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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Civil War

Sigh. The War about the War on Christmas rages on.

Regarding the "War on Christmas"...I do as I please at work. I suppose that if someone does not like the nativity on my desk (at a public school), God will take care of me. Children comment on it, and I share the "Christmas story--the birth of Baby Jesus." Kids love it. God protects me.

A clerk at a craft store recently wished me "happy holidays." I graciously said, "thank you" then added, "I would prefer you wish me Merry Christmas." He then smiled (as if for being given permission) and said, "Merry Christmas!!" I replied with "Merry Christmas! And, God bless you!"

Then a girl collecting for the homeless wished me a "happy holiday" and I responded like I did to the clerk.

My point being, we make it what we want it to be. I DO think it is important for us to point out the reason for the season to everyone we come in contact with. Sadly, we are not surrounded by believers, so anything I can do to share God's love, I do. Let them do to me what they will. Hey, maybe I need that Joan of Arc medal.

When I think of what Saints went through on a daily basis, how can I be a 'fraidy cat?

Peace be with you!

You may want to come down off your high horse long enough to read this post by my lovely friend, Father Zehnle (who is from my home town and might have actually spotted by father throwing empty chocolate malt cups down the sewer on his way home from Zims, thus causing global warming).

Joan of Arc is still available.

Meanwhile, we have bigger fish to fry and lots of questions to answer.

I hear in mass every week how we must be reconciled to each other. I believe this but without sharing any details, how far can this be realistically be taken? Since it is Christmastime, the pressure to do so has again reared its ugly head and truthfully, I really, really don't want to have anything to do with the people in question. Is that a sin? Am I lying when I pray that I forgive those who trespass against me? I feel I do forgive, but I still want them to stay away. Sound advice is needed.

Realistically it can be taken really far. It has to be for the world to reconcile. Jesus took it to Calvary. The early Christians took it to supper for the lions. One of the North American martyrs...I forget which one...could not stand the Native Americans he was sent to save. He despised everything about them and could not tolerate the way they smelled. After being tortured by his captors he was sent home to Rome to recuperate. He insisted on going back to his mission when he got better. Since he was one of the North American martyrs, you know how his story ended.

In light of all of that, Christmas dinner with that big blow hard Uncle Ray doesn't seem so bad.

But I realize that some things that family members to to each other are hard to forgive. Let's take a worst case scenario. Uncle Ray gave your dog to Michael Vick. You have pulled Uncle Ray's name in the family gift exchange.

Give him a spiritual bouquet. Remember those? You make a card listing the prayers you've said for him, drawing a flower on the card for each one. That should make everyone feel better.

No one said forgiveness was easy. And sometimes it really is better to stay away from certain people for the sake of your own soul and theirs.

Step one is to rid yourself of the need for pay back.
That's the first big step toward forgiveness. Then pray for the person. You may have to do that all through dinner.

Am I lying when I pray that I forgive those who trespass against me?
If you don't want to see them forgiven, yes, you are. Otherwise sometimes it's the best we can muster.

Always try to muster better.
You can't expect world peace while you can't have dinner with Uncle Ray at the table. What are you going to do if the two of you are in heaven together? Still going to be holding that grudge. God has forgiven Uncle Ray and there you'll be with your arms folded in the corner. That's not going to work.

We have more questions in the in pile. We'll be back tomorrow!


JK said...

I think the martyr whose name you can't remember is St Noel Chabanel.

Anna said...

Sister Mary Martha,

Thank you, I needed this...


Fr. Daren J. Zehnle said...


I'm afraid I'm not familiar with Zims...

Fr. Daren J. Zehnle said...

Oh, and if you haven't heard, the Gem City has already used 900 tons of salt on the streets of our fair city: http://www.whig.com/353969786450236.php

Do keep the good people in your prayers.

Monica said...

jk - thanks! it was starting to bother me. I knew it wasn't st isaac, or john de brebeuf, but I couldn't remember who it was, and my book has really teensy print and the pages are falling out.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes it really is better to stay away from certain people for the sake of your own soul and theirs." I think this is a critical point Sister. We must forgive but we need not expose ourselves and our children to people who are determined to hurt us, even if it is a family member.

tonda said...

I wondered who started the trouble with the warming issues. But it can't all be his fault. I am sure I am guilty as well for tossing a coca cup down the drains as well.
Thanks for the direct to his site. It was a Wonderful read.

Faith said...

The thing about telling people how to greet you during the holidays is just, hmmmm, what's the adjective I'm searching for? Rude maybe? Maybe it depends on where you live in the county. The truth here at least at our local Target is everybody who works there looks to be either Hindu or Muslim so I really don't begrudge them saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I think better evangalization would occur if one is cheerfully polite and encouraging to the shop worker. Maybe have a nice crucifix hanging on a chain around your neck that's nice and visible. You know that old saying of St. Francis, "Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words."

I never resented the term Happy Holidays either. I always thought it included both Christmas and New Years. So I guess I just admired it's efficiency!

I guess I just can't work up the proper indignation over this.

Gretchen said...

How about...And Merry Christmas to you too, when someone says Happy Holidays. Gets your point across but doesn't put them on the spot.

I needed the reminder about forgiveness. Thank you for the post.

marylandfan said...

Faith, I agree. I can't work up proper indignation about it either. I have been feeling kind of bad about my lack of indignation even. The truth is, unless I know for a fact you celebrate Christmas, I tend to say "Happy Holidays!" myself. I'm not worried about offending anyone; I just think it would be odd to wish someone a Merry Christmas if they don't celebrate it. I mean, if someone said "Happy Hannukah" to me I wouldn't be angry, just a little perplexed. But I would appreciate the spirit of the thing. I guess that's just it: I'm too darned happy during the holidays (yes, Thanksgiving and New Year's too!) that I can't really muster up any kind of resentment about much of anything!!

Scelata said...

Since his name came up, I though some of your readers might be interested in the Psalter composed in honour of St Noel Chabanel.
Excellent, simple, useful compositions by Mr Jeff Ostrowski, a full lectionary cycle of resonsorial psalms (the whole 3 years,) and they are given as a gift to the Church!
And as to the main topic of your post, that was something I really need to hear, thank you, Sister.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Martha said...

I spent some time in a few different regions of France during the Christmas season, and for a country with such a secular outlook they really do Christmas in a big way. The place was chockablock with creches--in the hotels, in the restaurants, in the shops, in the town square. I did not see any menorahs. Maybe there was no demand for that. At Epiphany, the stores were carrying Three Kings cakes. There was even a cartoon on TV that featured a superhero version of Santa Claus. I wish I had known French well enough to follow it. He had a sort of batmobile sleigh.

I am new to reading this blog, and am working my way through all the entries, lest I ask a question that has already been answered at some point (leave it to a nun to give me a big reading assignment).

I appreciated the information about forgiveness, and expect to use it sometime, either for myself, or to advise someone else. "Always try to muster better" is a good description of the effort needed.

Lola Wants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lola said...

Oh, yes, the BEST way to deal with the people that make you crazy is to pray for them. Thank you for the reminder. I sometimes even have gone so far as to buy a mass intention for them from the Seraphic Mass Association! I read the book "The Porter of Saint Bonaventures" the story of Fr. Solanus. The most desperate people he counciled, he suggested a donation to the Mass Association.

It is just amazing the peace I feel and how God is so creative in answering prayers. Especially with the people who can be so trying. Doors open and solutions appear. (BTW I could just bet if THEY knew about Spiritual Bouquets and Mass Intentions, I might be on a couple of of their lists!)

Sorry about the multiple comments but, I just LOVE your Blog entries. I should get a "Heaven Help Us" Patron saint for struggling writers. Not to write a book, but to write better!

God Bless you Sr. Mary Martha! Keep on Keepin On

Anonymous said...

Whenever someone brings up St. Francis saying about using words only when necessary, they never remember the times when he DID use words. And what words they were:

"It seems to me that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in its entirety. In fact it says elsewhere: "if your eye causes you sin, tear it out and throw it away" (Mt 5 , 29). With this, Jesus wanted to teach us that if any person, even a friend or a relative of ours, and even if he is dear to us as the apple of our eye, we should be willing to repulse him, to weed him out if he sought to take us away from the faith and love of our God. This is precisely is why Christians are acting according to justice when they invade the lands you inhabit and fight against you, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and strive to turn away from his worship as many people as you can. But if you were to recognize, confess, and worship the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves instead"."

"Verba fratris Illuminati socii b. Francisci ad partes Orientis et in cospectu Soldani Aegypti", Codex Vaticanus Ott.lat.n.552

Faith said...

Hmmm. Was that quote from St. Francis' unsuccessful attempt to convert Saladin? Maybe the quote I referred happened later after he'd learned something from that experience! LOL!

Anyway, St.Francis may use words, he's attained a much higher level of holiness than I have. I'll just work on being respectful and kind and praying for others instead of indignantly lecturing them when they are so impolitic as to wish me "Happy Holidays."

Fr. Daren J. Zehnle said...

We can't say for certain that St. Francis actually said those words (...use words when necessary); it doesn't occur in any of the documentation.

Joyful Catholics said...

I was at a Methodist funeral of the mom of a good friend of mine who gave Albert Schweitzer credit for the ..."when necessary, use words" line. Hmm. I'm more inclined to believe it was someone before A.S. It's always been attributed to St. Francis...why is that? Thanks Fr. Daren, for giving me something to ponder and peruse for on line today. Good one.