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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saints Apps

Hi Sister Mary Martha,

I've followed your blog for quite some time but I don't recall hearing about the saint for the colon ("guts") or intestines. My sister-in-law's sister-in-law has lived with a colostomy bag for years. Recently the dear lady (who is a kindergarten teacher) had to go in for maintenance and cleaning of the opening. She was terrified of this and the worst did occur as now she is filled with infection and they are unable to put everything back in that needs to go in. My sister-in-law is interested in becoming a Catholic--so if we could provide her with a patron saint to help with this difficulty that would be great for her and her sister-in-law. I hope this wasn't too confusing!

Thank you, Linda

I should never check my comments section after lunch.

The poor dear! Where are the things that are out that are supposed to go back in now? I can't imagine. What an awful situation.

But of course, we have a saint for that. I suppose I should have T-shirts made up that say, "Got Saint?"

St. Charles Borromeo is your below the waistline man. He's the patron saint for anything that might be ailing you down south. I don't know why. I have an educated guess.

Charles' uncle was Pope Pius IV. Martin Luther and King Henry VIII had forever changed Christiandom. The clergy was still in disarray, the Council of Trent had been suspended. The Pope called his nephew to Rome to help iron things out and Charles worked tirelessly to convince everyone to reconvene the Council. The result is known as "the Reformation".

Before I try to explain why I think St. Charles is the patron saint for guts, let me explain what he had to do after the Council of Trent addressed all the problems of the Protestant revolt.

He invented Sunday school
. That's right! He realized he had to get everyone on the same page and it would be very helpful if children understood their Faith from an early age. He rewrote books and catechisms and set up study groups. And then he had to tackle the miscreant clergy. He spent the rest of his life at it.

And here's where my theory begins. The miscreant clergy were happy to stay right where they were, doing just what they were doing. Charles had to travel all over and talk and threaten and give them the what for. In Switzerland, one order barricaded themselves in their monastery with guns and when Charles showed up they shot the crucifix right out of his hand. He had to fix their wagon. He had to clean their clock.

And eventually, there was a plot to assassinate him. The gunman shot him in the back while he was praying in church. Charles thought himself a goner, but he instructed everyone to go on praying. As it turned out, however, the bullet was stopped by his heavy priestly robes where it penetrated all the way down to his skin, leaving a raised mark that never left him.

And what to they call that kind of bravery? Intenstinal fortitude.


Perhaps always having to confront people who were sure to put up a big stink was enough to give anybody a stomach ache.

It has something to do with the miracles associated with his canonization. I haven't turned up anything like that, though.

St. Charles is an extra good patron saint for your sister in law's sister in law, because he was so good at bringing people back to the Church and educating them in the Faith. A perfect saint match!

Sister St. Aloysius is prodding me to also mention that St. Charles Borromeo was the person that administered First Holy Communion to St. Aloysius when little Luigi (who became St. Aloysius) was twelve years old.

And before we part today, I'd like to commend you on knowing the intimate details of your sister in law's sister in law. You must have a wonderful, caring extended family.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Don't Know Why

A reader asked who the patron saint for seizures might be. I have the answer. Don't I always?

No, not really. Because in this case I'm stumped as to why St. Valentine is the patron saint for seizures.

Technically, he is the patron saint for epileptics, but if St. Sebastian is the patron saint of pin makers because he was shot full of arrows (and he is), then obviously the patron saint of epilepsy would be the patron for anyone with seizures for any reason.

But I don't know why St. Valentine is the patron saint of epilepsy. I do know that this isn't some new mantle flung across an ancient saint. He has been depicted in art healing epileptics enough times for some researchers to do a study on what the sufferers' symptoms were and the ratio of men to women.

Clearly the various artists know something I don't. Anyone have a clue? I'll be holding my breath.

Meanwhile, in the here and now:

Sister please bear with me I'll probably end up taking the long way to get to my question.

During an online discussion about Pat Robertson's bone-headed comments about Haiti someone mentioned that Haitians are something like 85% Christian. This brought about another discussion where a poster took offense to this assertion saying that Haitians are Roman Catholics and not in fact Christians.

I've encountered this before. I don't understand. What brings about this belief Roman Catholics are not Christian or lesser Christians than those of other denominations? I'm confused.

Me, too.

First of all, I don't understand why Pat Robertson doesn't understand that earthquakes are caused by shifts in plates below the earth, not pacts with the devil. Cracks in the earth's crust, known as "faults", shift. The magnitude of the earthquake is measured by how much they shift and how long it takes for them to resettle. Specifically, the Haiti quake was caused by what is called a "strike split" fault, where the two plates move horizontally. That's the same kind of quake we have here in California on the San Andreas fault.


I can't understand how he got the idea that some Haitians actually got together and had a meeting with the devil. Did someone get a picture of that on their Iphone? Was the guy that shot the Rodney King video over at the devil meeting?

The Haitians did get together and do something remarkable, but it wasn't a sit down with the devil. They rose up out of slavery with no help from anyone. Does Pat Robertson imagine that the only way they could have done that was with an arms shipment from Beelzebub? Ye of little faith.

But your question wasn't "why is Pat Robertson so stupid"? I can tell you that he is not the brightest bulb. Years ago, I saw him introduce a guest. He had clearly never heard of this man and spent the long introduction marveling at the man's list of musical credits in a way that belied the fact that he thought the list to be a fantasy. "He wrote songs made famous by the Beatles!" ("and yet, I've never heard of him?")

Even I know about Little Richard. He is a very famous person. Now he may have actually had a pact with the devil at some point.

Your question is about why some people don't think Catholics are Christians. Or why they think Catholics are lesser Christians.

I don't know why. Perhaps they are as dumb as rocks, like Pat Robertson. All the Christian kindness in the world won't make someone smarter than they are. Some people just are not bright enough to pound sand, poor things.

Christians are people who are followers of Christ. Anyone who believes Christ died for our sins is a Christian. After that, all hell breaks loose, so to speak, on which Christian is the better follower of Christ.

We mustn't get all high and mighty about being at the bottom of someone else's barrel. For most of my life, non-Catholics were known as the "lesser faiths". The preferred term these days is "separated brethren". Why? Because they are our brothers who are separated from the One True Faith.

Surely, you can see that is a little off putting to the Separated Brethren, who don't believe they are separated from anything, but believe that you, a Catholic, definitely are. Meanwhile, we believe they are missing the boat. Talk about a strike split!

In a side note, the reason Little Richard was on the 700 Club was because he had left his sinful ways behind (for a little while, at least) and become a preacher singing Gospel songs. He was very subdued in his polyester suit. So, he, too, is some sort of Christian.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back in the USSR

Hi Sister Mary Martha!
After following your blog for a very long time, I'm venturing into the fray of comments and questions.

We are in the long, dull, paperwork filled waiting period before we get to bring our two or three children that we are adopting home from Ukraine. I've read that St. Thomas More is the patron of adoption, but I haven't been able to figure out why. (Not that I mind, since Tommy More and I have been good buds since I lived in St. Thomas More Hall dorm in college.) Got any other good patrons for us? Whether of Ukraine, paperwork, international travel, or just the patron saint of impatience. Since we have two children at home who are excitedly waiting for their younger siblings to come home, patrons of parenting a large brood or blended families would probably come in handy, too.

I can't believe that you can't figure out why St. Thomas More is the patron saint of adoption after being friends with him all these years. It's not even a teeny stretch. He adopted a child.

Okay, technically, she was his step daughter, not some child from some orphanage near or far.

St. Thomas More was a deliriously happy married man with four children and a great job working as Henry VIII's top advisor (think Karl Rove or Rohm Emmanuel only with actual morals). When his wife died he remarried, and although he wasn't ever as deliriously happy with his new wife, he loved her very much and was quite content. He adopted her daughter and raised her as his own.

There was no real need to do that but he wanted to make sure everyone understand that they were a "real" family and, as he was a legal genius, he wanted all his I's dotted and his T's crossed.

Things went south for him when he mentioned to Henry VIII that the Pope was correct in telling Henry that he couldn't dump his wife for a new one or become a Pope himself. Then Thomas' head went south.

I think he is an excellent patron for you and your exciting expanded family. In the shop, we have him listed as the patron saint of blended families, because he really knew how to make everyone feel loved, a part of his family, cared for, valued, etc. No one was complaining at the More house.

My favorite thing about him is that he was adamant about educating his daughters as thoroughly as his sons, an unheard of idea in his time.

A solid rock of the Church, that Thomas More. His conscience meant more to him than his life.

There's also St. Expeditus, that patron saint of getting things done in a timely fashion.

And here's some good news! St. Andrew is the patron saint of the Ukraine. He was the brother of St. Peter and one of the twelve Apostles! And he traveled extensively enough to become the patron saint of the Ukraine. So there's your safe travel, in a rather specific manner.

Here he is explaining Heaven to a newly arrived St. Francis. Or maybe he's appearing to St. Francis to show him which fork in the road he should take as St. Francis seems to have dropped his map.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones Will Break Your Bones

Dear Sister, I have a good one for you! I have been teaching sunday school this year. We started the yr with one kiddo in a cast for a broken arm. Then we had another kiddo who fell- this time a broken wrist! Right before Christmas we had another boy fall and break his elbow! Well I did warn the parents we were the broken arm class, but I certainly didnt expect to be the next one (and the first of the "girls"). On Saturday I fell and broke my wrist. So what we need here in gr 4 at OLG is a patron saint for prevention of falls resulting in broken arms! Help us out. I'll link your blog in my classroom newsletter if you answer! They'll get a kick out of that, I bet. Get their 15 minutes of internet fame out of the way early and before they join myspace and disgrace us all. Thanks!

Oh dear! Poor babies! Poor teacher!

Of course, there is a patron saint for broken bones. There is a patron saint for everything, even coffee drinkers and hangovers.

I'm just not thrilled with the answer. He's not very exciting for children is all.

Not that there's anything wrong with St. Stanislaus Kostka. Stanislaus was a pious Polish boy. He was so pious that he would head off to piety dreamland in the middle of Easter dinner. He was a model of humility and obedience and he was a cheery lad.

This didn't sit well with his older brother Paul. Paul had very nice things to say about his little brother when St. Stanislaus was beatified, about how pious and holy little Stanislaus had been.

But Paul is the reason St. Stanislaus is the patron saint of broken bones. All that piety got on his last nerve and he beat up Stanislaus to the point of broken bones. He better say nice things at the party!

Stanislaus desperately wanted to become a Jesuit priest but his father wasn't very happy with the Jesuits. Stanislaus knew he'd have to sneak out of town to join the order and made an elaborate plan to run away and make the long journey. He told his brother Paul that he wouldn't be back for dinner and by the time Paul realized that Stanislaus wouldn't be back at all, Stanislaus had a whole day head start. Stanislaus had left the city in disguise, Paul searched on the wrong road, and ten months later, Stanislaus was in Rome with the Jesuits.

He was a model of piety there, too.

He had always been a sickly boy, and the arduous trip hadn't helped that. When he was in school before leaving for the Jesuits, St. Barbara came over with two angels to administer Holy Communion to him in his sick bed.

Wasn't that nice of her?

At any rate, Stanislaus didn't last long as a Jesuit. Within a year Stanislaus knew his number was up. He wrote a letter to the Blessed Mother asking if he could join her in Heaven to celebrate the feast of the Assumption and his wish was granted. He was 18.

St. Stanislaus is the patron saint of broken bones because his brother broke his.

I like to think of him when I eat perogis and glumki. I'm not sure I've spelled glumki correctly. It's what the old Poles call stuffed cabbage. I think they should call it "Stuffed Cabbage" because "glumki" doesn't sound appetizing at all.

But I digress.

I think you might want to look into St. Ignatius Loyola. He is much more exciting!

His leg was broken by a cannonball! Isn't that much more exciting for children that getting beat up by your brother? On the other hand, perhaps the children can completely relate to getting beat up by one's brother.

St. Ignatius was a knight who got hit in the leg by cannonball. The cannonball shattered one leg and broke the other. He was taken to the nearest castle to recuperate. He had to endure many surgeries with no anesthetic because they didn't have that type of thing back then. What a tough guy he must have been!

It took months and months for his leg to heal and while he was there all that time there was absolutely nothing to do but read. Unfortunately for him, there were only two books in the whole castle, so he had to read them over and over again.

But fortunately for us, the two books were the Bible and La Vita Christi, an elaborate treatise on the Life of Christ. St. Ignatius left his knightly days behind and founded the Jesuit order.

Which was also fortunate for St. Stanislaus Kostka.

Hi Sister. I was wondering what type of necklace she was talking about when she said "She's the one with hair loss due to Alopecia, for whom you made the necklace with St. Agnes and company." What type of necklace was it? I have hair loss and I have tried everything and am looking for desperate help. Please let me know. Thank you

I made her a custom necklace.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Set of Twins

Our discussion the other day of twins brought some interesting reader comments. Someone suggested the holy brother and sister duo St. Scholastica and St. Benedict. I love that story!

They are not officially the patron saints of twins, however. But that's okay. There were twins, so I say, go for it.

Besides, they were, it seems, especially close twins. St. Benedict is the St. Benedict, the author of the Rule of Benedict and the founder of the Benedictines. The Rule of Benedict is a very important thing because without it a lot of people in a lot of monasteries might have gone off the deep end and poisoned each other or tripped each other with brooms all day. Fully half of the Rule is how to be humble and obedient and the other half of that half is what to do with people when they aren't.

Extremely important for group living. Benedict himself famously survived two poisoning attempts. The first was in his cup, which shattered when he prayed over it and the second was in a hunk of bread. When he prayed over that, a raven swooped down and flew off with it. Poor raven. I guess we are supposed to imagine that the raven just swooped down for humanitarian reasons and dropped the poisoned bread off somewhere safe like a little birdy bomb squad.

That's what I like to think.

St. Scholastica ran a convent not far from Benedict and once a month or so she would visit him at his monastery. She couldn't go in with all the boys, so he met her at a little cottage just outside the monastery walls. They would talk for hours, probably about what to do with people who could not remain humble and obedient, but also about theology and philosophy and how the Vikings were doing.

No they didn't. Neither of them were very much into sports, I imagine.

At any rate, during one of these visits, as the clock ticked on, Benedict announced that he had to get back to his cell and Scholastica begged him to stay and talk longer. He refused. She bowed her head and prayed. A wild storm arose. "What did you do?" he famously asked her. "I asked you to stay and you refused, so I asked God to make you stay and he didn't refuse", she famously replied. I believe she also made some sort of snippy comment like, "Go on, try to get to your cell."

So St. Benedict stayed through the night and they talked and talked. Perhaps St. Benedict formulated another rule to add to his list about what you get to pray for after you've been told "no" by the monastery head.

St. Scholastica never made it back to her convent after that visit. She died just three days later. St. Benedict must have been happy to have had an extra long last visit. He said he saw her soul rise to heaven.

So St. Scholastica is the patron saint of convulsive children, nuns and is invoked against storms. Personally, I would invoke her for any type of weather issues, in particular during a drought!

St. Benedict has a very long list of patronages, although as I said, twins is not on there with the gall stones, nettle rash and spelunkers.

Dear Sister Mary Martha;

I am in search of the Patron Saint for finding a job, if there is one. Can you recommend someone for me? thank you-


Yes, I can! In my shop I have our beloved Pope John Paul II down for that. He's not a saint just yet, but I have every confidence that he is in heaven. Can you think of anyone, anywhere, who had a job they loved longer than Pope John Paul. He has got to be the patron saint of finding a great job that you stay with for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Patrons in One

Dear Sister,

I'm not sure that I'm submitting this question in the proper place, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Yesterday my daughter and her husband discovered that they are to be the proud parents of twins. We're ecstatic. So, I did a web search for "Patron Saint of Twins" which resulted in Saints Cosmos and Damian. They were twins, so that would make sense.

But I can find only ONE site that refers to them as the Patron Saints of Twins. All the rest simply show them as the Patron Saints of physicians.

Which is correct?

Is the question I get asked the most, "Where do I leave a question?" Yes, I believe it might be the most asked question. You've gone to the right place, the comments section. I read all the comments. I don't comment very often. Sometimes other readers do such a superb job of answering a question in there that I just leave it go. So if you've asked a question, be sure and check back in the comments section anyhow, because the people who leave comments are very kind and very wise.

Twins! How exciting. And terrifying.

To answer your question, both are correct. As I mentioned yesterday, patron saints were people who have something to do with your situation, problem, job, hobby, dog....the idea is that you pick a person who had to deal with something like what you are up against. Sometimes it's a stretch, like the story of St. Blaise and his relationship with people who like to knit.

St. Blaise was tortured with a comb used to comb sheep. Wool comes from sheep. Knitters knit with wool. I'll bet there are plenty of saints who actually knitted, but since no one saint has ever been singled out as a knitting maniac, St. Blaise will have to do. Anyhow we love St. Blaise, even though he's the reason I never liked fish as a child.

Except for those fish sticks.

At least with Cosmos and Damian we don't have to extrapolate. There were twins. They were also doctors. They are also the patron saints of hairdressers. (Many saints have multiple patronages.)

"What?" I hear from the peanut gallery. Yes, hairdressers. It's not really even a stretch. In oldey olden times, doctors were also barbers. The doctor's office and the barber shop were the same place well into the 19th century. Hairdressers are barbers for women, so St. Cosmos and Damian are also at the ready for places like "The Epitome of Beauty" (my all time favorite name of a hair salon).

You might also want to call on St. Gerard, the patron saint for childbirth and St. Raymond Nonnatus, the patron saint of tiny babies. Then you can switch over to the Holy Innocents for their babyhood and move onto St. Nicholas when they enter childhood. From there you can go with St. Maria Goretti and/or St. Aloysius for their teen years (and St. Monica for mothers of teens). After that, we'll just have to see what shakes out with them. St. Thomas Aquinas for the college bound? St. Joseph if they enter trade school, St. Scholastica if they have a vocation.

They'll also have their own guardian angels, and whatever names are chosen for them, those saints. For girls, be sure and get "Mary" in there somewhere.

Monday, January 11, 2010


On Saturday I was trying to explain to someone that it isn't New Year's in the Catholic calendar, that was months ago, and that we were on the very tippy end of Christmas season and on Monday we begin Ordinary time for a little R&R before we punish ourselves for our sins and then enjoy some Easter eggs.

That's a nutshell version of our doin's.

We go on living, so there is never anything particularly ordinary about Ordinary time, as evidenced by today's question:

Hello Sister,
I've been reading your blog for some months now. I'm Catholic but I have never ask a Saint for his/her help. Since I found your blog I started to learn more about Saints and their lives but I'm still very new in all this and I need some help chosing a Saint for a complete city.

My problem is this, I live in a city where crime and violence is unbearable now. People doesn't want to go out anymore because doesn't matter where you go, something horrible can happen. We've been living like this for 2 years now, we live in war. Nearly 3000 people were murdered, more than a hundred were inocent children.

When I'm on the streets I ask God for protection for the people I see walking on the streets, when I'm in the supermarket or wherever and the military or police enter the place I ask for protection, not only for all who are inside but for them too because some of them are truly doing their job and trying to protect us.

So I'm looking for a Saint who can help us, pray for our protection and guide our earthly soldiers.

P.S I apologize for all my grammar mistakes, English is not my first language.

1:22 PM

I'm glad it finally occurred to you to ask for some saintly intercession because there is no end of help for your monumental problem.

To begin with every city has a patron saint already. If we know the name of your city we'll know the name of its patron saint.

, I always pull out the big guns when things are especially rotten and fly to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

After that, I have an unusual suggestion: The Holy Innocents. These were the babies that were slaughtered by King Herod's men because of the half baked 'wise' men who tipped the evil king off that there was a new king in town. Herod sent out his little army to eliminate every baby boy under the age of two to insure his place on the throne.

The whole idea of a patron saint is that we find someone who has gone through some of the same problems, challenges, pain and suffering, etc. that we are experiencing. These innocent babies certainly had experience with mindless violence. Plus, they must be especially close to Jesus.

Because, you must remember that we are not praying to the Holy Innocents. We are asking them to pray for us, just that way we would ask anyone else to pray for us. We are just picking some people who are right there in Heaven with Jesus.

And...there are a bunch of them, so you'll have all that extra help.

We'll all pray for you, too, won't we, readers.

Friday, January 08, 2010

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

I apologize for my absence. I certainly wanted to write a little for the Feast of the Epiphany or as it is more commonly known "Twelve Pipers Piping". Or is its "Twelve Drummers Drumming"? Clearly, I'd be benched during the game of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song game.

Instead of writing anything, however, I was over at the church dragging out the giant "Three Kings" statues. I actually didn't do any dragging. I was what my mother would have called a "straw boss", where I just pointed to what went where and shouted, "Watch out!" Everyone still has their toes, no thanks to me.

The Wise Men will visit with the Christ Child for a few days, and then back it all goes.

As I've mentioned before, I have a bone to pick with the Wise Men. Let's visit them for a moment.

We really don't know how many of them there were. They are simply "men from the East". There could have been a dozen of them. Or two.

How did we end up with these three?

For one thing, they have three gifts to bring. Thirteen people could have brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, and in fact as many as twenty five wise men did just that in the Passion plays of the middle ages, back when Passion plays were the only form of theater allowed.

Those plays were such giant pageants that the arrival of the Wise Men was a big parade of horses and camels and bejeweled looking exotically dressed gentleman. I imagine that got expensive and messy. So the number of Wise Men gradually dwindled down to three, one for each gift.

The Wise Men also have no names in the New Testament. Of course, they do now. I chalk this up to actors. I imagine that the three actors balked at being called "Wise Man 1" and "Wise Man 2", and that some smart director appeased them by giving them each a name. Then the actors took it from there. "Hmmmm, if my name is Caspar, maybe I'm a black man from Egypt!" They probably fought over who got to bring the myrrh. It's so important and symbolic.

I'm not sure why they get to be called "wise" men. That's my bone to pick. Some translations of the New Testament call them only "men from the East" and leave off the "wise" part. They were wise enough to read the signs in the Heavens, interpret them as important and navigate across a long expanse to find a holy needle in a haystack. They were no slouches.

But they caused a massacre by stopping to ask Herod for directions. If only they had been like most men in that regard.

Our manager scene is a little off, too. The Wise Men don't belong at the stable. The New Testament says they showed up at the "house" and saw the "child". So maybe they didn't steam off across the desert on camels. Maybe they walked the whole way.

What we do know about them, however is very important. We know that they were wealthy, educated men who "bowed down" to this child. That's the really important part, that the first people to worship were the lowliest of the low, but that the wealthy and educated were also on board to see the Light.

On Monday they go back into the basement and we begin Ordinary Time. I think we can all use the rest.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Drumming Out the Pipers

Is it Eleven drummer's drumming or eleven piper's piping? Either way, it sounds noisy. If you read my little post yesterday and clicked the Snopes link, you will have read that it seems the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song was actually a little memory game, a sort of "musical chairs" thing, where, if you could stay in the song and remember all the things on all the days, you got a prize...or a kiss..although it didn't say who was doing the kissing. That could be...not a good thing. And if you couldn't keep up, you drop out of the game like in Musical Chairs.

By the way, speaking of "Musical Chairs", I read a book years and years ago about non competitive games. Which sort of sounds like, "What's the point, then?" But bear with me.

I have always disliked the game of Musical Chairs. It seems to bring out the worst in people, especially children people. Someone always gets their noggin cracked, the kids who miss out on the first round not only feel like giant losers, but they have to sit around for the rest of the game pinching and poking each other. What fun is that?

So this book took regular games and made them about cooperation instead of competition. What fun! "Musical Chairs" is played with big pillows and although a pillow is removed during each round, the idea is to still try to fit everyone on the remaining pillows! Brilliant!

Although a few noggins still get cracked. But then, if you haven't have your nogging cracked as a child, you've led a sheltered life.

Sister Mary Martha I found your blog by accident but I was looking for the answer to this question maybe you can enlighten me. I was wondering if praying a novena in the state of mortal sin works? Or is the novena prayer simply completely ignored?

A happy accident for me!

It's not so simple as the prayer being 'ignored'. God doesn't ignore anything. I'm sure He wishes He could. It must be awful for Him to pay attention to the folks in the Big Brother house or the Housewives of Orange County. But He does give them His full attention.

Here is the problem. It seems you have a sort of 'vending machine' approach to God. "I pray to God and then He give me things or grants me help."

So let's back this truck up and turn the back up beepers up to full volume.

What is mortal sin? That's when you are totally out of sync with God. God is playing Beethoven's Third Symphony and you are playing "I Don't Want Her, You Can Have Her, She's Too Fat for Me" on the bagpipes.

God is always there, playing His beautiful symphony. But you are marching around in a cornfield wondering why you're always out of breath.

God can hear you.

You can't hear Him.

So it isn't that the novena will go ignored. It's that if you do your novena, you won't hear God's answer. Your bagpipes are way too loud for the string section.

Head on over to the confessional as step one of your novena. And step away from the bagpipes.

Eight Maids a Milking, Nine Ladies Dancing

Ten Lords a Leaping!

Supposedly a metaphor for the Ten Commandments. When I first heard about the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song being a secret code to teach catechism I was all over it. I bought it hook, line and sinker right away, ever since I read about the origin of the phrase "knock wood".

But the "Twelve Days of Christmas" thing....

Malarky is the word that comes to mind. If you'd like to read a really good assessment of why, you can find quite a tome over on Snopes.com. It's really enough to settle anyone's hash.

Meanwhile, back to the grindstone.

Sister, my secretary suffers from hives. I've researched whether there is a patron saint for the cure from hives, but can only find a patron for skin disease (St. Peregrine or St. Lazarus of Dives). Those hives are almost a hopeless cause for her, but I wouldn't want to give her a St. Jude medal -- i think that would depress her. Any saint who helps those with hives??

I shouldn't say grindstone. I really enjoy hearing from our readers and doing what I can to help.

Which reminds me! Speaking of malarky, I apologize for having to put one of those 'type in the wavy word and Heaven help you in doing so' filter things on my comments section. I was just getting crazy I Phone messages by the dozens. And...a British escort service. It would say, "Great blog! If you need an escort..." and something about attractive women.

Clearly, they were all barking up the wrong tree. I'll wait a bit and take that back off again.

So! A patron saint for hives. There's St. Bernard , the patron saint of beekeepers.

No, there isn't a specific patron saint for hives, since hives falls under 'skin conditions'. The poor dear. Plagued with hives.

There's an angle! St. Rock is the patron saint of plagues and he had a skin problem himself for which his dog was a big help. St. Rosalia also cured a big plague.

If "hopeless" is too depressing, you could go with "impossible". We love to split hairs here in the Catholic church. St. Rita is the patron saint of impossible causes.

And of course, the patron saint of secretaries, St. Genesius. Not St. Genesius of Rome, who is the patron saint of actors and attorneys (I guess because they are such good actors), but St. Genesius of Arles, who actually was a secretary and was martyred for tossing his notes at the wrong person.

I think St. Paula should go on the list of patron saints for secretaries, though. She was a huge help to St. Jerome when he translated the Bible. Somebody had to type that all up.