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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Any Rosary Will Do

Sister, how do you pray for somebody else, especially when it's a case as big as this? I'm serious. I never know what to pray once I get past, "Lord, help So-and-so," or, "Lord, help the victims of the tsunami in the Pacific," or whatever the event is. Because it seems so presumptuous of me to tell God what to do--HOW to help--and because their needs are so overwhelming, whatever I ask for won't be enough and I'll miss something important, or get something wrong. Besides, won't a loving God help those people without me asking? I'm Protestant, but this is where I've found a Rosary has come in handy in the past, even though I'm sure I'm using it "wrong." I'd work through a section of beads while saying Hail, Mary's or Lords Prayers with my mind on one aspect of whoever I was praying for's suffering or need, then move on to another aspect with the next section. That way I didn't have to worry with getting the words right and could vary and waver with my intention, and God got my point(s).
Mary giving you the "Jesus doesn't like it
when you're not nice to me" look.

The Apostles asked Jesus the same thing.  In less detail. They just said, "Lord, teach us to pray." And Jesus came up with what we call the "Our Father".  Of course the Protestant version is slightly different than the Catholic one. You'd think it would be one thing on which we could agree.  

Dream on.

We're delighted you're saying the rosary!  Really. I can't tell you how that tickles us! For one thing, the biggest and most endless argument I've had with the Separated Brethren is the dismissal of Mary as a person of any importance, let alone someone to whom we turn for intercession. You saying all those "Hail Mary's"?  Stellar. 


Four gold stars.

It is possible to pray "wrong", but you are not praying "wrong".  Technically, you're saying the rosary "wrong", but don't let that stop you.  Asking you to stop saying the rosary in the fashion that you are is like asking an sober drug addict to stop drinking coffee because caffeine is also a drug.

But because we're Catholic and we love nothing more than to split theological hairs, I will tell you that the rosary is a meditative prayer.  That's why it has those mysteries attached.  There are four types of those and to say a complete rosary you would go around the beads four times and meditate on one of the four sets per lap.  But we know most people don't have time for that, so the Church has broken it down to which set of mysteries to say on each day of the week, but sometimes that changes, based on what time of year it is.

Don't cry.

It's much easier than it sounds and it's just a guide line.  You can meditate on any set you'd like, any time you'd like.

So, for example, if you're on the Sorrowful Mysteries (a good pick if you're praying for people in turmoil), you meditate on one mystery per decade of the rosary.  You think about these events, and see Jesus through His mother's eyes.  Isn't that lovely?

It's especially lovely to us if you're doing it. Any way that you do it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Candle in the Wind

I hope no one minds that we took the week off from the blog here last week to just do a lot of praying. Besides all the sadness in Boston, a whole town blew up in Texas.

Many other people also died violently in our violent country, our violent world.

These things cause me to have my own "dark night of the soul" as Mother Teresa did, pretty much for her whole working life. She had had a personal message from Jesus whilst on a train ride one day, to do what she did with her life, but after that, she felt, she never heard from Jesus again.

And that's the way I feel during these crises. Not that I have not personally heard from Jesus, but that all the people in the world who claim to be believers haven't. Or that they've twisted His words in their heads into "I can think anything I want because I was baptized."

Or something.

Because the world at large has not changed much since Jesus returned to Heaven. Huns and Vikings laid villages to waste. Crusaders on holy missions did the same. Inquisitions, revenge.

I have heard good Christian people tell me why torture is okay is some circumstances. I reply that I can't think that Jesus would agree.  He knows all about torture, does He not, being a victim of it and all?

Jesus does ask the impossible. Love, God's love, only, no matter what anyone is doing to you. Compassion, God's compassion for everyone, no matter what they've done.

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

The candle in my dark night, is that it is possible to try harder.  And we are slightly more civilized then we used to be.


So try harder.                                                                                                              

Friday, April 12, 2013

There's a APP For That

Long long ago, here on our little cyber convent, I posted a series of patron saint poems. Most of us are familiar with "Holy Tony, come on down, something's lost and must be found", used to invoke the intercession of St. Anthony when your glasses are right there on your head. That happened to me just this morning. My hand found them before St. Anthony did.

When we posted the prayer to St. Anthony, we got quite a few more poems in, including St. Boniface, who has nothing to do with cars, but who's name does rhyme with "parking space", and St. Ann, the husband finder. It prompted us to write a couple of our own.

And of course we do patron saint matching, some cases updating the patronages of saints, since the whole point of finding a patron saint for anything is that the saint would be sympathetic to the cause, because said saint had to suffer in a similar way as you. We dubbed St. Thomas More, for example, the patron saint of what we now call "blended families".  You know, like the Brady Bunch, when someone with children remarries someone who also has children from a prior marriage. That happened to St. Thomas More, and he was a great blended dad to his new family.

So it is with surprise and delight that some enterprising person named Craig took the ball and ran with it. He has made a patron saint PHONE APP. He claims to have been inspired by our endeavors here on the blog and over at the shop.

I can't have it. It's only available for IPhones.

As you can guess, I do not have an IPhone.

Craig offered me a free app and he has five more free apps for you! First come first serve.

I gave mine to a person with an IPhone, who was nice enough to show me what Craig has been up to, which includes original saint artwork, the story of the saint, and a saint poem prayer for each saint.

His take on St. Thomas More, because St. Thomas is the patron saint of 'civil servants" and the person who invented the word "Utopia", depicts St. Thomas as a postal worker and the prayer is a prayer for patience while waiting in line at the post office.  So you don't go postal, so to speak.

Here are the five free downloads:





And here is a link to the APP shop:

Craig would like you to know that he'd love your feedback and suggestions for saints.  Craig, St. Francis!  My IPhone friend tells me you missed a big one!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One Less Thing to Worry About

 I have a question. In one of your earlier posts (march 5) you mention purgatory exists outside time and space; yet indulgences are for periods of time (or at least they were in the past ,from what I've read) how does that work? How can time be taken off of something that doesn't exist in time?

Right.  Exactly.  You've got it.

That's the answer.

When I was a child in Catholic school, I was always frustrated when I asked this type of question. The nuns always had an answer. The answers were in three categories:

1.  An actual answer to the question. For example, "What is an indulgence?" The simple answer: Time taken off your Purgatory 'sentence'.

2. "Go look it up."  I have come to understand that his is nun "code" for "I don't know the answer to that question.  But, in the nuns' defense, it's a great educational tool to let young people know that they kind find some answers for themselves.

3. "It's a Sacred Mystery."  

Your question falls into category THREE.  "Sacred Mystery" is Catholic code for "just let it go".     

How did Jesus fly bodily into Heaven?  Heaven is also outside time and space. Did He fly somewhere like the space shuttle or an ground to air missile?  It's a Sacred Mystery.

See how that works?

There is so much going on in God's universe that we can never understand. Just let it go. Because God made us.  He knew that there were things that the brains he gave us would never understand. He's okay with it.  He made it that way.

I do believe that sometimes when saints have 'ecstasies' they sometimes are being given the understanding of some of these mysteries.  Not that it does the rest of us any good, since they can't really explain it to our pea brains.  

We have enough on our plates just trying to do as Jesus commanded and turn the other cheek and forgive those who wronged us.  There is a LOT to forgive out there.  The compassion needed is colossally heavy lifting.  I need all my pea brain power for that.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Paper Tigers

Since it's our happiest time of year what with spring springing and Jesus rising, I thought we should take a day off from solving problems and patron saint matching to look at some nuns made of paper.

A reader was kind enough to send us a link to these origami nuns.  I often feel like I am made of paper. I'm sure Stephen Hawkings feels that way as well.

These two appear to be from two different origami orders, rushing off to their respective convents. Or they are both late for something.
Or it's windy at the origami nun convention. I'm sure a good wind would knock them both right over. Or blow them into the next county. Watch for one of them to shoot through your window and land on your desk.

This group all appears to be from the same order, exiting their little paper chapel.  Good thing they all fold flat, since that's the only way they'd fit in there.  They need to turn around and go evangelize the Vikings lurking in the background.  I'm glad the little placard mentions the chapel, because I would never have figured that out.  It looks  more like their row boat is sinking.

This one looks a little more like a praying mantis to me.  Or a bird disguised as a nun.

I think we really have to use our imaginations for this one.  Nun?
Okay, if you say so. Of course, I suppose we really look just like this to some people.

Origami nuns? Or what was left after the kids ate the sno cones?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Consider the Manger Straw

Dear SMM- Any thoughts on the "tradition" of taking a piece of straw from the manger of the nativity scene at a church and putting it in your wallet. It's supposed to ensure your wallet is never empty.

I haven't heard of that one. 

Some of these traditions make people very nervous.  I think we can all be honest and admit that the idea of putting manger straw in your wallet to ensure your wallet is never empty really sounds like rabbit's foot territory.  

And really, the Holy Family was famously poor, making the whole situation sound like it should be followed up with a hardy, "Good Luck!"

We don't believe in luck.

I am much more on board with the tradition of using manger straw to remind children to behave during the Christmas season. You set up the empty manger with straw to await the Baby Jesus and every time the child misbehaves you remove a straw to show them they are making the Baby Jesus less comfortable. 

Catholic guilt, instilled from the cradle.  It's a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

But I won't tell you not to put manger straw in your wallet any more than I would tell you not to bury St. Joseph upside down in the front yard when you're trying to sell your house.

As long as you don't think of the manger straw as a rabbit's foot, a lucky piece.  You have to let the manger straw be a reminder of what you really need and what you don't need.  

Let me remind you of what you do need: Faith.  

This is the perfect time to answer another question that has come into the queue.

 What is you favourite book or passage from the bible?

My favorite Bible verse  is the one that commonly is thought of as the "consider the lilies" speech, although no lilies are actually involved. I believe the correct translation is "flowers".   But this gist of it is this, from Matthew:

25. 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!
26. Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?

You get the drift. The manger straw isn't to remind God what you need. It's to remind you that you only need God.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Sadie Hawkins Day

Now that we're all full of ham and deviled eggs we're finally able to come up for air and answer some questions. Before we begin, let me point out one important truth: You'll sweep up remnants of Easter grass until Christmas, and you'll sweep up remnants of pine needles until Easter.

Dear Sister My brother has an unusual problem. 20 years ago, he gave up on finding love and a wife and is now perfectly happy as a single man. He is 63 years old and there is a 41 year old woman, divorced with kids who has decided he is the love of her life and she will give him no rest. She is being aided and abetted by another woman, happily married who just can't stand to see someone happily single. When he was in high school, my brother wanted to be a monk, or a hermit but joined the Marines instead. He has had 2 very painful "love relationships" and has seen so many marriages fail or people who are miserable in their marriage, including our parents that he wants to remain single forever. Is there a saint for that?

A saint for what, exactly?  Getting rid of the pushy divorcee? Telling the abetter to mind her own garden? Having your brother find love in his twilight years?  Not so twilight, really. 60 is the new 40.  So they tell me.

There are some people who are not cut out for marriage.  And there are no end of saints that agreed. The one who springs to mind this minute is St. Celestine V, the first Pope (and the only other Pope) to abdicate. (He was also the Pope who made the decree that a Pope could abdicate.)  Peter Morrone was a monk extraordinaire. Lived in a cave. Ate bread and water. That kind of monk.

He was very involved in the world around him, however, starting up other monasteries, founding an order, and writing a scathing letter to the cardinals of the day who had let two years lapse without coming together to elect a Pope.

His letter alarmed everyone so much that they decided to make Peter the Pope, which is how he became Pope Celestine V for a couple of months. 

They actually had to form a posse and climb up the mountain to his cave to haul him out to come and be Pope.  

Pope Celestine and Pope Benedict, Comrades in Abdication
While he was Pope, he built a chamber in the basement of the castle in which he stayed (he refused to go to Rome) and pretty much just sat there. Then he wrote a decree saying that the Pope could quit.  Then he quit.  Two months and 8 days later.

Another good saint for your brother is St. Rita.  She always had wanted to become a nun, but she had to wait until her family died to give that a try. Even then, the convent didn't want her because she was older and had been married.  She persevered and angels flew her over the convent wall. This is back when being a nun meant being behind a wall.

Even the saints who are the patron saints for finding love, like St. Agnes, were actually people who wanted to remain celibate. I've always found that slightly ironic.

Perhaps what your brother should do is pray for the intercession of St. Agnes for the divorcee to find love...somewhere else. And take her nosy friend with her.  

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