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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Please Don't Interrupt Me When I'm Ignoring You

We've had some warmer sunny days. It's been very cold here and is still cold at night. Not cold the way some of you are cold in, say, Maine. But cold enough to make it unpleasant to take Sister Mary Fiacre out for an airing.

So yesterday we took Sister Mary Fiacre out for an airing. We went over to what Sister St. Aloysius calls the "Frank Sinatra Mall". She calls it that because there is outdoor music there. It is almost always Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett. Amazed that I can tell them apart? Me, too.

We took some sandwiches and ate by the fountain. There is a fountain. All the little sparrows were eating our most tiny crumbs. No wonder St. Francis of Assisi talked to them. They look up at you, look you right in the eye as though they are hanging on your every word.

They're not, of course, St. Francis notwithstanding. They're just waiting for more crumbs to fall and paying attention in case you suddenly try to kill them. I love animals, but I'm not stupid about what's really going on at any moment in their bird brains.

I'd better answer this question before I have to go stand in the corner or kneel on dried peas for not answering it. It seems I in in some sort of trouble.

I found your blog and wanted to ask a question, since that is the name of your blog, but have been TOTALLY IGNORED. Can I ask a question here or not?

I guess I'll try one more time. . .

We always talk about heaven, but the prayer says: "on EARTH as it is in heaven" (like the title of your blog today) ... so if this prayer came true tomorrow, what would it be like here on earth, because we pray "His kingdom come on EARTH as it is in heaven"?

I am looking for an answer, and no one seems to care. (Maybe you won't ignore me this time . . . maybe.)

I had you on the list of questions I need to answer. There are questions ahead of you. Perhaps you could go dust the pews for me so I can catch up.

Which reminds me....we took all the Christmas trees down in church the other day and put them out on the curb because the city is going to do a special pick up. Within hours the pile had doubled! It seems everyone in the neighbor tossed their tree onto the pile! There were some REALLY dried up trees on there. Were they all spying out their front windows for the day the Church tosses their trees, or was it just an irresistible moment of opportunity. We'll never know.

I digress.

I did have your question on my list, but to be honest, I can't make heads or tails of it. You have taken this phrase, "on earth as it is in heaven," out of context. What do you mean, "if this prayer came true tomorrow"? Here's the prayer: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Which simply means we hope to follow God's Will here on earth as it is followed in heaven.*

Which was my point in using it as a title. All the constant fussing about what everybody is up to at Mass and people going to different services, churches and bowing they heads and clenching their hands to avoid contact with the human being next to them so they can have their prayers to themselves always makes me wonder how anyone is going to manage in heaven. No matter how much time is spent explaining that the hand holding issue is about an infraction of what we can and can't do at Mass, the real issues seem to be individual 'touching' comfort levels, germs and death grips. Certainly those things are brought up without fail in the discussion. We hope all the people that annoy us are going to heaven, which means we'll never escape them. We can't go to the heaven across town or go to the five o'clock heaven where they don't hold hands. That was my point.

If earth became like heaven tomorrow no body would be complaining about anything, including how hot McDonald's coffee is, what's the matter with Britany Spears and her sister, or people who have more than 10 items in the 10 items or less line.

It seems you are asking what heaven will be like. The answer is, no one knows.

I can't think of a single time, although many saints have been taken to hell and Purgatory or had visits from people in Purgatory, that anyone has had a visit to heaven. There are saints who have spent a lot of time in ecstasy (not to be confused with "on" ecstasy, as a recent convert I spoke with did), even levitating, but they have kept there traps shut about heaven if they actually got to go for a moment. They do talk about having glimpses--and the operative word here is 'glimpses'--of Heavenly Glory, which is why they are in floating about the pew in ecstasy. But they make it clear that if this is so wonderful, imagine what the whole enchilada might be.

Which is exactly the issue. We can't. We have some guesses.
Guess one.
Guess two.
Guess three.

The true nature of Heaven itself remains a Sacred Mystery. "Sacred Mystery" is Catholic for 'just let it go.'

*The Catechism of the Catholic Church also makes this assertion: "It would not be inconsistent with the truth to understand the words, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," to mean: "in the Church as in our Lord Jesus Christ himself".


Anonymous said...

I was listening to a Jewish man on the radio discussing the Afterlife. His points were that if 1) There is a God and 2) He cares about us than 3) There is an afterlife, because God's justice would require it. He also said that he didn't know what the afterlife would be like, so he didn't give it much thought, and tried to do good things.

Someone called his show to object that the Torah (the first five books of the Bible, very important foundational documents to Judaism) don't mention an afterlife. And if God didn't see fit to mention it in the Torah, it must not exist. Host replied, well, the Torah doesn't mention toothpaste, either.

Anyway, he made an interesting point. He said that the Torah distinguishes itself from other religious literature of its time by being very focused on the need to lead a good life. As opposed to, for example, the Egyptians, who spent lots of time building tombs and embalming the Pharaoh so that he could live forever, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead has all kinds of information about how to navigate the afterlife.

I thought that was interesting--kind of made me wonder if all this worry about whether our pets go to heaven is missing the point--shouldn't we be more worried about getting ourselves there, and see what happens then? We really are at God's mercy in death as well as in life--shouldn't we be trying to deepen our relationship with Him?

Anonymous said...

After my last comment, in which I referred to the sexist attitude of the church contributing to the homosexual predator priest situation, "Irish" said, The "pedophile predators" were NOT homosexuals.
You in fact sound rather homophobic. You have issues with that? Get help.

I refer you to this statement in the Boston Globe: "Said Rev. James J. Gill, a Jesuit priest and physician who directs the Christian Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality in Chicago. ''Most [abusers] became involved with adolescent males.'' That doesn't suggest to you that the abusers are mostly homosexuals? No I'm not homophobic but I am very angry about the church continuing to pay off victims and not prosecuting abusers. This is all thanks to the church's foolishness about Jesus was a male so only males are worthy. And who makes this rule? Um, males?

I am 60 years old, a cradle Catholic, Catholic school educated from kindergarten through high school. Somehow I retained the ability to think for myself.

Anonymous said...

Once again, THANK YOU dear Sister MM!!! Love your explanations, love your imagery, love your no-nonsense orthodoxy. Love you and praying for you and Sisters MF and A. :-)

ColleenD said...

This particular line in our Lord's prayer is my all time favorite!
I am sure that if, all of a sudden,that part of the prayer were to become reality, earth would be just like....
well.... heaven.
I see heaven as a realm where all still have the gift of free will AND all see the beauty of doing things God's way.

Anonymous said...

Bless you Sister, you really must be of a special sort. I never would have answered a question after it had been asked in such a rude way.

Anonymous said...

I have a question which I hope will be short and easy. Maybe you can answer between dusting pews and airing Sister Mary Fiacre. Is everyone else with kids constantly baraged on Sunday mornings by "But I dont want to go to Mass" and "I am tired and I need to sleeeeep" or is that just me? Where did I go wrong? Because the catholic blogging moms (esp the homeschool ones) seem to never mention children who complain about going to Mass, how long Mass lasts and etc.

Anonymous said...

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...
How is this difficult to understand? It is a plea for God's commands to be done here on earth
AS they are done in heaven. In heaven God's will is always done. No one questions God, they just do whatever He wants them to. So when this comes true then no one on earth will be bickering.
Katy, none of us are happy with the cost, financial or emotional, the abuse scandals are costing us. I see it as a correction that needs to be made. Let's fix it as best we can and learn from it so as not to repeat the same mistakes.
Child abusers are usually people who were abused as children themselves. Being a homosexual is not a sin, the homosexual act is an abomination to God.I know a priest who is gay. He is also celebate. No problem.
The basis for not allowing women or married men is based on the New Testiment teachings of Paul. He wrote a woman should never have authority over men and that married men spend their time with their families and single men are able to devote themselves to God's service.
Personally I believe there are married men who could be good priests but I (a female) strongly object to women priests.

Bekah said...

We do, after all, have one record of a Saint's vision of heaven. St. John wrote his account in what is now the Book of Revelation. Apparently, this vision is all we need, and no one's made a premature visit since.

Anonymous said...

b--- All kids will try to push the boundaries. If Mass is not an optional event then they will (eventually) stop trying to get out of it. Is school an option? Or brushing their teeth? Or showering?
If the excuse is fatigue then guess what Saturday night is early to bed night-so you won't be too tired for Mass, how does 6:00 sound? Beat the little darlings at their own game.
My mother-in-law had children's books that explained the Mass, available at Catholic book stores, so they know better what is going on.
A question and answer after church with praise for who ever knows the answers. What did Father say today? What does that mean? What color were his robes? Robe colors have meanings. What were the readings? Family discussion on the way home kind of thing.
Nothing wrong with a reward system either. Verbal praise and the unexpected "everyone was so good today let's get ice cream".
Is your attitude one of joy at going to visit God? Getting kids all out the door at the same time with everyone dressed isn't easy-we once got to church to realize the little one didn't have any panties on under her sundress!! So put some enthusiasm into it.
I have told my kids God only gave me one really critical job to do and that was to see that their souls showed up in heaven. He isn't going to ask me if I left behind dirty dishes or dust bunnies but He will ask if I show up in eternity with out the child He intrusted to me.
A good old novena to St. Monica always helps when you feel wore down. God Bless!!!!

Anonymous said...

b- it also helps to read the upcoming Sunday's readings during the week so you and your children can discuss them. It's kind of fun to hear on Sunday if Father's homily touches on any of your family's points.

I second the books but used Bible storybooks - paperbacks are quieter - with lots of picures to help with attention issues for the youngest.

If you know anyone in your parish's music ministry, why don't you get a few weeks' advance on the hymns for a particular season and learn them at home? Children usually love to sing and knowing the music makes a huge difference.

Finally, I agree with the above, attending Mass is not optional. My children knew that someday I would be held accountable for my work as a mother and I wasn't about to have to respond, "Well, you see...they wanted to sleep in!" Good luck :)

Tom in Vegas said...


Can you read the disintegrated writing that is spread down the side of the images you post without a follow-up eye exam? I don't think the nuns at Our Lady of Lourdes High School ever taught me how:0)


Anonymous said...

If I make it to purgatory when I die, I'm going to high-five the other Poor Souls. We're on our way! Nowhere to go but up!

Sister, I'm searching for a spiritually enriching Lenten activity, something I'll continue with after celebrating the resurrection of the Savior. Do you have any ideas for me? I pray with the Magnificat every day, so I'm thinking the Divine Office might be overkill. I'm already a Daily Masser, rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet pray-er, so those can't be added. I'd rather not give something up, since that usually just makes me crabby. Any creative ideas for me? Maybe I could read all your blog entries from Day One. That could be spiritually enriching! But maybe just a little too much fun for Lent...

CJ Sweet said...

b - I agree with everything all the other moms said; all the tips and everything. But if it makes you feel better my 8 year old always whines about going to Mass and it has never been an option for him either. Still, without fail, he whines and complains every Sunday. And watch out on Holy Days of Obligation. More than one day a week at Mass really gets him going. He complains about school too, which is also not an optional activity. I think some kids are just born with negative personalities. We just try to ignore it and continue to shepherd him forward. The important thing is how they act once they are there. For all the whining, he is really good and attentive at Mass. Unlike my 3 year old. That one never complains about going, but can't for the life of him sit still. We are hoping he grows out of it soon!! All of the above game and reward suggestions work well in our family too. God bless.

Anonymous said...

A good phrase to keep around: "Whiners get nothing". Does whining ever work around the house? In general, I send a whiner to his room, because I'm just not interested in hearing it. While he's up there, how about he pick up his toys. Not all of them, just the ones he wants to keep. Then he can vacuum the floor. I realize that for Mass and school, this isn't an option because of time, but if you disallow whining in general I suspect it will go away. Be prepared to miss a few after-school activities, and to throw away some toys.

Anonymous said...

b-I know you've gotten a lot of advice but I have to throw mine out there too! My sister-in-law told her son "if you can give an hour to Spongebob...". I get it from my kids too. I found a quote somewhere and posted it on my fridge "Jesus can turn water into wine, but He can't turn whining into anything". If you are interested in going over the weekly scriptures with your kids, here is a great site:

It also gives ideas as to how to bring home the lesson. Even if you just read it yourself so you can talk to the kids about it ahead of time. I know that if they're complaining about going in the first place, anything more might not be that welcome....but it has really helped my kids if they know what's being said and why. It also has helped me immensely!

Anonymous said...

Maybe God wants good doggies and good kitties in heaven. And good birds too. There are certainly many stories of dogs, cats and birds alerting their owners to fires or protecting them from intruders bent on harm. I think, Dear Sister Martha, in saying there are no animals in heaven, you are limiting God. Surely St. Rock's dog can't be the only one.

ann nonymous said...


I have stayed out of the fray but, now I'll weigh in. I don't like the hand holding but I do it if my pew neighbor reaches for my hand because I don't want to hurt their feelings. I am torn between holding hands and not holding hands because I have been taught that it is not to be done and I have witnessed it being done at virtually every church I've attended with about three exceptions. I can't imagine anyone standing there thinking, "Oh my goodness, please, please don't let this wretched person next to me reach for my hand." It's most likely not that we have anything against holding hands with our pew neighbors but, some of us are also concerned with doing the "right" thing even if all about us have lost their heads. It's truly a dilemma. So, in the interest of keeping the peace, I hold hands. I think God will forgive me if it's the wrong thing to do because I believe I'm doing it for the right reasons.

Now, I'd like to address your concern about how will we ever manage to get along in Heaven. I think by the time we get there, we will be PERFECT, no? So, I will assume there will never be a snide remark or a sideways glance among us. We will all be so overjoyed to have reached our destination, our hearts will be overflowing with love for every single person. I'm hoping we won't even remember how mad we used to get at our friends and relatives. That might spoil the fun, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Relatives!?!? Eternity with my relatives!! Surely heaven will be big enough I can avoid some of them? In-laws get in too? I find any place where there are no relatives is a piece of heaven, now 'faithful Catholic' tells me I'm facing forever and ever with my FAMILY. I barely survived the holidays.
Hmmm, makes one wonder if hell maybe isn't all that bad........

just kidding........

Anonymous said...

Just me was looking for an addition to Lenten practices. "Quantum Grace", by Judy Cannato, is a thought-provoking but not heavy book of daily reflections. Don't be scared off by the title: it's not a physics book but her thoughts re "remaining vulnerable to the divine presence, allowing God to expose the places in our hearts that suffer from the illusion that we are separate and apart-this is the real work of Lent, and it is a co-creative activity that requires us to be honest with God so that God can be honest with us."

Anonymous said...

Jeez. Everybody who gets into Heaven is good enough for God. He counts them ALL as His true friends. If they're good enough for God, they're good enough for me!

Besides, odds are that they will have worked out all their issues in Purgatory.

Anonymous said...

Just came by to say hi and that I am amazed at how many people are worried about who is writing this blog.
Whatever, just want to say you are doing a good job and the metals are terrific. I am entertained by you and taught a lot, you even have gotten me to check things out for myself. I enjoy the comments and have checked out some of the sites of the commentors and found some more interesting reading.

Thank you Sister whoever you are!