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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Holy Harry Potter

Sometimes I am really not up to the task here on the old blog. Sometimes it's because people ask questions that would be irresponsible for me to answer.

Hello Sister Is there a saint for women in abusive marriages and what are your thoughts as to whether they should stay or leave?

I've talked why I can't just answer this is some Dr. Laura, blanket type statement.

The patrons saint of bad marriages is St. Rita. She had a hum dinger. Her husband was so rotten the mob bumped him off.

And no one should stay in a place where they are abused. What constitutes abuse is a whole other kettle of fish. I would go out on a limb here and say that if a person feels they are being abused, they are correct. Everyone deserves respect and children must always be protected.

Then there are questions that are so large in scope that I never feel I can adequately explain.

I am not sure where to put this, so I am going to try here. Can you please explain holy water to me? I know why it is used in baptism and in the church fonts, but why do Catholics bless objects with it? I would like to be able to properly defend the church and its use to people who say we use it like magic. Thanks.

My hat's off to you to try and explain this one to the separated brethren. And I really don't take my hat off, you know. Deep breath.

You might try this tactic. Rather than go into a whole long, falling on deaf ears explanation of sacramentals and blessed objects, maybe you should just explain the difference between God's grace and magic. I think they might actually understand that. Especially if they are of the 'if you read Harry Potter you'll go to Hell" stripe.

And the difference is really, really simple. There is no such thing as magic and there is such a thing as God's grace. No one can wave a wand and say abracadabra and change a toad to a ruben sandwich. But holy water can wash away sins.

It's not the water. It's God's grace.

Unfortunately, this is a very half baked explanation. The separated brethren don't seem to differentiate between mortal and venial sins. Holy water only washes away venial sins.

The separated brethren also seem to confuse 'magic' with devil worship, which is why Harry Potter scares them. It seems to scare some Catholics as well. I say, since there is no such thing as magic or Harry Potter, you might just as well fear Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. There are witches over there, too.

There are people who use incantations and 'prayers' to call upon the power of Satan. A powerful tool to keep them at bay: holy water.

I have a headache. I'll offer it up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory. The separated brethren aren't 'into' that either.

In order to understand why we bless objects with holy water, one has to first understand all about holy water, which is a giant topic reaching far back into the Old Testament and on into the Fulfillment of the New Testament and all the rituals of all of that time, from cleansing oneself to enter the Temple, to Jesus Himself being baptized, to Jesus using mud to heal blindness.

Mud. That would be water, blessed by Jesus, and dirt with water blessed by Jesus on it.

Holy water 101:

Water cleanses.
Water sustains life.

God cleanses.
God sustains life.

Holy water cleanses and sustains the life of the soul, as it is blessed with the Grace of God.

So we cleanse and bless objects that help us to sustain the lives of our souls by calling on the Grace of God.

Hey! My headache's better!


MJ said...

I have read your blog and have been converted as a result.

I am bathing in Holy water as we speak.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I don't think you should be typing with wet hands. That might turn out to be an electrifying experience.

mamalong said...

The use of sacramentals, including holy water, is incarnational. Jesus came in the flesh which shows us that matter is not bad and can be used as a conduit of God's grace. That's a huge topic.

Also, there actually are people just as afraid of the Wizard of Oz as of Harry Potter. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

that was a MOST impressive instruction on Holy Water! Now I get it - thanks!!! Seriously, the priests I asked got off topic and distracted so I lost focus! You are good and God has blessed you with wisdom AND humour so those are a great combo!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for replying, I am very grateful.

Claudia's thoughts said...

I think I would still pack the Holy
Water if I were going to Transylvania/Romania.....along with a wreath of garlic....

distracted by shiny objects said...

No offense, Sister M&M, but a tiny little part of me still believes that television and radio waves are...magic. Hubby has tried to explain it, but I suspect a huge cover-up. Magic makes much more sense and allows me more time to ponder over my grocery list and the meaning of life. :>)

Leigh said...

Long time no check-in Sister MM! Hope you are well...

bayouchild said...

who is ur patron Sister?

Sr. Helga said...

Nice one! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sister, as an offshoot of the holy water post- how do we go about getting this for home use? is it ok to just bring in some tupperware and dip up some from the big font at church or is that tacky... or worse...irreverent?


Anonymous said...

I load up on the holy water often for home use.

I have fonts at each entry and sometimes I just sprinkle it on my kids pillows while saying a prayer!

Anonymous said...

Yeah but how to load up? Gallon jug? mason jar? what's appropriate here? And is dipping from the big font frowned upon or not?

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

In some parishes, there's a sort of tank with a spigot at the bottom. If you find a parish with one of those, use that. Put your holy water into a nice, clean vessel, suitable to your station in life and good for not spilling.

Sister, I'm going to have to dispute your claim about magic not being real.

Now, the Harry Potter/ Dungeons & Dragons style of magic is found in all sorts of imaginary worlds. It is done by anyone with the right predisposition, training, and suitable bits and pieces, and it's a natural part of those imaginary worlds. It's basically fantasy physics, and its use would have no more moral dimension than use of science and technology in the real world. It's very popular for that reason.

Magic in the real world specifically involves supplicating a preternatural being to use its powers on one's own behalf. It is, in short, false worship. If one accepts the existence of the devil, and that he has supernatural powers, and that he'll sometimes use those powers to give fools things that they ask for -- things that are bad for them and will lead them farther from God -- then one can accept the notion of magic.

And since that is how all those magical practices outlawed in Deuteronomy worked, it's very easy to see why a jealous God would forbid them to His people. It is false worship.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sister,
You said in your article,
"I have a headache. I'll offer it up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory." I learn so much from your blog, so i was wondering about this statement. The dear sisters taught me to offer it up "for" the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Am I just a confused soul?
Is there a difference?

Junosmom said...

I live in the born-again bible belt. Could you come live with me and explain all this to my "friends"? Golly the questions and advice I receive. Over a recent supposedly for fun lunch, a "friend" gave me a lecture of why we should not pray to saints and Mary - she says it says in the Bible that you should not pray to dead people. I said they aren't dead - their souls are alive. That didn't cut it. Perhaps you should come have tea with her.

I'll set it up.

Tami said...

Thank you so much for the great explanation. I love how you take very complex church teaching, and explain it in such a way that I "get" it. Not so much that I need to understand, but like the person in the question asked. . .to be able to explain it to others who do not believe.