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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Notes from the Garden

The eighth grade boys have a slang word that I used to discourage them from using. After thinking it over, however, I've adopted it myself as a very useful word. It's a word for that emotion you have when you suddenly realize you are in over your head but you just have to soldier on in the moment. The word is, "gnarly", as in "Dude, that was really gnarly."

I have discouraged the usage of "dude", a word so massively overused that it has been applied while addressing me on more than one occasion.

It brings me to this question from a reader, which I have been pondering for days, looking for the words in answer.

So I voted on the Blogger's Choice awards after I read that Sister St.Aloysius was praying for those who did, which made me feel guilty like I was just doing it for the good graces. I will readily admit I will take all the prayers and such that I can get and like a kid looking for candy, I definitely do some good things because I want the rewards associated with them. But like with the blog voting, I also mean what I do. I *do* think this is a great blog and deserves recognition. And when I'm nice because I know it makes God happy even though I don't always feel like being nice, I also really mean the nice things I say and do. Like deep down that is the person I really want to be. So here is my question: If we do charitable works and get a payoff, do they still count as charitable? And are there really any selfless good deeds given that at the very least a good deed makes the doer feel good?

If you've been following our exploits you know we've been battling our garden. It's been difficult to get the work done, it was so massive and our schedules are full, even though the garden is tiny. Working in the garden, however, is very rewarding. In the end there is beauty and while working there is constant metaphor.

The work was gnarly. Gnarlly....gnarley....what's the proper spelling?

We have a rose called, "Joseph's Coat". It's buds are a dark pink which open into blossoms of orange and red and then fade to shades of pink. It has buds, open blossoms and fading flowers all going all at the same time. It is magnificent.

It also has thorns on it's thorns. I'm not kidding. There is nowhere on the plant, even on it's rough leaves, that you wouldn't get poked or jabbed or shot full of thorns that break off in your skin when you touch it. The thorns are razor sharp and slide into your skin like a knife through butter. I had one stuck in the pad of my pinky for almost a week before I was able to dig it back out. When I looked at my little finger with a magnifying glass on day four I discovered there were three more thorns in there I didn't even know about!

And I'm not even touching this nasty plant. I'm doing everything I can not to touch it. I only use the scissors or the pruners to touch it. Somehow after you clip off the branch, it spins or flops or springs back and manages to stab you anyhow. I screamed and howled my way through the whole process. I tried not to, but it took me by surprise every time I was stabbed because I was being so careful not to be stabbed. At least I could offer it up on the back end.

And that's just part one. Part two is that we have to haul all the razor filled stems and branches over to the green can by putting them in a basket and them dumping them in the green can because we can't take the green can into the garden. It's too big to fit through or around the house.

I think about all of this every time I hear someone say they won't give money to a homeless person because they did that once and the man screamed at them. Or they once gave a sandwich to a homeless man because they didn't want to give him money that 'he would use for booze' and the man was not grateful for the sandwich. Made them think twice about doing that again.

Believe it or not, I'm trying to answer you question.

If we do charitable works and get a payoff, do they still count as charitable? And are there really any selfless good deeds given that at the very least a good deed makes the doer feel good?

They always count as charitable works but ...who's counting? As long as we don't fall into the sin of pride it's perfectly alright to feel good about being good. You are certainly on the right path. But ...and this is a very big but....

It's really about how you behave and how you feel when it gets gnarly. And believe me, there are plenty of good deeds that won't make you feel very good after you do them. I just named two very common ones.

My roses are utterly ungrateful. Can I be charitable when my help is not appreciated?

My roses attack me when I take care of them. Can I be charitable while under attack? Gnarly.

Thanks for your votes. Sister St. Aloysius has calmed down about the whole thing once we leaped past the atheist blog, but she still gets a real bang out of following our progress.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Coffee Table Books

Melanie asks:
Sister Martha Mary, I have been talking with an atheist online and he asked me this question: When did the virgin Mary die and what happened at her death? Why isn't it in the bible?

What do you think? All I have found out is that some German nun said she died at the age of 64 in Turkey when I googled it. Can you say anything more about it?

Melanie, you should just talk with your coffee table about the Virgin Mary. Your discussion will be just as fruitful. Why would you talk about THEOlogy with an atheist?

Here is the silly part that you're missing here, Melanie:

Let's say that I think the Easter Bunny is real. I have a book written by the Easter Bunny and I show you the things the Easter Bunny has to say about life taken from his book.

In his book the Easter Bunny tells the story of his life. How he is born to a litter of little bunnies and one day he takes it upon himself to make the world a brighter place. He hatches a plot to dye eggs and leave them for children on Easter.

"Why does he dye the eggs?" you want to know, thinking I'll realize how absurd the story is if I try to picture a rabbit with a bunch of tea cups with dye in them laid out on the rabbit's kitchen table, there in his rabbit hole.

"To make them pretty in the basket," I tell you. "He talks about that right in the book! The Easter Bunny says he decided to give everyone eggs as a sign of spring, since eggs are a sign of new life. He didn't have Easter grass, way back then, because colored shredded plastic hadn't been invented yet. He just had his basket and the eggs, so he had to decorate the eggs themselves."

"Why Easter?" you ask me. "If he was trying to spread cheer, why not do it all the time, or a couple of times a year?"

"I don't know," I say. "Maybe the Easter bunny was a Catholic. A lot of people think that the Easter Bunny wouldn't want to leave his eggs on the cold snowy ground so he waits until spring and Easter is the first spring holiday. That makes sense doesn't it?"

"Well," you ask me, "what does the Easter Bunny say about it in his book?

At this point, as you listen to me prattle on about all the things the Easter Bunny says about his plans, you want to scream, "there is no Easter Bunny so he couldn't have written a book in the first place!"

So here you are. You're atheist friend is asking you to show him where the Easter Bunny says how Mary died. He wants to see where in the Easter Bunny book it says what happened to Mary after the Pentecost.

But he doesn't believe the Easter Bunny wrote a book. So what possible difference does it make what the book says or doesn't say?

In order to believe anything about Jesus, or Mary, you have to believe that God wrote the book. If you believe that, we can talk about what we think did happen, what is metaphor, what is passed on through Tradition. Oh, so much to discuss!

But if you don't believe God wrote the book, you might just as well argue about the autobiography of the Easter Bunny and whether or not his book makes any sense.

Jack wrote a great book about his life after he chopped down the beanstalk, too. I'm hoping someone can tell me if the Wolf in the Three Pigs is the same Wolf that Red Riding Hood eventually killed. Pigs everywhere owe Red Riding Hood a debt of thanks, as they could go back to making cheap houses out of sticks. Finally, an explanation for the housing boom in my neighborhood!

Friday, May 25, 2007

And also....

One of the things we uncovered in the great garden cleanup was our neighbor's cat, Romeo. I wouldn't know that his name is Romeo except that when he first moved to the neighborhood he wore a little cat collar with his name on it. I wouldn't have known about that either, except that Teddy tore it off of poor Romeo the first chance he got. The tag had Romeo's address. He lives on the corner. I returned the collar with our apologies. Several times.

He doesn't wear the collar anymore. But he does snooze in our garden. Teddy and Romeo peacefully co-exist. There is hope for the world. Maybe Teddy just didn't like the way that collar looked on Romeo and was trying to do him a favor. "Collars are for those slaves, the dogs!" he must have thought.

With a busy weekend ahead we turn to this follow up question from our last post:

What I'm wondering is doesn't it say that many of those who had died were resurrected with Christ? Wouldn't they have bodies in Heaven?

"It" does say that. The New Testament mentions that a lot of people got up from the dead and walked around when Jesus died. It wasn't when Jesus was resurrected. It happened on Good Friday.

But those people were not raised bodily into heaven. We actually don't know who they were or what became of them except that since they weren't raised bodily into heaven they must have died. Again.

It's okay. Funerals weren't so expensive back then.

I've always imagined that they got to go and say a few words to the relatives or whoever and then went back to being dead later that day, so as not to be any trouble to anyone. If it were me, that's what I would have done, at least. They'd definitely want to get back to being dead, since the Gates of Heaven were finally open. I'm sure that's what they came back to tell everyone.

So only Mary and Jesus and maybe Elijah, if he didn't burn up in the atmosphere. They can use his chariot as a planter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heavenly Bodies

Sister, is Mary the only one in Heaven with her body? I think everyone has this vision of what they look like when they get to Heaven and it's never what you looked like when you died, but when you were young and at your most attractive. But in reality, does anyone but Mary have a body there? And if not, doesn't she feel weird being the only one with a body.

I was always taught that there were two bodies in Heaven. That would be Jesus and Mary. Elijah went to Heaven in a fiery chariot, but I think he burned up in the atmosphere because his chariot didn't have heat shields. I guess we'll find out one way or the other if we get there.

I'm not sure how Mary feels about being the only person with a body in Heaven besides Jesus. I am much more concerned about whether or not there are any chairs for her. Perhaps that's why she visits us so often. She did sit down while she visited with St. Catherine Labourre and at La Salette.

I don't think about any of that too much for a couple of reasons. For one thing, since Mary died before she went to Heaven, her body in Heaven would be like the one Jesus had after He rose from the dead. You may recall that He could walk through walls. But He could also knock on the door. What does this tell us? He wasn't a spook. He had a body, but it was very different than usual. Different enough for me not to understand what's up.

St. Augustine thought about what happened to Jesus' body after He rose from the dead and surmised what we might be like in heaven. St. Augustine thought that everyone will be 35 in Heaven, since that's when you reach your human peak. If you die at age nine, you'll be 35 and if you die at 105, you'll be 35 in heaven. Easier to calculate than dog years.

This is also good news for people who didn't look so good when they were younger and great news for the old and rickety. If you're 35 now and look like something the cat dragged in, this is your chance to pull yourself together. This is eternity we're talking about.

You'll have a body that can walk through walls or knock on the door. You'll be able to eat but you won't have to. All your organs will work but you won't need them.

The other reason I don't think too much about what goes on in heaven or what it will be like if I get there is because I don't understand it at all. I really don't understand how Mary can have a body in Heaven, since the Church teaches that Heaven isn't exactly a physical place. There is also a big debate about whether or not Hell is on fire. And why would it have to be on fire if there is no one there with there body yet? As far as I know, no one went bodily to Hell.

No, no...it all makes my head spin.

But that's okay. I'm not supposed to understand it. God has made things that are beyond our understanding and He doesn't care that we don't understand. He made us not understand on purpose. Why? We don't know. It's part of the 'He made us not understand on purpose' thing.

We have a name for that in the Catholic Church. These things that our beyond our understanding by God's own design are called 'Sacred Mysteries'. You may think of the term 'Sacred Mysteries' as 'Catholic' for: Just Let It Go.

We know that Mary is in Heaven with her body and therefore she is happy. I think she probably has a very nice chair from when she was crowned Queen of Heaven. The rest is a Sacred Mystery.

And you know what that means.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Miraculous Mary

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to answer this lovely sincere question from a couple of days ago. We have only one patch of the garden left to conquer. The entire deck was full of everything we had to tear down and today was trash pick up for the whole mess. We had to get everything in the green can and out to the curb. It's a wonder we didn't lose Sister Mary Fiacre under the vines and weeds and leave her by the curb by mistake.

Sister Mary Martha, I am in the RCIA process, I have sent away for and received a medal, I'm wondering, how can Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal protect me when I can't see her? Does she protect people from the demonic? What graces do people get from the medal? Can she really be a mother to people who don't have that mother figure in their life like St. Catherine saw her as today? What do you think?

Good for you! Keep up your work in the RCIA!

Here's the thing: Your medal is just a reminder. It doesn't have any special power at all. Mary doesn't live inside it.

It's like having a picture of someone in your wallet...not the picture of the person that came with the wallet...a picture of a loved one. Why do we carry that stuff around with us anyhow? To show off how pretty they are? To indicate that we're the person that won't live through to the end of the movie?

Did you ever notice that? Once some poor devil hauls out a picture of his wife there in the foxhole to show his buddies, that guy is doomed. Everyone should scream, "In heavens name man, put that away!" The same goes for "I only have two weeks left on my stint." Or, "This is my last day! I'm retiring tomorrow!" Never say those things if you want to live through a movie.

Where was I? Catholics use images of saints and Mary and Jesus to remind us of things. What we strive for, what we believe, the fact that the saints and Mary and Jesus are always around to help us. We don't get any graces from the the medal. We get don't even get any graces from Mary. We get graces from Jesus. Mary asks Him for us.

Remember that story where Jesus and his pals and Mary are all at a wedding and the host runs out of wine? Nobody knew yet that Jesus was JESUS. He hadn't started in yet and He wasn't going to start in that day. Mary, of course, knew. Not only had an angel come to tell her she was with child when she was still virgin, but there are stories about little Jesus healing birds and whatnot. She asked Jesus to help out with the embarrassing wine situation and He actually said no, He wasn't about to start His ministry right now at this wedding.

This is the start of everything Jesus did in His public life, remember. You'd think He'd really want to be careful about when and where He began. He must have been thinking that all over very carefully. He said an adamant "no" to the whole wine thing.

Mary must have given Him a look or something, because the next thing you know, there's wine. In fact, it's really especially great wine.

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

How do we know that Mary is around when we can't see her? She shows up for visits all the time! How did we get the Miraculous Medal to begin with? Mary came over and asked St. Catherine to make it because France was in big trouble, circling the drain as it were, spiritually speaking. (Don't anyone dare point any fingers at France! For one thing Mary loves it there and for another, you'll need your finger to grab onto the side of the tub so you don't go down the drain yourself here in the USA.) Clearly, Mary is watching out for you like any good Mother.

You don't even have to believe that Mary visits anyone! She'll still be watching out for you.

As a Catholic you are never required to believe in the personal revelations of anyone. Mary sightings fall under the category of personal revelations. Here's what you have to believe about Mary:

1. Mary was always a virgin, before and after she had Jesus.

2. Mary gave birth to Jesus and no one else.

3. Mary's son was always divine.

4. Mary was free from original sin from the moment of her own conception.

5. Mary's whole body and soul went to heaven.

6. Mary is the Queen of Heaven.

Did I miss anything?

You don't have to believe that Mary appeared to anybody ever. This also leaves you free to ignore Mary on pieces of toast and gooey melted chocolate Marys.

And as for Mary being a good mother figure, I answer your sincere question with this sincere answer: when God decided to have a son, He picked Mary to be the child's mother. Have a better pick than God? I didn't think so.

Here's one of my very favorite books about Mary.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cloud Nine is Made of Smog

Boy, is Sister St. Aloysius ever in a good mood today! And why not? It's a happy season between Easter and Pentecost, it's the Mary Month of May! And on top of that, she's been following our small but steady progress over at the Blogger's Choice Awards the way I follow the NBA playoffs (which are very exciting this year). It occurred to her to somehow send gifts for the people who voted for us, but I pointed out to her that could become like 'buying' votes if word got out. She's taken to saying some special prayers for them by way of thanks. Spiritual brownies. If her prayers are anything like her brownies, some people are in for some fatso heavenly help.

Her zeal about this silly voting site alarmed me a little at first. "It's an honor to be nominated." Isn't that what the movie stars say? (Do Nobel Prize nominees say that, too? I don't think I've ever heard one say that....) But as I mulled it over I came to this realization: Nuns love competition.

I know that seems counter to nunnyness...humility, obedience, poverty....but we do love a good contest! Maybe it's simply because we are American nuns and we understand that competition is a perfectly good way to strive for excellence.

We have a fabulous time competing! Because in the end we don't care if we win. In fact, we'll be happy to help you win while we're trying to win. If you win, we'll be so happy for you!

And! We never cheat! Cheating is a sin. In order to cheat you have to lie, by omission, by word or by deed. So when you beat us you've won fair and square, which should make you feel even better, which means we'll be even more happy for you!

It's a win/win situation, as they say. Not the Nobel Prize nominees...they don't say that. I think those people really, really want to win the Nobel Prize and they are mad when they don't.

Speaking of scientists...there is one more reason Sister St. Aloysius is on cloud nine these days. I've mentioned what a brainiac she is. She's been all over the Global Warming thing for years and was especially vexed at all the denial dire warnings of the actual scientific community. She is besides herself about the bees because she realizes that if it really is the cell phones that are causing the bees to disappear we really are doomed. Doomed! No one will turn those things off, even if you ask nicely.

So when we watch CNN to determine what to pray for, this topic has been high on her list. Her spiritual petitions have not gone unheeded. Score!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wondering about Wandering

I think Sesame Street has ruined the minds of anyone who watched it much. It's cheery attempt to keep children's attention by indulging their thirty second attention spans has fostered a nation of people who can't seem to concentrate, even when it's important, as evidenced by these two questions:

Sister what can you tell us about novenas? I make a good start then get busy or distracted by the devil and don't finish. I did finish one once and it worked! Any help would be appreciated. Also who are the best saints to ask for help in prayers for one's children?


SMM, I know this has nothing to do with movies but can you post about Adoration. Are there certain prayers we can say during. I find my mind wandering to my to-do list instead of meditating on the Eucharist.

The devil, indeed.

Let's start with novenas. A novena is when you pray for nine days in a row for a specific purpose. The whole idea is based on the fact that perseverance is an important quality of prayer. There are four types: mourning, petition, preparation, and indulgence.

Mourning is nine days of prayer for the dead. Petition is when you are praying for help, guidance or favors. (We hope you're praying for God's grace to handle your difficulties and not putting in nine quarters in some imagined heavenly Coke machine.) Preparation is to prepare for a feast day. In fact, the earliest novena we know about is in preparation for Christmas. And finally the novena of indulgence, which is the hope that God will accept your prayers instead of the punishment you are due for your sins. Sometimes there are strings attached to a novena of indulgence. For example, you may have to actually show up at a church or chapel at some point.

The whole idea started because the Apostles prayed for nine straight days between the Ascension and the Pentecost and were rewarded with the Holy Spirit, tongues of fires and all that excitement.

Here's the thing: you don't have to get through nine whole days of prayer to complete your novena. You just have to say your novena prayer (there are at least 139 different ones) once a day for nine days. I just can't figure out how you can't manage that. Ever heard of refrigerator magnets? Post it notes?

Do you look in a mirror at yourself? You could put a post it note on the mirror. Do you eat? You could put a note on a refrigerator magnet on your refrigerator. Jumpin' Jeehosaphat woman! Pin a note to your coffeepot! Stick a stick it note on the cat dish! Tie a message to the bathroom tissue! Stick a reminder on your car keys! Put a message to yourself in your underwear drawer! Leave a note in the mailbox! Tape a big message on your TV! Get one of those little tape recorders and say into it, "Note to self....say novena prayer." Put your novena prayer on your screen saver! Distracted by the devil. Please. Too much Sesame Street as a child, more likely.

As for prayers for one's children, I would suggest St. Monica, who had to contend with St. Augustine. Monica's son Augustine was such a party animal that even after she prayed him toward becoming one of the greatest saints the church has known, he still ended up as the patron saint of beer. She cried so much for his soul that the city of Santa Monica is named after her.

Now as to our second question...

One afternoon when I had the flu some time ago, I happened to see the Oprah Show. She had an author on that day who had written a book called, "He's Not That Into You", the premise of which was that women shouldn't go chasing after men who don't pay them proper attention, because a man who is interested in a woman will chase after her to the ends of the earth. He wasn't talking about stalkers. He was talking about ordinary men.

I can't help but think of that book when you say your mind wanders during Adoration. Apparently you're not that into Him.

I suggest you mediate about what's adorable about Jesus. If you're mind wanders (I have to admit I can't picture it....) either pull you brain away from your 'to-do' list (and it's all important trip to take DVD's back to Blockbuster before you have to pay a fee vs. 'loved me enough to die a horrible and humiliating death') and re-train yourself to mediate thusly...or...leave and try again tomorrow. Jesus is very forgiving. But he knows when you're just not that into Him.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Weekend Round Up

It's a wonder I can still type anything considering we're still under a pile of morning glories. We haven't had the time to tackle the garden because we've been having too much fun dusting the pews for Mother's Day. We love Mother's Day. It's right in the middle of our favorite month.

I'll do a little cleaning here as well. We've had a few questions and comments.

Sister, what do you know about Cursillo? I am intrigued, but my Significant Other is concerned that it's a "secret society" & will corrupt me in some way. Any thoughts?

Are you kidding? I'm much more concerned about a person called a 'significant other' than I am about anyone attending a Cursillo. Please define. I think there might be some significant sin involved.

As for your question, our parishioners flock to the Cursillo every chance they get and as yet they have not moved to Ghana or been seen purchasing Nikes. In fact, they seem renewed. No Kool-Aid is involved. Perhaps they like Hawaiian Punch and cookies afterward. It's just like a pep rally for Jesus. Rah!

I've seen old people turn giddy. Is that corrupt? How does a person who is merely a significant 'other' and can't step up to the plate to 'boyfriend', 'fiance' or 'husband' get off lecturing anyone about corruption in the first place?

Several people have asked what I think of a few more films. Since Roger Ebert isn't feeling at all well, poor man, I'll give my mini reviews:

1. Song of Bernadette. One of my all time favorite films. I wish they had someone else play Bernadette, but you can't have everything. I wish Vincent Price wasn't in it either. Everyone else is great.

And it's a fairly good rendition of what went on until the end. The best part of the movie, when the old Mother Superior realizes that Bernadette hasn't been faking it for attention and actually had the most horrible painful illness imaginable and had actually been trying to mask the stupendous amount of pain she was in and old Mother Superior had a break down and carried Bernadette all around ever after, never happened.

Nope. In fact, quite the opposite. In real life old Mother Superior went out of her way to be nasty to Bernadette even after Bernadette was dead. Mother Superior was so shockingly mean that the novices were horrified and embarrassed for her. It continued for Bernadette's entire life in the convent. Mother Superior never went near Bernadette while she was dying a slow painful death and she never attended Bernadette's funeral.

It probably would have ruined the movie if they had showed that part.

2.The Singing Nun. Holy Geepers how can anyone listen to that song all the way through even once! The cute nun factor of Debbie Reynolds on a moped, that awful repetitive song and any inkling of the true life of the Singing Sister, which was dismal, all add up to an hour or so of penance. Perhaps we can spend a whole day watching the Singing Nun and free hundreds of souls from Purgatory.

3. The Trouble with Angels. I remember liking this film. I think I identify with Rosalind Russell.

4. The Passion of the Christ. I haven't seen this. For one, I don't have the ten dollars to pony up at the box office. But I will admit that I didn't want to see it. Jesus suffered. I am very well aware of that. But he didn't suffer twenty feet high in surround sound and slow motion. If that's what it takes to get Jesus' suffering across to you, go for it.

As for this:
At my church a proposal to show it to a youth group meeting was nixed because it is so violent, and one mom whom I respect very much referred to it as a "religious snuff film," by which she meant that it shows someone --namely the Lord-- being tortured to death.

What about that? Is it not as much a near occasion of sin for those who are tempted to wrath, hate and violence (not to mention lack of charity toward Jews), as a picture of a woman in chains is one for those tempted to lust?

While I understand the concern, I have to say that at some point we have to let go of being held responsible for the reaction of that one guy who might react that way. For every item and thought there is a person out there somewhere who has a sick reaction to it. I remember something in the news about some scandalous talk about luffahs. Those scrubby things.

There are perfectly good reasons for not showing The Passion of the Christ to a youth group, (like the twenty foot high, surround sound, slow motion factor) but this isn't one of them.

There are a couple of more topics to address. I'll try to get back to them tomorrow.

Meanwhile please don't forget to go cast your vote over at the Blogger's Choice Awards. We hover at the bottom of page three or the top of page four. All that bouncing around is making us seasick. Checking our standing is the high point of Sister St. Aloysius' day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Movie Lesson Plan

We were parked in front of CNN, as is our habit, to see what we need to be praying for. Both Sister St. Aloysius and I are originally from the Midwest, so we are watching the tornado news with sadness and a deep sense of familiarity.

When I was a little girl I was terrified of the very idea that a tornado could come through like a train of wind, the finger of God, and suck my house up and take it to Oz. I wouldn't have known much about tornadoes if it had not been for the Wizard of Oz. That's how I learned about tornadoes and that I lived in Tornado Alley.

Only I knew there was no Oz. Thank you, Catholic school education. I knew what really happened to the people and houses and cows that got hit. Certainly there are no ruby slippers involved. Flying monkeys would be welcome to pick up the debris.

Since I've known all of this since I was age 5 or so, I was shocked to hear the White House Press secretary, Mr. Tony Snow, trying to tell reporters that 'you can't prepare for these things.' He was responding to questions put to him about the governor of Kansas. She had thanked the President for a quick response, but mentioned that the equipment needed for cleaning up is scarce because so much of it is in Iraq. She's not the only governor who has mentioned this problem.

We're already been praying for Mr. Snow because he's been so sick, poor man. I've had chemotherapy myself and I can tell you that while you're having it, you turn stupid. You just can't think. You're all foggy. One day, while surfing the internets, I actually found a term for it, "chemo brain." Go ahead....look on the Google. I'll wait......

Once while I was on chemotherapy I watched a low speed car chase for more than two hours that ended only after the fleeing suspect ran out of gas. He had been driving with his tires blown out (from that nail strip thing they use on fleeing suspects) for an hour or so. I can tell you exactly what I was thinking the whole time I was watching it "hummmmmmmmmm m..." If you had been inside my brain you'd have thought I was a Buddhist.

This is the only explanation I can think of for why anyone would think that there might not be any tornadoes in Kansas this year, so very little equipment would be necessary. That or they've never heard of Oz.

By the way, it should all serve as a reminder to wear your scapular! Or make sure you have one of those "In Case of Emergency Please Call a Priest" cards or medals. Contrary to what Mr. Snow has to say, you can be prepared.

Just don't think for a minute that you can put on that scapular and frolick off to stare at the "Black Snake Moan" poster or the like. Yes, Mary promised us that if we wear the scapular we will not see the fires of hell. But you're not going to get away with trying to fool Mary. The tornado will suck the scapular right off your neck before it lands you in the ditch head first to be identified only by your unusual toes.

You'll have to really be prepared.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Moan is Right

Now that we need the Legion of Decency
more than we ever did, it's gone. I didn't realize how badly we needed it until I went to actually read what the bishops have to say about the current crop of films.

I turn my back for one second and when I look back I find this from "Anonymous":
"Sister" would do well to go the the website of the US Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org) and click on "movies."

The implication is that I didn't know about the fact that the US Bishops review films and give recommendations. I do know. But I will admit that since I really never go to films myself, I haven't bothered to see why so many people complain about what we are left with since the Legion faded. It's a far cry from the old Legion and it's pledge, which I will now repost as a reminder:

+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. I condemn all indecent and immoral motion pictures, and those which glorify crime or criminals. I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them. I acknowledge my obligation to form a right conscience about pictures that are dangerous to my moral life. I pledge myself to remain away from them. I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.

The bishops, God love them, have some guidelines. Guidelines. No pledge, no prayer. Just reviews and warnings that you could be offended...maybe.

To give you an idea of how squishy the bishops' movies reviews can be, I offer you "Black Snake Moan."

In my neighborhood there is a giant movie billboard right on the main thoroughfare where children on their way to school (and nuns on their way to the grocery store) are treated to a giant scantily clad woman in chains at the feet of a man who holds her captive. She seems to have some level of enjoyment in wearing next to nothing and chains. I can't even post a picture of it here for fear of the scandal it may cause. The bishops seem to think this film has some redeeming qualities.


I'm not sure why the title and the poster wouldn't cause the bishops to give the film their big thumbs down, which is the big "O". That stands for "Morally Objectionable." I'm not sure why they don't use "MO". Perhaps the police have that copyrighted.

Let's play let's pretend again and say that the film actually does have redeeming qualities. But let's use the old pledge as our guide. Just from the billboard alone, the movie glorifies crime and criminals, as, last time I checked, it's illegal to keep a woman in chains for any reason unless you work at Fulsom Prison. Even if you work at Fulsom Prison, the woman that you have in chains will be modestly dressed and wear sensible shoes. I believe the billboard woman has no shoes along with the other items of clothing she is missing.

Seeing the billboard is, I am quite certain, at the very least, a near occasion of sin for many and an actual sin for many more. And what about the actual woman who is on the billboard like that? Keep in mind that when you knowingly cause someone else to sin you are responsible for that sin yourself. You commit a double sin, so to speak. Imagine what has been piled onto that poor girl's soul!

I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them.

Given that the very poster for the film is indecent, I'm not sure how we get to drive to the movie theater, purchase a ticket, and see if we all agree with the bishops that the film has some redeeming qualities.

I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.

Especially since we're not supposed to go to theaters that show indecent films.

We've gone all squishy.

We'll say a prayer for the intercession of St. Agnes. If only a big pile of hair would miraculously grow and cover the whole billboard.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Pledge of the Legion of Decency

+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. I condemn all indecent and immoral motion pictures, and those which glorify crime or criminals. I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them. I acknowledge my obligation to form a right conscience about pictures that are dangerous to my moral life. I pledge myself to remain away from them. I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.

And any movie that has cute, inept or lazy nuns.

I added that last part.

I don't watch many movies. Once in a while I get roped into something, but I never seek out a film on my own. I still miss the Legion of Decency, which slowly faded into oblivion. I suppose if it were around today, people would laugh in the face of the Legion of Decency. Sadly, when it was around, it always seemed to me that a thumbs down from the Legion guaranteed a hit, because of the curiosity factor. (It's the same reason I would sometimes like to tell William Donahue to shut up, if I was so rude as to tell people to shut up. Perhaps we will merely request that he pipe down lest he slowly fade into oblivion. Anyhow I fear for his life, as his red-faced hysterics may cause him to have a stroke.)

In the Colosseum a thumbs down actually meant a thumb's up. A thumbs down from the crowd meant the gladiator was to put his sword in the ground. A thumbs up meant ram the sword into the loser. Maybe that's what went wrong with the Legion of Decency.

I've been thinking about this because the last couple of days I referenced two 'nun' movies. Both horrible disappointments. I think all of the nun movies have disappointed me for one of two reasons. Either they are wretched depictions of religious life, like Mary Tyler Moore in "A Change of Habit", or the nuns just aren't up to snuff, like "A Nun's Story" or that inept bunch that has to have a Vegas show girl save them in "Sister Act". Disappointing.

Wait! there is a third reason. I'll come back to that.

In "A Change of Habit" beautiful perky Mary Tyler Moore plays a nun who works in the ghetto.
(I've never seen a movie about a nun who works in a fancy neighborhood full of McMansions and people who send their children to astronaut camp in the summer as some of our parishioners have. They always work in the Congo or the slums or the soup kitchen or something. Good for them. We wouldn't want William Donahue to complain.) Sister Mary works feverishly in the ghetto .....to get the bishop to let the nuns there drop their habits and blend in with the folks. Hence the title of the film. When the bishop reluctantly grants her request she only manages to blend in with handsome Doctor Elvis and his swingin' guitar. They play football. I am absolutely certain that this is a near occasion of sin.

As bad as all of this sounds the worst part is actually the end of the film in which Sister Mary Tyler Moore must choose between the convent and Elvis. She does this during Mass!!!! as her eyes furtively shift from Jesus to Elvis and back..shifty shifting forth and back and forth. I hope the Jesus statue is one of those kind that looks at you wherever you go. Her choice is left in question.

But let's face it, she loves her eye makeup and capri pants too much for us to hope she skipped a chance at marrying a doctor. A swingin' guitar doctor who plays football and works in the ghetto.

At least Audrey Hepburn gave it the old college try in "A Nun's Story". The valiant nuns she works with in the Congo are kind brave souls. I can't remember why Audrey quits exactly, except that she can't get her brain around obedience. Ever. Compared to her cohorts in the Congo she is just too waif-like and lazy. So long Sister Audrey!

I'll never get over that crowd of Goofenheimers in "Sister Act". If you ever find out I've been rescued from my stupidity by a Vegas show girl, please remind me to follow Sister Audrey out the door. I'll put on big giant fake eyelashes and my capri pants when I go.

And then there is "Sister Act II". Are there a whole new crowd of Goofenheimers? Or did the first crowd fall apart after they had no pretend nun to show them the way?

Which brings me to reason three. Once again, the 'cuteness' factor. Spare me.

I did love Deborah Kerr in "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison".

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Story, Morning Glory

Just a quick note.
It's a morning glory. Here in California things don't die off. I think I read somewhere that some areas around here have passed laws not to plant these things. I know my neighbors would like to have me arrested at this point. This is an actual picture from our poor garden. There is a wall under there and a passion flower.

Ipomoea indica
oceanblue morning glory

Native to Florida

Oceanblue morning glory is just one of many (about 25) native and non-native morning glory vines in Florida (Wunderlin, 1998).It is a frequent native vine of disturbed sites throughout the state. It blooms all year. Oceanblue morning glory is located in AL, CA, FL, HI, LA, TX, and PR (Kartesz, 1999).

Ours actually don't bloom in the winter or grow too much. But they don't die off either.

I'm actually typing right now from underneath this vine. No, I'm not.

By tomorrow I will be.

I forgot to mention that this thing has actually grown into the house on several occasions. It's in the bathroom and the hallway. It came right through the roof. Once it came in through the bathroom window. (Didn't anybody tell you?)

Two more things:

1. We're having a big Mary sale for the whole month of May in our shop.
We'll be adding items every day!

2. If you get a moment, please drop by the Blogger's Choice Awards and cast your vote! You'll find lots of other reading material there, too.

We didn't know we were so competitive. Now Sister St. Aloysius is following our progress like a dog with a bone. Actually, more like a cat with a bug. A little fluttery bug. Perhaps she'll reward our voters with her brownie recipe.

Or perhaps I will....I found the book from whence it came.

Here is the poor buried passion flower being murdered by the morning glory. Plant violence is so quiet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Mary Month of May

Okay! It's Hyperdulia month! We are already behind the eight ball! Our Mary garden is in shambles.

I started the Mary garden years ago, but Sister St. Aloysius has a special love of sitting out there to contemplate. She has rather taken it over, which is fine with me. You'd think she would have clued me into what an overgrown mess it's become. I mentioned this to her but she just said that she was enjoying watching everything grow so vigorously. I made a mental note to give thanks once again that her proclivities preclude her from being in front of a classroom.

I guess I should have learned my lesson about our relative tolerance for messes during the stove debacle.

I started the Mary garden with a "Mary" rose. You wouldn't believe the fragrance. I wasn't planning on going berserk out in our little patch of green, but then I stumbled across "Our Lady of Guadalupe". When you purchase an "Our Lady of Guadalupe" rose, part of the proceeds go to some charity. I don't know which one. I was too excited just finding it. It smells heavenly, too...but not as heavenly as the "Mary" rose.

Then one day while I was looking for rose food, I found the "Nun". It's a pure white rose. Not much fragrance. (At least it doesn't have a bad smell!) Eventually I added "The Garden of Eden" (Mary is the "new Eve") which is a climber and we found a discarded trellis in an alley to wind it around. I'm still kicking myself that I didn't grab the "Rose of St. Ann" (Mary's mom) when I had the chance. Now I can't find it anywhere.

I begrudgingly added the "Audrey Hepburn". She left the convent, you know, at the end of "A Nun's Story". Hope I didn't spoil the ending for you if you've never seen it. I'll tell you what, the ending spoils the whole movie, anyhow. Just watch it until she leaves the convent and then shut it off. You'll feel much better than if you watched the whole thing. I'm generally not so judgmental about girls who leave the convent, but Audrey didn't do us any favors in that film. At least Mary Tyler Moore kept us guessing if she was going to choose Jesus or Elvis. Viva Los Convent.

Sigh. I should face up to the fact that she probably chose Elvis. No nun could wear that much eye make-up and choose Jesus. How can that woman see out of those eyes? Her world must be a blur of black.

Where was I? Oh, yes, our Mary garden.

At one point, I unwittingly planted a morning glory in the ground near the back door. I had no idea the properties of this plant. This morning glory now covers the entire house and part of the neighbor's houses and trees, even though I tore it out of the ground years ago. Not only does it grow about a foot a day...and I'm not exaggerating...it also roots itself into the ground wherever it touches down.

It's like the devil. It's everywhere and you can't get rid of it. You can only keep hacking at it and ripping it out.

It's all over the entire garden and all the roses, which means our penance will be meticulously pulling it out of the roses while the roses, ever ungrateful, try to stab us to death.

We're looking forward to the rest of the this joyous month.

We'll have to run a Mary sale in the shop! Use the proceeds to purchase a Mary statue for the garden. Right now we only have a little statue of St. Rita. I really like her. She had to spend her life all alone in her room at the convent after she got her stigmata thorn wound. It smelled so terrible no one could stand to be around her. Ironic, since she had to work so hard to get them to let her into the convent in the first place. When she died her room smelled of roses. I thought she would enjoy being out among the the roses and their thorns.