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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Pope Says Chillax

How much are we enjoying our new Pope! He's making news every week with common sense and compassion. Telling everyone to calm down and listen to Jesus. It's about time we all did that. Which is why this response to my response to a question made me think of the Pope.

Dear Sister, 
What a thrill to log on and see your response to my request. Thank you! You have certainly given my daughter some great Saints to consider - and your readers did too. 
Funny, when I was confirmed I chose the name James as it was my grandfather's name. However, during the ceremony, the Bishop just couldn't get his head around the idea that a girl would choose a male name. I remember the back and forth I had with him, in front of the whole congregation. He asked me what name I had chosen and I answered "James".
"Aah, Jane" he answered. 
"No, James"
"Yes, Jane it shall be"
I was confirmed Jane - but I still consider James to be my patron Saint.

It really seems like in this day and age, no one would much care about if a girl took a boy's name. And for Heaven's sake let's not forget St. JoseMaria Escriva (the patron saint of diabetics). He has "Maria" right in there. If your Bishop had his way, the founder of Opus Dei  would have been St. JoseMark Escriva.

Which is why I thought of the Pope. Wouldn't our Pope say, "Great! Whatever name you'd like to have. Whatever saint you'd like to call on for help and guidance and whatever saint you'd like to put right into your own name in order to bond with that saint. Let's not worry about, of all things, gender."?

I would step in if someone picked a fake saint, which I sure has happened.  And I might mention to a Confirmation kid that maybe St. Expeditus and St. Philomena didn't exist. But....we can imagine that some little girl was buried in the catacombs and we can go ahead and call her Philomena, just like we call Mary's mother "Anne" although in truth we have no idea what her parents were called. Joachim and Anne?  Sure. That's much more personable than just "Mary's parents".

You know, there are things I used to care about that I just don't care about anymore. We used to have conniption fits about penmanship, back in the day. How many of you were tortured by "The Palmer Method"? I certainly was. And then I had to torture other children with it and poke at left handed kids.

Good riddance to all of that. I still say, "Work on the handwriting kid! Someday someone's life my depend on it!" And I still think it's important to use good grammar and turn in work that is neat, because how you present yourself to the world will affect your quality of life.

But hey, you might be Vincent Van Gogh and I'm not going to tell you which brush to use.

I wonder if you can change your Confirmation name? I've never heard of anyone trying. I imagine there are people who don't even remember what their Confirmation name is.

Who cares? As long as they show up for Mass.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Box of Saints

Of course, our favorite thing to do is to patron saint match. What better way to tackle the week then the perfect confirmation name!

Hi Sister, I'm writing on behalf of my 13 year old daughter who will be receiving the sacrament of Confirmation next fall. At this point in her preparation she is tasked with choosing a patron saint. We've discussed it a bit and have (half) jokingly decided that she would like a somewhat obscure saint - someone who isn't so popular that he or she might be "overworked" with prayer requests and miracles ;) However, she will have to write a report on her chosen saint in the upcoming months, and we've noticed that we really don't know very much about some saints. Can you make some recommendations? My daughter will be starting high school next year at an all-girls catholic school. She enjoys watersports, shooting sporting clays, singing and acting. Her favorite subjects in school are science and social studies - and she loves bugs!

It will be easy to find the perfect patron saint pile from which she can choose a name. The issue is going to be writing a report about that saint. Obscure saints are obscure for a reason: no one knows diddly beans about them. Some saints have only a rough guess at the years they did their saintly deeds upon the earth. Some have a shakey story about miraculous works. Some are just, well, legends. 

So grab a cup a tea and have a gander at some of these wonderful people, obscure saints all, I believe.
Bug lovers.
Singing and acting.
And for social studies, this deliciously obscure yet important fellow. He isn't a full on saint yet. He's a BLESSED (pronounced Bless-said), which means he needs one more miracle to be canonized.

Meanwhile, for her sports and shooting, we have St. Sebastian, who is not at all obscure. He, along with St. Bartholomew, who was skinned, have the grade school boys favorite holy cards. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of archers (which is the closest we can come to skeet shooting), athletes and anything that comes to a point, like pins.

You'll have to pick one. I suppose there is no law that says you can't have more than one, but...who does that? Especially with so many already hyphenated names out there.  Still, she has two things to consider. One, does this saints resonate with me. Two, can't I get a whole essay out of this guy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why Pray

Here's the problem I've had with prayer lately: If God loves me and is going to do what's best for me, regardless--which I don't doubt--then who am I to try to direct God's actions or tell Him what to do? Why pray, "Please don't let my mother die of cancer" (or whatever) because God's going to do what's God's going to do in something like that, whether I ask Him or not. And even praying something like, "Help my mother in her journey through this illness"...well, God's going to do that without my asking, if only my mother will see the help is available and take God up on it. Meditation, prayers of praise...that's different. But what we so often call prayer, where we're asking something of God, even very good things, seem almost disrespectful, like we're questioning His divine will and plan.

Yeah, that's a problem a lot of people have with prayer.  And to them I would say, "Oh, it's all about you, is it? He's going to do what ever is good for you, so let Him get on with it without talking to Him about anything.  Amen."

What about God? We just leave Him alone, like that lucky ole sun, to roll around Heaven all day? We don't have to talk with Him to open ourselves to His blessings and graces and the beautiful world and life around us, because, hey, He's got everything covered?

God is not a vending machine for our requests for help. If the world of God worked that way, why would we have to do anything? Why didn't He just make us so we don't have to eat. that way, we wouldn't have to plow fields or worry about eating too many Doritos? 

God made a world in which we must participate, and one of the ways we participate is by communicating with God and the way we do that is prayer.

We can turn this question upside down, too. If God is all powerful and can do anything, why pray? I ask you, if God was NOT all powerful, why pray? If He wasn't all wise, it would be dangerous to pray.But since God is all wise and powerful, we can relax and talk with Him.

That's how we participate in God's plan, which is His plan. We don't pray to inform God. We pray to invite God.

Fred is doing very well, thank you all very much and thank God. On the mend. How did that happen? The power we have through God. Great stuff.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Turn On

Every so often we get one of those questions that is, as the kids say, "Off the chain".    This has to be one of my all time favorites. What causes a question to be beloved? How much fun it is to answer.

Why is prayer so important?

A gem.

Note that the reader did not ask  if prayers "work" or  "how prayers work".  The reader used the word "important".  So important!

Important: marked by significant worth.  Valuable in content or relationship.

Prayers are marked by significant worth and they are valuable in content and relationship.  And the question is, why?

So imagine this, dear reader. Imagine that you're watching television. While you're doing that you're connected to the material you are watching.

When you turn the TV off,  all of that goes away, as though it does not exist.

But it does. All of those signals and pixels are flying around ceaselessly, whether you choose to join in or not.  Connect or not. The TV signals go on and on and on.

So you can connect to God or not. He is always there, ceaselessly. Prayer connects you to God. That's why it's important.

It's not rocket science.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Angels Among Us

Today is the celebration of our Guardian Angels and the perfect day to beg a favor.

First, the Guardian Angels. Yes, you have one, and not just while you're a tiny child trying to stick you fingers in the light sockets and drink bleach from under the sink. Your Guardian Angel is with you your whole life through and is there by your side as you pass on to where the woodbine twineth. (A phrase my mother likes to use. She hasn't gone there yet.)

So have some angel food cake!

And now is your chance to be an angel.

Don't get crazy, you can't really be an angel. Angels are not people, or former people. Angels are a type of being that God created. You can't turn into an angel anymore than you could turn into a dog or a dog could turn into a person. You don't go to Heaven and turn into a dog and you don't go to Heaven and turn into an angel.

This idea that so and so died "because God wanted another angel" is just a way to sell posters and greeting cards and sugary figurines. Don't fall for it.

I'm speaking metaphorically, as in "Be an angel and see if the mail came yet."  Only I'm asking you to do something a little more involved.

We've had great success praying together and today I'm going to ask you to set your clock and pray with me and everyone else who visits our cyber convent.  I have a friend who is facing down some pretty nasty cancer treatments and a scary prognosis. So I'm asking you to pray for his recovery because the world still needs him. Please feel free to add in people for which our prayers could help that are facing their own miserable diagnoses and treatments and suffering.

We settled some of the hash in the  Mid East, didn't we? Sure we did.

So let's get together with our prayers tomorrow at 5pm central time (6pm east coast, 3pm west coast) and bow our heads and ask for God's grace and healing power for Fred (and eveyone's Freds).

Meanwhile we'll thank Fred's actual angel and our own.