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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Dream On

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Last night I had a dream that Hell was thinking about letting people out to run errands. They'd have to come back, but they could pick up their dry cleaning.

I have several hobbies. Patron saint matching, gardening and the world of dreams. I took a course about a hundred years ago in the Old Testament from a Jesuit priest at Loyola. When he was talking about the prophets he said that if you look at what any particular prophet said as relating a dream the prophet had, the whole prophet landscape makes a lot more sense.

He digressed into explaining that when researchers deprived people of sleep, people can go on for days before becoming psychotic, but when they are deprived of dreams, psychosis starts within a day or two. Whoever deprived these people of their sleep and dreams started by depriving cats of their sleep and dreams. I wouldn't want to be around that lab.

All cats do is sleep.

Anyhow, the whole situation caused me to do buckets of research on dreaming and, as a result, I can tell you exactly why I dreamed that Hell was mulling over letting people go buy some more printer ink and return. Except in the case of a recurring dream (which a whole other ball of wax), a dream is always about what happened to you on the day of the dream. That's because dreaming is your brain's way of defragmenting, like your computer, at night.

I dreamed about Hell's loophole because of all the reading I did yesterday on everyone's questions and comments about Baptism. Just like I think it is pretty clear that once you are in Hell you stay there, even if you need to have your tires rotated, I thought I was pretty clear about Baptism, which is a thing you'll need to stay out of Hell in the first place (unless you are under age seven, the only Baptism loophole of which I am aware.)

I've never told anyone this, but when my daughter (just turned 4 yesterday) was a newborn, she used to wake up crying and it would take a long time to get her back to sleep. Every night.

One night, perhaps because of sleep deprivation, I became afraid that something was seriously wrong with her and that we might lose her (this turned out to be incorrect, but with a crying baby in my arms in the middle of the night and I have to be at work alert in the morning, it didn't seem so unreasonable).

So I dipped my fingers in the Holy Water font next to the door and made the sign of the cross on her forehead and said "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Eventually, she learned how to sleep through the night and in due course, she was baptized in Church by a deacon who was a friend of ours.

Did I actually baptize her? Did I do something wrong?

It's so nice that you have a Holy Water font next to the door! What's on it? If ever I became a collector of something, I think it would be Holy Water fonts. We have a Mary one on the front door and a Guardian Angel on the back door. What was the question?

Yes, you did baptize her, because it was your intention to baptize her, you have a right to baptize her (you knew her mother wanted her baptized, too), you did it with water, you said the right words, you used her head (very important if the head is accessible), and you believed, before your sleep deprivation actually caused psychosis, that she might be in danger.

The mistake you made was not telling anyone. What should have happened is that you should have told the priest who baptized her at the ceremony that you already baptized her and he would have then performed the rest of the rite, minus the part you already did. Everyone's happy and then there's cake.

I'm sure you had cake anyhow.

Which brings up this comment:

My sister is a neo-natal nurse practitioner who works in a Catholic hospital. She says they are very careful about baptizing sick babies (without the presence of the parents) because if the baby gets better, the family can't have another baptism and most families want that ceremony.

You're sister is wrong. The family can still have the ceremony. I think the problem is that the nurses maybe don't want to scare the parents about how sick the baby is and if they baptized the baby, they'd have to tell the parents so that when the time comes the parents have a proper baptism that leaves out the first part that was already done.

Here's what I don't get about the neo natal nurses. If I'm a neo-natal nurse and a baby is sick and should be baptized, why don't I tell the parents and call the priest? Because if the baby is so sick that I think there is no time for the priest to make it across town, I better baptize that baby.

I guess it's a good thing I'm not a neo-natal nurse, running around scaring people and baptizing babies. I would have to show up at every baptism ceremony of every baby I baptized in the hospital and bring the cake, just to make up for scaring them so badly.

I've never baptized anyone, by the way, even in my dreams. Lay baptism is truly only for emergencies. You can't baptize even a very sick baby without parental consent, or adults without their own consent. You can't baptize an insane person who says he wants to be baptized if he told you while he was sane that he didn't want to be baptized, unless he gets sane again and still wants to be baptized and even then, YOU can't do it. You'll have to call the priest. You can't baptize anyone unless he is about to kick the bucket in the first place.

Here is my recurring dream, the recurring dream of a nun: something I had fixed is rotting. What do you suppose that means? It's not rocket science.


Tom in Vegas said...

Great post.

How does baptism by desire and baptism of blood factor into what you say? While I do recognize the need for the ceremony of baptism (by either of the three methods mentioned) is it fair to believe that only the baptized can enter heaven? Catholic Register, a long time ago, quoted either a speech or an encyclical by Pope John Paul II, in which he "recognized salvific" elements in non-Catholic/ non-Christian religions. It’s been a long standing Church tradition to teach that salvation is a gift and not something you earn on your own merits. Are you saying that the mercy and love God extends to those who enter Paradise can only be given if the prerequisites have first been met, i.e. baptism?

I like how you write. You have a great sense of humor, unlike the nuns who taught me when I went to Catholic school! I’ll visit your blog as often as I can.

God bless,

Sir Galen of Bristol said...

Thanks for the reply, sister!

I didn't tell anyone because I thought no one would understand.

Yes, we had cake.

And, since you asked, the little holy water font is gold-colored plastic and has an image of the obverse side of a miraculous medal.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

Thank you for trying to sort out all of these things for us. Would you please talk a little about that other "ball of wax", the recurring dream. I have had some version of the same dream for about 35 years now. You would have thought I'd be over it by now, wouldn't you?


Anonymous said...

Sister, could you explain the difference between Benedictine, Augustinian & Franciscan monks/nuns? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So on this saint matching hobby, do you match a person to one saint? or to all who could help him? For example, my son is a true cowboy, very intelligent, in college, on his way to becoming a vet., loves hunting and outdoors, and very conservative. Sounds like a personal ad, Sister.

Sister Mary Martha said...

anonymous, your son sounds like a job for St. Hubert, technically the patron saint of metal workers because he was famous for melting down idols of the pagans.

But he was a hunter and he invented the Blood Hound. So he was smart, liked hunting and loved dogs....sound like someone you know?

Anonymous said...

I used to have a recurring dream that I was standing at the top of an impossibly steep and very long escalator with my arms full, and I had to take that first step without holding the handrail...They stopped when I found myself with 3 children (scared of escaltors) and assorted parcels and someone behind me who was WAITING for me to get on. I turned around and explained my recurring dream, so she laughed and helped me, and I haven't had the dream since.

regarding your dream, sister, have you taken out the trash lately? Hows the plumbing? stovetop need cleaning? :)

Anonymous said...

When you say "You can't baptize even a very sick baby without parental consent" I believe you are mistaken. Canon 868 section 2 says "The infant of Catholic parents, in fact of non-Catholic parents also, who is in danger of death is licitly baptized even against the will of the parents."

See http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2X.HTM

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I have a friend who has been seriously considering becoming a priest for a long time. He has been influenced in his decision by a number of dreams he's had that seem to be leading him towards the priesthood. Is it possible that these dreams were divinely inspired? or were they just dreams? How can he tell?

Anonymous said...

Many Bibical examples show where God has communicated in our dreams. I used to have a recurring dream one of my children was hurt and needed me, it always ended at the point of whether I could stick with them in the emergency room or not. Then my daughter ripped her foot open in a bicycle accident. I did stay with her in the emergency room, I did hold it together when she needed me. Never had that dream again.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago, a casual friend of mine died. A few months later, I had what would become a recurring dream. In the middle of a regular (whatever that is) dream, I would see her sitting peacefully, without saying anything. Even without speaking, I got the impression she was doing well. I had this dream 3 or 4 times a year for several years, apparently with no relation to anything else going on in my life. Finally, I met her mother, a devout Catholic, and told her about the dream, and that her daughter seemed to be telling me all was well. Without hinting that I might be wacko, the mother thanked me for letting her know. I never had the dream again. I've always wondered if my friend was just trying to get a word of comfort to her mom--but if so, why through me? I'll never know.

Saint Maker said...

Thanks for giving a clear explanation of baptism. My sister and her husband blessed their pre-baptized infant on the way into Mass with Holy Water one Sunday ... they were asked at the Baptism if this child had been baptized previously. They did not mention the 'blessing' because they did not consider that a baptism. (sorry if this is loopy, my kids abound) ... But it appears that because that was not their intention so all is good. I hope.

peace to you sister, and regarding the other comment about the nuns at Catholic school, to me they were all good, even the stern ones... they gave up their lives for Christ,and for us, so we can bare much when we think of their sacrifice. My mother taught in the school too, and both my parents brought us up to respect all religious. Parents we MUST raise our children to respect the priests and nuns, otherwise we may inadvertently keep them from their own Holy Calling.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting Saint Matching Sister. I have another son. He has difficulty in school. He struggles with reading comprension, vocabulary and expression. He likes theater, the Wii, and legos. What Saint could help this son?

Sister Mary Martha said...

St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the 'dumb ox' while he was in school, became one of the world's greatest theologians and teachers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister,

I wrote the comment about my sister the neo-natal NP. She works with preemies and other very sick babies who can take a sudden turn for the worse. Sometimes there isn't time to notify the parents if the NP thinks the baby is going to die very soon. The parents already know they have a sick baby, but can't stay at the hospital 24/7.

If she can get the hospital chaplain, she will, but she has performed baptisms herself.

I don't think she knew the part about having the rest of the ceremony at the church. I'll tell her.

Anonymous said...

I have had a recurring dream for years in which I drive off a bridge and die. No wonder I'm scared of bridges now.