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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Today's question is from Laura, who is still on the mental health train:

SMM, do you believe that God can completely heal a person of a phobia or some other mental problem. If we say no, aren't we doubting him? Can novena's and rosary's really heal or bring about a hopeless cause? DO you know any success stories. I'm discouraged.
thank you

I do believe that God can completely heal a person of a phobia or some other mental problem or my name wouldn't be Sister Mary Martha. It wouldn't even be Mary Martha for that matter. I won't tell you what it would be. Suffice to say that I'll always remember my fellow novice who was so thrilled the day she became Sister Mary Arthen because her name had been "Florence" and her whole life everyone called her "Flossie", as per the cow.

But I also believe that you'd best not sit around praying for the miracle that saves you. I don't think you're going to wake up one morning after your novena ends and head out to stand out on that thing over the Grand Canyon that whatever that tribe was put up there because you suddenly aren't afraid of heights. Miracles are few and far between or they wouldn't be miracles.

We don't use the word miracle lightly. When we say "miracle" we're not talking about, "Holy Flossie! I got a parking space!" We mean instantaneous and unexplained.

Does this mean I have doubt? Not at all. The best explanation is contained in this old joke, which I'm sure most of you have heard.

You know this one: A priest is hanging on for dear life to the church steeple as the flood waters rise. He prays to God, "Help me, oh God! I have no doubt you will save me!"

A boat rows by and offers the priest a spot but he waves them off. "Save someone else. God will save me! I have no doubt!"

In that there is a 'rule of three' that all jokes have in common, I believe a helicopter comes by and some other thing, but the priests tells them both, "Save someone else! I have no doubt God will save me."

You would think that God would save him, considering the shortage of priests, but the priest drowns. In heaven, the priest says to God, "God, what happened. I never doubted that you would save me but you didn't!"

And God says, "Good heavens, man, I sent you a boat, a helicopter and some other thing and you sent them away!"

So there you go, Laura, don't miss the boat. It's not going to be marked "USS God" or anything. It may be marked, "therapy", "a drug", "a loving family", "a compassionate counselor", "non-judgmental friends", "struggle" and/or "hard work". The only success stories I know of got on board.

Your novenas and prayers will help you stay focused and give you strength to climb aboard. Your skirt may flip up over your head when you try and your prayers will help you find the humility to deal with the embarrassment of having your skirt over your head. And you're still going to need help rowing.

There you go...the rule of three.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday SMM! :)

Sister Consolette's cousin
Fruit Salad

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the writer is Catholic but I do know that God can more easily work miracles if we frequent the Sacraments.

Of course, He has also been known give us more crosses, too! May we bear them with humility and His grace.

eve said...

For panic attacks or certain fears such as death and illness, I suggest saying the "Prayer for Trust" by St. Ignatius of Loyola as a novena (actually nine times a night for nine nights)...

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in your protective love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.

I have also asked St. Ignatius to pray this for and with me. It may also be helpful to pray this prayer in the midst of a panic attack.

Kasia said...

There's a prayer from St. Francis de Sales that I've also found very helpful:

Peace. Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow. The same Everlasting Father Who cares for us today, will take care of you tomorrow & every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at Peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts & imaginations.

Incidentally, SMM, I believe the three in the original joke were a jeep, a boat, and then a helicopter. :-)

Kimie said...

Sister Mary You are so funny! I just love you:) May God continue to bless you and the work you do.

Anonymous said...

eve the prayer you left here is comforting today as we are faced with another national tragedy. Sister, do you have any other spiritual suggestions concerning the senseless killings? May the Good Lord comfort the families and friends who are suffering this unimaginable loss.

alex said...
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alex said...
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Elena LaVictoire said...

Hey Sister, you have been nominated for a Blogger's Choice award!

Thought you should know!

alex said...

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cattiekit said...

Happy belated B-Day, 'Ster. :>D

Been out of town, uncharacteristically.

Another fine post. God works in many ways, fo sho'. ;>)

cattiekit said...

Guess what???? I *voted* for your blog. You now have *1* vote.

C'mon, peeps! Vote for the 'Ster!

Anonymous said...

A couple of blogs ago someone mentioned that there is a big difference between the RCC & the Episcopal Church. Can you explain this in more detail? From what I've been studying, except for allegiance to the Pope, I really see no difference. Thanks!