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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

There, But By the Grace of God.....


We have a lot to discuss from our readers from our last post, but I'm afraid I have to pause momentarily to make sure everyone understands that every time you read an article about three nuns living in a house together it doesn't mean it's Sister Mary Fiacre, Sister St. Aloysius and I.

So when you read that the Santa Barbara nuns get to stay in Santa Barbara and continue their work there (although the house in which they now reside is still being sold by the Archdiocese), it's not us. We're are in no danger of losing our house to anything but termites. (Or a good stiff wind.)

And although I've had my Andy of Mayberry moments with Sister St. Aloysius, when I say I'd go to the mat for her, please don't confuse us with these three nuns:

A CONVENT in southern Italy is being shut down after a quarrel among its last three remaining nuns ended in blows.

Sisters Annamaria and Gianbattista, reportedly upset about their mother superior's authoritarian ways, scratched her in the face and threw her to the ground at Santa Clara convent near Bari in an incident in July that was kept quiet until now.

Archbishop Giovanni Battista Pichierri tried to reconcile the nuns but finally decided in late August that they had "clearly lost their religious vocation'' and asked the Vatican for permission to close the convent.

Sisters Annamaria and Gianbattista moved to another convent, but Sister Liliana barricaded herself inside, refusing to leave, the reports said.

She suspected Bishop Battista Pichierri of planning to cede the convent to another community.

Liliana had been at the convent since its founding in 1963.



You know, it could be that Sister Liliana had it coming.

I'm joking.

But if you ever read the real story of St. Bernadette of Lourdes and what went on between her and her Mother Superior, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that Bernadette at least stuck her foot out to trip her dear superior...just once.

I'm still joking.

A lot of the other nuns around St. Bernadette might have cheered and brought popcorn.

Ha. Ha.

Joking aside, St. Bernadette was the first thing that sprang to my mind when I heard the story this afternoon on the radio. I've always loved the movie, "Song of Bernadette", but I didn't realize that the end of the movie is high fiction for years to come. In the film, Bernadette has a nemesis nun there in the convent, who doesn't believe that Bernadette saw the Blessed Mother and she picks on Bernadette mercilessly.

Now, that's par for the course in the convent. That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And helps us to embrace humility and obedience. It's a good thing.

In real life, Bernadette's superior was so brutal that she shocked everyone who witnessed what was going on, especially the novices who were new to the process anyhow. St. Bernadette always told them to calm down. She could handle it.

It didn't kill her, either. It made her unbelievably strong and humble and obedient.

So in the movie the nemesis nun is always accusing Bernadette of playing sick to get attention. Bernadette was very sick her whole life. The nemesis nun catches Bernadette limping and accuses her of doing it for attention once again when everyone discovers that Bernadette, who is trying NOT to limp, has an ulcerated leg bone, or some such horrifically painful thing that would have had a normal person screaming in agony. The nemesis nun has a complete epiphany. She confesses that she has in fact been jealous of Bernadette. The nemesis nun has slaved her whole life to be good and perfect and obedient and humble and here comes this dumb bunny of a girl who barely knows her Catechism and gets a private visit from the Virgin Mary. Actually, quite a number of private visits! The former nemesis nun spends the rest of Bernadette's life carrying her around and slaving for her and the like.

That's the highly fictitious part. The epiphany and the carrying. In real life Bernadette's superior was completely disgusted with her, never had a good word to say about her, never went anywhere near her when Bernadette was ill. Bernadette was so ill for so long that she finally did resort to screaming. Her superior stayed away. She never attended Bernadette's funeral and asked that Bernadette not be mentioned around her anymore.

Still, no one scratched her eyes out or threw her to the floor.

Poor Sister Lilliana. She was just doing her job.

Now, if you read some nuns have been attacked by bees, smothered in Morning Glories, arrested at a fabric store or a bank, drowned in sewage, or forever lost inside a Home Depot, you might be reading about us.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister, I love your blog. There are a couple of things about emergency baptism that I wish you would clarify or correct. One is about the emergency baptism of adults. As far as I know, we have no right to baptize a dying adult who has not asked for baptism or indicated some desire for it, at least implicitly. For example, if an adult has made it clear that he disbelieves the Christian Faith, and he is now dying and helpless and unable to communicate, we are not allowed to baptize him, and in fact the baptism would be invalid, though he might be saved by some kind of implicit baptism of desire.
This is a live question for me, because my Jewish father asked for and received baptism two weeks before he died, and my sister doesn't believe he asked: she thinks we baptized him against his will. I assured her that such a baptism would not be considered valid by the Church, but she is still very suspicious.

Alice Gershom

Anonymous said...

I believe you. My grandfather was 94 when he thought he was dying. My mom asked if he wanted to be baptised and he said yes. He was baptised but then lived four more years. My folks took him to church with them because that's the church he was baptised into. My aunt and uncle, of a different demonation, always have felt he was coerced by my mom. I was there, he wanted the baptism he got.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to give you a giant hug, Sister. Your blog is fantastic!!

I have one of those boxing nun's because my hubby's aunt was a nun and had one. I'm getting quite a collection of nuns in my flat now come to think of it. Anyway, if you remove the habit/hat on that toy, she looks like Judge Judy.

- Sarah

Anonymous said...

I'm disturbed by this post. It does not speak well of nuns or convents or Catholicism to have nuns duking it out. If I was a non-Catholic and read this post, I would run from anything Catholic.

Why are women in convents so mean, hateful and spiteful? They are supposed to be close to Christ, giving up their lives to be in union with Him 24/7. It ain't working.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Gee, anonymous, get a grip. How many dozens of times have you heard about this happening? No dozens? Just this once, I believe, which is why it made the news, it being so far out of the norm. I wonder what 'women in the convents' who are so 'mean, hateful and spiteful' you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to guess you don't know very many nuns. They are some of the funniest people you can meet.

MissJean said...

Running away from Catholicism because of reports like this? It doesn't surprise me. I remember when I was a kid and a couple adults made unkind remarks because of my surname, since my family must be "drunks like all the Italians". There was one other Italian-surnamed family in town - and an old bachelor who was a notorious old alcoholic.

So if someone judges all nuns by the actions of a few - well then, he/she probably has enough to do to breathe and walk at the same time, let alone consider Christianity.

It's seems like the more secular society gets, the more it has zero tolerance for anyone's sinfulness. Only it isn't called "sin" anymore. In the same way, it builds fake "saints" (usually celebrities) that it then proceeds to tear down.

Ebeth said...

Sister, I love your blog, so I have put you in with the other 4 on my list to receive the Mathetes Award.

Get your link from my blog
http://acatholicmumclimbingthepillars.blogspot.com

Ebeth

Anonymous said...

Sister Mary Martha,

I was blog-hopping this morning and I came across some information that has me apoplectic.

I'm passing along this name: Neale Donald Walsh. I'm asking you to "google" his name, read about him and his books, and render your opinion, or, at least, an opinion as to why, oh why, do I let stuff like this get to me.

I would have posted a link but, I'm not that skilled with this computer stuff yet. Sorry.

I'm headed off to say a rosary for this poor man.

Sister Mary Martha said...

ebeth, I don't know how to put your award on my blog here, but I will do it if someone can instruct me.

And thank you!

Victoria said...

Sister, I have always been very close to Our Blessed Mother and her Angels. I wanted to comment that we are so Blessed as Ladies to have such a beautiful Mother to model. St. Bernadette is my kind of spunky lady. We all have a nemesis in life who turns out to just be jealous. What a wonderful Saint to look to for guidance in dealing with other's jealousy as well as our own imperfections. She just kept smiling doing God's work and turned out stronger for it. God's Blessings!