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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Re Cycled Saints

Who would be the patron saint of recycling or "up-cycling?" Also who is the patron saint of thrift stores (other than the saint my thrift store is named after?) For the record, St. Louise Thrift Store is my work place, and St. Louise is really great at interceding for us, our volunteers and customers. Sometimes too much. But thank-you, St. Louise! (I don't need any more tupperware right now.)

St. Louise, the one who went off to the crusades? There are several St. Louises.

The person who springs to mind is St. Francis of Assisi. He and his brothers just begged for everything they had and had to repair and reuse whatever they had. St. Francis began his career as a begging brother by trading clothes--the fancy clothes he was wearing at the moment--with a beggar on the road. Francis' father, who was a wealthy cloth merchant, was super aggravated with this wacky move. When Frances came home in his beggar get up, his father ordered him to remove it at once. 

Which the ever obedient Francis did. He walked off naked into the sunset. Which means he had to go beg up some other clothes.  And blankets and pots and pans and whatever else he needed at any given moment.

He probably couldn't have used some tupperware.

I would also consider St. John of God, who begged up a whole hospital, from the building itself to every mattress and bedpan.

What is the best way to choose a name/patron saint for your unborn child? I suppose there is a better way than just choosing the name you like best! Do you have any thoughts, Sister?

If the name you like best is Blotsnefad, yes, there would be a better way. Of course I have thoughts!

1. If it's a girl, Mary.  You can't do better than that.

2. If it's a boy, we like Joseph and John, but go for a great patron saint name.

3. If there's no saint with the name you like, find a new one.

4. Consider what happens to the name when it's shortened.  You might love the name Nathaniel, but everyone is going to call that kid "Nat".  That's great for Nat King Cole. But for the rest of us, it sounds like a pesky bug.  You don't want your kid to go through life with the name of a pesky bug.

I've always felt like you should have a few names in mind and then take a look at that kid before you pick one.  You don't think, "I' m going to get a dog and name it Rex!"  You get the dog and take a look at it and choose a name. Why would you do less for your kid? But that's just me.

I also advise against telling anyone any names you are considering because there will always be someone who doesn't like that name for reasons only they can fathom, but the distaste shows ever so briefly in their eyes and you will feel weird and second guess yourself and flounder into calling the kid "Blotsnefad". Keep your names to yourself. Everyone will coo over the baby no matter what horrible name you've chosen.

Of course, you won't choose a horrible name. It's a girl and you'll call her Mary.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Couple of Tough Cookies

My sister is looking for a patron saint for a girl who is outdoorsy and athletic. I can't think of any - can you help? Thanks!

You can't think of any? 

I can't say I blame you. The list of girls who became saints is as long as everyone's arms sewn together. It would take you days to check out what every single person did. Weeks, maybe.

That's why I'm here! And I'm happy to help.

But I can't think of anyone more outdoorsy and athletic than St. Joan of Arc. To begin with, she was peasant girl.  They didn't have grocery stores and washing machines. They didn't have sewing machines or refrigerators. From dawn til duck, a peasant would be growing and making food, repair broken things, feeding animals and building fires.

So right out of the gate, St. Joan is no couch potato.

But then, she receives visions and hears the voices of saints and Michael the Archangel telling her to mount up and lead the French Army. She did that. And she fought in battles and was shot with an arrow. When she miraculously survived, she impressed the helmets off her soldiers.

I would call that athletic and outdoorsy, wouldn't you?  I'll bet she spent an enormous amount of time camping.

I read with great interest your article on Venerable Matt Talbot. At least I think he is a Venerable. I see you have him as a "Blessed" which means he did one miracle after his death. What was that miracle? He needs two to become a Saint. Nevertheless, I am looking for the official website for the Cause of the Cannonization of Ven. Matt Talbot. I have had no luck in finding such. Can anyone help?

Oops. My bad. He is indeed Venerable. No miracles for him just yet.  But yes, I think I can head you in the right direction.  Got there and type "Matt Talbot" in the search bar. From there the links will take you in circles.

But don't despair! There is an address. So you can write. You can also follow all the links. You haven't mentioned why you're trying to track it down. Do you have a Matt Talbot miracle to report?

I hope so! The last attempt was rejected by the Vatican as a miracle. I don't know what it was, so obviously, I don't know why it wasn't a miracle. 

Meanwhile here is a great rundown of everything you need to know about saint making:


Monday, May 20, 2013

Oh, My Aching Back

Back pain? Who is the patron saint for back pain?

St. Gemma!

We know that patron saints are people who have suffered from or dealt with the same problems we have (or thereabouts, or in a round about way).  And some saints pull double duty from not only suffering from what ails us, but from having been miraculously cured from said suffering as well.
St. Peregrine springs to mind (cancer). And the Opus Dei fellow. St. Jose Marie Escriva (diabetes).

And St. Gemma.  I'll let you head over and read her story.

Don't you think she might be a bit of a package deal? What with St. Margaret Mary and St. Gabriel being sort of pals of hers?

By the way, separated brethren who don't believe people in Heaven pay us any mind, we have lots of incidences where people from Heaven visit people on earth and pray with them or otherwise guide them. Surely you've heard of St. Joan of Arc?  She didn't just wake up one day and think, "Hey! I know! I'll head an army and save France! Right after I milk the cow!" No.  She heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret. Not to be confused with Margaret Mary. Joan's St. Margaret was St. Margaret of Antioch, who is the patron saint of peasants.

Poor St. Margaret was yet another beautiful girl who, after pledging herself to Our Lord, was tortured and beheaded. Legend has it she was swallowed by a dragon. That's the dragon there in her picture, munching on part of her dress, as far as I can tell. What actually happened was that Satan tempted her and showed up in the form of a dragon.

And then snacked on her dress.

And of course, should you be swallowed by a dragon, you'll know which patron saint to call upon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Saints Come Marching In

Helloooo out there! I'm a little surprised we have had no comments on your stellar work praying. Perhaps you are all busy forming prayer circles. One can only hope.

Meanwhile, my minister friend invited me to visit her congregation. She was doing her own prayer circle about "Christian Oneness" and asked me to speak. Before I gave my little tour of Catholicism she asked me, in front of the congregation, what we could all do to achieve Christian oneness. "Convert to Catholicism. That would take care of it, " I said.

They may have bristled.

My little speech went well, though, and I introduced them to the concept of patron saints. Anyone who has read the blog for two seconds knows that I have a steady argument with the separated brethren about intercessory prayer. I started with the idea that asking someone in Heaven to pray for you is no different than asking someone on earth to pray for you and surely, your loved ones in Heaven still care for you.

I also told them that their dear loved ones are not angels in Heaven, although if they are in Heaven they are saints. But I digress.

It's seemed to get their attention, because I don't think anyone really wants to believe that someone who they loved dearly and who loved them has gone on their merry way in Heaven, never to give us on this mortal coil a second thought. What, are they busy playing canasta?

I also used our wonderful reader's suggestion  of asking them to pray with us.

Talk about oneness!

In any case, it opened a dialogue about patron saints and the next thing I knew we were on a patron saint matching extravaganza. But that wasn't the best part.

The best part was that I had brought a big pile of the holy cards we send out with our medals from the shop (sans medals). Each card has the story of the saint (written by me) on the back. My minister friend explained that I had a holy card for everyone as a "parting gift".

I don't think anyone ever had such a long wait to get out of church in their lives. Each and every person leaving the chapel that day stopped and poured through my pile of cards (each in a lovely cellophane sleeve) to find the perfect saint for them. I had brought with me the patron saints for dog and cat lovers, bad boys, bad marriages, happy marriages, insanity, procrastination, back pain, couch potatoes...the one thing stupidly hadn't thought of, finances and jobs. Doh!

They were very excited to find just the right saint for them.  I had enough that some people took two or three or four, some to give away. I know they left happy.

I certainly did.

When I was a little girl going to Catholic school, the old nuns always told us that it was okay for us to go to a non Catholic Church, should we be invited, but we were not to pray in there because, "God isn't there."  I always found that especially confusing as they vehemently told us that "God is everywhere".  I guess what they were trying to get across was the idea that either God doesn't want us in other churches or that He turns a deaf ear to non-Catholic prayer.

Or something.  Whatever they were getting at didn't seem very well thought out, even to a child. At least, to this child.

I pleased to have brought the saints to bear. Perhaps it's the first step of many.

Although, at one point I had to explain Transubstantiation to them. They really weren't buying it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Congratulations to Everyone!

Since it's Mother's Day and all, I thought we should have some cheery news!  
On top of that, it's news in which you all had a personal hand. Doesn't that make it even better. Although, I'm not sure how it could get better.

Hi SMM, I don't know if you remember, but awhile back (months), I had posted a cry of help on here. My husband and I were out of jobs, illness, depression, the whole drama was happening, and I had nowhere to go anymore. I posted, and the very next day, you re-posted, and gave me that hope I needed. You even created a prayer circle, and all the kind comments from everyone, it was just more than anything I could have hoped for. I would not be exaggerating if I said that we were in a very bad place, and I felt so crushed suicide flitted in and out of my thoughts. Well here we are months later, thankfully alive, we both have employment, were both doing so much better health wise, and were working hard to erase the debt we accumulated. Thanks to you, your readers, you gave me a ray of sunshine which gave me the hope and strength to carry on just a little bit further, and the devil did not get my soul that night. Every night since, I've prayed for you, and thanked God Almighty for showing me your blog, and for the kindness in other people. Thank you, Sister Mary Martha, for the good you bring to us.

I'm just the mailbox. I'm so very glad for you. I knew everything would turn out fine as soon as our readers rallied to the battlements. I never had a moments doubt.

I remember the original post. I remember where I was when the hour came. I was in a train station in Chicago! I was watching the clock for my train when I realized what else the clock was telling me.

And just to refresh everyone's memory and so you can see all the comments, HERE YOU GO

So our "experiment" worked. As if we ever had any doubt. And thank you! I can always use your prayers, too.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Empty Nest Syndrome

A kind reader pointed out that the Killer Baby Jesus stories are in the Book of Thomas, not the book of whatever I yammered it was the other day. Thank you for the much needed correction.

I love this idea of just laying out the problem. So simple, and new to me.
 I would like to request help finding a saint to pray with
 (in the new vernacular) for my baby sister, who starts
 college in the fall. Our mother died when she was 13, and
 I had the great blessing of being more involved in her 
"growing up" than we had anticipated. I'm not looking forward 
to her leaving, and would like to be able to direct that energy 
in prayer.  Any suggestions? Thanks. I enjoy this blog. :)

The actual patron saint for young people leaving home
for the first time is an angel, St. Raphael. He accompanied 
young Tobias all over the place and even helped him find 
the love of his life. As a result, St. Raphael is also the 
patron saint of young lovers.

But it sounds to me like you're looking for a saint for 
your own "empty nest syndrome".

St. Rita springs to mind, because she went off and became 
a nun after her husband was killed by the mob and her 
sons died.  But then...she had always wanted to be a nun. 
Not that she didn't grieve the loss of her husband and sons. 
It's just that she finally got to fulfill her lifelong dream of
 life in the convent, complete with stigmata.

So I'm going with St. Elizabeth, who is actually the patron saint for blissfully
 happy marriages. St. Elizabeth was betrothed, fairy tale style, to the infant
 King of Thuringia and they pair was wed when she was only 14 years old. 
You'd think this was a recipe for disaster, but she loved her husband intensely.

Elizabeth always tried to live simply and give everything to the poor, even 
though she was the queen. And her husband Louis agreed!  He tried too, and
 encouraged his wife in her endeavors.

They had three children.  And then poor Louis went off to the crusades and
 never returned. I think he died of illness, never making it to the Holy Land at all. 
Or he was killed fighting. I can't recall.

Ever wonder why so many hospitals bear the name "Elizabeth"?  It's because 
the inconsolably sad Elizabeth made arrangements for her three children to be 
cared for and immersed herself completely in the care of the poor and ill. You
 might say she invented the hospital, gathering up the sick the way she did and 
seeing to their needs.

This is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, by the way, not to be confused with 
St. Elizabeth the mother of St. John the Baptist, although if she was still 
alive after John left home, she might have felt pretty bad and wished he 
had stayed home with her.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Wedding Feast at Rosebud

The other day when we were discussing the rosary, one of our lovely readers left this response:

To your original correspondent: Take a lesson from the Blessed Mother at Cana (the changing of the water to wine). She didn't come to Jesus and tell Him what to do, or how to fix the problem. She merely presented the problem. "They have no wine." And even when her Son seemed to brush her off, she instructed those in charge of serving at the event, "Do whatever He tells you to do." She didn't tell Jesus HOW to solve the problem. She merely laid the problem at His feet, with quiet and steady faith that He would do SOMETHING.

The wedding feast at Cana has been my  little "Rosebud" for this week.  When I was in college, I happened upon some friends talking about "Citizen Kane", in particularly "Rosebud".  Then a couple of days later, some commercial or something that referenced "Rosebud" (I can't  tell you how without ruining the film) and a couple of more times that week "Rosebud" came up randomly in references and conversations. My friend, who was witness to this phenomena, and I really laughed when  Saturday night of that week we flicked on the TV and "Citizen Kane" was on.

And this week, I keep discussing the wedding feast at Cana.

I've always felt that the moral of the story was that Jesus listens to His mother.  I especially like to point this out to people who think that asking Mary to pray with us is a futile waste of time. "Oh, really?" I reply, coyly.  "And yet you, who insist you only talk directly with Jesus, have no problem asking me to pray for you. When Mary asked Jesus to do something about the lack of wine at the wedding, He does something. Immediately. On a day when He was just there to party."

Our reader is thinking along the same lines. Mary asked. Jesus answered.

But also this week, I had a conversation with a young lady who is a Methodist minister. When I say young lady, I mean she is younger than me, me, being as old as rope.  We were discussing Mother's Day and I was the one who brought up my wedding feast at Cana observations.

"Oh!" she giggled. "I had a class with a Bible theologian who had a completely different take on that one!"

It seems this fellow thought that the joke was on everyone. You may recall that a key component to the story is that Jesus was pretty cranky about being asked to do something. He wasn't ready to reveal Himself as someone who might change water into wine just yet and He says this in no uncertain terms. This theologian thought that Jesus didn't change anything into anything and merely instructed the sewards to pour the icky water where everyone had been washing their feet and all into the wine jugs. Done and done.

The theologian pointed out that weddings were days long celebrations back then and that everyone would have been pretty much in the tank by this time.  Their happy taste of the "new wine" was a hilarious joke Jesus pulled, along the lines of "the Emperor has no clothes".

I can't think what point this fellow thought including this story in the New Testament would serve, if this was the idea.  For one thing, it's so mean! ugh.  It harkens back to the "killer baby Jesus" stories in the Book of James, where Jesus is a scary kid who can wish you into the cornfield.  Jesus is called upon for help and His response is to trick everyone into drinking bathwater? 

I don't think so.

I'm going with "Jesus listens to His mom".

Also this week I visited a man who was putting all his things in storage and I laughed and told him his garage looked like the last scene in "Citizen Kane" where Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu is being packed up and things are being thrown into a giant furnace.  I revealed the end of the film, never imaging that a man of his age had not seen that.

He had not.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Problem Child

Hello Sister, I need a Patron to pray with on behalf of a little girl (3 years old) who is showing some serious behavior problems, (mostly directed at her siblings.) I know that I should be praying rosaries, but do you have any other suggestions that, in addition, I might work on? Thank you, Ann

I am so pleased at your clever wording! Everyone always wants a saint to pray "to".  We don't pray "to" saints. We ask for their intercession. We ask them to pray for us.  That leaves us with the cumbersome phrase "pray for the intercession of".  You have solved a centuries long problem! We're going to use that from now on!

Who should you pray with?  Before we get to that, I have a bright idea. What if you got her a little child sized chaplet bracelet and when she misbehaves have her say a Hail Mary using her bracelet. She's three, so she might not manage the whole prayer. "Hail Mary full of grace" is enough.  It might be a more useful way of counting to ten.

Also, seek help. Early intervention with a behavioralist  is extremely helpful.

When I first heard about ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), I thought, "Well, that's just a fancy anagram for 'brat'."  But I was wrong.  And the normal ways of dealing with brats have the opposite effect on kids with ODD.  Since I have no actual training, I'll leave it at that.  Go to the pros.

Meanwhile, you both could use a patron saint.

For her, St. Peter, the patron saint for anger management. Peter was famously angrily impetuous, but he turned out alright, wouldn't you say?  

For you, St. Monica, the patron saint for mothers with difficult children. Poor St. Monica had a difficult husband AND a difficult son. She followed her son all over the world trying to stop him from doing whatever he was about to do and wasn't particularly successful.She had to have the patience of a saint (hence, her title). But ultimately, she did prevail and her son, St. Augustine is still the #1 person the Church turns to for philosophy and doctrine.  So he turned out alright, too.