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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, August 11, 2008


People always want to know where in the world celibate clergy and religious get off giving people advice on love and marriage. I can't say I blame them. I certainly have no desire to give advice on love and marriage.

That said, it's not as though I know absolutely nothing about it. I'll admit there must be plenty I don't know. But I do live on the planet, I read, I see movies, I know a few people, some who are successful in love and others who are not.

And I have one big advantage from my side of the fence: total objectivity. Well, almost total. I do live on the planet, know people and have opinions.

Dear Sister Mary Martha, OK, I got the Novena stuff down...almost. Here are some questions for you on a similar matter (that's the closest thing to a seguey I can get): Like an idiot, I have fallen for my best friend (opposite sex). I want marry him. He knew this at some point, but seems to have forgotten it and we remain friend-like. I have been praying on this a lot, to/for the following: *That God will re-create his heart. *Heal his mind body and soul (he'd be more disposed to a relationship with me if he could get his health in order). *That I will be able to accept God's will (though I have NO IDEA how I'm going to know what that is). *That Mary our Mother will take an active role in match-making (MY mom would if she were alive--at least kick down with some comforting words and carrot cake). *St. Joseph for meaningful employment for the two of us and his obvious family ties. *St Ann because she must have had something to do with Mary and Joseph getting together. *Sts Jude, Francis and Anthony because we have always been close and their reps for coming through with difficult cases. *The Holy Spirit for guidance and clarity on the situation. *PadrePio because he loves families so much and we both come from very loving homes. The questions? Am I praying against myself? When does it cross over into superstition? When is it "perseverance" to keep praying and prudence to stop? Did I miss any Patrons who are known to help out 40 year old teenagers? Sorry this is so long--I've been trying to sort this out through my prayers and still don't feel like I'm any closer to an answer. Thank you in advance for your help! Regards, M

I just want to know, before we talk about this, is there something wrong with him? By that I mean, he's never dated anybody in his whole life, he won't leave his sainted mother's side, he's so shy he can never assert himself or speak up for himself, that sort of thing?

Because if he's just one of those people who stumbles cluelessly through life, unable to take charge of want he needs or wants, I'd say stop praying and state your case.

But if he's a relatively normal man (who is normal, after all?) then I think you are praying for the wrong person. It seems to me that you are praying for this person to completely change, when the truth is, he either gets it already and he just doesn't want to marry you, or he doesn't get it at all and you are going to have to tell him. You should be praying for yourself to find your nerve to talk with him about it, or move on.

Between Padre Pio, St. Jude, St. Ann, St. Joseph, St. Francis and St. Anthony, you've become a prayer stalker. That is you are stalking this poor man through prayer. Next you'll be driving by his house day and night with your novenas in one hand and a rosary in the other.

I love a good novena, but it seems to me you are just throwing all the spaghetti against the wall and hope that some of it sticks. Did you know that is an excellent way to find out if spaghetti noodles are done? Throw one noodle against the wall and if it sticks up there it's done. Be sure and take it back off again or before long you'll have the city map of Houston up there. Did you ever see a city map of Houston? It looks like someone threw a pot of spaghetti against the wall and it was all done.

I digress.

You seem to know what's what here, referring to yourself as a forty year old teenager. I wish I had some carrot cake for you.

Here's my advice. Tell him you are in love with him and want to marry him. If he says he can't because he is in ill health and has no job, ask him if he is in love with you and wants to marry you. Is the old nun missing something here? Why is this not an option? If two adults can't do that, then I suppose you really do have to find one more patron saint, Maria Goretti the patron saint of teens.

And depending on his answer, either St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patron saint of a happy marriage or St. John the Baptist, patron saint of a clean slate.


Jobee said...

Sister, this is one problem that can be solved without prayer (sorry). If someone is not into you, you just need to move on and find someone that is. Chances are, you will find someone else that does want marriage etc. More than likely (barring mental illness or other major problme) the person that wasn't interested before will suddenly become interested when he realizes that the world will not wait on him and he might lose out on someone special.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's a patron saint of blessed cheery wit in there somewhere that the dear good-hearted sister has as a patron...
God bless.

Tom in Vegas said...

My gosh, I LOVE saints. I'm beginning to think that there are more saints than causes (this is a good thing).

a sinner said...

Hi Sister,

Have you checked out Irena Sendler on youtube? Would it be okay to pray for her intercession? Surely she must be a saint! Do you know if there's any movement afoot for her canonization? I know there's supposed to be a cooling down period after the person dies, but I also know that's been waived in some cases.

TheIntrepidPie said...

Excellent blog! When I was little, I was the official house "spaghetti tester" - I'd run from wherever I was in the house to toss spaghetti against the wall to see if it was done.

Plus, the best relationship I've ever recieved has always been from clergy.

Maria said...

Hee... Houston does look like Spaghetti tossed against a wall.

I feel for the person who asked the question. I was in love with someone very much, but he couldn't love me back for whatever the reason. It really, hurt to have my heart broken and it still hurts because I still think about him from time to time. As much as I loved him it wasn't enough, and I know we would not have had a marriage or children because it wasn't what he wanted. So... I too said a novena, however, my novena was not for him to get a clue and come back to me, it was so that I could heal and get over him.

At the same time, a song hit the pop-airwaves and it gave me some hope that Someday I will be loved... sooner rather than later, would be nice... but all I can do is pray for patience, right?

Rosario said...

Sister, I love your info on Saints! I just have a quick comment, I think that most of the time you've said that the patron saint for the mentally ill is St. Dympha, don't forget St. Benedict Joseph Labre!

Since he is suspected to have had a mental illness and still lived a life of heroic virtue he is a good one :)

BTW, do you know who is the patron saint for psycho-therapists? I hope to one day become one and I am looking for a Patron Saint to help me with the studies.

Oh, and would you do me the honor of visiting www.twocrowns.blogspot.com ? Its a new blog that I started with "Catholic Hope" for people with Anxiety Disorders. Thank you!! Luv your blog!!

Rosario said...

Geez! that was fast sister! thank you for visiting :)... and yeah, St. John of God looks pretty promising! thanks!

Lisa said...

What great advice, Sister. Regarding advice from celibate clergy: as a happily married person I can testify to the truth of the saying, "The referee sees the most of the game."

Anonymous said...

Marriage advice from the celebate may be more objective, than from those of us with tainted experiences clouding our judgements, even though we try to be objective. Can only child abusers or their victims have an opinions about child abuse? Can only politicians have opinions about politics? Can only chefs decide if a spaghetti noodle is done to perfection? I rest my case.

Ginkgo100 said...

As a Houstonian, I have to say our noodles sure are congested with traffic.

Who should we pray to about that, now that St. Christopher has been demoted from saint to non-existent?

Anonymous said...

"Prayer stalker"- too funny! I lived outside Houston as a child and remember my siblings and I refering to some of the highway interchanges as the "spaghetti bowl". Now I know why....

bill7tx said...

Sister, I have a question about the Sabbatine Privilege connected with the Brown Scapular.

Although the modern day Carmelites say the Pope never issued a bull describing the Sabbatine privilege, and the authenticity of the only existing copy of the bull has been called into question, I am still doing my best to meet the Sabbatine conditions. My question is about the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I am using the 1961 LOBVM recently published after Pope Gregory XVIs Motu Proprio, but I had been using the Novus Ordo version before it. In either case, the problem is the minor hours (Terce through None) -- living and working in the world, it is very difficult most days to step aside to say these prayers. (I say Prime with Matins and Lauds at 6 am.) So my question is, is it enough to say Matins, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline? I'm not trying to shortcut anything -- Matins, Lauds, and Prime take about 35 to 45 minutes, and to do that I'm up at 5 -- just want to know whether I need to figure out how to scratch out 5 to 10 minutes at 9, 12, and 3 (which, as it happens, are the exact times everybody wants to hold meetings). I'd get Father to transfer my practice to a rosary (5 decades, not a Rosary), except that I actually LIKE the 1961 LOBVM, and I'm already saying a rosary or two every day.

Sorry about the length, and I hope I'm not overthinking this. I asked you because you might have had to deal with the same problem, and you probably also have "contacts" among the Carmelites who know the answer, in the remote chance that this is a new one for you.

Anonymous said...

Sister, this is such a wonderful blog. Thank you.

I remember when my mother introduced me to novenas--I thought, "GREAT! A direct link to God that is guaranteed to work!" (okay, I was only 10 years old at the time). But what my mother stressed is that while we WILL get an answer, it isn't always the one we want. We're asking God to help us. Sometime by NOT helping us the way we want--by seeming not to answer us--he IS helping us!

katy said...

Maria, NEVER pray for patience! God will send you lots of things for you to practice your patience. I learned that from a nun when I was in grade school.

katy said...

If we're checking out people who should be fast tracked for canonization I vote for Michael Kirwan. Google "Michael Kirwan House" and you will find numerous articles on this remarkable man who died in 1999 at age 54.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sister!
Another great post, as usual.

On spaghetti...there is a section of the interstates here in Atlanta, GA called "spaghetti junction". If you use your google and look it up you'll see why they call it that.

Faithful reader,

Maria said...


Regarding patience-- really never pray for it? I was talking about this with my priest and he suggested I do so. Though, you might be right about God sending me many things to practice it.

What are your thoughts, Sister?

whimsicalpam said...

I love stopping by this blog...you never know what you'll find.
I have to agree with you and with Lisa's comment, "The referee sees the most of the game"...if only we could all look at it from a referee standpoint, how much wiser we would be:)
Thanks for a great read!!

Anonymous said...

I was told also not to pray for patience for the same reason Katy said, but to ask for strength! I guess you could get the same response, that is, getting an opportunity to exercise that strength!


Anonymous said...

I prayed for wisdom in 7th grade, after similar advice, but the story of Solomon so deeply touched me that I just had to be like him in decernment. I wanted to be wise enough to make right choices. You wouldn't believe what my life has been like--one disaster after another has fallen upon me. Am I wiser for it? You bet! Do I wish, my life was a bed of roses instead of having folks look at me and wonder how I manage to cope and work my way thru it all? Yep! Still, life is good. We each have a different life, and each is blessed in ways to compliment those around us.

If you long for patience, pray for it! You obviously value it, and perhaps you are being led to ask for it, and if it is the Lord's will for you to have it, you won't be complete without it. Some day you will look at your life and realize you have patience and be glad.

Then you can pray for humility! hehe

Anonymous said...

Sister, I can't seem to find the St. Blaise medal in your shop. Are you out?

Sister Mary Martha said...

The isn't a St. Blaise in the shop, but I do have him in stock. Let me know if you'd like one by using the Conversation icon at etsy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Sister! I love the new look - just don't change the advice!