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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Repent! If Necessary

We have a lot of patron saint matching requests, but we'll get to that over the weekend.  Meanwhile, one of our readers has been pressing for an answer to this question, which I somehow managed to lose in the recesses of my inbox. We can't have that:

received Eucharist from a protestant church by mistake, thinking it as a catholic church. Was it wrong? Was it a sin? if so, how can I repent? Please answer...

You can put your mind at rest, my dear. A sin is only a sin when you know it's a sin and do it anyhow. You must have been in an Episcopal Church.  We sometimes refer to them as "Catholic Lite".  All of the Catholic flavor but with less sin and guilt. It was probably called St. Somethingoranother and in you went. Which of these buildings is a Catholic Church?  Anyone?

No sin, just chagrin.

Just because you feel embarrassed doesn't mean that your sense of guilt must mean you sinned. Although we should feel ashamed when we sin, a sense of shame doesn't mean a sin occurred.

My Uncle Rob married my Aunt Sharon. Aunt Sharon's mother was a huge lumpy pile of mashed potatoes of a woman and my cousins called her Grandma Dumford.  It was a very descriptive name for her.  It was also actually her name. 

My father owned and operated a small grocery store that was in the family for 75 years. One day, one of his customers came in laughing.  He told my dad a hilarious story that had them both in stitches.  This man was looking out his front window when he saw an elderly woman walking down the street. As she walked her underwear suddenly just dropped to her feet and, without missing a beat,  the old lady calmly leaned over and retrieved them and put them quietly into her purse.

My father often told this hilarious story.  One day he was telling the story at a family gathering in which Grandma Dumford was in attendance and while everyone was laughing once again, Grandma Dumford said, "That was me."

Which only made it funnier. I would have dropped dead of embarrassment if that had happened to me, let alone admit, while everyone was laughing, that I was the subject of that big joke involving purses and underpants. I would have wished to turn into a puddle and trickle out through a crack in the floor.

Was anyone sinning? Of course not. The only culprit here is some worn out elastic.

I am a little surprised, however, that you would ask me how to repent. If you actually had done something wrong, like say, strolled into the wrong church, took a look around and realized that you should be down the block but thought to yourself, "Eh.  I'll just call it a day here, pick up whatever they call Communion and no one's the wiser." You should not come here and ask me what to do next.  You should march yourself over to the nearest Catholic priest holding Reconciliation and confess and HE would tell you how to repent.  And do it quickly, because the whole time you dawdle, you're running around with a mortal sin on your soul.

Whenever you sin for now on, don't stop to ask a nun what to do about it. Go to Confession.  If you don't know whether you sinned or not, we can discuss, but you're still better off just asking a priest about the whole deal. You don't want to just stuff everything into your purse.


Sue said...

I can sympathize with Grandma Dumford a little bit. That almost happened to me when I was very pregnant with my first child. Thankfully, I was almost home, and made it inside before any "purse stuffing" became necessary!

Now, I have a question. My daughter and I are being received into the Church very soon, and since we were both already baptized in a protestant church we can take a baptimal name when we enter (we live in Japan, and names are taken at baptism here, rather than confirmation). She is an artist and a big animal lover. Would it be alright for her to take St. Francis of Assisi or St. Luke even though she is a girl? And, of course, we would love to hear if you have any other suggestions!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Good advice, Sister! I suppose a lot of people would rather ask someone else first, just to "test the water," and THEN go ask the priest. I don't know which generation of priests earned the reputation of "Father Crabbypants" because the priests I grew up with could not have been more kind! And the generation previous had Father Bing Crosby types. The generation we have now seems to be even more benevolent. Our students go to reconciliation once a month. Even the non-catholics go into the confessional and ask for a blessing (which cuts down on the rumors a LOT!!!) We hope that this good experience will sink in deep, and carry them through their college years and adult life. It is so sad when you meet someone who has tons of tons of problems, and after spilling out all their troubles, they tell you they haven't been to confession in years and years. Therein lies the problem! Remember that bumper sticker "If God feels far away from you, guess who moved?"
Catholic School Teacher

mph said...

Well, while most priest and nuns I've met have been kind and approachable I've come accross a couple of Father "Crabbypants" and a few more Sister "Crabbypants" in my time. As with all walks of life, there are all types of personalities.

Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nelson said...

Saw your shop policies and got a doubt, why is St. Joseph, the patron saint of doubt and hesitation and not St. Thomas. If you have answered this question, kindly provide the link.

Thanking you and prayers from the land of Our Lady of Health...


Anonymous said...

First of all I want to say I LOVE your blog!!!!

I have a question of sorts. I was raised Church of Christ and my parents are very strong believers. All my friends, except for a couple are prostatant as well and like my parents do not hold the Catholic Church in high regard. This being said, I have been considering RCIA classes lately have felt a very strong pull in my heart to the Catholic Church. I have been to a few RCIA classes and a few masses and I am considering converting but afraid of how my friends and family will take this. I am old enough to make this decision myself, but you know how loved ones can be. Do you have any advice and or possibly a saint that I can call on for intercendence?
Please include the prayer to the saint as I am not Catholic yet.


Holly said...

I’ve written a blog as part of my job, I’m the Executive Director of a non-profit, and I’ve just recently started blogging for myself. I came across your blog and in fact blogged about you in my most recent post: http://alife-sizecatholicblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/life-is-tough-nuns-are-tougher-my.html I so enjoy your blog, thanks for taking the time to help keep us on the straight and narrow...

I also have a question for you. I travel to Mexico a couple times a year, and when I’m there I attend Mass—as I should. ;-D In Mexico, at least where I am, during communion the host is dipped in the wine and then placed on the parishioners tongue. I’ve never seen this done in the United States, and in fact have heard it is considered unacceptable. At our church, many of the parishioners skip out on the wine, I in fact have done so on occasion. If one is feeling under the weather, it’s preferable. Many people will pass on the wine for fear that everyone who should be passing isn’t. I feel I am missing so much when I’m one of the skippers, but I’m also hyper aware of the teenager who is hacking up a storm two rows ahead of me, and who unabashedly partakes.

Why is it frowned upon to dip the host? Or is it, really? Personally, I’d like to have this option!

JP said...

Hi Holly

I just discussed this when I gave a liturgy workshop today.

It is fine for the PRIEST to 'dip' (the actual word is intinct) the Body and distribute it onto the tongues of the faithful.

What is NOT okay is for the faithful to receive the Body and then to go to the chalice and 'dip' the Body into the Precious Blood.

It is a common practice among French Canadians for some reason. It is not permitted.

So the difference is between the priest intincting or the faithful self-intincting.

Hope that helped.

Anonymous said...

Please, fellow Catholics, do not refer to the Precious Blood as "wine." It used to be wine. After the Consecration, it is now transubstantiated. It is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Receiving the Host and receiving from the Chalice is called "Receiving under both Species." There is a great link explaining this: http://www.catholicliturgy.com/index.cfm/FuseAction/LawText/Index/6/SubIndex/92/LawIndex/12

Catholic School Teacher

Nelson said...

Dear Holly,

In India, it is a practice to instinct (or dip, whatever) the body in the blood and give it on to the believers' tongue. Even, they priests don't distribute the blood, due to scarcity of wine. Even in special masses on the occasion of Xmas and Easter, blood is not distributed. I really feel sad about it:(

Nelson said...

Dear Catholic School Teacher,

I thought it would be awkward to say that precious blood is scarce. Before the consecration the wine is scarce so, only very little amount of it is consecrated and made a presence in the Holy Mass.

Nan said...

Christine, many saints converted to the Catholic faith; recently Cardinal John Henry Newman, a convert from the Church of England, was canonized. He might be a good choice for you.

One thing to remember is that Catholics are counter-cultural and receive much disapproval from the world, including people's families. This has been true for the last two millennia.

While I'm not a convert myself, as I grow closer to God, I grow further from some. This is natural. Remember that Jesus told the apostles to pick up their cross and follow. Part of your cross is having to deal with friends and family who are against the church; note that the church was illegal until St. Constantine in the 3rd century sanctioned it. People died horrible deaths for their faith.

Nelson, note that receiving in either species alone is still the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

Nelson said...

Dear Nan,

You are right. I have been taught so in mu school. Yet, I feel very disappointed that I'm not able to share the cup. However, I'm thankful to my God, since, many Christians in India are unprivileged even to unite in a holy Mass.

Thanks for your words.