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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Causes of Saints

Today I stepped out into the street
, that is to say, I was about to step out into the street, when my school bag, which was kind of hanging from my shoulder sideways while I was checking my belt for my key chain (you know, the one that all nuns have...that round silver thing with the retractable cord..it's convent issue along with our 'clickers'), dumped it's contents onto the sidewalk. In a tizzy of embarrassment and frustration, I turned around to grab all my stuff and flying papers. That's when I felt the bus whizzzzz by. Had I stepped into the street I would have been a nun joke. What's black and white and red all over? A nun who got hit by a bus.

A miracle!


Which brings me to today's question from a reader:
Sister can you refresh us on the miracles needed to help a saint along? Can't say I need a miracle right now (unless living with teenagers counts) but if I do how does the system work to ask for, receive, and document a miracle?
Another thing, I feel there are Saints that are working for me but then there are others where I don't seem to get any response at all. Do you know what I mean?

The main issue here is that there really is a miracle going on in the first place. We are so eager to call everything a miracle. Found a parking spot! Miracle! Didn't put on fifty pounds over the holidays! Miracle! Married for 6 years and spouse has not been murdered! Alarm clock didn't go off but woke up in time for work anyhow! Power goes off right after a trip to the grocery store but comes back on before the ice cream melts! Miracles!

To be accepted by the church of proof that an extraordinarily holy person has gone to heaven, we have to have something wonderful happen that is instantaneous and unexplainable. That's why cures make for good miracles. If you were riddled with cancer this morning and cancer free this afternoon with nothing but a prayer for the intercession of St. Peregrine at noon, we can talk about a miracle.

This really happened: Dateline Santa Monica, CA. A man is sitting in his house when, out of nowhere, he gets the urge to walk his dog. It is the middle of the afternoon. He never ever walks his dog in the middle of the afternoon, but before we can say 'dogs don't go to heaven', he's out with the dog. While he is away, a workman hits an gas pipe and the house is blown to splinters. Is it a miracle that he was moved to walk his dog? Was it a miracle he wasn't blown to bits?

No. It was great for him. And his dog (who doesn't have to worry yet whether or not the Pearly Gates are closed for him). But it was not a miracle.

Now, if he had left his house BLIND and come back and SEEN that the house was blown to bits, THAT would be a miracle.

The stakes are high.

There is no system to ask for a miracle. You just ask.
"Knock and the door shall be opened." --Jesus
(Just not necessarily the door on which you are knocking.)
You can pray for the intercession of St. Monica (the patron saint of mothers with teens) for your miracle. If it happens you won't need any documentation, as St. Monica is already a canonized saint.

The documentation part happens when a holy person is not yet canonized. You might want to look around for someone who is "Venerable" (no miracles yet, but a good candidate for sainthood) or "Blessed" (pronounced in this case 'Bles-sed", not "blest"...sort of like "defense" and "DEE fense"...we don't call it the department of "DEEfense", that's just for sports....what was I talking about...?). A person who is Bles-sed is a person who already has one miracle under their belt and just needs another one to be canonized.

Mother Teresa is hanging around that way. So is Pope John Paul II. You could get on their bandwagons. People who are in the canonization pipeline have bandwagons for you to join.

Anyhow, then you would get your proof, like a note from your doctor (it will actually take more than one doctor and some eye witnesses) saying that your leg grew back or whatever, then you write to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. They're the investigative team that will fact check whether or not you were missing a leg and whether or not it grew back.

Another thing, I feel there are Saints that are working for me but then there are others where I don't seem to get any response at all. Do you know what I mean?

I don't know what you mean. You mean your prayer doesn't seem to have been answered? Some saints are very reliable (like St. Anthony, he finds EVERYTHING) and others don't seem to help? St. Boniface didn't find you a parking space? Mother Cabrini didn't make your car turn over? St. Augustine didn't cure your hangover. (You should have tried St. Bibiana, the official patron saint for hangovers.She had to drink lead.) Maybe you've been praying for the intercession of St. Raymond Nonnatus. He had his mouth padlocked shut.

Or are you having a Mother Teresa meltdown, where you just don't 'feel it'.

Have faith. It may not have been a miracle but somebody dumped out my bag.


Unknown said...

St. Anthony really does find everything. As a freshman last year at John Paul the Great Catholic University, I would lose everything. Just when I was about to lose all hope, my roommate would say, "Pray to St. Anthony. He'll find it." She would say this very casually. Well, I would and he always found what I was looking for.

Mrs. G. said...

Your definition of a miracle is so black and white, so rigid. Oh that's right, your Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sister, that is much clearer. If I ever do need a miracle I'll ask you who I should seek help from.
mrs.g. I am Catholic because I like the black and white. I left the wishy-washy stuff behind at my previous church.
andrea St. Anthony is fabulous. He's found all but one thing for me. Has anyone seen a blue egg basket?

Sister Mary Martha said...

Mrs. G, you are perfectly free to call every happy event in your life a miracle. (That would be "your" life, not "you're" life, as in "you're Catholic.) We are talking about what is accepted as proof that a holy person went to heaven, after the person's life has been studied in every aspect. Instantaneous and unexplainable is not rigid, it is definitive.

ann nonymous said...


Here's a little secret my mother taught me as a child. When requesting assistance from St. Anthony, also say a prayer to St. Jude (patron of lost causes.) I don't think St. Anthony is offended by me hedging my bets because he knows too well how proficient I am at making things disappear. Either way, the combination has never let me down.

P.S. The road to hell is paved with the theory of relativism. Go black and white!

Mrs. G. said...

Mrs. G. hopes she didn't disrespect Sister Mary Martha and her readers in her earlier comment, and that they won't hunt her down and rap her knuckles with a ruler. Mrs. G. attended Catholic schools for twelve years and is somewhat of a "cafeteria" Catholic in that she picks and chooses what she likes and passes on the other. Since an early age, Mrs. G. has been a wee bit confrontational towards hard and fast rules. She also manufactured her own communion wafers out of Wonder Bread. Her problems might be too large for Sister Mary Martha, but she appreciates the effort and loves this blog.

Kasia said...

I can't speak for anyone else, Mrs. G, but I have no intention of hunting you down and whacking your knuckles (or any other part of you) with a ruler (or anything else, even a communion wafer made of Wonder Bread). I also didn't take any particular offense to your initial comment.

Presumably you will likewise not take offense if I pray for you?


ann nonymous said...

Mrs. G.,

I'll just say that, as a reader, I didn't feel disrespected.

And, I hope it wasn't sinful to play "Mass" and use Wonder Bread hosts or I've got some 'splainin' to do! My siblings and I also used white Necco wafers as hosts on occasion. We had a rather elaborate "celebration of the Mass" going on in our "forbidden to children except for on Sundays living room." We had all the accoutrements or close facsimiles thereof. I think if we were committing blasphemy, my parents, the consummate Catholics would have put a quick stop to our shenanigans.

Now, I ask you, what kind of children go to school all week at parochial schools, Mass on Fridays, Mass on Sundays and come directly home from church to "play" Mass for a couple of hours?

paramedicgirl said...

Your definition of a miracle is so black and white, so rigid. Oh that's right, your Catholic.

Not only Catholic, but a very funny Catholic! :} I loved the part about documenting the leg growing back!!!

antonina said...

Oh, St Anthony! He's saved me from awful troubles throughout my life; he is a loving and ever-present brother to us all. However :-)...he's not (neither are any of the saints, or God, for that matter) coke machines where we inster squabbles and needs. St Anthony was first and foremost a man of God, a man of prayer, an astonishing preacher who converted hundreds throughout northen Italy and France during times of terrible heresy. He was a man entirely consumed by the Gospel, by Love of God...a saint...not merely a name we invoke to find out lost trifles. I've been guilty of reducing him to that as well, but grew to know him better and love him more. God bless you all, especially Sr. Mary Martha, whose blog is a pleasure to read. Thank God that some things are black and white and always will be!

Anonymous said...

Sister, what can you tell us about the rather unusual artwork illustrating this entry? Not the Miracle lemon polish ad, but the guy (Jesus? Lazarus?) on the slab with what appears to be his leg grown back (or about to fall off?). Every time I look at it I see something new..but I'm not sure what I'm seeing!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister, in February, 2004, I had surgery for endometriosis. I wanted to have another child, but my doctor at the time said if nothing happened in the next 3 months, nothing would without his "help". And if something did happen within those 3 months, the odds were good that the pregnancy would be ectopic. In June of 2005, I asked Mother Teresa to ask Our Lord if I was a good parent, and if so, would he please let me have another baby. In December of 2006, I had a beautiful baby boy a month before my 41st birthday. Is that enough of a miracle to help her cause? I am forever grateful for her intervention.

paramedicgirl said...

Sister, since you don't have an email address in your profile, I just want to let you know that I have tagged you in a pop quiz over at Salve Regina. Can't wait to see your answers!
Blogger's Quiz

Anonymous said...

I visit your blog regularly (with each new entry) and so enjoy reading it. I have awarded you the YOU MAKE ME SMILE award which you can see at my blog (and get the graphic from there, too)


Have a great weekend, Sister.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Thank you Peakmoreacademy, but I don't know how to that.

Anonymous said...

I need your help. I have 3 children. 2 boys and my youngest a girl. She is 5 and she has the confidence of Miss America and a will of steal. If I had had half the confidence at her age I would have been a much happier child. However, she's impulsive...mostly out on the playground. She hits, pushes, or kicks without thinking about it. The teachers and nuns (They go to Catholic school) are so patient with her but I am trying to find her a medallion of a Saint to remind her to think before she acts. This worked with my oldest so I thought I'd try it with her as well. I'm trying to find a saint that would fit her. Like I said, she is a beautiful, smart, kind little girl with unlimited energy and confidence but lacks the understanding
of personal space. Any help with this would be great.
P.S. Just found your site tonight. I am an RCIA graduate. I'm sure I'll be writing again as I am getting ready to move home to family who is not Catholic. I may need your support.

Sister Mary Martha said...

bethington, St. Peter is the patron saint of the impetuous and look how well he turned out.