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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

St. Florence Syndrome

I have been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. Poor me. It seems I have Crazy Nun Syndrome. I should have known when the symptoms reared their ugly heads. Shooting off my mouth, making things up about Abe Lincoln to make people feel better about themselves. So obvious.

Luckily there is a cure. Shut up and stand corrected.

There IS a St. Florence. There is not one St. Florence in fact, but quite a haul of Saints Florence.

I did look for St. Florence before I put my foot in my mouth. I just did not look very well. Poor me. Poor St. Florence....Saints Florence. Poor old fool. Me. Not St. Florence, any of them.

I can forgive myself on one level. I could have done something really detrimental, like told you it was okay to skip Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation, which would land both of us in Hell, me for telling you something I know isn't true that causes you to go to Hell and you, for skipping off taking my word for it and missing Mass. Frankly, my sin would be the worse of the two.

I didn't get up at the Mike and Mike Roast on ESPN and swill vodka and take the Lord's Name in vain.

But that's no excuse is it? I don't think it is. I'd rather not have that other affliction, "Next Guy Syndrome" either. You know the one...."Well, at least I'm not THAT GUY. I'm not as bad as THAT GUY." What a sorry judgemental way to let oneself off the hook for one's shortcomings.

Anyhow, I should have known there was at least one St. Florence in heaven, which brings me to today's question:

In great kindness, one more question please:
I'm planning on joining a traditional order of nuns. In most of these orders the sisters take a religious name with their vows. Would this name be considered in preference to the confirmation name, or under it?
Also, after thinking about it, I wonder if confirmation name would be more like either your first name or surname in heaven. Just a thought. After all, if your parents named you after Saint Therese, and you are confirmed as Catherine, why ditch dear St. Therese? Shouldn't it be 'the more the merrier'? I am certain the saints in heaven are happy to share the load of patronage--being saints, they don't get jealous.

This is a POSER! Here's why. All these years women who became nuns took a new name, or were given a new name. St. Bernadette, for example, was given a new name as a nun, because her Mother Superior thought Bernadette was a stupid babyfied name. I imagine that a nun's 'nun' name is the name she'll be called in heaven, as opposed to her old Baptismal name, since as a nun she becomes the spouse of Christ.

But it's not that simple. For one thing, there are a slew of nuns who changed their names back to their Baptismal names after Vatican II. I don't know what in heaven's name happened to cause that, but they did it when they changed into their 'modern' habits (with the little veils and the 'nun bangs'). New outfit, old name. Go figure.

A fellow novice of mine, who had been Sister Mary Arthen, did not change her name. Her name was Florence and she told me that when she was a girl, everyone called her "Flossie", a cow's name. I tried to tell her that she must be thinking of "Elsie", the Borden glue cow. But there was a "Flossie" and no one in there right mind would want to be named after her.

Proof that Sister Mary Arthen did not have Crazy Nun Syndrome.

I would say that she is definitely in heaven (and be guilty of "St. Florence Syndrome"-stating something as a fact when you actually don't know what you're talking about) as she was just the bees knees and I'm just sure God wants her there singing to Him, even though while she was on earth she sang really, really badly after her throat went into a steering wheel when she plowed the convent car into the side of the convent. I don't know why that happened. Perhaps she was swerving to avoid hitting a cow. It WAS a rural area.

And in heaven, no one is married. That might make her Flossie again.

What was your question?

Oh yes. I remember now. I think 'the more the merrier' and be prepared to answer to anything up there. Over there. Wherever it is.

Everyone thinks heaven is 'up' because Jesus ascended into heaven, but the Church doesn't believe heaven is in any particular direction. The general thinking is that the reason Jesus went UP was to show that He was LEAVING, that He was gone. If He went down, people might think He went to Hell and if He just walked away, everyone would have thought He was around somewhere. (He is, but not like that.) So He went up, so no one would be confused as to His whereabouts.


Anonymous said...

Here's a link to an article about an attempt on the part of our Separated Brethren to live a monastic life. I think they need a lot of help from The Little Flower! One thing that that occurs to me is that this is why monasteries and convents have abbotts and abbesses. You've written some interesting things about St. Benedict and other monks, so I was wondering what you'd think of it.


Anonymous said...

i was wondering, which names does a nun use in a signature on a contract? is it the one on her birth certificate?

Susanjane Elizabeth said...

Would anyone know whether or not a confirmation name is as legal (in most states of the U.S.) as is the baptismal name?

Also-- a little off topic-- if your parents name you "Mary Anne," are both names considered your baptismal name?


Sweetness and Light said...

You are hysterical, thanks for this one!

Anonymous said...

BUT YOU DIDN"T TELL US ABOUT ST FLORENCE!!!! I NEED TO KNOW! I googled and googled, and then I dogpiled, and still couldn't find anything but the towns. SInce this is my confirmation name (I'll be mooing in heaven instead of singing. I have the same voice as Sr. Whatsit only without the car accident.) I'd appreciate knowing how to find out about her. In your spare time, of course. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Someone in the last post says she's St Isidore's sister.

To be fair, I forgot your question, too; I was laughing so hard by the time I got to "What was the question?" that my throat hurt.

Anonymous said...

Here's a site for a St. Florence Catholic school


zevo hussein calamari said...

I love your blog.. it makes me laugh. I am sure you will go to heaven no matter what stuff you make up!

Anonymous said...

Sister Mary Martha,

I'm sure that by the time you see this, you will have gone to confession and everything is okay. You're still crazy, though.

But don't change! I'm learning a lot and enjoying every bit of it. (And you apologize so well. We can all learn from that.)

Anonymous said...

Another (serious) thought on baptismal names vs changing names as a Religious: religious consecration is the fullfillment of baptismal vows, so taking / keeping your baptismal name is actally exceedingly appropriate. -

Anna B. said...

Sister Mary Martha,

Is there a Saint Ramona?


Anonymous said...

One good reason to encourage confirmation names: My oldest son , when told to pick a confirmation name, said he didn't really see how the saints had much in common with his life. Then I pointed out that St. Isidore of Seville is the unofficial patron saint of the Internet, and he happily did the research and made the name his own. Every little bit helps in getting kids to find common ground with church history!
(Mine's Helen, for my grandmother, who died young; I'm the only grandchild who remembers her, so it seemed a nice choice.)

Anonymous said...

There's a St. Romana. Is that close enough? link

Sylvia said...

I don't believe St. Florence is a real saint because she is not on the saints database. This site is where I found out that my baptismal name, Sylvia, is actually a saint's name (I did not know this till high school) and, get this, her feastday is my birthday!! That still excites me. Anyway, I looked for Florence on there but didn't find her and I thought the website was pretty complete. Who knows!

Anonymous said...

Why weren't the nuns at my school as funny and cool as you are? Thanks for this blog. I like that you can be really honest (we'll go to Hell if we miss Mass, for instance) but you're absolutely hilarious too!

Anna B. said...

Sister Mary Martha,

One more who is the Patron Saint of Procrastination? ST Expedite is listed but I read there is contraversy if he even existed.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is such fun to read! Have you ever looked at the blog called Overheard in the Sacristy? The author, Fr. Loren Gonzales, does a great job over there.

Anonymous said...

My Dear Sister,

I normally resist the impulse to comment, but I must stand up for Saint Expedite. I have a devotion to him and pay visits to two seperate staues of him in two different countries (whenever I am in the area). Besides the issue of my personal sentiment, He is listed in the newest martyrology ( I don't have time to verify that now, but I hear the Martyrology read every day I think he may still be celebrated mid April) and that implies that Vatican officials haven't deemed his story bogus. Anyway, I will look into this and write back later.

God reward you for your wonderful blog. I pray that you recieve a 100-fold in this life and in the life to come.

Anonymous said...

I chose Florence for my confirmation name because her feast day was on my confirmation day. I know it was in October but don't remember the exact day. Now she is no longer listed so she must have been taken off the calendar of saints.
It's interesting that I became a nurse and Florence Nightengale is remembered for all her high standards in caring for the sick and hurting during the Crimean War.
But she is not St Florence.

trisha said...

really keen to find a link and background to st florence. ive suggested it as name for my niece for confirmation as its her birth nanas name so rather a nice linki but need the religous piece too otherwise they wont let her use it
tks trisha

Florence said...

For all those looking for info on St. Florence, here are a few (French saints, hence may need to translate the pages to English):

1. St. Florence of Agde, with relics in Church of Saint-Pierre de Palavas-les-Flots (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_d%27Agde)

2. St. Florence of Comble (http://uscatholic.blogspot.com/2005/12/todays-saint-florence.html)

3. St. Florence of Cartagena (http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/1355/Sainte-Florence-de-Carthagene.html)