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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To the Moon, Alice!

It seems like I've unwittingly stirred up a tempest in a teapot by mentioning that Christopher Hitchens didn't like Mother Teresa.  (And he didn't just "not like" her, he wrote an entire booked about it.)  I said he thought her an "empty habit".

Which brought to mind, for someone, another famous nun.  A lot of people don't care much for her, my beloved 92 year old mother, for one.

I don't want to talk here about the truths or untruths about famous nuns. What I'd like to talk about is how to not like someone.  This is an issue no one seems to think all that much about, since we all have folks that rub us the wrong way, we chalk it up to, "oh, well..."   What do we do?  We don't actually hate them. That would be sinful.  So we just...avoid them.  Go to a different parish, cross the street, sit somewhere else, find a different cafe, cross them off the Christmas card list.

And some people, for some people, are actually toxic and should be avoided at all costs.  Abusive, dangerous people.  Sociopaths. Psychopaths.  Axe murderers.  No one expects you to go give them a hug.  We'll have to let Jesus give them hugs. They will be in our prayers.

I'm really talking about the annoying nuns and the cheating mechanics,  the telephone solicitors, the loud horrible singers, the people  who are always wrong about everything but won't admit it or don't even know, the rude, the cell phone blabbers, the traffic cutter offers, the loafers, the lazy, the people on the other side of the political spectrum.  We avoid these people at all costs, so we don't grow to hate them.  We think this is a good idea.

But, guess what?  If things go well and you live a wonderful life, there is every reason to believe you will achieve your heavenly reward.  And God is just and kind and way, way more forgiving than you could ever hope to be, which means that once you achieve your heavenly reward, you may find yourself sitting next to a fill in the blank.  There won't be a rope line in heaven to corral them.  There won't be a parish or a pew from which you can flee, another town in which to live, an apartment in which to hide with your caller ID.

You are going to have to love them.

"OH!" you say, "no problem!  I'll be in Heaven and they will have changed, too if they're in Heaven!"  You think?  Maybe.  God may love them just the way they are.

But let's imagine that we will indeed be perfect beings there in Heaven.  Okay....but that means you'll have to change your thinking at some point.  You actually will have to love and forgive everyone.  Why wait to burn in Purgatory?  You have to get your brain around this.

Why do we love Ralph Cramden's famous admonishment, "One of these days, POW! to the moon!" ?  Because we all feel that way sometimes.  You think I don't?  You think living in a house with a bunch of very religious women makes me immune?  Ou contrare.  It can bring out the worst in everyone.

So how do we allow ourselves our opinions of others, which actually do inform our own choices, without judging and bad feelings?  Drop the blame.  Drop the idea that you know why they behave that way.

It is perfectly justified to note that Mother Teresa did a lot of fundraising.  It is not justified to decide that she loved the limelight and that was her motivation.  My mother doesn't care for the other famous nun because, "She (the nun) thinks she's being so cute."

Not your call, Mom.

Hate the sin, love the sinner, is so much more easily said than done.  After all, it's the sinner that puts the sin into action. Without the sinner, there would be no sin, sin needs to be stopped, so the sinner should be stopped, too.  Right?  Stopped, if possible, yes. Judged, no.

So long, Nancy Grace!  What could have been a public service is nothing more than a witch hunt.  Nancy is set for a some very uncomfortable afterlife encounters. As are we all.

Thank goodness for Lent!  Giving up avoiding people you don't like would be a good one for next year.  It will be just like Heaven!

21 comments:

Donna said...

Dang it. I never thought a Catholic nun would step on my toes, me being one of the separated brethren and all. I hate it when somebody hits the nail on the head. If I have a number one sin in my life, this would be it: I avoid people I don't like.

crisaa said...

Guilty! My prayer now is : Jesus, help me love them, help me see You in them. Sometimes I see the devil. God, have mercy on me :-(

Colleen @ ID said...

Sister, can't help thinking that you were really on a roll and then ended a little abruptly at the Nancy Grace comment. Maybe you have a part 2 post coming on this?

Anonymous said...

I just read over at the Nation Catholic Register that the poor Clare nuns of Perpetual Adulation just purchased 333 acres of land in NC for a community of 7 sisters. I hope 45.5 acres PER SISTER is enough for them.

Maureen said...

Well, I am in the dark!! - and have no idea who your mother's nun is. Since I can't bear not knowing, will you spell it out for me please?

Shannon B. said...

The PCPA's in North Carolina bought that land to build their new monastery on. They didn't buy it for just them, but for a new monastery to house over 25 sisters.

Jenni said...

Sister Wendy maybe?

Jenni said...

Please ignore my Sister Wendy comment. I figured it out. D'uh.

Dejanet said...

Anonymous: Do you really believe that the Poor Clare Monastery is for the use of 7-25-whatever nuns and shrine staff only? The land is for the use of the people who visit them, attend Mass, retreats, conferences, spend time in prayer on one of those lovely 333 acres. This is like the argument some small thinkers make that the Vatican should sell all the art they have collected to feed the poor. They could feed the world's poor for one day. The next day everyone will be hungry again and there will be no place for anyone to freely view the beautiful and inspirational art that has been preserved through centuries of Christendom once it is in the hands of private collectors. The network that the sisters support with their prayers reaches millions of homes including those who cannot travel or attend Mass.

Maureen said...

Message to Jenni: "PLEASE tell me who it is!!

Martha said...

A question: Do I allow a 14 year old girl (very good, kin, naive, religious girl), to have popular rock songs on her ipod that are riddled with sexual innuendo (if you want to call it innuendo!), and other nasty themes? She doesn't know about the birds and the bees yet (homeschooled!), and just loves music, the beat, etc. I feel like the Grinch telling her she's got to go find something more suitable, as almost nothing on the local radio station is suitable (especially when I consider my choices at her age), but yet I feel a horrible pang of guilt every time I download another icky pop favorite for her. I've explained my reluctance to her in that most of these songs glorify sin, especially against the 6th commandment. She doesn't quite get what that means. Is it time for 'the talk'? Do I cut the cord on the music? Am I overreacting? Any input would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

*sigh* comparing the poor Clares to the Vatican is comparing apples and oranges. Yes, they are both Catholic. But this discussion is about whether or not one can live in a mansion on 333 acres and still call oneself "poor." Not only call oneself poor, but actually have vowed to be so. 'Tis hard to be poor while surrounded by such wealth, no? The Vatican preserves priceless treasures, true, but the pontiff does not call himself the Poor Pontiff, nor does he vow to be poor. Your argument makes about as much sense as saying all men, married or otherwise, can call themselves celibate just because it has a nice ring to it. (And why does this make you so angry? Sounds like you are trying to convince yourself... !!!) I am sorry, but dressing like a nun doesn't make one a nun, regardless of how adorable it looks. And as for spiritual benefit goes, you could make that same argument for many of the fallen televangelists of the 80's. Doesn't make their theology true.

Anonymous said...

A question: Who is the Saint for menstruation? I love your blog Sister.

mph said...

@Maureen, see the comments for the last post, "Hitching up with Hitchens".

Anonymous said...

I went to confession today to confess just this sin. I have had a hard time - for a very long time - with a woman who fancies herself THE answer to all things musical in our parish. I realized lately that my being critical of her lack of musical ability when she is doing her best is a little ridiculous, since the angels probably see the distance between my ability and theirs as even greater and love me anyway. But, in order to preserve neutral, if not charitable thoughts about her, I began to avoid even eye contact. Thanks be to God, I recently came to understand that non-engagement is NOT charitable. So... onward. And thank you, Sister, for letting God use you to teach me.

Linda

Maureen said...

Ahhh....found her! But it's no wonder I was in the dark, she must be on American television, and I'm in Australia - have never heard of her!
Thanks for putting me out of my suspense!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Sister,

I need your help! Who is the patroness of etiquette? There is a new teacher at my daughter's school who is (and I hate to say this) annoying. She was hired because her qualifications are impeccable, her recommendations - glowing. She must have done well during her interview. (Most anyone can hold it together for 45 minutes when being interviewed.)I've been to see the principal, and he is beside himself! The poor teacher simply seems not to know any etiquette, and now she is under contract for the whole year. The principal says that unless she does something (or fails to do something) specifically stated in her contract, he really has no grounds to let her go. It seems our institutions of higher learning are allowing basic skills to go by the wayside. How can it be that someone holds a Masters degree, yet she mispronounces several basic, English words. For example: Ek-specially. Wunst-a-while (once in a while) Prolly (probably) and koont (couldn't). This is a person for whom English IS the first language. Additionally, she chews gum with her mouth open (in my day, we didn't dare chew gum!) sits with her legs apart, and interrupts people when they are speaking by talking over them. She can get very loud. And, when she laughs (usually at her own jokes) it sounds more like grunting or cackling. The other teachers do not know how to bring these things to her attention without hurting her feelings, so everyone just avoids her. I could say more, but I would much prefer to simply leave it at that. Any advice? Where can I find a good book on professional etiquette! The principal says he plans to let her go when her contract expires (she thinks it is because enrollment is going down) but he has written a glowing recommendation for her, hoping to dump his problem on someone else. He does not feel the least bit guilty over it, because he is sure that her last employer did exactly that, which is how he got saddled with her. I am trying to teach my daughter the importance of good manners so she will be successful in the world. I tell her that first impressions make lasting impressions, and that good manners are a way that we can all show respect and charity toward one another. On the upside, being around this person causes me to take a serious look at myself and ask what I may be doing that is annoying to others. I know that when we point a finger at someone else, we are pointing 3 back at ourselves. However, if someone doesn't do something to help this poor young lady, she will go from job to job, and may never realize that she simply lacks good manners!
Thank you so much for your time,
Dora

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,
I'm sorry to be posting this in a comment on another post, but I don't know how else to reach you. I have a serious problem: I live in an apartment building, and the people above me are insufferably loud. Not "normal" loud, but jumping, running, bouncing balls, dragging things across the floor kind of loud. In the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening—it never stops. The residents there are a woman and her young son, and I have tried explaining to her multiple times that their activities sound like an earthquake in my ceiling that shakes my walls and nearly topples my bookshelves. She is very nice, but insists that she can't believe it's that loud, and that she can't control her son, that he's "just at that age". I have tried complaining to the front office and they have mentioned it to her, too. Short of harassing my neighbor or anonymously sending her Dr. Dobson's child-rearing books in the mail, how can I make this stop? I can't go on with them waking me up every morning, preventing me from taking a nap during the day, constantly interrupting anything I'm trying to concentrate on...
Please help me!
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Please do not feed the trolls.

Lisa said...

Happy Easter, sister! I hope you're all right --not ill or anything "just" busy with Holy Week and all. I miss you!

Gigi said...

Wow. Sister MM, I'm loving this blog!