Life is tough. But Nuns are tougher. If you need helpful advice just Ask Sister Mary Martha.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Big Brother and also Big Sister and Big Father
I have a great idea. A new reality show. We follow a group of girls one season and a group of guys the next season and we see who makes it all the way to be a nun or a priest.
Someone else will have to take the ball and run with it. Maybe I can go pitch it over at EWTN.
I'm just feeling a bit giddy because of our nun non contest. We've only had two entries so far, but they are such DOOZIES. Shall we post them as they come in? Or shall we wait until we have most of them, or wait until the end?
We still don't have an official name or an official deadline. We haven't even decided if we are having a deadline. "Even Jesus has a deadline, " I told Sister St. Aloysius. "Just because we don't know when it is, doesn't mean there isn't one."
Email us with your favorite nuns: firstname.lastname@example.org
And please tell your friends about our no contest.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Ready, Set, Go!
Okay! We are all set to go with our Beautiful Nun Photo Non Contest. I suppose I should have a better name for it. I'm open to suggestions.
Maybe I should have a name the non contest contest. I certainly have a shop full of prizes!
So, here are the rules:
There are no rules.
Maybe one rule. The woman has to be a nun. A Catholic nun. I have a great admiration for Buddhist nuns, but they are on the wrong track, poor things. Orthodox nuns are welcome, since Pope John Paul II made his apologies for the Inquisition, the Great Schism and one to the Galileo family.
After that, anything goes. Habits, schmabits. A nun doing good work can wear whatever she wants. She's a nun. She's not going to be wearing something immodest (we hope). She may be looking a little dowdy. Don't judge. It's not Project Runway over here. That nun doesn't have any money to make sure everything matches. What does she care it it matches, anyhow? A nun's life is not a fashion show. If something is wildly inappropriate I just won't post it.
Or I will post it, to point out how wildly inappropriate it is. We'll see.
Also, the pictures don't have to be of the nun actually doing the good work, although that would be nice, since nuns do such a wide range of good work. I'd be happy to just see a picture of some dowdy old nun standing in front of a church sign or a Taco Bell in her flowered blouse and polyester pants and we can just talk about what she's been up to. That will still be one beautiful picture.
I've set up an email address for you to send in your pictures. I thought that would be the easiest way to do it.
Sister St. Aloysius is besides herself with excitement. We've never really launched any big project like this before. She doesn't think there should ever be any deadline. I think people tend to be lazy and procrastinate and need deadlines. Perhaps that's because I tend to procrastinate and need deadlines. Sister St. Aloysius never procrastinates and can't stand to be one second late for anything. It's a beautiful day here and she has taken Sister Mary Fiacre out for a walk. She will be so pleased when she returns to see that I've actually made some progress. We'll have to have our own private contest about the deadline or lack thereof.
I just thought of another non rule. The nun doesn't have to still be alive. They still belong to the Church Triumphant, or at the very least, the Church Suffering.There's no reason to exclude someone just because they are dead.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I do feel I should clarify my own reaction, especially since there was quite a bit of anger toward poor Father Italianpriest, who dreamed up the plan (at the some nuns' behest...who were these nuns? How did they get off so easy?) I do think his heart was in the right place.
I just can't picture a bunch of nuns saying, "Can you run a contest to show how beautiful we are?", even if they aren't talking about physical beauty. Something about that just makes my brain go Ba Boing. But I mostly agree with this reader:
I really think that priest was just trying to show that not only ugly girls who can't get husbands become nuns. Give him a bit of a break. I PLEASE stop with the nun with a ruler stereotype.
I agree with the first part of this sentiment.
I don't agree that anyone needs to stop with the "nun with a ruler" stereotype. You may be too young to realize that this reputation (not a stereotype, but the experience of many, many wide eyed third graders as a vision in black swept toward them) is well earned. The rulers are all retired these days. I'm thinking of having mine bronzed.
I also think part of the problem altogether was having a contest. Would there be a trophy? What does the winner win? What nun wants to hold the title "World's Most Beautiful Nun"? Does that make her better than all the other nuns?
Is getting to heaven a contest?
I particularly enjoyed this comment:
If you really really want to get into it, NO woman - nun or otherwise - should be judged by their appearance alone. Yet still, there are beauty contests. Not because women are being forced at gunpoint to parade around in a prom dress and give answers to dumb questions (thank you, miss teen South Carolina), but because there are some women who WANT to. I am assuming the same goes for nuns. I am disappointed that the article wasn't written from their point of view - I would have liked to have heard their thought process on this one. Whether I agree with it or not.
Again, I agree with your thoughts here, dear reader, except for that idea that the 'same goes for nuns'. While it may sadly be true, no nun worth her salt can really want to be the prettiest most wonderful nun, parade around anywhere except in the name of Jesus and answer any dumb questions....except..in a classroom......or.......maybe on a blog.....
At any rate the contest has been called off. Father Italianpriest:
"It was interpreted as more of a physical thing," he said. "Now, no one is saying that nuns can't be beautiful, but I was thinking about something more complete."
He said he had intended to showcase the good works that nuns do, especially in education and health care, so as to boost interest in religious vocations.
Again, I think he just got a little carried away. Poor man. If only he had said an "Inner Beauty Contest". And see..
....there's the problem, again. Contest? Is there a scholarship? A new car? A tiara?
At any rate, I've decided to take up the gauntlet. Since the real idea was to show nuns at their best doing the work they do, I'm inviting my readers to send in pictures of their favorite hard working nuns and I'll post them here. It won't be a contest. We'll just have a great time looking at nun world. Get the word out! I'll have to make a deadline! Let's say October 31st...
No...that won't work. That's Halloween. We don't want to post a bunch of nun pictures on Halloween.
Let's say October 1st. That's plenty of time unless you are a lazy procrastinator.
In which case, I'll have to crack out my bronzed ruler.
You get to work and I'll make a place for you to send your pictures.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sister Miss Sunshine
Please forgive me for being a little behind on answering questions. We have had some very interesting questions and comments that will keep me busy all week. I just haven't had time to get to them because I am getting ready for the big nun beauty contest. I'm already at a disadvantage wearing the full habit. Should I take the hem up, show a little leg?
Honestly, there are days when I long for my extra long ruler, or better yet the rubber tipped pointer, which had a better reach. I'd like to reach all the way to wherever in Italy that group is and give them a good hard rap on the top of their heads.
Two things: Since when does a nun care how she looks, ugly or pretty? Now if her soul is all hook- nosed and wrinkly, I can see a problem looming. But outwardly? Why do we always wear such dumpy outfits? It's so no one, including ourselves, thinks about what's on the outside. It's why we don't have hair or gold lame habits and taffeta veils.
Where is that ruler? I know it's here someplace.
And the other thing: Since when do nuns have an image of being old and ugly? The image of nuns, your second grade teacher aside, is utterly beautiful. Audrey Hepburn, Mary Tyler Moore, Anne Bancroft, Julie Andrews (until she runs off with Captain Von Trapp), Rosalind Russell, Ingrid Bergman, Debbie Reynolds. Oh,
There are some not-so-attractive back up nuns but they are only there for comic relief. The focus is always on the pretty, pretty nun.
Even the nun in that horrible "Agnes of God" movie, beautiful!
Even that girl who decides to become a nun at the end of "The Trouble with Angels"...which one was it? Haley Mills or the other girl? Who cares? They're both cute.
Image problem my foot. My great big foot in my giant black nun shoe.
I have a feeling that many of the pictures submitted will look more like this:
I hope so, anyhow. Because otherwise, some old nun in big black shoes is going to have to clomp off to Italy armed with both ruler and pointer. Sister Mary Rambo is not pretty when she's angry.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Angels and Josephs
We're still discussing one of my favorite topics.
I'm sorry, you lost me after you said this priest taught you about dreams and then went on to say he didn't believe the miracles of the OT (at least the manna and the Red Sea) were really miracles at all, other than the timing. So how is it this man, who couldn't figure out the miracle thing, which is clearly spelled out in the Bible, be an expert on dreams, which are usually so vague and confusing? So St.Joseph was really the angel in his dream and the warning in the wise men's dreams were really from themselves? I don't believe that all dreams are safely tucked away into that defragmentation theory. If you've had a vision dream, you'll know it. And they aren't always clear as to their meaning, at least not right away. I truly believe God uses dreams sometimes to get our attention and put us on a path of discovery.
Oh, Kathy, you'll have to read what I said more closely. I did not say the priest did not believe in the miracles of the Old Testament. I said he was undaunted by the fact that manna grows on trees and that he believed it was a miracle because the Chosen People stumbled across it right when they needed it.
He wasn't an expert on dreams. He was just explaining a couple of things he had read about dreams. I don't even know why he went into that. It didn't really have anything to do with the point he was making, that the Prophets were relating a dream they had had.
I'm the one that took up the gauntlet. I found that one piece of information so fascinating that I read everything I could find on the subject, including the silly stuff, like 'dream dictionaries'. I had the same reaction when I visited the train that hauled Abraham Lincoln's body across the country after his assassination. There was one piece of information I found so fascinating (that Lincoln was re-embalmed over and over again during the trip), it launched me into reading everything I could find about Lincoln.
But your point is a very good one, because we do indeed find people in the Bible, in the Old Testament and the New, who have angels visit them with very important information that must be heeded. That said, we don't want to believe that angels are visiting people in their sleep, just because they think that's what happened. I'm sure you enjoyed the lovely picture up top of the angel visiting St. Joseph. But we don't want to think very long about this angel visiting Joseph...
I would just really want to caution people that St. Joseph didn't have angels visit him in his sleep night in and night out. I would think that if actual angels visited you in your sleep, angels coming with the power of a message straight from God, that you wouldn't wonder for one minute whether it was really undigested beef.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I believe I have mentioned before that I have done a lot of studying in the area of dream research. I once took a course in the Old Testament at Loyola University in Chicago with a Jesuit priest. He was sort of a hippy looking fellow with a pony tail and sandals, but since he was a Jesuit, I guess he could get away with it. I know people back then were fond of pointing out how Jesus styled His hair.
This priest had some interesting things to say. For example, he pointed out that manna is some sort of thing that falls off of trees there in the Holy Land and than you could go eat manna today, if you wanted. The manna never did come from heaven. He also noted that sections of the Red Sea part all the time, when silt piles up and is washed away again.
He was undaunted in the the idea that these things were miraculous. He felt that that the miracle was not in the event, but in the timing of the event.
One day he got on a tear about dreams, because he felt that if you look at what the prophets had to say as a dream someone was relating, what they were saying made a lot more sense. He said that in sleep and dream research, when a person or a cat was deprived of sleep they got cranky and eventually a little wacky, but it took several days for them to become downright psychotic. I'm not sure how they could tell with the cats.
But when people or cats were deprived of dream sleep, they became psychotic overnight. Again, I'm not sure how they could tell with the cats.
That's what got me going. I know a lot about dreaming.
Sister!!! YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HELP ME!
This is your area anyway, so I'm sure it'll be a cinch! Last night I dreamt I was in one of those Catholic stores with all the books and saintly prayer cards...in my dream, I was looking for and I found the card of a saint who was the patron saint of beaches. I keep getting images of beaches, the ocean, either Australia or some kind of tropical climate. The problem is, I don't know who this saint actually is! In my dream I did though. Could you possibly help me?!
I think you're missing the boat on this dream. Here's what you have to keep in mind: Except in the case of a recurring dream, dreams are always about what happened to you on the day you had the dream. Dreaming is your brain's way of defragmenting, like your computer does in the middle of the night. You have to look at what it meant to be in a Catholic bookstore looking for the patron saint of beaches in the context of what happened to you that day.
Whatever you do, don't go running to one of those stupid dream books, to find out what 'book store' means. Those things are 100% useless. Here's what one of those stupid books says about what it means to dream about strawberries:
To see or eat strawberries in your dream, signifies your sensual desires and temptation. Strawberries is often associated with feminine qualities and female sexuality. Alternatively, to see strawberries in your dream indicates that your ideas and goals are soon realized.
You know what strawberries mean to me? Hives.
I can't analyze your dream for you because the images came out of your brain after whatever day you had. I don't think the specific saint is important at all. I think the key thoughts in the dream are "Catholic" and "books" and "beaches". It wouldn't surprise me, though, if you were a homeschooling mom who is getting ready for this school year and would just like to go play in the sand.
Here's another fun thought: for the most part in dreams, everyone in the dream is really you. Why wouldn't they be? It's your brain that's making it up this little screenplay. It's never your mother that is actually in the dream. Your mother is at home in her own bed.
So...you are the saint. The saint of beaches. The saint on a card in the Catholic book store. The patron saint of sand and beaches and the ocean and a tropical climate is you.
We are all, after all, called upon to be saints.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Believe It or Not
Today is the Feast of the Assumption! Let's have cake!
We probably won't have any cake. I think Sister St. Aloysius is going to make some peanut butter cookies if it doesn't get too hot today. Or....maybe I can talk her into making them anyhow, even it if gets really hot out, and we can offer up our suffering when the oven heats up the whole house for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.
The perfect day to tackle this question. It's a doozy.
Hello, Sister! In your earlier post about the "Killer Baby Jesus," you say the following: But...the thing is....a lot of the story of Mary comes from these same gospels that were thrown out. The Mary stories have become what we call Sacred Tradition. When the church uses the word tradition with a capital "T" it means they want you to pay attention.
So yes, to the story of Mary, no to killer baby Jesus. I am interested in which stories of Mary these are. I've heard some pretty fanciful ones about Mary that were never "officially" included, but made people happy in the Middle Ages, like the cherry tree one, or the one I've heard on the History Channel about the midwife who was called to verify Mary's virginity after the birth... You know, I feel like I should head for Confession after repeating that one, but I didn't make it up or hear it from a naughty boy on the playground, I promise!
I think I've done everyone a terrible disservice in describing the stories of Mary's childhood as Sacred Tradition. The Assumption of Mary into heaven is Sacred Tradition. The stories of Mary's childhood, although the nuns always told them with great glee, are what we might call Catholic tradition. Small 't'.
To answer your question very simply, the baby Mary stories come from one of the Gnostic Gospels that was rejected in the 4th century, the Protevangelium of James. Every fanciful thing you've heard about Mary is in there. Enjoy!
I'll wait while you have a good read.
Wasn't that fun? It's fun to think of Joachim and Ann, so thrilled with their perfect daughter that they never let her feet touch the ground and Joseph stepping up to the plate to take care of this pure young girl. Lovely.
Here's where the rubber meets the road though, so hold on to your hat.
Sacred Tradition refers to things that we absolutely know are true, that aren't found in Scripture spelled out for us word for word. Does the Bible say that Mary was conceived, unlike the rest of us, without the stain of Original Sin on her soul? Nope.
When the Angel Gabriel shows up to tell Mary that she has been picked to be the Mother of Jesus, he says, "Hail Mary, full of grace..." (ring a bell?) She can't be full of grace if she has Original Sin on her soul, now can she? She hasn't been baptized because neither Jesus nor John the Baptist is around to take care of that. So...voila. Sacred Tradition tells us that this is what the Angel Gabriel meant.
When Mary appeared to Little Bernadette at Lourdes and Bernadette asked Mary who she might be, Mary replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Straight from the horse's mouth.
That should seal the deal. But...
You don't have to believe Bernadette. You don't have to believe in any private revelations. Believing Bernadette, or believing that Mary appeared to Bernadette or getting your hands on some Lourdes water, that's Catholic tradition. Small 't'. You don't have to even think about Bernadette. But you do have to believe that Mary is the Immaculate Conception.
Catholic tradition is really the most fun part of being Catholic. The saints and their stories, our statues and holy cards, advent wreaths and Christmas trees, St. Nick and Halloween, rosaries and incense, how dull we would be without them. It would be like dumping our other fun cultural traditions like birthday candles and cake and throwing the bouquet after the wedding . And then where would we be? We'd be out marching around with the birthdayless Jehovah's Witnesses. Sad.
So why is Killer Baby Jesus gone altogether (although there is one lingering story of Him bringing a baby bird back to life that I've even seen in some Jesus movie that was on TV) and Baby Mary still around? Because the Baby Mary story tries to enhance our ideas about Mary and the idea that Mary was so very pure. End of story. It's a sweet story of love and devotion, where the Killer Baby Jesus stories are just stories of a powerful child run amok. My favorite part of the Killer Baby Jesus stories is when the neighbors beg the Holy Family, "Please....Moooooove....."
Mary's story has made it into Catholic tradition if for no other reason than that we still call Mary's parents by those names, Joachim and Ann. This thrown out gospel is the only place we discover those names. And since the rest of the story is, well...a sweet fiction written 150 years later...
We know Mary had two parents. I'm good with calling the Joachim and Ann.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Go for the Gold
Sister Mary Fiacre has really enjoyed this year's Olympics. She likes to watch things that are colorful and fast moving. She seemed to really enjoy the opening ceremony, which was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen, since the Virgin Mary has never appeared to me in my toast or somewhere in Teddy's fur. I doubt that Sister Mary Fiacre really understood the magnitude of 15,000 people making the show appear to be made by computers and hydraulics, since she doesn't seem to understand too much except when dinner's coming, but she didn't fall asleep until the athletes marched in.
The magnitude of 15,000 people making a show that appeared to be a computer generated extravaganza was not lost on me. I fully expect the Chinese people, now that they understand their full capabilities, to simply decide one day to form a human bridge (that will already be lit from the light suits they are wearing) and come over here and kick us out of our house. Whenever they get in the mood.
What a disciplined and determined bunch they are.
They are eclipsed only by Michael Phelps. How exciting to watch him race, although I find myself feeling sorry for the athletes that have to perform while almost completely naked, like the swimmers and the divers. That would hold me back from a career as a diver.
(That and my fear of being upside down and my fear of heights.)
Happily for us it did not hold Mr. Phelps back. He is a swimming machine. And also an eating and sleeping machine. And probably a text messaging machine, although no one is talking about that.
How did he get that way?
Our readers are having a discussion about praying for virtues:
Someday I will be loved... sooner rather than later, would be nice... but all I can do is pray for patience, right?
Maria, NEVER pray for patience! God will send you lots of things for you to practice your patience. I learned that from a nun when I was in grade school.
I was told also not to pray for patience for the same reason Katy said, but to ask for strength! I guess you could get the same response, that is, getting an opportunity to exercise that strength!
I prayed for wisdom in 7th grade, after similar advice, but the story of Solomon so deeply touched me that I just had to be like him in discernment. I wanted to be wise enough to make right choices. You wouldn't believe what my life has been like--one disaster after another has fallen upon me. Am I wiser for it? You bet!
There are four kinds of swimming strokes. All of them make sense but one. The 'freestyle' is the fastest way to swim to get anywhere, if you were to travel by swimming. The breast stroke is probably the best way to get somewhere if you have a long way to go. You could frog kick your way around the globe. And when you got tired, you could role over onto your back and do the back stroke for a while.
Then there is that nonsensical butterfly stroke. Difficult, tiring, relatively slow, goofy looking, what's the point of swimming like that?
Mr. Phelps is good at all four, even the pointless silly one. Why? Because whether he prayed for it or not, he has a sense of purpose. He wanted to be in the Olympics, he wanted to win, he wanted to beat long standing records, he wanted to be the best ever.
That plus he doesn't have normal feet. His feet are so large and wide that they function as flippers.
Pray all you want for virtues. The real question is: how many times can you come through the fire without being beaten down? Countless times as long as there is still a reason to rise. Find your purpose and the rest will follow.
What about all the athletes who didn't even get past the preliminary swim to even compete for a medal? What about those sad sacks who never even made the team? What about the person who has the dream of being the next Michael Phelps and actually does not have the physical attributes to even make a decent swimmer? Crushing.
Unless... they have a different sense of purpose: just to be called an Olympian, to teach others, to be in great shape.
You just will never be good at anything, virtue included, without practicing. Early mornings and endless laps, weight training and sit ups. Bring it on.
Just don't expect a medal.
Monday, August 11, 2008
People always want to know where in the world celibate clergy and religious get off giving people advice on love and marriage. I can't say I blame them. I certainly have no desire to give advice on love and marriage.
That said, it's not as though I know absolutely nothing about it. I'll admit there must be plenty I don't know. But I do live on the planet, I read, I see movies, I know a few people, some who are successful in love and others who are not.
And I have one big advantage from my side of the fence: total objectivity. Well, almost total. I do live on the planet, know people and have opinions.
Dear Sister Mary Martha, OK, I got the Novena stuff down...almost. Here are some questions for you on a similar matter (that's the closest thing to a seguey I can get): Like an idiot, I have fallen for my best friend (opposite sex). I want marry him. He knew this at some point, but seems to have forgotten it and we remain friend-like. I have been praying on this a lot, to/for the following: *That God will re-create his heart. *Heal his mind body and soul (he'd be more disposed to a relationship with me if he could get his health in order). *That I will be able to accept God's will (though I have NO IDEA how I'm going to know what that is). *That Mary our Mother will take an active role in match-making (MY mom would if she were alive--at least kick down with some comforting words and carrot cake). *St. Joseph for meaningful employment for the two of us and his obvious family ties. *St Ann because she must have had something to do with Mary and Joseph getting together. *Sts Jude, Francis and Anthony because we have always been close and their reps for coming through with difficult cases. *The Holy Spirit for guidance and clarity on the situation. *PadrePio because he loves families so much and we both come from very loving homes. The questions? Am I praying against myself? When does it cross over into superstition? When is it "perseverance" to keep praying and prudence to stop? Did I miss any Patrons who are known to help out 40 year old teenagers? Sorry this is so long--I've been trying to sort this out through my prayers and still don't feel like I'm any closer to an answer. Thank you in advance for your help! Regards, M
I just want to know, before we talk about this, is there something wrong with him? By that I mean, he's never dated anybody in his whole life, he won't leave his sainted mother's side, he's so shy he can never assert himself or speak up for himself, that sort of thing?
Because if he's just one of those people who stumbles cluelessly through life, unable to take charge of want he needs or wants, I'd say stop praying and state your case.
But if he's a relatively normal man (who is normal, after all?) then I think you are praying for the wrong person. It seems to me that you are praying for this person to completely change, when the truth is, he either gets it already and he just doesn't want to marry you, or he doesn't get it at all and you are going to have to tell him. You should be praying for yourself to find your nerve to talk with him about it, or move on.
Between Padre Pio, St. Jude, St. Ann, St. Joseph, St. Francis and St. Anthony, you've become a prayer stalker. That is you are stalking this poor man through prayer. Next you'll be driving by his house day and night with your novenas in one hand and a rosary in the other.
I love a good novena, but it seems to me you are just throwing all the spaghetti against the wall and hope that some of it sticks. Did you know that is an excellent way to find out if spaghetti noodles are done? Throw one noodle against the wall and if it sticks up there it's done. Be sure and take it back off again or before long you'll have the city map of Houston up there. Did you ever see a city map of Houston? It looks like someone threw a pot of spaghetti against the wall and it was all done.
You seem to know what's what here, referring to yourself as a forty year old teenager. I wish I had some carrot cake for you.
Here's my advice. Tell him you are in love with him and want to marry him. If he says he can't because he is in ill health and has no job, ask him if he is in love with you and wants to marry you. Is the old nun missing something here? Why is this not an option? If two adults can't do that, then I suppose you really do have to find one more patron saint, Maria Goretti the patron saint of teens.
And depending on his answer, either St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patron saint of a happy marriage or St. John the Baptist, patron saint of a clean slate.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Luckily, Catholics get to have a drink:
On a business trip, one of the reps from another district got a little tipsy and told me I was alright, and I wouldn't be "left behind". He was crying. He must worry terribly about people not getting caught up in the rapture, but I heard the whole rapture idea was made up by a guy in Ireland in the 1850s. I didn't know what to say to him. Any ideas?
Also, I need a patron saint for my mom who just got moved from a nursing home she loved(by my nutty sister)to a new one, which is nice but unfamiliar to this 92 year old, saint of a woman. Also a patron for me to pray to so I can find a place in my heart for my sister who I'm furious with today. I refuse to become a bitter old lady by harboring resentments over time!
Question 3(sorry!)I said the Luminous Mysteries today and wonder what they mean by "Proclamation of the Kingdom". What do I meditate about during this mystery? Thanks for your help Sister!
Your poor friend. He's concerned that you'll be LEFT BEHIND. That's nice of him. Isn't he concerned that he'll be drunk when the rapture occurs, since he seems to think we are living in THE END TIMES?
Real quick, just in case there is someone living under a rock who doesn't know what someone means when they speak of "The Rapture": at the end of the world when Jesus comes back in what is known as "The Second Coming", all the true believers are taken bodily into heaven. Zap. I once saw a bummer sticker that said, "when the rapture occurs, this car will be without a driver."
For the record The Catholic Church does not believe in "The Rapture".
This idea that certain people will simply disappear, leaving behind their clothes for rest of us sinners to wash and fold, did not start with the Irishman to whom you refer. But John Nelson Darby is responsible for the popularity of the idea. His book and ideas spawned best sellers that have spawned all sorts of fanciful stories of planes crashing because the pilot disappears in the Rapture and families are torn asunder when Mom and son fly up to heaven and Dad and daughter are left behind to fight over whose turn it is to do dishes. Horses are riderless, groceries go unscanned, people are left hanging on the phone with no one on the other end, cars, buses and trains crash, and the pharmacist never fills your prescription. Ever. Because he flew up to heaven and left his white coat and glasses on the floor at Walgreen's.
The thing that not many people talk about is that the Rapture people (like your tipsy friend) don't agree on when the Rapture will happen or rather which version of the Rapture is correct. First, there is the Rapture where Jesus comes back and people fly to heaven leaving their pile of clothes and then the world goes on in chaos for a while and then Jesus comes back again and then the world ends. Then there is something called the mid-Rapture, or something like that where the Rapture comes after Jesus comes back again but before the final curtain. I think. There is yet another timetable for the Rapture that I can't remember anything about, if it's before or after the mid- Rapture. And then there is a Rapture that comes just all at the end.
I don't see how anyone can bother calling that last one a Rapture. That's just what happens at the end of time is all. Everyone is joined up with their bodies and off they go, for better or for worse.
I can't find any Scripture to support the notion, unless perhaps one roams through Revelations on their own making up what they think it all means. Even then...it's a stretch. I've read what got slapped up there as a scriptural reference. Sorry, don't see it.
What to tell him? "Sober up, fella! Your thoughts on whether it's going to me you or me headed for heaven are erroneous in the first place. You pray for me and I'll pray for you. Deal?"
Patron saints for you, mom and nutty sister:
St. Dymphna, the patron saint of nutty people.
St. Vincent de Paul, patron saint of taking sweet care of the elderly.
St. Peter, anger management.
St. John the Baptist, a whole new life at any age.
This should help you with the Luminous Mysteries.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
My Friend Flicka
Yesterday was the feast day of Our Lady of the Snows. We took the opportunity to be reminded that we have had a very mild summer here and have not had to pour a bucket of water over Sister Mary Fiacre and sit her in front of a fan, even once. It leaves us free to do other things.
Sister, Do you believe that when it states in the book of Revelation, Chapter 19 verse 11, that the horse is metaphorical that Jesus is riding? Just wondering.
In the fourth century all the bishops of the Catholic Church met. There was a big heresy going around and lots and lots of various sacred texts and stories. Things were really getting out of hand. The meeting was called the Council of Nicaea. Everyone sat down and figured out what would and what would not be included in what we now know as The New Testament. They wrote up the Nicene Creed.
During that meeting there was a great debate as to whether or not the Book of Revelations should be included in the New Testament, not because they thought the Book was fanciful (like the discarded Gospel of Thomas and its "Killer Baby Jesus" stories), but simply because they thought the metaphysical dreamlike world it describes would thoroughly confuse everyone.
And here we are. Everyone is thoroughly confused by it, especially the...separated brethren, left to wander around in it on their own.
Do I think Jesus is coming back on a horse? Why would he need a horse? Is this supposed to be a horse from heaven? Has anyone ever heard about there being any horses in heaven? I certainly haven't; no miracles performed by the intercessory prayers of a horse. The world isn't completely over yet when Jesus returns, so he could conceivably grab a horse that is alive at the time. He would have to grab a wild horse so that he isn't a horse thief. According to this picture I found, not only is Jesus on a horse, he is on a flying horse. Can someone please explain to me why a flying horse has to gallop?
You see how really silly this whole line of thinking can become. Are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse actually four men on riding horses? Obviously not, since what they stand for is named; pestilence and whatnot.
And while we're on the subject, I wish everyone would calm down about the idea that we are living in THE END TIMES. I sincerely believe that every single person who ever lived, including the Twelve Apostles and Abraham Lincoln, believed they were living in THE END TIMES. They weren't, most likely, neither are we. The times in which we are living, no matter how dire they may seem, are certainly no more dire than the awful plague infested oppressive times when Moses walked the earth, or the Apostles, or the miserable state of affairs that so depressed Abe Lincoln or World War II and the actually only atomic blast ever in our history. If we are indeed living in THE END TIMES, there is nothing we can do about it but pray the rosary and wear our scapulars anyhow.
If you're worried about Jesus showing up on a horse any time soon, or in a Humvee, or just appearing in the sky, then for heaven's sake turn off your TV and get on your knees.
In fact, you should be doing that anyhow, unless, like us, you are just watching CNN first to see where to aim your prayers.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I have an ongoing argument with many of my readers about animals in heaven. Our dear old nuns back in the day always taught us that the difference between animals and people is that people have an immortal soul and animals do not. Therefore, an animal's soul does not live on after death. On top of which, animals operate on instinct, not free will.
Even at age six, that made perfect sense to me. Apparently is does not make sense to all the people who want little Fluffy in heaven with them. I actually received hate mail. Someone wanted me to go to hell. Two people, actually.
There are no animals there, either, by the way.
The Catholic Church does not say one peep, or cheep or woof, about animals in heaven one way or the other. I just have to reinterate my point of view (at the risk of reading some very foul language) that if people really thought it through, they would realize that having Fluffy in heaven means having every single organism that ever lived in heaven. Otherwise it wouldn't be fair for Fluffy to be in heaven and not some poor badger who never had his name on his own bowl.
And why on earth is everyone so happy to let some little 'soul' be stuck as a cat for all eternity? What's up with that? If I were a cat, I wouldn't want to be a cat anymore when I was in heaven. Doesn't anyone bother to think of that?
A reader wants to know:
Apparently Spanish parliament is passing a law that gives monkeys human rights. Sister, does this mean we can have simian saints?
Before we get our knickers in a knot here let's get our facts straight. News reports have made out that the Spanish are very silly for making monkeys into people.
I would rather see them make monkeys into people than make corporations into people, as we have done here in the United States. No one to date has asked me if they should do a novena to St. Exxon Mobile.
Anyhow, the Spanish parliament is trying to give GREAT APES rights so they don't have to sit around in zoos and circuses anymore or ever again. That should thrill the animals in heaven crowd to pieces. Perhaps the animals in heaven crowd wants chimps in circuses in heaven, too.
I don't think it's the worst idea ever to try to help these creatures out. I do see the slippery slope in giving great apes human rights. It seems to me that the Spanish Parliament would do better to simply pass a law that great apes cannot be used for entertainment or given roller skates.
The real irony here for me is that I'm sure everyone reading my blog would be rather horrified at this part of the story as stated in an Australian newspaper:
--The real force behind the initiative is Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and co-founder of the Great Ape Project. Singer is widely viewed as the father of the international animal rights movement. His rationale is simple: "There is no sound moral reason why possession of basic rights should be limited to members of a particular species."
Ironic since, as far as I can tell, because this is exactly the argument for animals in heaven. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone go on about their reasons for believing that animals are in heaven and end their spiel with, '..after all, we are all God's creatures!"
Will be asking for the intercession of St. Jocko, because of the Spanish Parliament, you ask? We
don't need the Spanish Parliament for that. The title 'saint' is bestowed on everyone who has made it to heaven. Everyone in heaven is a saint. If Jocko is there he is, by definition, a saint. There are plenty of people, at least two of whom would like me to burn in hell, who can't wait to meet St. Jocko while they are walking their dog Rollo in heaven.
Those old nuns knew more than how to teach the Palmer Penmanship method.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Number Nine, Number Nine....
I'm so sorry to have been absent for so long. For some reason quite a number of blogs here on this site were tagged as spam by robots and shut down. Then I had to type in the wavy numbers to prove I am not a robot. I got a message that said, "You are obviously not a robot since you are reading this message. Please be patient while the robots review your blog."
So I really am in the Matrix.
I had to offer it up. There are no people on this site to whom one can complain or plead their case. I just had to wait for two days until the robots okay'd my blog again. HO, HO, HO.
My cookies were really frosted, I don't mind telling you. We have a few more questions about novenas:
Sister, I think you are being a little hard on the would-be novena sayer. That's okay; nuns are supposed to be hard on people to keep them in line. But do you really think St. Anne will cover her ears and say "I'm not listening anymore" if she takes the novena up again on Monday instead of starting over? Maybe in the strictest sense you couldn't call it a bona fide "novena" anymore. But I think it could be a little scrupulous to think the prayer won't be effective. (Now I'm stuck with a funny mental image of St. Anne singing out "La la la la, I can't hear you!")
That's not what I said at all. I said stopping the novena because it slips your mind is like putting St. Anne on hold. For two days, no less. Who do you think you are, the IRS? Seriously, how rude.
A novena is a nine day commitment. Praying to St. Anne for five days, and then stopping for two, and then starting up again is simply praying to St. Anne for five days and then stopping and then starting up again. I'm sure St. Anne is fine with it; she probably has some sewing to do while she is on hold. But it is not a novena.
Dear Sister, I have some additional questions regarding novenas. Is it ok to say them to multiple saints at the same time for the same problem? What about simultaneous novenas for different issues? Thanks!
Are worried the saints will find out? Afraid they'll be talking over coffee and suddenly realize that you are praying to all of them for the same thing?
You'll be responsible for the next war in heaven.
I'm sure it's okay. Go for it. If you are like the person who wrote the original question, you are going to need some more post it notes and some string to tie around your thumb. Maybe you should make some type of chart.
Sister, a novena-related question: I remember one of my friends saying with great conviction, "I KNOW I'm going straight to heaven --I made my Nine First Fridays!" I think that she was referring to attending Mass and receiving communion on the first Friday of every month for nine months in a row. It seems like a sort of very long novena. Would you please tell us more about that devotion? Or was she just making it up?
The poor thing. She is not making that up, but she is struggling under a very silly misconception.
A novena can indeed be nine first Fridays. It is a very long novena (and you have to actually leave your house), which is why it has a very special indulgence attached to it. That 'get out of purgatory free' card is only good, however, for the sins she has already committed. If she walks out of the Mass on the ninth First Friday in that ninth month with her soul full of grace and her brand new indulgence and steps right into the path of the Number Two bus, she will indeed go to heaven.
But, if on her way out the door, she entertains some mean thoughts about her neighbor, or starts planning a robbery, she is back to square one. For her to believe that her nine First Fridays novena is good for life is wrong. As soon as she sins again, bam! She's back in the Purgatory pokey.
LOL. Now I feel like should go pray a novena. Is there one for parents whose children don't want to be homeschooled? A moody 13 year old boy at that.
Of course there is: St. Monica, the patron saint of mothers of teens. She had to deal with no less than St. Augustine during his party animal days. It all worked out fine for her and for him.
Apparently Spanish parliament is passing a law that gives monkeys human rights. Sister, does this mean we can have simian saints?
Oh boy, don't get me started. We'll have to come back to this on Monday....