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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lost Weekend

I have not recovered from the weekend. What day is it? Is Ray Milland sleeping on the couch? I have gone to two dinner parties, had wine, and stayed up really really late with a book I can't put down. I can not get back in the groove this week. I am merely going through the motions of the groove. Happily, there is a groove. I can hold on to the sides of the groove.

Sister Mary Martha, can you fill me in on novenas? I'm saying one to Saint Anne, and am good on weekdays, but have trouble on weekends. If I skip two days, do I have to start over again? How did novenas come about anyway? Is there one for every patron saint? I bet you've talked about this before, but I couldn't find it in the archives, and frankly got tired of looking. How hard would it be for the 7th grade boys to set up a search function for the archives? 7th graders are pretty resourceful--especially if there's pizza involved!

I was hoping the 7th grade boys could set up a search function for the car keys or the TV channel changer. Some things are beyond them.

I have talked about it before. But let's start fresh today, shall we?

If I skip two days, do I have to start over again?
Yes. The whole point of a novena is that you pray for nine days straight. If you don't pray for nine days straight it is not a novena. You just prayed for seven days and then took the weekend off then started praying again.

This baffles me. Did the problem take the weekend off? Did St. Anne fly to Jamaica? Have you never heard of post it notes? Refrigerator magnets?

How did novenas come about anyway?
First, a moment to reflect on what numbers meant to people back in the day. Ten is perfect. Nine is one less than perfect. (Just ask Olga Korbut) God is perfect. Humans are not.

The word novena comes from the Latin (Roman) word for nine. Not five, and then a break, and then four more days. I'm not sure there is a Latin word for that.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples stayed together and prayed for nine straight days. They did not take the weekend off. No one said, "I've gotta go make some calls. I'll be back in a jif." At the end of the nine days the Holy Spirit descended on them. So the nine days paid off in a big way. No one left to take the kids to soccer practice.

So novenas have been around literally since day one of the Church.

Is there one for every patron saint?
If you're talking about a little pamphlet with a nicely written prayer to say on each of the nine days, no, there is not a novena for every patron saint. Can you say a novena to any saint? Yes. You'll have to pray from your own mind, I'm guessing, for a lot of the really obscure saints.

But back to the main issue: if the problem is big enough to prompt a novena to St. Anne, how do you just forget about it for a couple of days? Baffling.

On top of which, you don't even have to pray for nine straight days. You just have to pray once a day each day! Here are some helpful tips from my prior post on novenas:

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!

Poor St. Anne. She must feel like she's hanging on call waiting. "Oh, St. Anne, can you please pray for...please hold..."

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Matrix and the Matrix

One afternoon when I had the flu I sat through The Matrix movies. Two of them. There was a third, but at the end of the second I had had enough. Somewhere in the middle of the second film, the star of the movie finds himself in a room with a man with an overly trimmed beard who explains what's going on in the film and what, exactly, "The Matrix" is all about. I could not understand one word of it. The man with the overly attended to beard might just as well have said, "I am Santa Claus, ho, ho, ho." It would have made as much sense.

I also have a question: My mom is a huge catholic zealot, and I happened to notice a bag of random religious items like crucifixes, and something called the Matrix Medal. Do you have any idea what that is?

I am Santa Claus, ho, ho, ho.

That's about as good an answer as the actual answer.

On top of the answer being a little out there, we're actually not supposed to talk about the Matrix. Not the movie. You can talk about that all you like. You can even get yourself a big black leather coat for all we care, although your money would be better spent on the poor. You're not supposed to talk about the Matrix, like the Fight Club, only we're not supposed to spread it around clandestinely either.

The Matrix involves a woman in Ireland who talks to Mary. Mary sightings are a bit of a Catch 22, if I may throw out yet another movie reference. We have to pay attention, to see if Mary is trying to tell us something, but until we know it's really Mary trying to tell us something, we can't pay attention.

Remember the story of St. Catherine LaBoure?
Go ahead and read it if you are not familiar with what went on there. I'll wait.

Notice that St. Catherine went to her confessor and made him deal with it and no one knew one thing about Catherine, or little angels in the night, or in which chair Mary sat.

So this woman in Ireland says the Mary described a new medal and made promises about a devotion to it. I believe Mary said something like, "put a picture of me kneeling before Jesus on the cross, pleading with him, and just write 'the Matrix' on there." I don't know who drew it up for the Irish woman. While there have been miracles ascribed to the devotion, the whole situation is very dubious.

For one thing, every time Mary really does come, she has something new to say. Not this time.

For another thing, like the situation in Medjugorje, which has now come into question, Mary comes again and again. What's wrong with her that she can't seem to get her point across? Again.

The woman also ran right out and started up some sort of Mary prayer center for the whole thing.

On top of that, some people don't believe the woman herself is on the up and up with the donations. And somewhere in there, Mary complains about the Euro. Or the European Union, I can't tell which, or to what she is objecting.

Mary might just as well be saying, "I am Santa Claus, ho, ho, ho."
I'll shut up about it now. Use the Google if you want to know more, but leave me out of it.

I do like that medal, though, I must admit. The back is a little cartoony, but the front is compelling. That's supposed to be Mary herself there in front of Jesus on the cross. That is supposed to be the hearts of Jesus and Mary there on the back.

Thankfully, I haven't been sick in quite some time and have better things to do with my time these days.

One more saint request, please! We are part of a Catholic Homeschool co-op.
This year we will be teaching our elementary group about "Continents" and sharing a Saint from each one. Except we can't find one for Antartica? Or one for the oceans? Any suggestions? Thank you!

I'll admit that Antarctica was a poser.

The oceans, a no brainer. You didn't mean a patron saint for each ocean, did you? The would be much trickier. The oceans: Stella Maris. Mary Star of the Sea.

The jury is still out on Antarctica. For now, I'm going with St. Nick, (speaking of Santa Claus) because, at least he's dressed for it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Rain

St. Swithun,
along with Batman, has a whole new fan club of people new to the bandwagon.

Thanks for that introduction to St. Swithun, Sister! I didn't know anything about him. I also love the picture of him standing in the rain! Any chance the artist would sell more copies of it?

That painting was done by a fellow Esty artist, B Meg Designs. I'm sure she would be more than happy to accommodate you. I told her there were no real pictures of St. Swithun from which to draw and I told her his story. She came up with that wonderful plaque which hangs right by the door so I can at least pretend it might be raining.

I'll bet you could ask her to paint just about any saint you'd like for that matter. What else is she doing with her time? She's an artist!

Dear Sister: Could you tell me who drew the picture of St. Swithin that you posted at the top of this post? The one with the geese. It looks very much like something my son, Ben Hatke, drew. Ben is a pretty well known artist and illustrator and I can usually recognize his work. Thanks! Mrs. Hatke

I'm sorry I can't. Why don't you show it to Ben and ask him. I can't see a signature on there. Your son is very handsome. My father liked breakfast the best, too. When he wouldn't eat we could always tempt him with eggs.

Long time reader, first time petitioner: I'm trying to find a patron saint for camping. A group of friends and I are going camping next week and I wanted to get a head-start looking for assistance for good weather and a happy camping trip.

You could always go with St. Joseph. I'm sure he did plenty of camping on his way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, from Bethlehem to Egypt, and finally from Egypt to Nazareth. I'll bet he has some fabulous camping tips. Oh, the stories he could tell. Scarey Herod stories around the campfire! And he didn't even have a car!

I'd also have to throw in a word for St. Anthony the Hermit. Anthony was the original hermit monk. He invented hermit monking. He found he just couldn't be holy around other people all the time. Back then they weren't even talking on their cell phones all the time or text messaging constantly or any of that superlatively annoying stuff. So he packed up to go live in a cave.

Unfortunately, people followed him. So he moved to a farther cave. And on and on. I don't think the people that followed him were as good at being holy or camping as St. Anthony was. They found it necessary to live a little bit near each other. They formed a hermit monk support group.

The hermit monk support group eventually came to be called a "monastery".

And now you know...the REST of the story. Thank you Paul Harvey. My father loved him, too.

In February 2006, I visited St. Swithun's (or Swithin's, as they spelled it on the historical markers) original burial site and his reconstructed shrine at Winchester Cathedral in England. Unfortunately, during the Reformation, his relics were pulled from his second tomb and thrown into a big pile of other saints' relics that had been in the Cathedral, in the yard outside the Cathedral. After the mob that desecrated the relics had left, monks came back and collected all the bones, placing them in large chests that are now inside the Cathedral. So St. Swithin is still there, but nobody knows where exactly among all the jumbled bones. Some of his relics (head, arms) had also been sent to other places (for example, Canterbury had his head), but I don't know if they were similarly desecrated (probably, the mobs were very thorough) and lost. And, although my visit was in February and in July, it was raining cats and dogs. But only in Winchester. Not raining north of there, or south of there, just in Winchester. I guess he's still upset about all the mistreatment.

Yes, I knew about that. I didn't want to bring it up. It upsets people. Hope your vacation wasn't ruined by all the rain or saint parts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Holy Batman, Jesus

I've a question for you Sister: Do you have any prayer cards for St. Swithun? My friend and I are curious about him for an amusing reason: He is patron saint of Gotham City, Batman's home. That is, the marketers for the new film set up several websites and telephone numbers for different places in Gotham, and there is even a site for St. Swithun's asking people to sigh of up adoration and so forth. In any case, it seems good to us that our silly fandom should allow us to learn about a saint.

I hear that!

Isn't that what they say now?
I'm floored, I have to say. I am a colossal fan of St. Swithun, simply because he and I both love it when it rains. Now it turns out the Catholic Church of Gotham City is St. Swithun's. Who knew the Dark Knight and I had anything in common besides a lot of black fabric. Does Batman love it when it rains? Is Gotham City like Seattle?

It turns out there's lots to do over at St. Swithun's in Gotham City. You can go Christmas caroling, for one thing, besides the perpetual adoration. It's good to know they have perpetual adoration there in Gotham City. I'm glad they're watching out for something besides the Bat Signal.
Somebody was not on the ball, though, because the Joker graffitied St. Swithun's Church's literature. Shameful. But then what would one expect from an arch villain. We must pray for his soul.

I'm kidding. There is no Joker. No Batman, no Gotham City. There was a pool hall in Santa Monica called Gotham City but it closed, so no Gotham City.

There was a St. Swithun, however. He died in the early 9th century. He was a bishop. Whatever St. Swithun did while he was alive to earn himself the title of saint, he is remembered most for all the rain he has caused since his death. St. Swithun specifically asked that he be buried in the churchyard and not be moved. He wanted to be outside so he could hear the rain on his 'roof'.

Our house has a big pitched wooden roof. It's just heavenly when it rains. So soothing. Unfortunately, as the song says, it never rains in California. I completely understand Swithun's request.

But the first step on the road to sainthood is to dig up the saint (to make sure the saint is in there) and when Swithun was dug up, he was moved indoors to the fancy saint area.
Ever since the move, if it rains on St. Swithun's Day, it rains and rains and rains. Happily for us, we have yet another saint poem as a result:

St. Swithuns' day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain na mair.

I suppose 'na mair' means it will rain, NOT.
Poor Swithun must be straining to hear it.

Or maybe he's like Batman, or an actual bat, and hears everything just fine.

To answer your actual question, no, we don't have any prayer cards or medals of St. Swithun. I have a little picture an artist drew for me as a gift hanging on my wall.

When we can't find a medal of the saint we want, we do something like this. There are plenty of obscure saints. As long as we can come up with some image, we're in business. I love the obscure saints. I figure they have more time on their hands to intercede for you, since no one is talking to them.

I do hope you aren't glomming on to St. Swithun just because of Batman. I suppose I should count my blessings that anyone is glomming onto him for any reason. It just doesn't seem right to me that 2000 years of Sacred Tradition is trumped by Batman.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Trails

We're still on the patron saint trail today. Wonderful for me! My favorite hobby.

My other favorite hobby is reading non fiction. I don't have anything against fiction, there is just so much I still need to find out about and so little time to read. Right now I'm reading "Ben Franklin" by ....the guy who wrote "Ben Franklin".

I should say I WAS reading "Ben Franklin" until I received a gift copy of "My Cousin the Saint". It starts off with quite a bang, I'll tell you. I'll be back with a full book report one of these days.

Today's saints:
Do you have a patron saint for my friend Anne? She is still terribly angry at her exhusband of 20 years and the woman he married 20 years ago. She's livid, not just peeved. She is losing her relationship with her daughter over her attitude, as she wouldn't go to the daughter's wedding since he would be there. He was a pig 20 years ago, but she has to move on at some point. Who can help her with this? Also, have you ever heard of the Crosiers or St. Odillia? I was at a retreat there last week and it just didn't feel "right". Thanks for your advice!

Poor Anne. Though I will never discount the power of saints to move mountains, and I indeed have a couple of saints in mind for her, has anyone thought of ....therapy? Festering bitter anger with no attempt at forgiveness is actually a sin. Has anyone mentioned that to her? Poor thing. Here she is blaming two people for ruining her life and the truth is she is doing it all by herself and taking everyone down in flames with her--and not just figuratively.

Ah well. I suggest two saints: St. Rita, the patron saint of rotten marriages for starters. St. Rita was married to a real winner. She didn't have to worry about getting an annulment, though, because the Mafia took care of her problem for her. Not actually for her, but...no more husband. St. Rita was really worried that her two sons would try to avenge their father's death and just end up getting themselves killed. She prayed and prayed that they wouldn't do that and her prayers were answered. They both died of illness.

At that point, St. Rita was free to fulfill her lifelong ambition of becoming a nun. The nuns would have none of it. Rita did everything she could think of to get herself into the convent, but a widow with two sons, even dead ones, was not acceptable nun material back in those days. She finally parked herself outside the convent walls. Angels lifted her over them.

The nuns did everything they could think of to get rid of her, making her life miserable to prove to her that she was not acceptable nun material. When St. Rita received the stigmata, they had to back down. They still didn't have much to do with her, though, because her stigmata wound, which consisted of a single thorn from the crown of thorns, festered and smelled to high Heaven. She had to stay in a room by herself. After her death, and even now, her former room smells of roses. St. Rita herself is incorrupt and on display. She is said to move around in there from time to time, float up and down, look at people, that sort of thing.

I would also suggest, for poor bitter Anne, St. John the Baptist, patron saint of a fresh start. Even though I'm sure John wasn't so fresh himself out there on the desert, he offered freshness to everyone else.

You could also try St. Paul. There's a great example of a 180 degree turn.

And St. Peter, for anger management.

And maybe St. Lazarus, in the hope that someday soon Anne, too, will be back from the dead.

As for the Crosiers and St. Odillia, yes, I have heard of them. I can't think why they bugged you. Although... St. Odillia was the companion of St. Ursula, as in St. Ursula and the thousand, ten thousand, whatever number goes with whateve version of her story, martyrs. We don't really know how many martyrs there were or what exactly happened there as the story has gotten all out of hand. The Crosiers veneration of St. Odillia is based on private revelation and we are not required to go along with any private revelation.

Dear Sr. Mary Martha, Here is another patron saint match request. My adopted daughter was born deaf and she now has cochlear implants which enable her to hear at some level. We are trying to teach her to speak, but it is a difficult process. How about a patron saint of the deaf or speech impaired? By the way, do you think it is coincidental that my children have similar behaviors or qualities (not always good) as their patron saints? Thanks, Regina

The real question is, "do we believe in coincidence at all?"

The patron saint of the speech impaired is St. Raymond Nonnatus. That's because he had his mouth padlocked shut. St. Raymond spent all his time ransoming captives until he was finally taken captive himself. Then he spent all his time preaching and railing against people who take other people captive. Hence the padlock.

I'm sure it is a difficult process. But also such an exciting one!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dust Up

We dust the pews on Saturday mornings. Now for a little blog dusting.

Sister, why would we not eat in heaven? We'll have a real body. And Jesus ate after he was resurrected (to prove he wasn't a ghost, I've heard). Where would "no eating in heaven" come from?

It comes from St. Augustine, who made educated guesses about what we'll be like in heaven based on how Jesus looked and behaved after His resurrection. Jesus ate, but He didn't have to eat. He could knock on the door or He could just show up on the other side of it.

So I suppose you could eat in heaven. But you won't have to eat. You'll have your body. The one you have now ( by the way, a really good impetus to get in shape now, should you keel over tomorrow.) Don't worry if you are old and decrepit. St. Augustine thinks you'll be 35 in heaven, as that is when you are the most physically perfect. None of the things that have to work now will have to work in heaven. Your heart won't have to beat, your digestive system will be out of business. That right there makes me think eating won't be a good plan in heaven.

Here's a scientific, sort of, explanation.

These are all just guesses, though. I think they are good guesses. Go ahead and make a heavenly pig of yourself if you like.

This brings us back to the animals in heaven argument, of which I will never let go. As you know (I hope), I am of the persuasion that animals, who do not possess an immortal soul or the consciousness to choose right from wrong, will not be in heaven. The food situation is just another point in my favor. If you get to have your favorite food, why wouldn't the heavenly lion get to have a nice fat fawn? And what if you want steak in heaven? Is it just pretend steak, like in the Matrix?

Get a grip. Heaven is about being one with God, not sewing circles and cocktails.

would it be legit for me to pray to my sister? Bear with me... She died when she was four and she was mentally handicapped. Before the age of reason + baptism + mental handicap = free pass to heaven, right? So can I ask for her intercession? Or is that not the done thing...

That's not a done thing, even though we believe it is indeed a free pass to heaven. No one's going to stop you. (People are still praying to St. Christopher and St. Philomena and they didn't even exist.) The reason is because, since we really don't know what goes on in heaven exactly, we wait for proof (those pesky miracles) before we go around pestering for intercessions.

I'm sure your sister is in heaven. She's 35 now.

Sister, I have a question about the sacrament of reconciliation. I was baptized last March through the RCIA, so I never needed to go to confession prior. But I now feel the need to do some penance for my sins, but am not sure how to start. I know that the kids in the catholic schools go through some preparation before their first confession. Do I have to do something like that? Is there a big deal about your "first time" - even if you've already been confirmed, etc?

Really? I'm surprised to hear it. I would have thought that you would have gone through all the sacraments in their proper order, just as any young child would, just in a condensed form. What do I know? Not much.

There is no" big deal" about your first confession. I assume you mean is there some type of ceremony involved. No. You just have to examine your conscious and show up. People have all kinds of ways they prepare. They make lists that they take with them sometimes. They go through the Ten Commandments as a guide to see where they may have transgressed. I like this list.

I have shown this list many times with the same response: you can't get through a couple of hours without sinning. Here's more on confession.

PS - Do you have a patron saint/bracelet for teachers? Couldn't find anything on Etsy. Thanks!

I do. St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of teachers, students, pencil makers and people who struggle with their weight, is now available.

Hello Sister, would St John of God be a good Saint for me. I am 51 and still have not found 'my way' in life and ministry. I can't be a nun because I am married with 3 children. And I have never seemed to find my 'vocation'.

Yes, you have. It's called "mom". In which case, your patron saint would be St. Ann, mother of Mary. Are your children teenagers? Then it's St. Monica, patron saint of mothers of teens, as she had quite a handful with her son St. Augustine who, before he became a Doctor of the Church, earned himself the patronage of beer drinkers and party animals.

It could be that you just need a hobby you enjoy, in which case I'd go with St. Rose of Lima. Her parents were hoping that she was their ticket to easy street when their gorgeous daughter married a wealthy young man. St. Rose would have had her pick of the lot. Instead, she rubbed pepper in her face to keep the men at bay and moved out into the backyard. She felt bad that she wasn't pulling her weight and was such a financial disappointment to the family, so she made things and sold them around town.

I think patron saints are like movies and favorite songs. You can't have just one. You may have a special devotion, but there is always a problem and a saint to go with it. You don't need to limit yourself. What's my favorite movie? Any good one that I'm watching. What's my favorite song? Anything that's lifting my spirit at the moment.

Not "Deeeea--ahha-veee- e- ooo-o- r- rah cee -e -ee." Never that song. And to think she also did "Stand by Your Man".

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tooth Wisdom

Hey Sister, my sister and I are getting our wisdom teeth out next month. Since it's your favorite hobby, do you think you could find a patron saint for teeth?

Are you getting all of them at once? Not that it matters for the patron saint thing. I had all my wisdom teeth out at once because the dentist said, "Why go through that twice?"

Here's why: Getting them out a few at a time is much easier to deal with. Just ask the patron saint for whom you search, St. Apollonia.

At any rate, during a big persecution in the third century, the heathens went crazy dragging people from their houses and the like, and the powers that be just let it all go on. St Apollonia was dragged from her house and told to renounce her Christian faith, or pray to pagan gods...something along those lines. When she refused, the heathens broke out all her teeth. She makes for a great gruesome holy card on a par with St. Bartholomew and St. Sebastian or the leg surgery of St. Cosmos and Damian.

So there you go. Unlike a lot of virgin martyr stories, this has historical documentation in the form of a letter by Dionysius. He wrote a letter to the bishop or the governor or somebody and told the story of poor old Apollonia. Somehow Apollonia has become one of those young virgin martyrs of the St. Agnes, St. Lucy, St. Wilgefortis ilk. She was indeed a virgin martyr, but she was an old gal.

It doesn't end there. We haven't covered the martyr part. That's good news for you, since she didn't die from having all of her teeth removed and neither will you or you sister. You're only having four teeth removed, anyhow, and in a comfy chair while either you or your teeth are asleep.

After the tooth torture failed to cause St. Apollonia to renege on Jesus, the heathens dragged her over to a fire and threatened to throw her in. St. Apollonia actually tricked them into loosening their grip on her. I think she must have said something like, "Oh all right, let me go and I'll renounce whatever you want..." When they let her go, she skipped off into the fire. Hence the martyr part.

The larger question here is, how is this not suicide? There were lots of virgin martyrs who jumped into fires and off of bridges and such to save their chastity. So the first answer is, 'there's safety in numbers'. It seems to have been an accepted way of saving yourself from sin at the time.

Secondly, we can't judge what was going on with St. Apollonia, just as we can't judge anyone who commits suicide. She may have been off her rocker from having all her teeth pulled. God may have told her to skip into the fire. We don't know.

She's a saint in heaven, the end. She certainly exhibited the number one reason for sainthood: heroic virtue. I think it's much harder to be heroically virtuous when you are old and tired and have just had all your teeth smashed and pulled out than it is when you are young and full of vim and feel like you really might make in difference in the world.

You can ask Mother Teresa about that, she of the 'dark knight of the soul'. She did it anyway. It must have been much harder to do it "anyway" old than when she was young and had Jesus whispering in her ear.

You know what frustrates me? I can easily get my hands on a medal of St. Philomena or St. Christopher who have been knocked off the calendar of saints and I can't get a hold of a medal of this very useful saint who is historically documented. What's up with that? You and your sister and I will have to offer up our sufferings for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Although I have a feeling that your offerings are going to trump mine this time around.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All Kinds of Glue

Like everyone else on the planet, we have a junk drawer. Junk drawers are for things that can otherwise not be categorized, but need to be kept somewhere. Since, the items in a junk drawer are too valuable to throw out, but just sit idly year after year, I think people should start selling their junk drawers on ebay. The whole drawer up for sale.

Sister, What kind of glue did you use for St. Francis? Our St. Francis recently fell during a very windy day and his arm broke! Since my wife paid nearly $50 for him I'd like to try and fix him. He is made of resin.

It was something from the junk drawer. Not the junk junk drawer...the tool junk drawer. We have a drawer where we keep our tools, the kind that you need to grab: hammers, screwdrivers flat and phillip's head, tape measure, drill. Then we have a tool junk drawer that has every size of allen wrench that ever came with anything we had to put together ourselves, sand paper, cup hooks paint brushes that still have life in them, and various kinds of glue. The tool junk drawer is twice the size of the tool drawer.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I know it was something I grabbed out of the tool junk drawer. There are three kinds of glue in there. Two are those 'bond anything' types in a tube where, once you open the tube and use the glue, the glue bonds the cap shut forever so you can only use each tube once, unless you get everything from you house and your neighbor's house that needs gluing and do it all right then. The other is wood glue. We may have used 'crazy glue'. We keep that in the office junk basket along with mini calculators, staples that don't fit any stapler we have, three sizes of small staplers that have no staples in them, two magnifiying glasses, Elmer's glue and rubber cement.

Whatever we used on the poor head of St. Francis didn't really work, as his head is more balancing in place than glued back on. A stiff wind may just decapitate him.

You can purchase a new St. Francis from Santos Carver! It will never, ever break.

And speaking of glue:
I've never commented before, but I'm looking for help. Is there a novena I could say for family harmony, family unity, family peace...SOMETHING for this family? My family's always been close but lately financial issues (what else?) are threatening to cause deep rifts. I'm thinking St. Joseph is the saint to pray to, but is there anything special I can do?

Every saint has a novena. Just google "Novena to Saint Fill in the Blank". You might also consider praying the rosary together with your family, or doing the novena together with your family. That way, you'll all be on the same page. That might put an end to some of the schism in itself.

I'll always recommend the Infant of Prague for financial problems. That's why I recently put him on a squeezy coin purse. St. Joseph is an excellent choice for your family. He really had a lot on his plate. Wonder what it must be like to live with two people who are perfect? And we know the Holy Family was poor. Finally, there is my all time favorite, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Here's some help on sticking with your novena. You won't even need any glue.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Santos Carver

I know many of you have visited our little shop of patron saints. I wonder how many of you have stayed a little longer and perused the rest of etsy. It's an interesting place of handmade and homemade, vintage things and supplies for people who make handmade and homemade items. It is also a community of craftsmen and artists.

I had mentioned here on the blog that St. Francis of Assisi fell over in the garden and broke. Last year he fell over and his head cracked off. We glued it back on. This year when he fell, his bowl with a little bird on it broke. He's holding his bowl, looking down at it, and now that it's broken he appears to be looking sadly at his broken bowl. It's really pathetic, especially when you realize his head is barely on.

One of the kind artists at etsy, "Santos Carver" contacted me and offered to make us a new statue for our garden. Having seen this man's work, I said no. Wait...that came out wrong....

St. Francis of Assisi is a cheesy hollow plaster thing that's painted all grey. I picked it up at a craft store at the end of the summer when items that sell for $20 are going for fifty cents.

This man at etsy is an artist. He carves wood. Apparently, while he's carving some miracles occur and the wood comes alive.

He insisted that we have one of his works. It came on Friday, a box in a box in a box for safe keeping. It's alive!

Pictures will not do it justice! He has somehow managed to keep the main body of the statue rather rough while bringing out the wood grains as though they were paint. The hues are beautiful and soothing. You must click on the pictures here to get a good look!

But the hands and face! Mary's face seems to glow. Exquisite and smooth, the expression is inspired.

Words won't do her justice, either.

We were also impressed that the little wooden cross came separately wrapped and fastens with a little wooden rod. No metal, all wood. There is a little glass window there behind Mary's head, so she appears to have a halo of light. Ingenious!

We have been moving Mary all around in the garden to find the perfect spot. She'll stay there until fall when the garden dies back and then move again for winter as the look of the garden changes.

Obviously, we can't thank Santos enough for his beautiful and inspiring work. You can contact him through his shop and have a chat about how great he is at what he does, or leave a note here and I'll be happy to pass it along. But do visit! He does custom work!

Mary is certainly the most beautiful thing in our garden now, which includes the flowers.

We do have a little plaster statue of St. Rita that has been painted. I think whoever made that thing just took a St. Theresa statue or some other nun statue and painted a red dot on her head to show that this is supposed to be St. Rita, who had the stigmata. (Not the whole stigmata, not all five wounds of Christ. She just had the crown of thorns, and not the whole crown, just the one thorn that made a hole in her head.) We also have a garden gnome, a little grey one from Ireland. We pretend he is St. Fiacre.

By the way, if you head over to etsy and sign up there, be sure and tell them heavenhelpus sent you. I get points for that...like S&H green stamps. I think they just started doing that today.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Saints for Modern Times

My favorite hobby is patron saint matching. I was thrilled to stumble across my new saint matching icon there on the bottom left! I'm sorry it doesn't fit on there. I hope you can still use it. On most screens, I think, you can still see a tiny bit of the yellow box you click to hit "GO" to find your saint. Click on that tiny bit of yellow to use the patron saint matching engine. The other day I was on a laptop and the yellow box is was not visible at all. So sorry. It's summer, so the eighth grade boys are more difficult to locate. Maybe they can fix it. They fix everything on my computer.

Of course, that saint matching icon is pretty cut and dry. It's the official list. When I do my own saint matching, I only start with that list. After that, I delve into how the saint's life mirrors your own. For example, I recently made a dieter's charm bracelet. I put St. Catherine of Sienna on there, as she survived only on the Host, St. Thomas Aquinas because he is so famously fat that priests will often use him as a analogy, as in "as fat as Thomas Aquinas, St. Martha, the patron saint of cooks (because you have to watch what you eat and really successful dieters like Oprah have their own cooks), St. Lawrence, who was roasted to death, St. Charles Borromeo, patron saint of the stomach.

St. Charles Borromeo would make a good patron saint for mothers, too. There is no mention of stomachs in his story, as I recall. Instead, his story involves disciplining an unruly bunch of monks who hated him for it. Did I say hated? They tried to kill him. They missed. I surmise that being so disliked by everyone around you might give you ulcers and IBS and that's how he wound up being that patron saint of stomachs. His name is easy to remember, too, because it sounds like Bromo (seltzer).

Anyhow, don't you think he would make a good patron saint for mothers? Maybe your children don't actually hate you (and least they won't in another hour when it all blows over) and let's hope they are not trying to kill you, even though it may seem that way. But St. Charles Borromeo certainly feels your pain, wouldn't you think?

There is actually a patron saint for mothers with nasty, terrible children. I forget who it is just now....I'll have to use that icon. It's a female saint and I think her children did try to kill her. Not St. Menendez. I'll get back to you on that.

St. Charles Borromeo could just as easily be the patron saint of people who are frustrated that everyone always gets their name wrong, as his name was actually "Carlo".

Which brings me to these follow up comments from readers:

By the age of 8 my daughter knew she wanted to be a vet. We lived the rural life and had a lot of animals so this was natural for her. She is now entering her junior year of college as a pre-vet student. She has tunnel vision in this. She recently met a young man and before agreeing to date him said nothing is going to stop her from being a vet. My point is, 7 isn't too young to have a direction.


As a six-year-old, I wanted to be a teacher and guess what? More than fifty years later, I'm a teacher. Also, I think that technically, a "nun" is cloistered. A "sister" may or may not wear a habit, but is not cloistered. Am I right, Sr. Mary Martha?

True enough. There are people who find there way at an early age. There are people who find their way much later.

I have a patron saint for both!

Finding your way at an early age: Blessed Imelda. It's a good thing for her that she did find her way at an early age, because she never made it to anything else. Little Imelda left for the convent at age eight! She lived for the day when she could receive the Holy Eucharist. She said something to the effect, "How could anyone receive Jesus that way and not die?" Back then, people did not start receiving the Eucharist until age 12. When she was eleven the host appeared above Little Imelda's head, there in the convent chapel. Everyone saw it, so they rushed over, got the priest and gave her her first Holy Communion right there on the spot, at which point Imelda fell over dead.

Officially, her patronage is the Holy Eucharist.

St. John of God's official patronage is nursing and booksellers. I think he's a good candidate for people who take a long time to find their way. St. John of God banged around for years doing every crazy thing he could think of, including selling holy cards and religious books, even though he was about as religious as Frank Zappa. He finally went off the deep end altogether and ended up in the looney bin. He came out a saint.

Well...saintly. He came out of the looney bin alive and you can't be a saint until you are dead.

As for being a "nun" or a "sister"...no, you are not correct there. All nuns are sisters (you would address a nun as "Sister"), but not all sisters are nuns. It's all in the vows.

The patron saint of vets, by the way, is St. Martin de Porres. I think he makes a great patron saint for those people who are obsessed with Star Trek.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Where There's Smoke

It's so lovely and cool here. It's because the smoke from all the fires is blocking out the sun. A metaphor for life in general.

More on saint making:
Supposing one prays to more than one Blessed and results in a miracle, how will it be attributed? I happen to have a family member who needs a miracle, and am not certain whether to confine my prayers to a particular Saint/Blessed, or call upon any and all available. Father Damien sounds very appropriate for our needs, though he already has his.

You have two options. Put all your eggs in one basket or cover some ground. If you're trying to help out with a cause for sainthood, you're really going to have to focus your effort, otherwise your proof of a miracle just won't work.

When we hear the stories of a saintly miracle, we generally hear the part where a person prayed to St. Soandso and his tumor melted. But in actuality, usually what has happened is that a whole bunch of people were praying to St. Soandso on Mr. Tumor's behalf.

You could get your whole bunch of people to spread out their prayers among a few 'Blesseds', but you would not be able to submit the resulting miracle, should it occur, to the Congregation because no one would know which saint had helped.

Out of the smoke, this question:
Sister, I hope you don't mind my asking a question here, but I have a saintly question of my own, regarding my favorite saint, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Do you know anything about Our Lady of the Airways? There is a Catholic chapel in Boston's Logan Airport (run by the Archdiocese, so I am assuming it's legit) with that name, and another in the Toronto area. I haven't been able to find anything about her on the Internet.

Our Lady has a gazillion names. At least one hundred. Besides her titles, such as Blessed Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Sorrowful Mother and on and on, there are her names from sightings: Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe did not appear in Guadalupe, by the way. (The place is called Guadalupe now, but wasn't called Guadalupe for 300 years after the apparition.) Although there is an Our Lady of Guadalupe, it's not the Our Lady of Guadalupe that comes to mind. Like St. Philomena...the one that's still standing.

There is no "Our Lady of the Airways", so to speak. No sighting of Mary at an airport, helipad, airplane wing, airshow, runway or baggage claim. I think they just called the Boston airport chapel "Our Lady of the Airways" because a chapel named for Our Lady at an airport would make her Our Lady of the Airways. It sounds better than "Our Lady of the Airport" or "Our Lady of Logan".

I don't know what's going on in Toronto.

The priest who is in charge of Our Lady of the Airways at Logan Airport has some very interesting stories to tell. For one thing, he has to take his shoes off and put them back on about a hundred times a day.

And finally, out of the fire:
Sister, thank you for this post about vocations! My almost-7 year old daughter is talking about being a nun. I know things could change, she's so young, but they may not. She's not as mercurial as most. I was going to ask what kind of education one needs to become a nun. I know if you're going into a teaching or nursing order you need that school first, but what if you're a contemplative or cloistered order?

When I was seven years old I told my mother I wanted to be a nun during the day (I didn't know there was any kind of nuns but teachers, or any teachers who weren't nuns) and come home at night to my husband and family. I thought that's what the nuns did. The way things are going with nuns these days, my childhood dream may yet be realized.

Anyhow, that's what it's like to be seven years old. It's lovely that your daughter is thinking about a vocation, but she has no idea what a nun actually is. Really.

If only it were 1960, she wouldn't need any education past high school to go be a teacher. I'm not kidding. Now she'll have to get some kind of degree. Maybe not, if she's a missionary...not sure.

I'm also not sure if the contemplatives and cloisters actually require much education. I don't think they do. You have to have decent reading comprehension skills. That's because they spend a lot of time picking out one little sentence of scripture and thinking about it for hours and hours. That's what they do most of the day. Hence the term 'contemplative.'

But don't think they just take any dumb bunny. Just because you want to be a nun doesn't mean the nuns want you. Everyone seems to think you can just go be a nun. That has never been true. (Well, almost never. Galileo's daughters got in.) You have to fit into the community. You have to be subservient and obedient. You have to carry your weight. You have to have something to

And above all, you have to know what you're getting into. We'll love hearing from your daughter when she's 18. Will they take her if she has tattoos?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Aloha Father Damien

Have you all heard that Father Damien, the saint of the Hawaiian lepers, is going to be canonized? The Pope gave Father Damien the saintly green light just 3 days ago! We have much to discuss!

On a personal note, I was very excited because I thought one of my favorite Church Triumphant members was going to have his feast day on my birthday. But, no. His feast day is going to be on May 10.
Mark your calendars now, so you don't have to rely on me to remind you on the wrong day!

The thing that I find most exciting about Father Damien is that, since he is a new saint, it's easy to find out what his miracles were. Everyone always whats to know what a saint's miracles were and we really don't find that out most of the time. Mother Frances Cabrini's two miracles? Your guess is as good as mine. St. Juan Diego was canonized just a few years ago. His miracles? No clue.

Let's do a quick re-cap on saints so we're all on the same page here. I've gone over it.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints just turned in their paperwork on Father Damien the other day. The Pope read it over. Father Damien is in!

Father Damien was a Belgian priest who wanted to do missionary work and ended up in Hawaii. It wasn't a state yet. The Hawaiians were getting all kinds of diseases from all the traffic through their island paradise. The government of Hawaii, which at that point involved a King and a Princess, decided to stick all the lepers on an island of their own. They were given housing and food, but no medical supplies.

The lepers colony island, cut off from the rest of the world, became like that movie "Escape from New York", where all the criminals are just dumped in a barricaded New York City which has become a giant prison and everyone just runs all around killing each other and snatching purses. It probably wasn't as bad as the prison New York City, because all the inmates were ill and probably didn't have the energy to do anything too monstrous.

But the place was a lawless mess and the lepers weren't particularly kind to each other. Enter Father Damien in 1865. Everyone in Hawaii is still talking about him.

Now, about his miracles. A quick side trip:

Help, Sister, help! That St. Zoe of Rome link* has a SAINT Kateri medal for sale! See how right you are about the need for a Devil's Advocate?

Kateri Tekakwitha is indeed NOT (yet) a saint. I have her in my own shop and there is no "saint" on there. That is because she is awaiting her second miracle. I really like the look of that St. Zoe medal, which is why I posted the link. I didn't even notice SAINT Kateri. I will write them a letter.

Back to Father Damien. The first miracle was a nun who was cured of something or another, some nasty intestinal thing way back in 1895. It's the second miracle to which I want to draw your attention. The second miracle was an old Hawaiian woman. I believe she is 83. At any rate, she had cancer of the fat. Who knew there even was such a thing, but there is. The tumor was removed but it was too late. The cancer had moved to her...everywhere. She had cancer of the everything. Her life could have been prolonged with chemo and radiation, but nothing would save her.

Big deal, she's 83, right?

She told them to keep their stupid radiation and chemo and she marched straight over to the tomb of Father Damien. (I don't believe he's in there anymore, by the way. I believe he was taken back to Belgium some time ago. It's the thought that counts.)

So long inoperable cancer! The old Hawaiian lady, who is Father Damien's ticket to sainthood, is already making plans to attend his canonization in Rome. Old, schmold.

This is why I made the little Kateri side trip, by the way. Blessed Kateri is in need of her second miracle. It could be YOU! Well...I hope it's not you. I hope you don't need such a miracle. But if you do, or a loved one does, this is your big chance!

Not only Blessed Kateri, but also Mother Teresa is still idling and so is a favorite of mine, Blessed Brother Andre.*  Also in need of a second miracle, the parents of St. Therese the Little Flower.

Here's a little ditty I've composed to help you remember:

May you not need a miracle.
But in case that you do.
Say a quick prayer
to a "Blessed" or two.

*Brother Andre was canonized in 2010!"