gale or dropping large raindrops.