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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Candy Bowl

Before the onslaught of princesses and zombies I thought we could clear up a few questions and comments from readers we've had, rather like a bowl of candy left out for the taking:

Animals do not have immortal souls. They are, however, a sign of God's pure love for us. So why would that be taken away? We know that there will be plants in heaven, they don't have immortal souls either, so why not animals? And specifically, why not the pets we have loved? It is, of course, all speculation, but will not the Judge of all the world do right?

An eternity in Heaven isn't enough of a sign of God's pure love for you?

I have addressed this question before and for me, the answer is two part.
1.  If your dog gets to go to Heaven, then every animal that every lived should go, too.  Every rhinoceros and opossum, every iguana and crocodile, every toad, frog, elephant and hyena. Your beloved pet is not  any different from any other non-immortal soul creatures. It isn't fair that just because he had a bowl with his name on it, he gets to go and they do not.

2.  That means your animal has to be a dog or a cat for all eternity.  That's not a nice thing to wish for your beloved pet.  In fact, its seems a little mean to me.

Moving along, a reader gave me an award! But had my name wrong.  That's okay, but the actual Sister Mary Margaret took notice:

@NC Sue - It's Sister Mary MARTHA, not Sister Mary Margaret!

I know, I know, what's the difference? Well, for starters... I am me and she is she. Also, she is a Lakers fan and I am a Spurs fan, so we probably can't even be friends during certain times of the year! (J/K, SMM!)

Sister Mary Margaret

Actually, I am not a Lakers fan.  My last post was Chicago, which is where I picked up my love of basketball, back in the heyday of the Bulls.  The Lakers were our arch rivals and I never got over it.  After I came here (and I have been here longer than I've been anywhere!), I tried to get on board with the locals, but I just can't.  I don't know why.  There is no logical explanation.

I truly enjoy basketball and I appreciate a team that functions as a team.  So that was the first strike against the Lakers.  They've gotten better at it, but I can't seem to be impressed.  I will admit that when I watch them play I find myself rooting for whoever it is they are playing against, even if I don't like the other team or don't know a thing about the other team.

And I love the Spurs!  I also love the Boston Celtics, the Bulls, and although I've never been big Mavs fans, I was thrilled for their win this year.  

Sister, Can you tell me who is the patron or patronness of those with Alzheimer's or dementia? Is it the same as patron of those with special needs or mental retardation? Some searching has led to St Dympha, but I thought that mental illness was different? I did search through a couple of years of older posts, to no avail. Thank you and keep up your great ministry.

I'm with you on this.  For one thing, poor St. Dymphna gets inundated with all things 'crazy' from actual mental illness to sleepwalking.  It was her father who was unbalanced.  She had this in common with St. Barbara.

A better saint for people who are mentally unbalanced would be St. John of God, who actually was mentally unbalanced himself and was able to find stability through God.  But no one thinks of him that way.

Except me.

But for Alzheimer's, I would have to recommend St. Anthony.  We all know that he is the patron saint of finding lost objects, or lost anything, so that would be enough right there.  And most people think that the reason St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items is because of an incident with a book.

But I disagree that this is the reason!  The truth is that St. Anthony had an amazing memory himself.  He was a fabulous speaker.  Why? Because he was one of those people who could remember everything he ever read. He had what people call a "photographic memory".  Which is why he remembers what you did with your car keys.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cat Heaven

We have had many arguments here on the blog about whether or not animals go to Heaven. I am a staunch believer that they do not, as they do not have mortal souls.  My old nuns taught me that as a child. It made sense to me then and it makes sense to me now.

But should I turn out to be wrong and Fluffy and Rex get to Heaven, it might sound something like this

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jesus Appears

We've discussed the use of sacramentals and objects that remind us to keep the faith quite often.  There are those that we love.

Those that we don't love.

and many that are just a matter of taste.

I don't much care for football Jesus and Jesus sports statues. Many people do. It bothers me, for one thing, that He's taking sides.  And if you think this is okay, how about when we add the Crown of Thorns?

That said, I would always rather err on the side of "whatever floats your boat" when it comes to what calls to people.  Don't fix it if it isn't broken.  If it's working for you, go with it.

But Banana Jesus?

That is a black spot on a banana, not a message from God.  No.

 And Peanut Butter and Banana Jesus?  No. No. No.  Somebody call Elvis.

In keeping with our sense of compassion, I can only hope this person lovingly fashioned this food sculpture and thought of the words of Our Savior while doing so.  A fleeting hope.  Because next, you have to either eat that Jesus, or throw Him away.  Neither option works for me.

I suppose when the banana darkens in the air, it will actually look more like Jesus than Vincent Van Gogh or Kirk Douglas playing Vincent Van Gogh in "Lust for Life".

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meaty Monday

Since it's Halloween season....

...which, by the way, used to be just Halloween, but now, since the decorations go on sale in August, the houses are decorated by Oct. 1st and the parties started last weekend, we can safely call Halloween a season....

...I thought it might be okay to quote someone who would cause your hair to stand on end. Proof that no matter what our differences, we can find some sort of common ground.  I read an essay the other day by Penn Jillette, the bombastic magician and atheist, and found myself in total agreement with his premise, if not his conclusions.  I'll stand by with a blow dryer and a brush to help you look normal again after you read it. I don't think it will make you feel happy.

"Christian used to be a throwaway word. People didn't used to use it much. People didn't start self-labeling or getting labeled Christian until the last part of the 20th century. Before that, you might identify as a Baptist, or a Southern Baptist or a Methodist. But there wasn't one identifier that put you in a fold with all the other believers.
In fact, every religious cult was afraid of every other religious cult. The bugnutty Pentecostals didn't want the bugnutty Methodists to have too much power. There was no "Christian nation" for the simple reason that the Christians were afraid of one another. America was founded on Christians not trusting each other, and they sometimes seemed more willing to reach out to the godless than to someone from another sect."  Penn Jillette
He was making a political point about the power of the religious right in the op-ed piece and the rest of the article will cause your standing up hair to burst into flame, so I won't bother you with a link.  (Los Angeles Time Op Ed, Oct. 2, 2011, for the thick skinned) But that notion that America was founded on Christians not trusting each other rang like church bells to me. Why did the Puritans come here?  Because they were booted out of England by other Christians, that's why.  What happened to them formed the basis of our separation of church and state, which was an amazingly good idea coming from people who thought anyone not white wasn't really exactly all the way human and who thought that dunking people who might be a witch to see whether or not they floated or drowned and if they drowned they weren't a witch and if they didn't drown they were burned at the stake.
This is all in reference to our recent discussion about the mistaken notion that various religious orders are separate sects, a fantastic notion in the true meaning of the word fantastic. (–adjective
1. conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque.
2. fanciful or capricious, as persons or their ideas or actions.
3. imaginary or groundless in not being based on reality; foolish or irrational.)From a reader:
So now I'm really confused. If Jesuit's, Dominican's and Franciscan's all have the same basic believes of the Catholic Church, which is basically to lead us to a closer union with Jesus Christ. What is the difference of being Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, or Catholic, in leading us to a closer union to Jesus Christ? Oh, I forgot about the Pope.

First of all, the various religious orders do not have the same "basic beliefs" of the Catholic Church, they have ALL of the beliefs of the Catholic Church, or they are not an order, they are suppressed or ex-communicated.

So, yes, we can start with the Pope.  That's not a little thing.  Jesus put someone in charge, so for His followers to not believe that there's someone in charge because Martin Luther and King Henry the VIII didn't like that idea is a big problem.  

But the various Christian denominations have a lot of other deal breakers going for them, important things like what they believe about the Holy Trinity, whether or not Jesus'
Presence in the Eucharist is real or symbolic, works vs. faith (which, as far as I can tell, totally confuses everyone, especially the 'faith only' crowd).  The list is unbelievably long.

So long, that I can tell you I once met a former preacher who told me about his life in the tents.  He was a tent preacher and he was from a family of tent preachers.  He was a believer, too, not one of these phony Margo Gortner money grabbers.  He told me about a huge donnybrook between two Christian sects in the same town.  One believed that you should always dip the bread in the wine and the other believed that you should have them separately.  There was a huge fight that left all sides not on speaking terms.  I guess a bunch of them were comprised of those people who don't want the food on their plates to touch.

Let me tell you the rest of his story, too, as it is pertinent to our discussion today.  He traveled the country preaching in tents for most of his life until one day he arrived in Florida. He was admonished by the Christians there for allowing black people into the tent and when he scoffed at this ridiculous notion, his tent was burned to the ground.  He quit preaching and applied his skills of persuasion to selling vacuum cleaners door to door.  True story!

So you can see why Mr. Jillette's thoughts struck me as they did.  It's why I wrote this, so long ago.

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the Gridiron

Hi Sister,

I was in a discussion recently with a Protestant friend who insists that the Catholic Church is just as fractured as the Protestant groups. I was sort of taken aback and had to dig deep to figure out what he was saying since the only real "fracture" I could think of was the Great Schism. Apparently he was referring to the differences in the Catholic orders, like the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Jesuits, and so on. He has been taught that the different orders are like the fractured Protestant faiths, the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Baptists, and so on. How can I explain the difference to him? How can I show him that the Jesuits are just as Catholic as the Benedictines, that they have a different name but they're all part of the same team? Do you have a good analogy? I don't know what to say to him. Thank you for your help!

Well the poor thing.  There really is no end of misinformation available for the separated brethren.

Although, the Great Schism isn't the only "fracture" in our illustrious Church history.  Anti Popes spring to mind.  At one point in time, we had two Popes, one in Italy and one in France.  Since neither of them would step down, a third Pope stepped up and then he wouldn't leave either.  Don't worry, it all worked out.  As you can tell, there is only one Pope now.

I think your analogy of all playing for the same team is brilliant!  Pick a sport he likes.  Football?  They're all playing football.  Some are centers, some are place kickers, some are quarterbacks.

Some orders teach, some spend all their time praying for you, some nurse.  They all play for that one team and they all play the same game, but their job in that game differs.

I would call myself a running back. My job is to get the ball further down the field and, if possible, score a goal.  What is the goal? Getting my soul and yours to Heaven.

The people who populate different orders within the Catholic Church have one thing in common, they believe every single thing the Catholic Church teaches.  The Catholic Church will not give its blessing to groups who believe otherwise.  If a group believes something different, they will not be allowed to be an order.  And if the group somehow comes to some wacky conclusions after they have formed and been approved, they get the boot, orderwise.  It's really not possible to have an order that is not fully in harmony with the teachings of the Catholic Church.  If they are, they are no longer a Catholic order.

I hope this helps.  I don't watch football.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tweet Tweet

The weather here suddenly turned blazing hot, and if that wasn't enough fodder for me to offer up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, I have a splitting headache, no doubt caused by the change in barometric pressure.  Or something.

I have some important Halloween related statements to make, but Heaven only knows what babble might occur should I try to address our readers devilish concerns today. 

I thought I'd drop by just the same with a moment's refreshing pause.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, No.

I realize that stores put out their Halloween decorations on July 5th, but is it just me, or does everyone already have their lawn done this year?  Our neighbors have a whole graveyard out already, which has caused the annual march to our front door to kick in.

Years have passed since 'the incident', so I'm going back to JoAnn's today. Thanks in advance for your prayers. Which brings us to today's question:
Great post Sister! I have a question in regards to your older post called "Every Waiter Has a Screenplay, But God Doesn't" when you talked about free will in regards to God's will. I really do believe that God gives us options on how to complete His ultimate Will for us, but is one option better than the others? What if all the options seem equally as good, how does one decide? Thanks for your input!:)

You're going to have to put your big girl dress on and choose.  You don't have to choose in a vacuum.  You can discuss your options with people you trust, your confessor, people who know something about you.

What not to do: discuss it with anyone who will listen. People have their own agenda and their own baggage and may have had a bad experience with something that might be a great choice for you.  I had a woman tell me to avoid going to visit the LaBrea Tar Pits because it was a depressing awful place where little robins still get mercilessly stuck in pools of tar.  I loved it there. No birds were stuck in anything and the hologram of the the only human being ever found stuck in the tar (an ice age woman who was a murder victim) is fascinating.  When people ask me what touristy thing to do in Los Angeles, I always send them to the Pits.

Weigh your options.  Think carefully about what happens next when you make your choice.  I was recently chatting with a gentleman who is active in AA.  He told me that one of the things that helped him stay sober was a trick he learned from his meetings, to play the scenario all the way out.  "What happens when I have just one drink?  To begin with, I ruin five years of sober living.  And then, I think I can 'handle it' so I drink more, and I start missing work and missing important things in life like weddings and birthdays and then I get arrested for drunk driving and lose my job and maybe go to jail...."   He was very specific.  Be specific.

What not to do:  waffle back and forth until you've forgotten your own name.

And the most important step, pray.  This is where the rubber meets the road, prayerwise.  So many people pray as though God is a some sort of big box store that has everything you need in stock, if only He'll just send the stock boy to the stock room and drag it out for you.

Prayer is a communication with God for the strength and grace you need to make the right choices to stay in harmony with His Will.

What not to do: listen to dreams and voices, especially if you have a fever of over 101.
Also, no coin tossing, Tarot card consultation or tea leaves.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Compassion

Good Day, Sister!
I was wondering who would be considered the patron Saint of protesters?


Off hand, I'd have to say you'd want to look for a patron of what you're protesting about.


St. Francis was not a logger or a protester, but there he is, right in the thick of it.  And really, isn't that what makes a saint?  Someone who was willing to put himself in the thick of it? Maxillian Kolbe springs to mind.

For our current rebellion, I'd recommend St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers.

My favorite saintly protester is St. Lawrence, who was told that he had three days to turn over all the treasures of the Church to the government.  He spent three days giving away everything he could as fast as he could and showed up on day three with every pauper, wino and leper he could find.  "These are the treasuries of the Church."

That went over like a lead balloon.  But, way to take a stand St. Lawrence!

Since these protesters are camping out, you could go with one of the many, many hermit saints who took to the desert and lived off of ants and leaves, if they ate anything at all.  That's a lot harder than ducking into a Starbucks when you're parched.

Monday, October 03, 2011

St. Conundrum

Dear Sister,

I am also a Protestant that thinks your reasoning regarding the saints make sense. But today you discouraged people to ask for the prayers of someone that has not been canonised.

If I have understood correctly there has to be two miracles connected to the intervention of a certain (dead) person for that person to be canonised.

How do the intervention take place, and how do you know that this "saint to be" is in it, if you are not asking for that persons prayers before they are canonised?

You got us. We're crazy and we make up the rules as we go along. Sometimes, we just run around with our hair on fire.

No, we don't.  But I can certainly understand your confusion.   You make an excellent point and I'll try to explain it to you as best I can.

Deep breath.

We didn't always canonize saints.  It went like this: You lived a holy life, honored and noticed while you were alive for your wonderful holiness and service to God and man.   When you died, we wept and wailed and hung around your tomb. We think you're the bees knees and we just know you had to have gone right to Heaven, you holy thing you, and we prayed for your intercession.  After all, you just got there, and everyone will be welcoming you. What better time to ask you to ask for a favor. Or a thousand.

For hundreds of years, that's how saints were made.  By popular demand.  By a cult growing up around the saint.  Put your hair out.  All cults aren't bad.  The Boy Scouts of America spring to mind.

But a few folks slipped in there that, well, let's just say we realized that everything that a group of people thinks is wonderful isn't actually wonderful.  A lot of people watch "The Real Housewives of Where Ever".  That doesn't make it wonderful, or even a good idea.

The Catholic Church is not a democracy, after all.

It's not just the miracles that make a saint.  How do you become a saint?

1. Die.  Although we do talk about people being saints while they are alive, technically a saint resides in Heaven. Period.  Everyone who is dead and in Heaven is a saint.

2.  You will have had to have lived an exemplary life.  You will have had to have demonstrated heroic virtue.  That's why, even if you weren't so hot most of your life, if you die a martyr, you are automatically a saint.  The Church will have to decide if that actually happened, though.

3. You will be studied and dissected.  You actually will be dissected a bit.  We have to make sure you existed, so we will dig you up and take a few bones for relics. Then we'll put you back, often in someplace nicer.

4. Someone will have to ask the Church to consider doing all of this.  Someone will have to petition the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to open a case for you.

5. After they do that, we can ask for intercessory miracles.  That's just to prove you made it to Heaven. First you have to be declared "Venerable",  meaning, worthy of veneration.  After you have one miracle, you will declared "Blessed" and after two, you're in.

Obviously, you were in anyhow, but we're not going let people run around praying for the intercession of dogs and empty coffins.  You may notice over there on the sidebar, there's a book called "My Cousin the Saint".  It's written by a guy whose cousin is a saint.  The cousin was recently canonized.  It's a great read and explains the entire process in a very personal way.