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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Church Triumphant With Ear Trumpets

I believe that if I have one cross to bear in life, made doubly burdensome by my own devotion and interest in our beloved saints, it's this endless argument:

I can only speak for myself, but as a protestant, the reason I reject asking those in heaven to pray for me (and certainly reject praying TO them) is that I believe there is one mediator between God and Man: Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). Further, God does not answer prayers based on WHO is praying/asking, but based on praying according to HIS WILL. I believe we can confidently come before God with our prayers, knowing that HE hears us (1 John 5:14-15).

Further, I do not find any biblical reference suggesting we ask saints/those in heaven to pray for us. Are there? All biblical examples I have of people "speaking" to those who have died are in the context of witchcraft/sorcery/divination/necromancy.(1 Sam. 28, Lev. 20:27, Deut. 18:10-13)

While I believe those in heaven are aware of what is happening on Earth, I see no biblical evidence that they can necessarily "hear" us. While they are in heaven, they are still finite beings, not omniscient.

I do think there is a general misunderstanding of Catholic doctrines in the protestant church, and certainly, among my Catholic friends, I have heard them say they are "praying TO St. XYZ" or praying a novena TO so-and-so, which clearly doesn't help the understanding of the actual Church doctrine.

My face is permanently blue trying to explain.  I will never give up.  I will eventually expire, and when I do, I will resemble Papa Smurf.

So let's take your objection a step at a time.  "There is but one mediator between God and man: Jesus."  Only God can answer our prayers. Jesus is God. Did that slip your mind?  When you pray to Jesus you are praying to God.

But going along with your premise, do you never ask people around you to pray for you?  I can't believe that you don't.  You are asking them to pray to Jesus, God, the Holy Trinity,  for you.

In the Catholic Church we believe that those who are with Jesus in Heaven are just as active in their prayers for us as is your or daughter or butcher or preacher or whoever it is that you are asking to pray for you.

That's why all the prayers asking for intercession end in "Pray for us".  I can't picture a Heaven where the Church Triumphant (which is what we call those people who have "arrived") are just running around, jumping and skipping and sticking their fingers in their ears and humming.  God cares about us here on Earth.  Why would anyone think that people who are now with God don't care.  After all, one makes it to Heaven by being in harmony with God.  And they are no longer finite beings, but have life everlasting. Hooray for them! I hope they are praying for me. I can't think of anyone better to ask to pray for me, than people who have won the battle that I am still fighting, so to speak.

I generally don't get into "Bible fights".  But here are a bunch of Bible moments in which the early church talks about praying for each other.

“I beg you brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Spirit, join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf” (Romans 15:30). “But you must help us with your prayers, so that on our behalf God may be thanked for the gift granted us through the prayers of so many” (2 Corinthians 1:11). Other examples of intercessory prayer for other Christians may be found in Ephesians 6:18-20; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 3:1-2; Philemon 22; James 5:13-16, and 1 John 5:16.

We believe that the saints in Heaven are as much a part of our Church as the guy in the pew next to us. But....this is a very important "but" about your Bible quotes....we strongly discourage the Church Militant (the arm of the Church here on earth) from asking for the intercession of the Church Triumphant unless they know for a fact that the person they are asking to pray for them is in HeavenWhich is why we canonize saints.  Heavenly proof of Heavenly Triumph.  We don't want you asking Uncle Bob to pray for you.  We love Uncle Bob, but only God knows what happened to him. We hope the best.  But the devil is tricky.  You may think it's Uncle Bob, but it's really Uncle BeelzeBob.

We do pay attention to Scripture.

I certainly hear many, many Catholics saying they are praying TO a saint. They actually may misunderstand the doctrine themselves.  But most of them do understand.  It's just Catholic shorthand for what's really going on.  Like when you say you're going to "make dinner", when actually, you have to boil water, wash meat, cut up vegetables and try not to burn yourself, put on the pasta, put the meat in the oven, throw the vegetables in the microwave.....

Our real difference seems to lie only in the disagreement of what goes on in Heaven.  I believe that those who in harmony with God, care for us as He does.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zinga Go the Strings of My Heart

Well, I said my rosary opinion would elicit the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the peanut gallery and it did.  It did. (See the comments section of my last post.)

In a nutshell, my general thought was that if you don't have time to say the rosary, just say some other prayer, or prayers. For example, instead of driving along trying to say ten "Hail Mary's" (and keep count with your hands on the wheel) while also trying to meditate on seeing the life of Jesus through His Mother's eyes ( a tall order), why not just say a bunch of "Hail Mary's" while you drive?

I did mention, however, that I would never discourage anyone from praying just about any way they like. Because that would be crazy, coming from a person who strongly advocates the use of sacramentals.   The whole point of sacramentals is to keep God on your mind as much as possible, even if it's just on a seldom noticed chain around your neck.

So, of course, go for it.

I was amazed at the number of people who pray the rosary while cleaning the house.  Not that I would be surprised that anyone would do that.  There isn't a nun in the world that doesn't fill otherwise mindless activity with prayer.  (Not rosaries, though. FYI)

It was the picture in my mind of "Mary's Army".

And in answer to this question:
Sister, I'm intrigued by the photo of the cupcake rosary you posted here. Seems like it would be fun to do at my son's (Catholic) school...I think. Anything to keep the kids interested in the faith, right? Or is it a bit blasphemous to eat an image of the rosary? I've heard of chocolate rosaries, too. What do you and your readers think?

Anything?  No, not anything.  But once you've made a rosary out of cupcakes, you'd better eat it, or you're being wasteful.  What part of Mary's life shall we contemplate while we savor?  Or...contemplate first, eat after.....

Meanwhile, some names just pop out at us, peaking our curiosity.
I'd like to hear what you know about St. Kunegunda. I have a relative with this name. The relative I know for sure with this name wasn't born on the feast day that I located for St. Kunegunda (June 24). As you can guess, she was a Polish lady. But her birthday was in March. I'm curious about the name because it's unusual even in my very Polish family. I had never even heard of the name until I "dug up" Kunegunda with my genealogical research.

I am happy to help!  I might drive and do the laundry while I tell you about St. Kundegunda!

St. Kundegunda is doubly royal.  She was one of those royal types who married a prince and when he ascended to the throne of Princedom she became a Princess.  But the royal types in her family (who were also earthly Queens and Princesses) were also saints.  She is the niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and the great niece of St. Hedwig of Hungary.  Her sister, Margaret, is also better known as St. Margaret of Hungary.

Kundegunda married Boleslav V of Poland, also known as Boleslav the Chaste.  Good news for her! She had wanted to remain chaste anyhow!  When he moved on to his heavenly reward, she left her cushy government job and gave everything to the poor, locking herself away for a life of contemplative prayer, which I'm sure included praying whilst washing and starching her habit.

You know, back in the day, they had these big vats of starch on the stove and they would dip the parts of their habits that needed stiffening in the vats over and over again.

In any case, she had founded a convent of Poor Clares before she left off being a Princess and that's where she spent her remaining days. She is the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.

But I think she should be the patron saint of pretty, pretty Princesses who hold tea parties with their dolls, as they could aspire to spend their lives the way good Princesses should, by devoting themselves to the poor and lepers and staying chaste and eventually becoming a nun.

She can also be the patron saint of people who struggle with patience, as she died in 1292, and waited to be beatified for 400 years and then waited to be canonized for another 309 years.

But perhaps the best patronage for her would be for those people who are saddled with some crazy name that no one can remember or spell right, as she is known as Kinga, Cundegunda, Kunigunda, Cundgundes, Kioga and Zinga.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mysteries of the Rosary

Can you help me? I hear a lot of people talk about praying one decade of the rosary at a time. For example, they may pray a decade on the way to take the kids to school in the morning. When this is practiced, is it proper to say all the opening and closing prayers on each end of the one decade? The creed, the Our Father, three Hail Mary's, the Glory Be, the decade, then the Glory Be, Hail Holy Queen, etc...? Or is there some other way to do it?

I have the same question about saying the entire rosary, broken up during the day. If someone were to pray the joyful mysteries in the morning, the sorrowful in the afternoon, and the glorious in the evening, would they say all the other prayers every time?

I know I left out the luminous mysteries. For devotions that originated before the luminous mysteries and that require reciting all 15 decades daily, what is to be done about the luminous mysteries? Are they ignored? Are they required?

Please help me figure out all these specifics!



As if saying the rosary and all it entails and what day of the week and what time of year one says which group of mysteries isn't enough to digest.  Not to mention that the whole reason we have broken down into which group of mysteries to say on what day of the week plus at what time of year is because we realize you don't have time to say a whole rosary (all decades, all mysteries, all the time) every day.  Now people are breaking it down even further into a decade at a time. While driving?


If you want to drive around saying a meditative prayer on your own, that's fine. For my sake, please wait until after you drop off the kids.  The idea of not really having your mind on driving with the kids in the car is a little disconcerting. On the other hand, once you drop them off and go into your mediation, there are other people's kids in other people's cars to consider.

As long as we're making up new ways to say the rosary, I'd say the first part of the rosary and one decade, and then a decade at a time, if I had to make something up about a driving rosary. Must be a very short drive.

I hope these people talking about saying a rosary one decade at a time are not the same ones that are complaining about when we say "the" in the Mass or if certain prayers are before or after the end of Mass.

I know I'm going to hear it from the peanut gallery, since I really never want to discourage people from praying any which way.  Truly, I don't.

But do we have to do everything in sound bites? Are we really that busy?  Mary weeps.

The point of saying a rosary is not saying a rosary. The point of the rosary is prayer. Prayer is a petition to God. (It isn't always, there are prayers of thanks, for example. But are you paying attention to the "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners...." part?  That's a petition.) It just seems to me that if we're going to use Mary's special prayer to petition God, we might want to consider putting aside some time and effort and not try to finish off a decade while you're double parked.

If you're breaking up the entire rosary throughout the day, broken up by mysteries, I can go with that. At least you're in the full mediation process and you're going the extra distance beyond what the Church asks in rosary saying. Of course, you say all the prayers.  Why wouldn't you say all the prayers? This makes no sense to me.  You are, after all, talking about a prayer during which we say the Hail Mary over 50 times.  But you want to leave out some "Glory Be"s?  Why? I'm confused by the confusion.

As for the Luminous Mysteries, they are neither ignored nor required. But I would put it to you that when it comes to prayer the old adage "less is more" does not apply.

Again, we love for you to pray, anyway you can, anytime you can.  But why not just do that, and save for rosary for the time it actually takes to say it without driving your car up a pole.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lightning Round

Ever notice that there are things certain people always get wrong?  My mother, for example, has called the over the counter medication Imodium AD, "Ammonia AD" for as long as I can remember.  She even had my father doing it.

Then their are the people who can't get they're "theres" straight.

So I was not surprised to get this note in the comment section the other day.

AAAAAAARGGGHHH!!!! Are you SURE you're a schoolteacher?

Lightning is a powerful discharge of static electricity, usually associated with storms. The word does NOT contain the letter 'e'.

Lightening is the act of reducing a load.

Happily for this reader and me, frustration (as opposed to harbored anger) is not a sin, or we would both be in the soup.

Yes, I am a teacher.  I guess this is on my "always wrong about" list.  I also almost always misspell "argument".  It seems to me that it should have another "e" in there (their, they're), since it's about when one argues.  Spell check stops me in my tracks.

If only my " always wrong about" list stopped at spelling.

At least I know not to mix Imodium and bleach. I hope this lightnings your load.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Mass is Ended, But Don't Leave Yet

Hi Sister
I recently moved from California to Washington DC, where after daily mass, the Prayer to St Michael is recited. How come? It was never done at either parish I attended out west, nor was it done when I formerly attended this same parish in DC back in the 80s and 90s.
Thanks Sister, I really enjoy your blog.

Interesting question.  So often I find that parishioners are disgruntled at prayers added to the end of the Mass. I know this for a fact, because... they don't stay for them.

I also know a number of priests who are disgruntled at prayers added to the end of Mass because they are sticklers for the proper way to say Mass, and technically, the Mass is not supposed to have prayers tacked on to the end of it, the rule since 1964.

But then, one might argue (and believe me, I've listened to them argue), that these prayers haven't been added to the end of the Mass. They are said after the Mass has ended, as in, "the Mass is ended, go in peace.  And now, the Prayer to St. Michael."


I just....are extra prayers ever a bad thing?  I'm so grateful that it's my job to make sure the coffee pot gets emptied or some such busy thing I can busy myself with.  I can spend the time banging around in the kitchen saying the prayer to St. Michael 40 some odd times, one for each of the people who ditched the prayer after the Mass.

So, what's the beef?

The Prayer to St. Michael is only one prayer in a group of prayers that were tacked on to the end of the Mass because the Church was in danger from the state, which had taken over the Vatican.  I think...something like that...the Church was in danger, that's the main thing to remember.  And the Pope asked everyone to add these prayers.  They are called the Leonine prayers.  (Can you guess which Pope asked for them?)  They consist of 3 Hail Mary's, the Hail Holy Queen, a prayer for the liberty and exaltation of the Church, the St. Michael Prayer, and 3 prayers to the Sacred Heart to have mercy on us.  And if you want to split hairs, the Leonine Prayers did not originally include the St. Michael Prayer.  That was added by Pope Leo XIII.

Wonder how many people fled to the parking lot before that was over with?

Then, at Vatican II, the Church wanted to make sure the Mass was "pure",  simple, back to basics. So the Leonine prayers went away.

So it would appear that various parishes across the land feel the need to call on St. Michael's intercession to protect the Church in troubled times once again.  I can see where Washington DC would be one of those places.  

It's not rocket science.

Is it okay?  Yes.  It's actually after the Mass.  Do you have to do it? No.  Is everyone doing it? No. Am I for it?  I can't see where extra prayers are ever a bad thing.

But I have to put the coffee on.

The St. Michael Prayer
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Bolt From the Blue

We've bid Sister Julie a fond farewell, but she may return. We've heard whispers and discussion.  Our rosaries are clanking with excitement at the prospect!

Dear Sister Mary Martha,
Is there a patron saint of electrical linemen, the men who climb poles and put their hands on electrical wires? I looked around on the internet, but did not find anything.
I really enjoy your explainations with examples, such as the free will entry. Thanks!

There is not a designated saint for electrical linemen.  But there are patron saints for people who climb tall poles and patron saints to help you not get electrocuted. Those would work, don't you think?

First, we have our old buddy, St. Simeon Stylites, who not only climbed onto a tall pole and sat there for 37 years (his entire life after he scaled the pole), he actually started a whole group of pole sitters.  So, have your choice of St. Simeon Stylites the Elder or the Younger.  And Daniel the pole sitter.

They did all kinds of things up on their poles. St. Alypius, stood up for more than 53 years, until his feet gave out.  Then her lay on one side for the rest of his life, fourteen years.  All on top of his pole.  They preached.  They argued theology by shouting at each other.

And then, for protection from lightening (which is electricity) we have several choices.  St. Barbara might be just the ticket for you.  For one thing, she lived in a tall tower, locked away like Rapunzel by her father, who was trying to keep the boys away from her.  St. Barbara had a devotion to the Faith and her tower had two windows in it.  She had a third window installed, to represent the Holy Trinity.  Her father was away when she called the contractors, and when he returned and saw the window, he became convinced that she had it put in there to let the boys in. He tried to kill her, but she escaped.

But not for long.  He tracked her down and killed her.  He was instantly struck down by a bolt of lightening.  She is the patron saint against lightening. But she is also the patron saint of people who put together those fireworks displays and firefighters.  We like to think of her on the Fourth of July.  I think she might be the patron saint of Cuba, too.  Sister Julie would know!  Meanwhile...there's Google....

But if that doesn't make you happy, you could go with St. Erasmus, more popularly known as St. Elmo.  As in St. Elmo's fire, which is some sort of lightening at sea.  He is the patron saint of lightening because of two lightening incidents.  The first: He was preaching and a lightening bolt struck the ground beside him.  Great way to punctuate a speech, back in the days before Power Point.
The second: His martyr's death was particularly long and gruesome. Don't Google it while you're eating.  Before he went the way of Mel Gibson in "Brave Heart",  he had every other kind of torture applied to him, and in the middle of it all, lightening struck everyone around him and killed them all.

Wouldn't you stop if that happened while you were torturing somebody?  I would have thought that would have caused him to be left alone.

But a martyr's death is a glorious thing. So be it.

This also happened to St. Catherine of Alexandria, by the way, but she is better known as the patron saint of people who make wheels.  I would have said "wheelwrights'  but no one knows what that means anymore. Her list of patronages is really long and includes spinners and spinsters, librarians and scholars, but no lightening.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Last Anointing of the Sick Rites

We have a nun overlap here, as Sister St. Aloysius is back, but Sister Julie has not gone. And look! I have time on my hands!

Sister Mary Martha,
My Mom died in a nursing home last November. She was unconscious and her heart just stopped after 3 days. Our family called the priest who ministered the Last Rites. She could not receive the eucharist as she just looked like she was sleeping. He was very joyful and told us Mom would go straight to heaven when she dies. We prayed the rosary many times as a family for her and said our goodbyes. She was unable to have her last confession and was somewhat confused the last year, but attended weekly mass. I thought she would still make a stop in Purgatory. I am not taking chances and have masses for her. She suffered much in her life and I would love to think Father was correct, but it sounds too easy the way he told us. What do you think? Thank you.

God Bless her!

Yep!  The priest is right.  He wasn't just trying to feed you some feel good claptrap about a happy place in Heaven. Extreme Unction, Last Rites, Anointing of the Sick, Sacrament of the Sick, whatever we're calling it these days, forgives all sin and removes all temporal punishment, which is why you definitely want one of these.

There is a teeny bit of wiggle room.  She has been forgiven.  But in order to get absolution one has to be truly sorry for their sins.  So, there is a chance that the absolution wasn't absolute.

But she did get absolution from the priest, which reconciles her with God.  We can't say with one hundred per cent certainty that there isn't a stop in Purgatory. But we can be pretty confident she's in Heaven. If I had to put money on it, I'd say "Straight to Heaven."

Up she went!

Don't worry about the prayers for the dead, they'll make their way to someone who needs them, like throwing fish back into the pond when you catch a few over the limit.

How blessed that she had a peaceful passing with a priest present.  No wonder he was in a good mood. It must feel great to swing open the gates of Heaven for people.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Heaven Help Us List of Saints

 I've been asked on many occasion of a list of saints that are available in the shop.  So here they are.  These are the saints we have available in medal form, which are hand painted. I can put any saint at all on a glass pendant.  We have a few new saints that will be listed in the next couple of days.  Here's the big parade in Heaven!

A                                      B                                          C                                          D
Agatha                  Barbara                              Catherine LaBorre                      Damien of Molokai
Agnes                   Benedict                             Catherine of Sienna                    Dismas
Albert the Great    Bernard                              Cecelia                                        Dominic
Alphonsus             Bernardette                        Charles Borromeo                      Dominic Savio
Anastasia              Bernadine                           Christopher                                Dymphna
Andrew Avelino   Blaise                                  Cipriano
Ann                                                                   Clare
Anthony                                                           Cosmos and Damien
Appollonia                                                       Curs de Ars

E                                     F                                          G                                           H
Edward                       Faustina                          Gabriel                                    Helen
Elias                           Florian                             Gabriel the Archangel            Hugh
Elizabeth of Hungary Frances Cabrini              Gemma
Elizabeth Seton          Francis Assisi                  Genesius
Emergency Pass         Francis Xavier                 George
Expeditus                                                           Gerard
                                                                           Gregory Sierra
                                                                           Guardian Angel

I                                       J                                          K                                           L
Ignatius Loyola          James                               Kateri                                      Lawrence
Infant of Prague         Joan  of Arc                                                                     Lazarus
Isidore                        Johannes Berchanns                                                        Lucy
                                   John                                                                                 Luke
                                   John the Baptist                                                               Louis
                                   John Bosco                                                                    
                                   John of God
                                   John Neuman
                                   Josemaria Escriva

M                                         N                                                      O                                 P
Maria Goretti            Nicholas                                                                              Patrick
Mark                         Nino de Atocha                                                                   Paul
Martha                                                                                                                   Paulina
Martin de Cabelleros                                                                                            Peregrine
Martin de Porres                                                                                                   Peter
Matt Talbot                                                                                                           Philomena
Maximillian Kolbe                                                                                               Poor Souls of Purgatory
                                                                                                                              Pope John Paul II

R                                          S                                                        T                               V
Raphael                       Scholastica                                    Teresa of Avila            Valentine
Raymond                     Sebastian                                       Teresa of Calcutta       Vincent de Paul
Rita                             Stanislaus                                       Theresa the Little Flower
Rock                           Stephen                                           Thomas Aquinas
Rosalia                                                                                Thomas More
Rose of Lima

The Virgin Mary                              Miscellaneous                                Saints in Glass
Assumption                                    Good Shepherd                        (we can make any saint on a glass
Fatima                                            Holy Family                               pendant. These are some we've
Guadalupe                                      Baby Jesus                                  made.)
Holy Hill                                        First Communion                             Bibianna
La Salette                                                                                                 Gertrude of Nevilles
Lourdes                                                                                                    Christina the Astonishing
Medugorje                                                                                                Julian of Norwich
Madonna of the Streets                                                                            Jerome
Miraculous Medal                                                                                    Ivo
Olives                                                                                                       Macarius
Perpetual Help                                                                                          Swithin
Virgin de Cobre                                                                                        Wilgefortis


Every Waiter Has a Screenplay, But God Doesn't

Sister Mary Martha, my husband has a question. He says, "My brothers and I were raised Catholic and one is now a professed atheist. I pray for his conversion everyday. We were talking yesterday about the subject of free will. I told him that God created us with free will and intellect. However, he states that we do not have a free will because if God is all knowing and all powerful,then God knows what we are going to do before we do it and therefore there is no free will because everything is laid out in front of him already. I wasn't sure how to respond except to tell him that we have free will and that God knows our choices. Can you help me with a better response?

I guess "It's a Sacred Mystery"  won't cut it.  That was always what the old nuns said, back in the day, when they either didn't know the answer or they knew that, since you were seven years old, you wouldn't understand the answer just yet (if ever).

And your answer: that is the answer.

But you might try something along the lines of,  "Your kid hates green beans and you know that if you put green beans in front of him he'll make a face. Does that mean you are in control of his face?  No, it means you know what's going to happen."

Knowledge is not control.

But here's an element that you folks might not have discussed.  God isn't sitting around with a day planner, thinking, "It's Tuesday September 6th, 2011.  Genevieve will turn right instead of left and miss the curb and sprain her ankle. Bob will kill at his presentation.  Charlotte will spend almost an hour looking for her glasses, which are on her head."

God isn't like us.  We live inside Time.  We can only see the world as the past and now, and we can't see the future at all, even into the next millisecond.

God lives outside of Time.  He sees everything all at once. He just sees what you're going to do. He doesn't make you do it.  Seeing the future does not equal controlling the future.

And underneath this argument is the elephant in the room.  What about "God's Plan"? If God has a plan for you and He knows what's going to happen, then what difference does it make what you 'choose',  you're going to be following His plan, even if it means you'll end up in Hell.

That's really the crux of the argument isn't it?

Which is another huge misunderstanding of what "God's Plan" is.  God's Plan is that you find your way to His Love to be with Him in eternity.  How you do that is totally up to you.

One last thought about Free Will and God's Plan: Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, so one of our intrinsic attributes is that we always choose good.

I know that sounds crazy, but it's absolutely true.  The problem is what we think might be good.  Hitler didn't kill millions of Jews because he thought that was a really bad thing to do. He thought that was a really good thing to do. He was far from alone in this thinking. Saints wore hair shirts and make shift thorn crowns because they thought is was a good and helpful thing to do.

Sorry to put Hitler and saints together in the same paragraph.

My point is our choices are based on what we perceive to be the best thing to do, which is sometimes totally wrong headed.  God's plan is that our lives somehow manage to head in His direction. He can see you coming.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Strange Looks and No Comments

We had a little earthquake today.  As one of the eighth grade boys said, "We eat earthquakes for lunch."  Yes, we do.

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

My protestant friend invited me to join her bible study group. I've been going for several months now and I enjoy the bible study and the prayers. However, anytime time I mention anything remotely Catholic they all go quiet and wait for me to finish and then have no comment. Until last week when I mentioned the Immaculate Conception of Mary and one woman sat bolt upright and said "I've never read that story!" The group leader told her it wasn't in the bible and that is was Catholic Doctrine. I didn't know how to defend this (I do know now as I came home and studied!). Should I keep going to this study? I've been praying about God's will. Am I sinning by going? During this same evening someone talked about praying to God about getting a parking space. I told her we catholics have a saint for that!
I was met with strange looks and no comments.

We do have a saint for that! St. Boniface.  And if you want to be able to drive your car into that parking space, St. Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of keeping your old car in running condition.

But the separated brethren just have a nonsensical problem with asking saints to pray for us.  That's because they believe that we pray to saints.  If that was true, they would be correct.  But it isn't true, so they are not.

When we ask saints for help, the help we are requesting is their prayers in our behalf.  As far as I know, the separated brethren, like Catholics, run around asking people to pray for them on a daily basis.  But saints, people who exhibited heroic virtue, are off limits?  To me, that merits a strange look.

I understand that you might not have wanted to pipe up with "What're you lookin' at?  Don't you ask people to pray for you all the time?  I ask you and people who are sitting around with Jesus in Heaven to pray for me. I'm smart that way.  So just real those eyeballs back in."

But, maybe at some point, you might want to raise your little paddy paw and say, "You know the other day when I mentioned having a saint for parking?  You don't think I was actually praying to someone, right?  Because when we ask a saint for help with anything, we're just asking them to pray for us, the same way I would ask you to pray for me.  And I might actually say to you, 'pray I get a parking spot.'"

Which brings me to your actual question: is it a sin to go to this class?


It could be.  Some would argue that maybe it's not a good idea, as it could sway or confuse you.  That's a valid argument.

I feel that it could actually enhance your Catholic faith.  I find that when I look into the belief systems and roots of many denominations, I merely breath a sigh of relief.  Not only do we belong to the One True Church, we can play cards, drink and dance.  Our dolls can have faces and our clothes can have zippers. We have an army of people in Heaven praying for us along with an army of people on earth who are joining them. And we have a really pretty mom.

Should you find yourself being swayed away from the Catholic Church and you stay in the class, that would be a sin because you are intentionally doing something that is undermining your faith.  But it sounds to me that the opposite is true.  Now you know all about the Immaculate Conception, for example.