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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thomas, Thomas, Thomas

Sorry I confused everyone on the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle, better known as "Doubting Thomas". After all the times I've warned you that nuns are often wrong and repeatedly telling you I don't even know what day of the week it is, I should think you would all be ready to do a little fact checking. Ironic.

I suppose I had what is now cluckingly referred to as a 'senior moment'. I was writing late on July 3rd, the actual feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle. This site is on East Coast time and I am on West Coast time. And somehow, in my tiny brain that every few years decides I can leave my house at 8pm and drive across town and arrive on time where I am supposed to be at 8pm, I somehow got stuck on every day being the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle.

Don't try to make any sense of it.

But if you were celebrating the feast day of St. Thomas, you were still good to go. There are two other St. Thomases who DO have feast days on July 4th. They died within three years of each other, but they were both martyred trying to hide or otherwise abet a priest in hiding. They were both drawn and quartered.


It's pretty easy to become confused about whose feast day it is. For one thing, feast days get moved around some to make room on the calendar of saints for new saints. Feast days also rotate because there are so many saints, they all don't fit on the calendar, even though from time to time some saints are booted off due to lack of existence.

It's also easy to become confused because there are so many saints with the same name. We just had three St. Thomases in two days.

Why, just today we have the wrong St. Philomena. Not that she can be wrong. It is the feast day of St. Philomena. It's just that if I told you today was the feast day of St. Philomena and you thought it was the feast day of St. Philomena, you would be wrong. St. Philomena is still on the calendar of saints. St. Philomena, the one you're thinking of, has been suppressed, which is a nice way of saying, 'booted'.

The St. Philomena you're thinking of probably didn't exist, at least not as the girl we all knew and loved, and we know almost nothing about this other St. Philomena. Ironically, we knew lots and lots about the other St. Philomena. It's just that none of it was true.

Sorry for all the confusion

On a side note, unlike many other people, I am pragmatic about the booting of saints. I don't feel bad for a moment when I find out there has been a saint mishap, like the story of St. Philomena. That's why we have the Congregation for the Causes of Saints now. We didn't have that back in the day. If enough people said you were a saint, by golly, you were in! That's why the Church now digs up the proposed saint, and checks for true miracles, etc.

I do worry a little that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has become somewhat lax. Just a few years back, one of the rules was that the person had to be dead for at least 50 years before his saintly cause would even be considered. Now Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa have been 'fast tracked'. And Padre Pio, who is now St. Padre Pio. ZOOM! People think this is just great! I think the 50 rule was a good one.

Much more worrisome is the removal of "the Devil's Advocate" the title of the official position given to the person whose job it is to argue that the candidate is not a saint. Bring back the Devil's Advocate, I say, or we're in for a bunch of future St. Philomenas. Where is St. Thomas the Apostle when we need him?

So whose feast day is it, today? Take your pick. I'm going with St. Zoe of Rome, who was hung by her hair from a tree while a fire was put under her feet.

I know I'm right about this. Unless it isn't really July 5th.


Anonymous said...

Bring back the Devil's Advocate, I say, or we're in for a bunch of future St. Philomenas.

Sister, don't forget that when a saint is canonized by the Pope, he is granted infallibility. Nobody ever actually canonized St. Philomena, and the doctrine of infallibility would lead me to believe that if the pope did try to canonize a non-saint (whether non-existent or just not, you know, up there), something would interfere and keep him from doing it.

Which doesn't mean we should have gotten rid of the Devil's Advocate. I mean, it sure would be embarrassing for the Pope to get all ready to canonize someone and then lose his voice or something, all because there was no Devil's Advocate to worry out the fact that said someone is not, you know, up there.

Anonymous said...

Help, Sister, help! That St. Zoe of Rome link* has a SAINT Kateri medal for sale! See how right you are about the need for a Devil's Advocate?

*which must not be Sr.MM approved.

Terry Nelson said...

I love it when you tell us nuns can be wrong. I wish Sr. Vivian were alive - I'd send her a link everytime you say that.

Anonymous said...

Wow - I didn't realize there were two St. Philomena's! In regards to the above poster, St Philomena was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI. I have a daughter named Philomena (named after the saint obviously) and I also have a daughter named Zoe! I find it interesting that both share the same feast day. Although my St Philomena's booted feast day was August 11.