Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I Stand Corrected
Today the Pope visited the tomb of St. Augustine. I think it was the tomb. I know it was someplace that prompted His Holiness to talk about St. Augustine, the "model of conversion." I'm too disturbed to get the specifics.
I'm still in a state about Limbo.
Not about the Church's teachings on Limbo and all of that. It's something else that has surfaced several times here on the blog that no one has ever questioned, which is very surprising to me. It's about nuns, specifically teaching nuns.
They're not always right. And they don't even seem to know when they're not right. And sometimes they just make things up altogether.
There I've said it.
Actually, I've said it before. (scroll down for the story of the ant's nest)
I've decided to bring it up again because of the Pope's words today about St. Augustine. He pointed out that St. Augustine corrected his own writings as he grew more in understanding, a sign of humility.
I'm sorry I never mentioned to my second graders that Limbo was just an idea. I'm sorry I told them that everyone who commits suicide goes straight to hell. I'm sorry I told them they would go to hell if they ate meat on Friday. Although I think that might have been true at the time. I actually didn't think it was true at the time, but Mother Superior told me it was.
Back when I was teaching second graders that Limbo was a fact and that all suicides go straight to hell, I didn't know any better myself.
Everyone assumes that nuns are highly educated carriers of the Catholic flame. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think it is true nowdays. Sister St. Aloysius is living proof of that. I'm not talking about all nuns, or modern nuns.
I'm talking about my nuns.
People have often asked me how I heard the call. Here's another confession. I didn't. Like dozens and dozens of other girls who entered the convent when I did, I was just a homely girl with no prospects. I could be a spinster or I could have a career of some kind. The convent seemed like a good choice. And like St. Augustine, my calling grew on me.
Not everyone can be Audrey Hepburn.
The dozens and dozens of girls who entered the convent were separated into two basic groups. The really dim bulbs went to work in the kitchens and houses. The ones with a little something upstairs did get a better education. Especially in a teaching order.
But no one ever taught us how to teach back in those days. We were on our own. We never had a chance to discuss what in the world we should do with a roomful of wiggling children because we were never allowed to hang around with each other much. We all moved around so much they didn't want us to any make attachments. If I went to the store with Sister Mary Consolette today, I wouldn't be going to the store with her for the rest of the month.
The time we didn't spend grading papers was spent in prayer and in adoration and in service. As far as education goes, we didn't get much chance to upgrade. I don't think I ever read "the Catechism of the Catholic Church" until the 1970's. I was shocked at how much I had misunderstood or never knew in the first place.
I've made a real effort ever since to correct errors.
Limbo was just an idea.
People who commit suicide may go to hell. Taking your own life is a mortal sin. But we have no way of knowing where any individual ended up, good bad or otherwise, unless that person is a canonized saint.
And frankly, not even then, as some of the canonized saints, the ones who were canonized before canonization was invented, never existed in the first place.
A person who commits suicide may be in such a state as to not understand what he or she is doing, which makes them incapable of sin, for one thing. And on top of that, even if they did know what they were doing, as their life ebbed away they may have thought better of it and repented. The Big Oops. We could never say that didn't happen. We even have funeral masses for them now. Another problem corrected.
We also told everyone that Judas ran off and hung himself. I don't know why. That's what we all thought...nuns, I mean. And that St. Peter was so upset that he denied Jesus three times that St. Peter had grooves on his cheeks from crying. I don't know when I stopped telling that one. It was a favorite of mine until it just suddenly dawned I me that it came out of nowhere.
Not nowhere...it came out of Sister Marillia. Who knows who told her.