Sister Martha Mary, I have been talking with an atheist online and he asked me this question: When did the virgin Mary die and what happened at her death? Why isn't it in the bible?
What do you think? All I have found out is that some German nun said she died at the age of 64 in Turkey when I googled it. Can you say anything more about it?
Melanie, you should just talk with your coffee table about the Virgin Mary. Your discussion will be just as fruitful. Why would you talk about THEOlogy with an atheist?
Here is the silly part that you're missing here, Melanie:
Let's say that I think the Easter Bunny is real. I have a book written by the Easter Bunny and I show you the things the Easter Bunny has to say about life taken from his book.
In his book the Easter Bunny tells the story of his life. How he is born to a litter of little bunnies and one day he takes it upon himself to make the world a brighter place. He hatches a plot to dye eggs and leave them for children on Easter.
"Why does he dye the eggs?" you want to know, thinking I'll realize how absurd the story is if I try to picture a rabbit with a bunch of tea cups with dye in them laid out on the rabbit's kitchen table, there in his rabbit hole.
"To make them pretty in the basket," I tell you. "He talks about that right in the book! The Easter Bunny says he decided to give everyone eggs as a sign of spring, since eggs are a sign of new life. He didn't have Easter grass, way back then, because colored shredded plastic hadn't been invented yet. He just had his basket and the eggs, so he had to decorate the eggs themselves."
"Why Easter?" you ask me. "If he was trying to spread cheer, why not do it all the time, or a couple of times a year?"
"I don't know," I say. "Maybe the Easter bunny was a Catholic. A lot of people think that the Easter Bunny wouldn't want to leave his eggs on the cold snowy ground so he waits until spring and Easter is the first spring holiday. That makes sense doesn't it?"
"Well," you ask me, "what does the Easter Bunny say about it in his book?
At this point, as you listen to me prattle on about all the things the Easter Bunny says about his plans, you want to scream, "there is no Easter Bunny so he couldn't have written a book in the first place!"
So here you are. You're atheist friend is asking you to show him where the Easter Bunny says how Mary died. He wants to see where in the Easter Bunny book it says what happened to Mary after the Pentecost.
But he doesn't believe the Easter Bunny wrote a book. So what possible difference does it make what the book says or doesn't say?
In order to believe anything about Jesus, or Mary, you have to believe that God wrote the book. If you believe that, we can talk about what we think did happen, what is metaphor, what is passed on through Tradition. Oh, so much to discuss!
But if you don't believe God wrote the book, you might just as well argue about the autobiography of the Easter Bunny and whether or not his book makes any sense.
Jack wrote a great book about his life after he chopped down the beanstalk, too. I'm hoping someone can tell me if the Wolf in the Three Pigs is the same Wolf that Red Riding Hood eventually killed. Pigs everywhere owe Red Riding Hood a debt of thanks, as they could go back to making cheap houses out of sticks. Finally, an explanation for the housing boom in my neighborhood!
I think that he asked the question because it was an issue that made him be an atheist instead of a Catholic.
Thank you for telling it as you see it! I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to take the time to answer my questions.
I am the atheist your questioner was talking about.
The official line from the church is that Mary shot up into heaven without physically dying.
There's no particular reasoning behind this "assumption", other than this was the presumed version of events for some time in post Roman rule Europe at the time, therefore it must be true. How, after-all, could so many people be wrong?
Well, how scientific!
This, by the way, is not, THE single issue that decided "IT" for me between Catholicism and atheism. Logic, evidence and the plain and simple truth did that.
Thanks for an entertaining blog, nevertheless. May you live to see the dawn.
Does the Catholic church actually say that Mary did not die before her assumption?
Arguing about God may not make sense. But we should never stop praying for the salvation of even the most devout atheists.
I believe it is part of the Church's tradition that since Mary was born without original sin, she did not die (since death is a punishment for Adam and Eve's original sin). Ergo, the going straight to Heaven at the "end" of her life. Not sure how/why Elijah ranked! Nice chariot planter, he left, however!
Now this is getting interesting. I hope SSM agrees with me on some level.
Actually, the Church has left the matter open. The official line declaring the Assumption a dogma referred to the "dormition" as "when Mary's earthly life was over..." thus leaving alone the "fell asleep/died" question.
Had to laugh about the Easter Bunny!
To me, proof positive for the Assumption is that no one ever claimed to have her body (we Catholics are obsessive about the bodies of saints- we got Peter, we got Paul, would we forget Mary??)!
Interestingly, someone actually has her tomb (they thought she would need it) but even they claim she never used it.
Mr. Gardner, Mary did not 'shoot' anywhere. She was taken into heaven by a power other than herself. She may have been vacuumed into heaven but she did not shoot there.
As for the death of Mary, although the church has left the question open, it is universally believed that Mary did die. She didn't have to die but she did. Why? Because Jesus died. He didn't have to die either. Mary couldn't very well upstage Jesus. I suppose she could, but she wouldn't. It doesn't meet her personality profile.
Here's more about Mary and the Assumption and her death:
Hi there!I guess it's useless talking about Mary Jesus etc. to an atheist.remember this line:To those who believe (in God), no explanation is needed but to those who don't believe, no explanation is necessary.It's just a waste of time.It's just like talking or explaining something to a juke box!God bless Sister and to all the readers of this blog!(I hope I can post this message because my computer speaks Korean so I dunno if this will work) :-)
Doesn't the blog about Mary's birthday sound like the body was stolen?
Well, why should all those people be wrong? Mary lived a long time after the death of Jesus. She lived in a house at Ephesus. It became quite the tourist destination, as there is very old graphiti there.
As word got around about Jesus, and people knew that his mother was still alive, it makes sense that many would go to see her and ask about his birth, etc. Similarly, when she died, or went missing, word of that would have gotten around the Christian community as well.
But really, if you're going to believe that God was born as a human, died for our sins, and rose from the dead, what to stop you from believing that Mary was assumed into heaven? How is one more ridiculous than the other?
"Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you." Mt. 7:6
Yeah, that verse is true, but are we not commanded by God to tell others about our faith so that they might convert? Is it not good to test your faith so that you may be stronger in your faith because you know why you believe it?
So, Jim, why atheism over judaism or protestantism or something? Was there a particular draw to atheism or did you get there by default?
Dear Sister Mary Martha,
I LOVE your blog! I just discovered it a day or two ago. Someone on the Catholic.org forum posted a link. At first, I wasn't sure you were really a nun. I've been taken in before by people on the internet purporting to be someone or something they are not. Now, after reading several of your posts, I am fully grounded in my faith that you are truly a nun. Anyway, it is so comforting to me to be able to sit down and read this blog. I laugh so hard sometimes I have little accidents. It makes me wish I had stayed in Catholic school until I was old enough to really appreciate our nuns. Reading your posts makes me feel as if I could still talk to my mother about things related to our Catholic faith. My mother is bedridden and has suffered a stroke which left her with aphasia so she can't speak so that anyone can understand her. She talks all the time, I just don't know what she's saying. I can remember as a child sometimes wishing she couldn't talk. Well, be careful what you wish for. She also has dementia which seems to come and go. I often hear her talking to imaginary people in the middle of the night. My point was that when she could talk, my mother spoke in a way very similar to yours. Very refreshing! Anyway, I could completely relate to your post about travelling with Sister Mary Fiacre. Both my parents are in wheelchairs. It's always fun trying to get them both in the car without dropping one or both, and then piling two wheelchairs in the back of the station wagon. It's even more fun trying to push two wheelchairs up and down the halls of the dr.'s office building. I have somewhat of a dilemma. Maybe you'd be kind enouugh to help me. My father feels very strongly that it would be inappropriate for me to take my mother to Mass. He says she would be too disruptive to others because she makes lots of noise (chanting and sort of babbling) that she is totally unaware of and unable to control. I feel that she ought to be able to attend Mass anyway and that people could look past her babbling as they do with crying babies. She's not as loud as a crying baby. Our parish does not have a cry room so it's not an option for me to take her there so as not to disturb anyone. The real dilemma is two-fold, she doesn't get to go to Mass and, neither do I. I cannot leave her alone in the house. My father cannot be responsible for her because he cannot tend to her needs or keep her safe. My sister comes to take my father to Mass but, will not sit with my mother so that I can go to Mass. It's an EXTREME financial hardship to pay a sitter to sit with my mother while I go to Mass. Please don't think I'm making excuses for not going to Mass. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to go to Mass everyday. I do go when I can find someone to volunteer to sit with my mom. What do you think of me just taking her with me, noisiness and all? I don't want to disrespect my father's feelings. I do want to go to Mass, though! Do you think I'll end up in Hell because of this? Any suggestions?
Bless you and your parents! Please consider that since your father doesn't want to take your mother to Mass, the stress on him if you do take her might just makes things worse. This is exactly what "Mass for Shut-INs" is for. It's just fine for you, too since you are shut in with the shut-in. It's also okay for your Dad or a deacon to bring Communion to the two of you. We have a special case for the Host for these occasions.
there is such a special place in heaven for you!
Anon, Have you checked with the parish to see if there is someone there who will volunteer to stay with your mom while you go to Mass? You are a peach to take care of your parents, but it would be nice if you could get out once a week!
Why would you talk about THEOlogy with an atheist?
Because if the atheist is a reasonable, curious, and logical person, as this fellow seems to be from his comment above, then perhaps one might say something that makes sense enough to make him dig a bit deeper on his own ... even (gasp) allow him to be a bit more open to the Holy Spirit.
If nothing else, one would confirm the fact that the faith isn't something that is blindly followed without a bit of thinking on the faithful's part.
Julie D., I fully agree with you on this one. Reading the posts of "Sister Mary Martha" (including some older posts), I must say I do not for a single moment believe she is a Roman Catholic nun. First of all, a true nun will fully disclose on the website her religious order, and location.Secondly, I do not discern any compassion, grace on her part - just "put-others-down", "slap-in-your-face" disguised as humour - not the behaviour of a nun. I think she has issues to work out, herself, and having this blog is not going to help. God bless everyone.
She has said that the reason for not telling were she is and her order is that she doesn't want people chasing her to give her money. http://asksistermarymartha.blogspot.com/2006/12/nun-math.html tells the most about Sister MM and her situation.
SSM is just a regular garden variety person just like the rest of us. Give her a break, will y'all?
tells more about how she became a nun.
Sorry, Melanie, can't buy that reason. You see, the reason Catholics must be very careful especially on the net is that there are so many falsehoods/deceptions being propagated on the net, so if someone purports to be an authority figure like a nun or a priest, he or she should disclose himself or herself fully, otherwise there should always be that serious doubt that should be in one's mind about him/her, and the material on the website. Faith is too serious a matter to be tinkered with. The other reason is that, believe it or not, there still are a whole lot of people, young and especially the old, who hold nuns (and priests) in great esteem and even reverence (have you seen old ladies who kiss the priest's hands in reverence? or speak ever so respectfully with a nun?), so it will really hurt a whole lot of people if what one believes to be truthful turns out to be a hoax/false. I don't mean to hurt or offend 'Sister Mary Martha', but those are the reasons why your website is ever going to be doubtful in this respect. As for those seeking answers, whether you are Catholic or not, do consider going to a properly ID'ed Catholic site to learn about Catholicism. God bless everyone.
Where are you? I am praying that some of these comments haven't driven you away. It's been a few days. Am also praying everything is okay with you and the Sisters.
May God bless and keep you.
You have to let go of the idea that atheists are closed to the possibility of being "touched by the holy spirit". If anything, people who are interested in separating superstition from actual experiences, to better understand these natural phenomena, are better placed to describe their effects than those who are certain and convinced these experiences are triggered from outside of their own id and that attempts to prove otherwise are a test from the dark side.
You have to admit, there is a distinct lack of none religious individuals stepping forward to communicate any feelings similar to those experienced by people who are already predisposed to the idea that such phenomena can only be explained as one thing - contact with an invisible, improbable deity or his earth family and their followers, as spuriously detailed in a book from the bronze age, written by the victors of wars against free thought.
Atheism, to me, should not be about asserting, though some incorrectly have, that the feelings religious people genuinely hold true are simple fantasy. Clearly, many billions of people throughout the world are absolutely convinced they are in possession of a truth unavailable to those who live a life free of religious teaching.
Atheism should be, I feel, a term given to describe people who have quite rightly identified that religion is extremely problematic in its none concern with the pursuit of reliable answers to the really important questions, primary among which should be that of human spirituality existing even in those who do not subscribe to the notion that a supreme intelligence favours those who feed His ego, despite the fact that, by definition, He can not have one.
The really big questions will have really simple answers, one day, and be revealed thanks to the balanced, level headed study of all the available evidence - but to be truly reliable the study can not be based upon the flawed premise, dependant upon innately human, primeval instincts, that to assign the unknown aspects of human spirituality to a greater intelligence than our own solves the problem, if you only have faith that it does.
I am interested in understanding human spirituality for what it actually is, rather than trusting it to be what organised wealthy religion tells me it is, based upon its own historical self-assertions and the cognitive biases of it's leaders, preachers and hierarchy who, occasionally by purposeful actions, but more usually due to subconscious, primeval fear mechanisms - steer themselves away from avenues of deep thought which contradict self-identifing sacred documents and the pre-programmed vocabulary specific to their church, sect or cult.
Nothing, in the physics of the universe, which can be attributed with sentience, is capable of monitoring itself from a truly exterior perspective, without - by the very act of self examination - fundamentally altering the state of it's own observable systems.
The feelings of being touched by a sprit, as described in the vocabulary of religious indoctrination, are identifiably skewed towards the flawed assumption that the very act of simply having faith, can be reliably attributed to a completely different, equally improbable proposition; that the universe and every living thing in it, was deliberately instigated by a supreme intelligence capable and moreover willing to commune with some and not with others of it's own creation.
I believe that our ancient ancestors looked up in the sky, saw a giant ball of flame and precisely because they where susceptible to the same cognitive biases which we are susceptible to at this very moment even as these words flow into your consciousness from mine, and with the might of all his will, in a state close to being free from ego, he projected the power to see himself from within and without through the eyes of the ultimate observer, onto the light in the sky, which at that very moment became God. Hence, ever since then, God is only ever accredited with the performing of acts which humans fundamentally can not perform themselves.
Early men and women, through spiritual ceremony and the partaking of sacrament, reenforced their flawed yet increasingly lucrative belief that greater degrees of enlightenment would spew from an ever greater reverence for the ceremony of the communion between themselves and the God in the sky - and all without ever knowing that millions of years later, it would be proven, by their own genetic selves, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the God in the sky they worshipped was in fact a commonplace, natural phenomena throughout the universe known as a star.
Cro-magnon man couldn't possibly have understood that the electromagnetic radiation shedding itself upon his crops, animals and brethren, was the very life force which enabled their species to evolve into a complex organism in the first place. So complex, in fact, that introspection and the pursuit of exterior awareness would eventually, in terms, demand the creation of God as an answer to the very question of consciousness and human spirituality itself. Despite this, it doesn't change the fact that he was quite right to be thankful for the sun in the sky and yet fundamentally wrong about it's deliverance being capable of his awareness, or concerned with his existence.
Similarly, we are right to be thankful for human spirituality, but in the very act of blindly assuming it comes from a supernatural force and that this force favours those who acknowledge His existence over and above those who think differently, you are completely and utterly missing the point of having a soul in the first place. To pursue, peacefully and intentionally, that which can not be attained for the self, only given to the other. True exterior enlightenment.
Q.E.D. Religion is the wilful act of none thinking.
What deos QED mean?
I would like to make you aware that there are various theories and philosopys that support Intellegent Design and that they are well thought out.
http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/kalamcosmological.html is an example of one philosophy, that actually has historically had a lot of support from Islam, that seeks to use reason to point to the idea that there is a God.
There is a man by the name of Lee Strobal who has written a couple of books, including The Case for a Creater, which is how I found out about the Kalam Cosmological Aguement. Strobal was an atheist with Jewish blood before he became a Christian. He actually is friends with, Mel Schlesinger, a guy who fought to have a 17 foot crucifix removed from a park near where I live in a federal court of law and he was sucessful. Now there is an eternal flame in Wicker Park, where the crucifix used to be. The crcifix was moved to the front of a Catholic Church, St. James. Strobal was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and he interveiws many learned people for his books. He tries to prove that Good exsits and other things like that Easter really happened in his books. Have you haerd of Lee Strobal?
I feared from the first moment I saw this site that there was something none genuine about the true identity of it's author - but conversation is conversation and it's better that it takes place than not at all, even if SSM transpires to be something of a hoax.
Jim, it is 'non' genuine. Throughout your long post and the one just above, you said 'none.' Probably it is just a little blip in your spelling, but it really made me question your level of education. Sorry, don't mean to be rude or anything, but when you are trying to be philosophical and deep, it helps to come across as educated. When one's only impression of someone is their post on a blog, the occasional spelling error/typo is acceptable (Goodnes knows, I have made enough!)but continually misusing the word 'none' is not.
But that is just an aside. Nuns are people too. They are allowed to have personalities and biting senses of humor.
I, for one, believe in the existence of Sister Mary Martha!
Intelligent Design is one of those phrases that sounds like it's saying something worth listening to, which actually means something quite the opposite.
ID attempts to dress religious education as science, so as to make it a more palatable way to deliver none thinking to young minds, and should be as abhorrent to you as it is to me.
There's nothing wrong with teaching religion in school if you're honest about it being what it is.
The problem is, much of what is taught in religious study classes, is directly contradicted by the reality of the abundant evidence around us in the physical world as taught in science class - and so ID became the vehicle of choice for people who have a financial interest in restricting free thought.
It's a commonly aired, yet utterly incorrect assumption, that ID has attracted a lot of attention from science, because it proves Darwinian evolution through natural selection is flawed.
Yet in each and every case where advocates of ID have been asked to substantiate their claims with evidence, none has so far surfaced.
There is an abundance of published misinformation that claims ID scientists have identified certain kinds of multi-cellular bacteria, who's constituent parts are not present in less developed organisms - thus proving that the bacteria did not evolve from simpler forms and must therefore have miraculously appeared sometime after "let there be light" and not long before Adam and Eve.
Unfortunately for ID it has been established categorically that in fact there are many types of bacteria which are made of these much simpler constituent parts - yet the myth persists that ID is an alternative to the theory of evolution, because none of its exponents spend much time admitting their many and varied defeats to the masses of brain-washed idiots who believe what they're told to believe by the nice man on the TV collecting money on God's behalf.
If education is so important to you, you might like to know that in England, where the English language comes from, the word is spelled, none.
If you come from one of those countries we used to own and in your collective self-determination you have decided to ditch proper English in favour of your own flavour - well done, we don't like it that much either - but please, at least be sure of your facts before you assume mine are incorrect.
Can't we just all get along?
At least I have learned a new word.
In two different dilects! How awesome!
Yikes! What's going on in these comments? I guess that's the price of coming to the attention of new readers, readers who haven't been following along for months and months.
As someone who had Franciscans, Ursulines and Religious of the Sacred Heart as instructors, I think the author of this blog has found an authentic tone; deliberately so, maybe, but authentic none the less.
As for Paul C.'s remarks - let's hope he was teasing - the proof is in the pudding not in the address of the chef. Read the posts: Catholic, Catholic, Catholic. I've never read a single sentence that wasn't in accord with the Catechism.
Yes, Virginia, er, Jim Gardner, there is a Santa Claus and using words like "hoax"...well, Jim, I think you're missing the point - with all due respect, of course.
No, 'anonymous' (whose post is timestamped 9:09PM), I ain't teasing - I am serious. As you say, "the proof is in the pudding" - btw, "the proof is in the eating (of the pudding)" - ?. Not only me, but others have seen some red flags too - don't you see them? Btw, I must congratulate the other people who post, like Julie D., who are ever so patient to teach genuine values of Catholicism - it isn't always about the facts of the teachings, it is also about how one is transformed by belief in Christ. How have I 'met Christ' in every person I come across? Have I reined in my tendency to sins of anger and false pride? (Btw, I struggle with these everyday, and is definitely far far far away from achieving any semblance of change in myself.) There are others too who give the correct answers each time, when "Sister Mary Martha" is silent, proves evasive or got it not quite right. Jim, I have to disagree with you, though - no conversation is better than wrong conversation - you can always find another properly ID'ed Catholic site where patient Catholics are ever ready to give you a conversation, provided everyone is civil and polite, of course. I have seen forums which have gone on for well over five years with the same people in it - ! - some mighty abusive towards Catholics and Jesus as well - God bless those Catholics with their knowledge and patience. Btw, Jim, reading your thesis on religion and belief in a God, I think your dispostion towards religion and belief in a God is somewhat distilled in your sixth paragraph of the post timestamped 4:55PM. I assure you, you will find the spirituality that you seek in Catholicism the faith, not necessarily in some people of the faith (like me!) - after all, we are all human and very fallible. If you are not closed minded, as you mentioned in your first sentence of that post, I suggest you find out more about Catholicism first, rather than start from your own position and asking Catholicism to disprove your position. One way to find out would be to actually attend church for a period of time eg one year, every Sunday, and attend the RCIA course.I suggest you do this with a Catholic friend - who, of course, got to have patience! :O) Melanie, I am afraid you are a bit young to discern, and it would be much better to speak with the people on your RCIA course on any questions you may have - or you can ask a nun in person! :O) I wish you all the best in your RCIA journey, Melanie. As I mentioned before, I am not here to disparage "Sister Mary Martha" or cause offence, and my apologies to her if any offence is caused, but my concern is that no one is given a wrong impression of nuns, and facts about Catholicism. Don't get me wrong, I would only be too glad, stand corrected and offer my sincere apologies if "Sister Mary Marthat" will disclose her order and location, in order to remove all doubts. God bless everyone.
How old do think I am, Paul?
Paul wrote:"I am not here to disparage...or cause offence" at the close of a long, disparaging and offensive post. I guess when you concentrate on evaluating the worthiness of others, you don't develop self-awareness skills.
There's this other thing, sometimes called bearing false witness, sometimes expressed as follows: "There are others too who give the correct answers each time, when "Sister Mary Martha" is silent, proves evasive or got it not quite right". The "not quite right" part: examples, please.
"Not quite right"!
Since it's fairly apparent that there are plenty of people on this thread who have been around for a while, I'll take it as read that the "is SMM genuine" conversation is done and dusted and the answer is, "Yes, she is" - which is something of a relief, from a certain point of view.
Sr. Mary Martha, you sound like a nun to me.
Sister Mary Martha is just like her husband Jesus, or her Father-in-law God: She's as real as you believe her to be, and not one iota more real.
Regarding one question above (I am not scrolling up through 36 comments, some of them quite long, to find it) as to why Atheism rather than Judiasm or Protestantism (or Hinduism or Druidism?), speaking as a different atheist than "Jim", my reason is because Judiasm, Protestantism, Catholicism, and ALL other religions are all equally right, which is to say, equally wrong.
The sister's Easter Bunny book analogy is directly on the target, as well as very funny, and God dropped off my "Real List" back at the same time as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, when I was old enough to tell the difference between fictional characters, like God, and real people who actually exist.
But books that exist, and the Bible certainly exists, were written by SOMEONE, just like those "Millie, the White House Dog" books, or an Easter Bunny autobiography, or Sister MM's blog. The simple trick is remembering that. Suddenly you can see the Bible for what it is, an anthology of writings of mythology, written by MANY different people over a period of hundreds of years, people of tremendously varied writing skill, many of them in violent disagreement about what is True and what is not, all of them members of a primative, nomadic tribe back in the Bronze Age. Read it if you enjoy it, but BELIEVE it? And believe it was written by "God"? Please. One might as well believe in "Science & Health" by Mary Baker Eddy (A fascinating nut case), or "Ozma of Oz" by L. Frank Baum. Having read all three of those books, I do recommend "Ozma of Oz" as the most entertaining read of the three, and the best written. And if you can believe the Bible was written by "God", you're just the right level of intellect for Ozma.
But I am dying to read that Easter Bunny Book. What's it's title?
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