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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And Also...

Sister Mary Martha's Guide to the Paranormal
additional notes from the Peanut Gallery

Isn't there a legend that St. Columbcille tamed the Loch Ness Monster?

Yes, there is. In fact, the story of St. Columba or St. Columbcille in the 8th century is the first known sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie had his or her jaws around someone and St. Columba told the monster to let go and step off, as they say these days. The monster zoomed back 'as if pulled by ropes'.

Perhaps the monster is indeed fake and a giant puppet and it zoomed back because it actually was being pulled by ropes.

You know, the Loch Ness Monster is never ever depicted as anything but benign with the exception of this story, so apparently St. Columba had quite an effect. Kind of like that wolf that St. Francis of Assisi befriended. I believe that it was a thousand years before anyone saw Nessie again at all.

Thank you for this list - very helpful - where would yoga fit into this list - for or against. Can the exercises be separated from the meditation on Hindu Gods? I once had a dream that the enemy was trying to possess me through my breath but it could have been something I ate for supper!

Yoga...is not paranormal.

It's making me tired just to think about answering this.

Yoga is a form of meditation and really doesn't have anything to do with thinking about Hindu deities. The idea with yoga is to use the pose to link the mind and body while meditating. So far so good.

Here comes the tricky part. To actually be doing yoga ( the discipline) correctly, you would be freeing you mind of thought in order to achieve enlightenment.

You could be a Catholic doing yoga only if you don't do it right. When we meditate, we're trying to fill our minds up, not empty them out. We're not trying to achieve enlightenment.

It's really good exercise and breathing, though. Very good for you! But a big fat problem if it leads you to explore Eastern Religions. Then it would be a near occasion of sin and maybe you should just go swim laps or something.

Be wary of the Tarot, Ouija board, etc. "good intention" gambit. That is, someone will say they don't intend to use these for occult practices, so it's ok. For example, I was talking with someone who kept Tarot cards because he liked the pretty pictures, and it was ok because he was not using them for divination and that he does not believe they have power anyway. I replied it does not matter because things have objective meaning independent of our intentions. Tarot cards have an inextricable connection to the occult/new age practice, and no amount of equivocation by changing the name or comparing it to a regular deck of playing cards can change that. Thus, Catholics should no more run around with these things than a married man should keep pretty pictures of ex-girlfriends on his bedroom dresser.

Oh...I don't know. Fine. Yes, those cards do stand for something. Objects do stand for things, if they don't, you can toss your St. Anthony key chain. (But you'll lose your keys!)

But honestly...it really upsets me that people give these objects power. They actually don't have any more power than a deck of playing cards. That is why we don't believe in them. They don't have the power to predict the future.

If a person really doesn't use them or believe in them and just likes the pretty pictures, the worst case scenario is simply the near occasion of sin that one day they will decide, out of the blue, that they want to go tell fortunes or talk to the devil or something. This guy that likes the pretty pictures isn't running around with anything...is he? Does he carry a purse?

That reminds me! I forgot an important category:

Lucky stuff. Rabbits feet, gym shoes, four leaf clovers, blowing on the dice, all off limits. We don't believe in luck so having a lucky anything is a no.
You maybe can knock wood. Maybe. That would only work if you're not knocking on wood for luck but knocking on wood as a sort of little prayer, giving where the very idea of knocking on wood originated. I'll admit to doing that. I probably shouldn't do it in front of anyone, as it might confuse someone. Then on the other hand it might give me the chance to explain about the rosary. Iffy.

And speaking of scandal:

Different subject...how about the Catholic school teacher on that Big Brother show? What kind of trouble is he in for lying his way through a game hoping to win half a million dollars? Lying is a venial sin right? So a trip to confession and tithe ten percent back to the church and he's good right? Just curious on your opinion.

That's the absolute rock bottom definition of scandal: making something look like it's okay when it's not.

First of all, we're Catholic. We don't care about money.

Secondly, a sleazy reality show, if you ask me, is a sin in itself, as it calls upon the viewer to use the pain and humiliation of others as entertainment. Just because a lion is actually eating anyone before our eyes doesn't make watching torment an okay thing to do.

Third, the very fact that you had to ask this question means the scandal has occurred. Lying is a venial sin. St. Augustine....or was it St. Thomas Aquinas...said that lying was the worst sin, venialness not withstanding. And since when is it okay to go around thinking, "I'll go ahead and commit this sin and then get rid of it in confession later and do some penance." Your soul is not some dress that you can wash over and over again. Trust me, if you have to wash it that often, the color is going to fade and the seams will start to give and the edges will fray.

So it's not just one sin going on. It's lying, scandal, greed and making other people watch reality TV. And it's all a double sin because he's making it all seem okay. Big Brother is not the only one watching.

Maybe Dan, age 24, is not a school teacher who is Catholic. Maybe he's a Catholic School teacher and he's not Catholic. Hey, it happens.

On a lighter note: The nun pictures are flying in! Oh we have some wonderful pictures! Thank you all for your "entries".


Anonymous said...

Ooo make the contest end Nov 1! All saints day! And nun's are saints! At least the ones I know!

It's also my wedding day *big grin* we thought having *all* the patron saints possible will benefit our marriage...ha!

Anonymous said...

Could you elaborate on the "knock wood" tradition coming from the rosary?

Never heard that before, and love those kinds of stories!

Thank you.

mel said...

You are so funny. :)

I like the comment about using the humiliation of others as entertainment. My family *loves* American Idol...I have always been uncomfortable with it for just this reason, especially the early shows where these sad souls that have no shot at all are mocked and laughed at.

AndyK said...

I share your low regard for "reality" shows - I believe there is a special ring of hell reserved for the creators of such drivel.

However, the "lying" a contestant does is not sinful - it is a GAME, and to win you lie.

Ordinarily, punching someone in the face or knocking them unconscious would be a sin - but if it is done in the context of Boxing or Football then it is OK. This has certainly been accepted by the Magisterium and approved by the US Bishops - otherwise, the CYO and Notre Dame University would be in big trouble!

Anonymous said...

Tarot cards have an inextricable connection to the occult/new age practice, and no amount of equivocation by changing the name or comparing it to a regular deck of playing cards can change that.

Historically, Tarot cards *began* as playing cards. The "divination" stuff came later (I believe Wikipedia says there's no record of them being used for divination before the 18th century). There's not really a "comparison" between Tarot and regular playing cards because, ultimately, they're the same thing.

If there's a drawback to collecting Tarot decks for the artwork--which, I must admit, I've thought of doing, but they're expensive--I'd think it would be the assumptions people might make about you.

Go ahead and play poker with that Rider-Waite deck, if you want to. It's not going to kill anyone.

(That's being facetious, but I agree wholeheartedly, Sister. The things don't have *power*, they're just paper.)

Anonymous said...

Sister, what are your thoughts on the apparitions to Rosario Toscano in Sicily (http://www.rocciadibelpasso.it/messaggiusa.htm)? They've not been validated yet, have they? I know it's a matter of personal choice to believe or not... but, if it is Mary, I don't feel comfortable ignoring her...

Also, you know the warnings that many apparitions have given about coming 'chastisements', what do those take the form of? Is it possible that those are natural disasters and so on? Or what? Like what Our Lady of Akita spoke of: "...if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead..."

joannaB73 said...

I'm with Mel, I don't like to see anyone humiliated for entertainment value. As far as luck goes, does that mean we really shouldn't buy lottery tickets? And what about horse racing - my dad used to like a daily flutter - God rest his soul.

Anonymous said...

If you are getting a lot of nun photos, I suspect there will just be too many to pick just one as a "winner." Might I suggest that we "award" honorable mention to as many of the nun photos as we feel like? After all, all nuns are honorable, and they should enjoy being mentioned!

Anonymous said...

What about nun dolls? There are a lot of beautiful nun dolls out there. Maybe you could have a separate contest for beautiful nun dolls. Or would that be a sin?

Katney said...

I have a question about a chaplet that I received as a prize at our parish kermess (cultural festival) this spring. It was given by our associate pastor, who has since retired to his native Colombia, so I can't ask him. It has ten beads in a circle and three on the chaint to the crucifix. I used it today for a rosary, as I forgot to take one with me this afternoon, but that's when I noticed that it has no "Our Father" beads. Do you know anything about it?

DaveW said...


Based on my reading of the Catechism I had decided that Lying was a mortal sin. Father of lies and all, you know.

Reading it again I see I see that it is qualified based on the damage done to the virtues of justice and charity.

Welp, best just not to lie. I'll worry about it when it gets down to lying about whether my wife's dress makes her look fat or not.

Anonymous said...

What about Tai Chi?

Anonymous said...

Dolls are totally missing the boat on this contest. It's not about looks. It's about the beautiful things these nuns devote their lives to. It's the vision of Christ shinging thru them that we love. Their beauty lies in their willingness to let Jesus work through them. It's not about their bodies, their clothes, their wealth. It's about their faith, their hope and their charity.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention, its not a contest! Its the nun non-contest, there is no winner. The idea of choosing a winner is besides the point. Rather, its a recognition of all the amazing nuns out there doing good work. Although its cliche to say, "They're all winners", Its still so true.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog! I clicked over from a friend. I am also Catholic. I would invite you to read more about yoga and meditation. The notion that you are supposed to empty your mind is a common misunderstanding. Not thinking is not possible, of course. The goal is to be mindful of thoughts instead of running away with them, to bring the attention to a single point rather than the 100 points we are usually flitting among. Thomas Merton's old friend Thich Nhat Hahn has many good books on the subject that make clear that this kind of mindfulness is not a matter of becoming Buddhist or joining any other religion.

Kiwi Nomad said...

Flip... whatever kind of teacher he is, he is very handsome. Shame that I am old enough to be his mother.....

Anonymous said...

If tarot cards are only symbols, albeit symbols deliberately created in order to do things such as tell fortunes, and they receive theri only power from our attribution of them as such, our thought of them as ill-things, then how do we stop that from flying around and biting us in the back, so to speak? Are not all crosses two pieces of wood joined together, nothing in themselves, and all rosaies 59 beads joined together in a pattern, nothing in themselves? The power these objects have to do good comes from our thoughts and attributions in the same manner as our thoughts affect the power of tarot cards.
One could go on to deduce logically that if good and evil inhere in objects or actions only by human thought and attribution only and not by the presence of qualities of good and evil as real, non-relativist properties.
If good and evil (as intangible properties) cannot be bound up with tangible objects in anyway, then water blessed by a priest remains ordinary water as water qua water, and the same for wine, and the same for bread. There would be no real or discernable difference between a first class relic, a third class relic and my handkerchief.
If symbols of an evil thing are only symbols, then symbols of a good thing are only symbols and there is no real presence in the sacrament of the eucharist. Additionally, there can be no soul as we commonly conceive it because it too is seen to be an intangible entity residng in a tangible body. Sin, too, becomes problematic: it loses its absolute quality (such as venial, mortal) and becomes relativistic.
Evil acts are to be avoided above all, but if one sees evil to have a positive existence rather than being simply the absence of good, then it follows that that evil, which can inhere in both an action and a soul, must also be able to inhere in tangible objects and symbols.
It is not just human thought that makes tarot cards objects of the bad anymore than it is just human thought that makes the eucharist the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It's a slippery slope down the road to consubstantiation.

Anonymous said...

"We're Catholic. We don't care about money." ?????? I must belong to a different Catholic church. I'm so tired of the bishop having his fingers in the till. All that money they paid out "not from collections" is definitely being restored that way.

Anonymous said...

Kainey, the ten-bead thing with a crucifix is usually referred to as a chaplet. They can be used for rosaries, but there is also an entire class of prayers meant just for them.

Anonymous said...

I'm forced to just tell you. I'm helpless against your bunny rabbit photo with the caption about 'mah feets.' I'm in love, heart AND mind. :] !!