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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Alexander and Rufus

We have solved the mystery of the mystery saints, thanks to our readers, right down to the shovels. Oddly enough, the shovels were to dig a garden. Who knew!

One of our kind readers mentioned that the two young people are probably the children of St. Simon of Cyrene who was dragged out of the crowd as Jesus passed by with His cross. Jesus has at this point fallen three times and His executioners must be getting nervous that He's not going to make it all the way to His execution. So they drag this pagan man out of the crowd. Simon has three children but only two are old enough to be milling around with their shovels on their way to dig in the garden.

The Mystery Saints are Alexander and Rufus. The third child eventually went to live with St. Stephen (the patron saint of headaches and first martyr).

Of Course! Why didn't I think of that? Where is my brain?

How to we know all this?

We don't. Simon's two children, Alexander and Rufus are mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. (21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.) But the idea that they were running around with shovels on their way to do some gardening and the idea that Simon had one more child who was younger and who went to live with St. Stephen? I'd say it's made up, more or less, like Veronica and her veil. Veronica and her veil, to the surprise of many, do not make an appearance in the New Testament. Veronica and her veil are not to be confused with the Shroud of Turin.

There is no woman named Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus on His way to Calvary in the New Testament. Where did she come from? Who knows. I think the idea that someone wiped the face of Jesus and the image stayed has something to do with the fact that there IS a Shroud of Turin. Somehow the idea that there is a TRUE (Vera) IMAGE (icon) of the face of Christ during His Passion became a woman's name.

It's a very nice name.

In fact, several of the things that happen during our Stations of the Cross are not in the New Testament. The early Stations of the Cross had Jesus falling seven times, maybe to reflect the Seven Deadly Sins Jesus came to conquer. The New Testament doesn't mention Him falling at all. And no Veronica.

Simon of Cyrene does make the cut! Simon is mentioned in three of the four Gospels. And although Alexander and Rufus are mentioned, they are only mentioned as the sons of Simon. It really doesn't say they are there at the time, or that they have any weeding ahead of them.

I read somewhere that Pope Paul IV came up with a new Stations of the Cross that reflect things that DID happen. I'll see if I can find it. Should be interesting.

How do we know Mary learned to sew or that her parents were named Joachim and Anne, that Simon and his children were on their way to plant some Early Girl tomatoes?

We don't know.

These things are passed down to us in something we call Sacred Tradition. That means we can believe it. The thing I find a little ironic is that many of these stories come from texts that were excluded from the New Testament, and rightfully so, in the fourth century when the Church finally decided, like that German girl who chooses the fashion designing contestants, what would be in and what would be out.

A Rose growing out of Joseph's staff? You're in.

Killer Baby Jesus?
Auf Wiedersehen.

At the risk of confusing you further here's a breakdown of what to believe:

1.Things written in the Bible. Believe it or not? Not that easy. Some of the things in the Bible are stories and parables. Some things are up for interpretation, like the writings on the End Times. For the most part, believe it. Certainly everything in there is something God wanted you to know.

2. Private revelations. Believe it or not? Private revelations are things that people are told privately by saints, Jesus, Mary, angels. The Church will let you know which ones are worthy of your consideration. You can believe it or not. For example, St. Bernadette talks to Mary at Lourdes/BELIEVE it (if you want), Nancy Fowler sees Mary in her dryer in Conyers, Georgia/don't believe it (even if you want to).

3. Sacred Tradition. Believe it or not? Believe it. I think it's just one of those "it's good for my old mother, it's good enough for me" kinds of things. The Church clearly feels there is enough Truth.

Here's a rule of thumb. If Truth has a capital "T" believe it. That's why you always see the words "Sacred Tradition" written thus and not 'sacred tradition' like we're crawling off somewhere with a bunch of crazy stories.

Glad to have solve the mystery, although it should have rung at least a little bell.


Anonymous said...

O.K., since this is your favorite subject.....who would be the appropriate patron of sleep. It doesn't have to be official. All my children were poor sleepers as babies & my oldest son has a sleep related epilepsy. I've heard that St. Valentine is the Patron of epilepsy, but I'm really looking for a Saint that understands sleepless nights & the need for sleep.

Anonymous said...

Yes...sainthood is a status to which we all aspire. With all due respect, however, it sure would be nice to hear your thoughts on a few other topics. I believe the Benedictine motto, "All good things in moderation" is fitting in this case.
It's your blog...you do what you want. Just a thought from a frequent visitor.

Anonymous said...

Pope Paul IV? I'm sure you meant Pope Paul VI. (I think it was John Paul II who came up with the newer stations, though.)

Anonymous said...

A patron saint of potty training would be helpful, too... you've got Gerard to help with pregnancy and childbirth, and Monica for rebellious young adults, but nobody for the toddler years?!

Anyway, I knew I could count on you and your readers for the mystery saints. Thanks for that.

I did a paper on the Veronica's Veil devotion when in college for art history. I won't go into it, here, but some early accounts identify her as the hemmorhaging (sp) woman who was healed by touching Christ's garment. And, her name may have been Bernice/BerNike/Bearer or Bringer of Victory. It's thought that somehow, the B got changed to a V. But, that's a red herring. Anyway, there was an image venerated in Rome that was said to be THE actual veil with Christ's face on it, but it was lost when the Church it was in was sacked by Lutheran armies. And, there seems to be some confusion with that image and the miraculous image that is in the chapel at the top of the Scala Sancta in Rome, which is maybe conflated with an image purported to be painted by St. Luke. And, there's another legend in the East about the Mandylion of Edessa, where Christ left an impression of his face on a linen towel (not during His Passion.) The Shroud of Turin is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to miraculous images. I read a lot of books and articles on this phenomenon when I was a student, which was before I was Catholic. Now that I'm a Catholic, I have to shift my perspective on these things and relate to them in an entirely different way. I became aware of this shift when I went to Rome last month. It was my first trip since my conversion. Previous trips were when I was a student. My relationship with the shrines and sacred things has completely changed and I'm not sure how I can reconcile the two POV's.

At any rate, having two very young children makes the issue pretty much moot: I've forgotten most of what I ever learned and probably lost half of my IQ points.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister,

The bit about Simon being a gardener may come from the private revelations of German mystic Anne Katherine Emmerich. Which are available online, since they are not copyrighted.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 33 of "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ":

"At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches.

"The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was a pagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying his cross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey, although his children, being frightened, cried and made a great noise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them.

"Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation at being obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition of dirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenly look upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing to show reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executioners fastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walked behind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from its weight; and when all was arranged, the procession moved forward.

"Simon was a stout-looking man, apparently about forty years of age. His children were dressed in tunics made of a variegated material; the two eldest, named Rufus and Alexander, afterwards joined the disciples; the third was much younger, but a few years later went to live with St. Stephen.

"Simon had not carried the cross after Jesus any length of time before he felt his heart deeply touched by grace."

She also writes about Veronica, though this is already rather long for a comment.

It's private revelation; quite compelling.

God bless you good Sister.

Anonymous said...

Sister, can you help me? I'm looking for a patron saint for my 16-year-old son who HATES school (and always has). He gets decent grades and he's not a stupid boy, but he just doesn't like sitting in school for 6 hours a day.

Were there any saints who were poor students, but made something of themselves anyway? It would be an extra bonus if this saint happened to also be the class clown . . .

Thank you!!

Sister Mary Martha said...

Patron saint for lack of sleep:
St. Dymphna is the patron saint of sleepwalker and by extrapolation, sleep problems.

Then there are the Seven Sleepers. Those guys slept for a hundred years or so.

For you, and your own lack of sleep I recommend St. Catherine of Sienna, who rarely slept.

For our 'bad' student: St. Thomas Aquinas, who became a Doctor of the Church, was known as 'the dumb ox' while he was in school. I also like St. Don Bosco, as your class clown. Not that he WAS a class clown, but he used juggling and magic tricks to teach children their catechism.

St. Anthony seems like a good candidate for a patron saint of toddlers, what with his visit from the the Baby Jesus. The Holy Innocents were toddlers (some of them). How about Mother St. Frances Cabrini? She built a lot of schools and orphanages.

Anonymous said...

So isn't St. Dymphna the patron of mental disorders as well? Is it also a coincidence that she is the patron of 'lack of sleep' or is lack of sleep and a mental disorder considered the same thing?

Maria said...

Could it ba that Mary's mom is called Anne or Anna because 'ana' littererary means 'mom' in Turkish? Maybe it used to mean 'mom' in Judea as well?

the mother of this lot said...

If you ever meet a Veronica, you know you're dealing with a Catholic. Same with Bernadettes and Teresas, usually.

And someone walking down the street singing 'Faith of Our Fathers'.

Anonymous said...

Jochaim and Anne were the names given to Mary's parents in the Protoevangelium of james.

Anonymous said...

Sister - thanks for the St. Don Bosco info! After researching him, he sounds like just the right saint for my little sinner. You're the best - thanks!!

Rev. Daren J. Zehnle, J.C.L., K.C.H.S. said...

Sister, I have a question that I need to ask you and I cannot seem to find your e-mail address. Would you please send me a quick e-mail? Many thanks!

Sarah said...

I just had a comment for you and my computer ate it :(

God bless,

Jeffrey Smith said...

Are you really a nun? All the other blogging nuns identify themselves, their orders, and their convents. Why don't you do that?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sister, I like what you said about if someone sees Mary in her clothes dryer, don't believe it. How about this, below?

A palm frond in a church pushed against the altar cloth and made a mark. They're all excited, saying it looks like Jesus. I don't think so! Jesus did not look like Darth Vader!


Doesn't it get silly, sometimes? Does that honor our Lord?

Anonymous said...

About tradition--do we believe it if it's different from what the Bible says?

What about the prayer, "Mary, take over"?

Are we really supposed to give it all to Mary?

The Bible says, in the words of St. Peter, the first Pope: "casting ALL your cares upon HIM for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7

Wouldn't *Peter* have told us to cast all our cares on Mary if that's what we're to do?

He didn't say "Cast some on Jesus and some on His Blessed Mother." He said, "Casting ALL your cares upon HIM for He cares for you."

Don't we believe Jesus cares for us? When He saw the widow at her son's funeral at Nain, He raised her son from the dead. But first, He had to say, "Don't cry." He was so tender-hearted!

Could we be breaking the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" by casting all our cares upon MARY?

I think Jesus would be very hurt. ]

How can you say we have enough Truth? Jesus said the truth would set us free.

Here's the Truth about what our Blessed Savior says about some tradition:

Matthew 15:3 Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? ...

6 ... Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. ...

9 But ***in vain they do worship me,*** teaching for doctrines ***the commandments of men. ***

I think that is scary. Worship God in vain because of using traditions of men as doctrines!

What do you think? If a tradition breaks with the Bible, isn't it dangerous to choose tradition?

Anonymous said...

Oops, here's the Darth Vader link again:

Colleen said...

I totally and completely agree. When tradition contradicts Scripture, then it is time to get a new tradition. I mean really, where in the Bible does it EVER say to pray to Mary?
Here's something to think about too, where does it EVER say to confess your sins to a priest? Since Christ ever makes intersession for us.

1 Timothy 2:5 (King James Version)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

That is what Christ does, He makes intersession for us, not a priest, who is only human, or the pope who is also only human, and not in anyway sinnless, unless he was not born of a woman. We all know what Job says:
Think about it, if people actually read the Bible as opposed to just letting someone tell them what this means and that means, the world might actually changed.
Can you imagine God sending His Son, then allowing us to have our Bibles and then tell us, - I'm the Living Word, but you can't have illumintation, that's only for the priests. Since God tells us to call no man father, what are traditions doing to us, who want to actually think?

Orangeville said...

I agree. The Bible is the Word of God and should have full authority. Jesus said that any who would add to it would be cursed. Traditions are the words of fallen man. Our faith is in God, not man.