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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Happy New Year!

I have never been a believer in New Year's Resolutions. It has never made much sense to me that if you know you need to make a change in your life, or try harder at something, or change your attitude, you wouldn't just go ahead and do that on say, April 10th, or whenever it came to your mind. The whole idea smells of procrastination.

I'm sure that's because of my nun training. Not just my training as a nun, but my training by nuns as a child.

Any time you didn't do something that you thought you should maybe do, that meant you were lazy. If you hesitated for a second before rising, if you didn't leap to your feet when called upon for any reason, "Lazy!" If you saw something that needed doing, like a full trash can or a sink full of dishes and walked on by, "Lazy!" Sleeping in? "Lazybones!"

St. Augustine seemed to think the very worst sin was dishonesty in any form.
Sister Mary Everynun would argue, "Sloth!"

I have finally learned, from people I used to think of as germaphobes, that I actually should go lie down if I'm sick, if for no other reason, so I don't spread my illness around. But as children, if we didn't have an actual fever, we had to be up and at it, sneezing and coughing on everyone else while trying not to do so. It's a wonder we're all still here.

But here we are, ready for a new year in the secular world.

In the world of the Church the new year started a while back and now we are in Christmastide. Today we have seven swans a swimming which, according to some, is a metaphor for the Seven Sacraments. I have a hard time buying that. It seems to me that would be much harder to remember what everything stood for and is therefore a terrible teaching tool.

Although, if you try to sing what the real words would be, it's hilarious, especially when you start repeating everything backwards, the way the song goes. Leaving you with a valuable new year's resolution: laugh more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Four Calling Birds

Sister St. Aloysius
is in full cooking throttle. We generally don't have much to do except feed ourselves. The day's dilemma of cooking doesn't get much past, "What can Sister Mary Fiacre chew?" Even that can often be remedied by cutting things up into very small pieces.

We have house guests! That never happens. We have duffle bags and back packs strewn everywhere and every pillow and blanket gone to work. The storms and canceled flights in the east have caused our little house to be a way station for people who would have otherwise been sleeping at the airport. We're not all that far from LAX. A stone's throw by LA traffic standards. Happily, these people are young enough to weather a night on the couch or the floor.

I am capable of spreading a night on the floor or the couch, but many souls will be rescued from Purgatory in the process.

In any case, we've had a grand time stretching the groceries six ways to Sunday and stirring up breakfast for all. They will trickle out one by one as their flights are rescheduled. Maybe someone will be inspired to join the convent after their little stay here.

A nun can dream can't she?

Back to work:

Any suggestions for a patron saint against apartment building neighbors who play annoying music at high volumes at all hours of the day and night? Barring that, any suggestions for a patron saint to help me not be so annoyed by said music?

I can make a few suggestions. You'll have to pick.

You could go with the patron saint of accordion players: Our Lady of Spain.

That was a little musical joke.

You could go with a saint that was a hermit. My pick is St. Rosalia, the patron saint for people who want to get away from it all. She went off to live in a cave and apparently wasn't missed. The cave caved in on her and it was years before anyone found her remains, at which point someone must have said, "Oh yeah! I remember her...." Her remains were taken back to town where there was a big plague going on and everyone was cured. That's a nutshell version, but you get the drift. I think she actually hid in two different caves because somebody found her the first time. Something along those lines.

You could go with saints that help with headaches, like St. Stephen, the patron saint of headaches. His feast day was just the other day! The first martyr, he was hit in the head, among other places, with a rock. Or St. Bibiana, the patron saint of hangovers (because she had to drink lead). St. John the Baptist is also a patron saint for headaches. We all know what happened to his head.

Actually ...come to think of it ....we don't. There are several places that claim to have his head.

I highly recommend St. Therese the Little Flower, the patron saint for people who are annoyed by the annoying habits of others. She wanted to make sure she offered up everything she could for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, so she kept meticulous lists of every slight and annoyance suffered from being at all times behind the cloister walls with a group of nuns. It must have been a very long list.

There is your heavenly help. But let me give you two bits of earthly advice.

One: Follow the example of St. Therese the Little Flower and offer up the horrible pounding and screeching. Think of the souls you could help!

Two: Talk to the person in charge of your building and tell them to please make it stop. That's their job. In our neighborhood you can make all the noise you want between 8am and 4pm and after that if I call the police they will come and tell you to shut it down.

Three: If all else fails, DANCE.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Angel Hair

Christmas came early.

Not very long ago a fellow etsy shop owner contacted me about her daughter who had lost all her hair at age five due to an autoimmune disease. The doctors told her it would take years to grow back and she was looking for a patron saint matching to help the little girl cope with what was ahead for her.

I suggested St. Bernadette who got no heavenly help for herself, but was able to bring healing to others and St. Agnes, who had some miraculous hair growth of her own.

I was trumped by Heaven. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Hi Sister,

I wanted to touch base with you and give you a follow up on my daughter's situation. She's the one with hair loss due to Alopecia, for whom you made the necklace with St. Agnes and company.

On Nov.3 I was listening to Catholic radio while going about my household chores. NO less than 3 times I heard someone mention Sacrament of the Sick. I got the message (do not ask me why I hadn't thought of that wonderful sacrament earlier on, I do not have a good reason.) Anyhow, I called my church that afternoon and they told me it would be easiest just to grab one of the Priests at morning mass the next day.

I took my daughter to church and one of our wonderful Priests anointed her and provided the sacrament just before Mass. It was the feast day of St. Charles Borromeo and they talked a great deal about him during Mass---at which point I was moved to tears as they mentioned that one of his patronages is Skin Disorders---a category my daughter's illness also falls into.

Four days later, little white hairs sprouted all over her head. I called the doctor to confirm what I already suspected, it was re-growth. Not only did he confirm it, he was dumb-founded for an explanation (he had previously told us that with her "pattern" of illness it could take 2 years for re-growth to occur.) It has now been over six weeks and it is coming in at a tremendously quick rate, further stumping the doc!

This sweet girl of mine is now praying every night for God to help every one else in the world with Alopecia the way He helped her. (This was spontaneous on her end.)

I thought you might wonder what happens to some of the people you assist, and in this case, its a miracle.
Merry Christmas, Amy

It wasn't me, Amy. It wasn't me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brown Joeys and Nancys

A couple of readers asked me to clarify a point or two from yesterday's post.

The title: The Sisters of St. Joseph founded by Mary Mackillop are also called "Josephites", but they are known to their friends and the people of Australia as "Brown Joeys" because they wear brown habits. Some of them wear black habits and they are called "Black Joeys". They are all with the same order. She had them change habit color when she moved main congregation away from the lap of controversy.

A reader also wanted to know why I mentioned that Blessed Mother Mary would make a good patron saint for people who love Nancy Grace. I need to clarify. We all must love Nancy Grace as Jesus commands us.

But we don't have to enjoy her miserable program full of conjecture and ill will. I have waxed poetic about it before. I therefore feel that people who actually enjoy the antics of Ms. Grace, a menace to society, a plague on our houses, may need some heavenly help.

We have our tree up and our new little cat has only run up it once, while we were struggling to get it in the stand. He helped put the lights on, if by "help" one would mean attacking the wires.
I could just sit and smell the tree, but time marches on. I'll do that later, rosary in hand.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Brown Joeys

Sorry for my prolonged absence! I am in full Christmas tilt. The shop has been very busy. The cookie swap is now a pile of crumbs. The lights are ready to go up until they can be turned on for Christmas Day. I have let the whole season of Advent slide, blogwise.

But I'm going to make up for that right now with this little Christmas gift for our readers:

Sister, I just heard on the BBC about Mother Mary MacKillop...she has had her second miracle approved and is about to be canonized. I had never heard of her before, but she had a remarkable life, and would make a wonderful patron saint for us teachers. Perhaps you might look her up and tell others about her?

What could be better than a brand new saint? I hardly know where to start with our breathless excitement. I never heard of her either. All the more reason for excitement!

To begin with she's a nun, so right away we're on pins and needles. She founded an order, she will be the first Australian saint.


Her little group had the bright idea not to have a convent, exactly, but to live a life of poverty (which means they had to always beg for whatever they needed) and to follow the poor who needed help and education into the outback where there actually are no steakhouses with desserts the size of your head.

No blooming onions.

She founded a school in an abandoned stable and had 50 students right away.

So I agree that she may be a wonderful patron saint for teachers.


She was excommunicated by her bishop. He didn't care for the begging thing. He thought she taught the children to sing too much. She wasn't excommunicated for the singing. She was excommunicated for not following orders. Six days before he died, the bishop decided he had been wrong all along and lifted the censure. But the people around him still lived in the poisoned well. There was a rumor that Mother Mary was a big drunk.

The idea.

Trust me, you can't stand in front of a group of 50 school children in a renovated stable day after day if you are not as sober as a judge. You may want to drink, though.

So she could be the patron saint of the wrongfully accused, or of the conversion of rumor mongers, the patron saint of Nancy Grace followers, the patron saint of soldiering on.


She just had her second miracle approved as such. Her first miracle involved a woman who was about to die, who didn't die and lived a full and healthy life. Her second miracle was a cure for a woman who had brain and....bone, I think...cancer. Which sounds to me like someone who had breast cancer. So she can be the patron saint of breast, brain and bone cancer.

Move over St. Peregrine.

She could also be the patron saint of music teachers, given the bishop's reaction to her teaching methods. Or of musicians. We love St. Cecilia, but let's face it, she actually has zero to do with music.

Speaking of which, I wish I could get a load of Mother Mary the Musical. I am particularly interested in the calming of Fagan on the way to the gallows. In song.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Pointe

Our neighborhood is 'beginning to look a lot like Christmas'. Sister St. Aloysius is studying Christmas cookie recipes. She has been invited to one of those 'cookie swaps'. She'd be interested in hearing from our readers if they have any interesting recipes as long as they don't involve candy thermometers, double boilers or pressure cookers. She believes baking should be fun. I would think a science project in the kitchen would be fun for her, but that is not the case.

Meanwhile our readers are keeping us on our patron saint matching toes.

Dear Sister Mary Martha;

My Family & I are in the process of moving. It is a huge chore and very stressful. Although I have seen many blessings during this transition, I have seen many evils as well. My husband has had power tools stolen right off our back porch and these are things he needs for work. We are in sort of a desperate situation, as our move is not by choice, but due to the economy and loosing our home. I would like to know if there is a saint we can use for protection of our property & family? I would have e-mailed this to you but did not find a link on your sight.
BTW- I love you blog and look forward to each update on my Kindle. It's nice to know that someone is following our little convent on Kindle! That's rather a nice Christmas present just thinking about that!

We are sorry for your troubles. I would recommend St. Joseph, first and foremost, to insure a roof over your head. He literally does that. Did you ever hear the story of Blessed Brother Andre of Montreal? He was just a little receptionist at the rectory. He spent his days mooning over the land across the street. He dreamed of building a church there. The land was not for sale, but Blessed Brother Andre kept praying for the intercession of St. Joseph and one day, lo and behold, the land fell into his hands.

A giant oratory was built. I do mean giant. If you visit there you come around a corner and suddenly, there it is. You actually feel as though you've arrived at the top of Jack's beanstalk and any minute you'll have to go running out of there with a magic chicken and a talking harp.

The whole giant shebang was built but there was not enough money to put the roof on. Quite a dilemma this far into this gigantic project. Blessed Brother Andre was nonplussed. He told them to just put the statue of St. Joseph out there with no roof and he would get one, pronto, as he would not want to stand around in the wind and rain. And guess what happened?

So at least, you'll have a roof over your head.

As to the thieves, that is a job for St. Dismas. We call him St. Dismas. He actually doesn't have a name. Well...he had a name. We just don't have any idea what it actually was.

St. Dismas was whom a playwright would call "Thief No. 2", there on Calvary. Thief No. 1 asked Jesus why He didn't save them all if He was God and all. Thief No. 2 told Thief No. 1 to zip it in the presence of the Lord. Jesus told Thief No. 2 that he would be in heaven later that day.

So we know Thief No. 2 is a saint because he is in heaven. Everyone in heaven is a saint. I'm not sure who along the way named him St. Dismas.

You know, the Wise Men never had names either. They got name because of Passion Plays.

Passion Plays were the only entertainment going for quite some time and were giant daylong extravaganzas. The New Testament only says "Wise men from the East". It doesn't even say there are three.

Here is what I think happened and it's all about directing a play on stage, something I have done many times with second graders. At first the Passion plays had a whole boat load of guys on camels portraying the Wise Men from the East. That had to have been a giant mess, what with all those live camels. So they cut some Wise Men. Five is a crowd on stage, but given that they were on camels, three is plenty.

So now we have three actors playing three wise men, no doubt asking "What's my motivation? Where am I from? Are the three of us friends?" and on and on. Some harried director probably just threw his hands in the air and said, "Fine. You're Balthazar, you're Melchior, and you're Caspar. Happy now?"

What was I talking about? Oh, yes! St. Dismas. As difficult as all this is for you, St. Dismas is the perfect example of how you must proceed. Take into account that Jesus was also have a very difficult time when He met up with St. Dismas. Jesus forgave St. Dismas, the thief.

And please, don't leave anything out on the porch anymore.

New question. I have two older brothers. My father passed away and left my husband and I his home. My oldest brother is suing me for 1/3 the value of the house. Is there a saint for lawsuits?

Again, I think you should have a word with St. Joseph. The official patron saint against unfair lawsuits is none other than Jolly Old St. Nick. How's that for irony?

Another saint you might consider is St. Helena, the mother of St. Constantine. Her life was pretty unpleasant until someone (her ex-husband) died. Then things got a lot better for her.

Perhaps you could also have a word with St. Andrew. He got along very well with his brother, St. Peter. I think following the Lord was actually his idea in the first place. Maybe he could help out with this case of sibling rivalry.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Wedding Police

The biggest discussion we've had going on has been over the strapless wedding gown dilemma. It didn't seem like such a terrible dilemma to me and neither does this dust up:

Followup wedding question: My 40-some-year old aunt announced last summer that she's marrying her long-term live in boyfriend. I was very happy for her. Then she mentioned that he's divorced. And she doesn't want any presents from me...she just wants me to come to the wedding.

Now I don't have any idea what to do. She converted from Catholicism to something related to Mennonites years ago. She said for all they know the ex-wife is deceased but I'm not sure how much detective work I want to put into this (and I don't want to wish anyone dead!)

I contemplated making up some excuse for not going but a. I really can't think of one and b. this seems like the wimpy way out. I love my aunt, I want her to know I love her, but I can't think of any solution that doesn't come as a slap in the face to her and have the whole family denouncing me as an evil bigot(ok, I'm exagerating. Slightly)

And I'm spending Christmas with all of them.

Just go to the wedding and keep your trap shut. Your patron saint of the day: St. Raymond Nonnatus, who had his yapper padlocked to stop his incessant preaching.

News flash: Catholics are allowed to go to other churches and denominations and sit in attendance at whatever is going on there short of genuine evil and Satanic rituals. Once they avoid anything involving Ouija Boards, Catholics can trot on over and celebrate the weddings of their Separated Brethren, be they Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian or Mennonites.

Consider yourself off the hook as the Catholic police for this one. You beloved Auntie was a Catholic. She knows the rules. Of course we are concerned with the state of her immortal soul, but.....

Where was everybody while she was living in with the live in boyfriend? is what I'd like to know. Suddenly, the wedding is a problem?

Look at it this way: when a person takes on evangelizing and trudges into a halfway house, the first move is not to finger wag about what a bunch of hopeless sinners they all are. First, we take care of the body, the safety, the sense of well being and pull the person back from the brink. All the while, we lead by example and we gently nudge and pray and always hope.

You've missed your window of opportunity for scolding. All that is left is to try love. St. Micheal the Archangel
Patron Saint of Police

Monday, December 07, 2009

Raining Not Kats and Dogs

I am having a great day! To begin with, it's raining cats and dogs here, which never happens. I love the rain. Thanks St. Swithin!

That would about do it for me, but we're filling Christmas orders left and right at the shop. How much fun is that? I have always maintained that a patron saint matching can't be beat as a great gift idea.

The questions have piled up like our outgoing mail.

Sister, I have a quick question. I've been looking for the patron saint of stuttering children, and Google tells me that it's Notkat Bulbulus. Problem is, I can't find any other info on him. I'd like to do a novena to him to help my daughter, but feel a little weird talking to someone I've never heard of before and know nothing about. Can you feel in the blanks on his life at all? Thanks in advance...

And you didn't think to use the Google to search any further? Oh well, that's my mission in life, connecting folks with their saints. I had no trouble whatsoever digging up the scoop on Blessed Notkat Bulbulus. I'm not sure you'll feel any closer to Notkat after reading about him, although he seems very sweet to me.

I think the name "Notkat" is a little off-putting. Let's face it, if you were at a Christmas party and someone introduced you to a guy named Notkat, you might feel a little odd asking, "Notkat, would you like some punch?" Later, after a couple of brandied eggnogs, you might forget his unusual name and reel up to him and address him as Notdog, realize your mistake and then burst out laughing.

I might do something like that even if no brandy was involved.

Let me introduce you to Blessed Notkat Bulbulus, the little stutterer.

If you'd like to do any further digging, he's very easy to find if you use his more popular name, Notker. Even harder to remember at the Christmas party.

Although he is the official patron saint of children who stutter, if you just can't get yourself excited about Notkat, you could also go with St. Raymond Nonnatus, patron saint of tiny babies, but also a good candidate for people with speech problems, including those who are talking 'endowed' (blabbermouths). He had his lips pad locked shut because the Muslims were tired of hearing him preach.

And we don't want to leave out St. Thomas Aquinas, who was also speech challenged as a youth and was known as 'the dumb ox'. He turned out alright.

By the way, we now have a wonderful set of new items in the shop for the saints for whom we cannot find a little medal. Pardon the blurry pictures, the images are not actually blurry. We better get to work on a Blessed Notker pendant!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


There has been a lively discussion after yesterday's post about the the Padre Pio Horror Movie Chain Letter Prayer Bread. The discussion is not about Padre Pio, the fake note from the Vatican that accompanies the "prayer" bread, or the dread of being given one of the bowls of goo.
The discussion is about this question from a reader:

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

A friend of mine was asked by her sister-in-law-to-be to be a bridesmaid. SILTB is Catholic, and getting married in the Catholic church. Good for her. Friend and I are LDS, and have certain modesty standards. Hemlines at the knee or below, at least cap sleeves, no plunging necklines, etc. SILTB is demanding that all bridesmaids wear strapless dresses to her wedding, no shawls or jackets allowed. Friend is torn between backing out, and compromising her standards because it is the bride's special day and she doesn't want to cause familial unpleasantness. Were you there, is there anything you could say SILTB? Thanks, Jana

If I was your friend I would say to the SILTB, "I'm very sorry, my church does not allow me to wear strapless gowns. I'll understand if you'd like to ask someone else to stand up for you at the wedding."

This leaves the ball entirely in her court. Your friend does not have to back out or compromise her standards, and if familial unpleasantness occurs it's really not her fault.

That's my Dear Abby answer. But you asked if I were there is there anything I could say to the SILTB.

Here are some things I might say:

Where is this Catholic church where this wedding is taking place that has no standards of it's own? I'd like to have a chat with the pastor of St. Vegas Church in Hellbound, USA.

Miss SILTB, no one should be required to appear anywhere half naked and I can't believe you are demanding that from anyone. I might say to the bride, "Now I know what I can give you on your wedding day for 'something borrowed'--a SHAWL." I might ask the bride if her Jewish friends are being forced to eat some pulled pork at the reception. I may inquire if the men at the wedding will all be wearing short shorts to compliment the bride's selection of gowns.

But then, it's not always the best idea to just say whatever it is you are actually thinking. Meanwhile, we'll ask for the intercession of St. Maria Goretti on everyone's behalf.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Padre Pio Prayer Bread

This note from a reader caused Sister St. Aloysius and I to laugh ourselves silly. We generally don't have a laugh over things involving the saints. Technically, we weren't doing that. We were having a laugh about "Amish Friendship Bread", which actually should be called "Amish I Wouldn't Wish This on My Worst Enemy Bread".

Have any of you ever had this stuff? The "Amish Friendship Bread" experience? Because it's not just bread. The bread is actually very delicious. Too delicious. The bread isn't the thing. The "friendship" is the thing.

It starts with an overly enthusiastic "friend" who thinks giving you the stuff is just the most lovely gesture on the planet.

I don't see how. It's more like a gypsy curse.

You don't just get the bread. You get the privilege of the bread and a bowl of goo. The bowl of goo is active with yeast or something. It's "alive". You have to tend it, adding something to it and stirring it, once a day every day for something like nine days, time that could be better spent on a novena not involving a bowl of goo. The bowl of goo is like "The Blob". It grows.

Then it makes something like 4 loaves of this delicious bread. It's so rich that you really only need to eat a slice a month, unless you throw a lot of tea parties.

This is where the "friendship" part comes in. You have to give away the other 3 loaves. You really do have to. It's that, or throw it out. You can't possible eat it all.

And the piece de resistance: you have more goo left over. It has multiplied! and you have to give that away too.

It's a chain letter of bread.

It's a nightmare.

When we got ours, we didn't know. Sister St. Aloysius was delighted with the concept and tended the goo faithfully for a few days. Her enthusiasm began to wane around the time she started to forget about tending it. Suddenly, she'd get this startled haunted look, late in the evening and whisper, "the batter!"

"Batter?" I'm thinking. "Did I leave some kid on the playground?"

We enjoyed the bread. But when it came time to pass on the "love" it was a lot like this song "The Thing".

Everyone on our block was already hip to "Amish Friendship Bread" and said, "Get out of here with that ___ _____ ____, and don't come back no more!"

And the whole thing just keeps multiplying! It's a horror movie of bread.

Delicious bread.

and now this:

One of my friends gave me prayer bread..er...a bowl of goo to add ingredients to, stir, and prayer over once a day for 10 or so days. This lady is a sweetheart, but I just got the directions today (it's day 5 and I am only half way through!) and see that I am to add stuff to it so I can give 4 other friends a bowl of goo to do the same process.

I really don't want to do it. In fact, I want to toss it in the trash and never look back. I love to bake, but this recipe doesn't strike me as being a delicious bread. It's The Blessed Bread of Padre Pio. I've had Amish friendship bread and it is WONDERFUL! This one has sugar, eggs, flour, cooking oil, and baking powder. It's probably tasty, but the Amish bread is a little like cinnamon roll heaven!

I feel bad for complaining, I just don't want to do it which makes me feel worse. In addition, I have so much to do that this is really not on my list of priorities and I might forget about it. What happens if I miss a step? Better yet, what happens if she finds out I didn't make it?

I feel like I have to just suck it up and make it since I don't want to hurt her feelings, but there is no way I would pass this on to my other busy mom friends who would probably feel the same way I do now. Advice?

My advice is to follow your heart. Chuck it in the trash. It may be tempting to lie to your friend about why you didn't make it by telling her the cat licked it or something like that. While the real reason you don't want to lie is that it is a sin, the fact is that if you tell her the cat licked it, she'll jump at the chance to give you a new batch.

Try not to judge her. It's the best thing that can happen to her, to give you a new batch, because she has a lot of goo to get rid of every couple of weeks and this way she won't have to go looking for new marks.

Just tell her you failed to tend it and it died. Tell her it happened quickly because you failed right away to tend it because you have such a busy schedule. And don't tell her you "forgot" to tend it. That would be a lie, too. If she tries to foist more on you, tell her you don't like to go around murdering batter.

There is a more important issue, however, that must be addressed. There is no such thing as Padre Pio Prayer Bread. It comes with a note that says it is Vatican approved. I can tell you something else the note says that proves that the bread has nothing whatsoever to do with Padre Pio or the Vatican. The note says that if you pray each day while tending the goo, you and your family will have good luck.

There is no such thing as luck in the teachings of the Catholic Church. "Luck" is a superstition and this chain letter of bread is exactly that. It might be a good idea to let your friend the Gyspy in on that fact as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


A reader commented:

Lawrence said...

"It was a duel monastery" I think you meant dual monastery.

Maybe I did.

Maybe I didn't.....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

St. Aebbe's Nose

I think I am just a little behind in answering questions. Please forgive me if I skipped a question or two, but I just had to answer this one that came in just today:

Hi Sister Mary Martha, relatively new reader, first-time questioner here.

I was double checking the phrase "cutting off your nose to spite your face" at Google to find out the story behind it. It's a crazy story involving a Saint so I had to come here to ask you about it.

Here's what Wikipedia printed -- take it with a grain of salt.

"The phrase is believed[citation needed] to have originated from an event that was said to have taken place in AD 867:
Viking pirates from Sjaelland and Uppsala landed in Scotland and raided the monastery of Coldingham. When news of the raid reached Aebbe the Younger (the Mother Superior), she gathered her nuns together and urged them to disfigure themselves, so that they might be unappealing to the Vikings. In this way, they hoped to protect their chastity. Saint Aebbe accomplished this by cutting off her nose and upper lip,[2] and the nuns proceeded to do the same. The Viking raiders were so disgusted by the resulting scene that they burned the entire building to the ground. Ironically, the phrase as understood today does not really apply to Saint Aebbe, since she did not cut off her nose in an effort literally to "spite her face".

Have you ever heard that story and if so, what is Saint Aebbe the patron saint of. (Terrible sentence construction, I know. One should never end on a preposition. Forgive me.)
Thank you!

I don't know whether to start at the end or the beginning. I feel like I should get out the ironing board to smooth out all the wrinkles of this story.

The beginning:

There are two St. Aebbe's. St. Aebbe the Elder and St. Aebbe the Younger.

St. Aebbe the Elder founded a monastery in Scotland in around 642 AD that eventually did burn down in around 680 AD. It was a duel monastery, monks in one part, nuns in the other. It was also the local watering hole and the celibacy rules were not strictly enforced. St. Aebbe was a pious and chaste woman, but she couldn't control the rowdy Scots.
I say that makes her the patron saint of classroom teachers and reformed bikers.

The Viking story swirls around St. Aebbe the Younger, but it can't be true, because the monastery had burned down 200 years before the Vikings supposedly burned it down. It had never been rebuilt. The Vikings were only ransacking Scotland in 870 AD or so.

To confuse things further there is also St. Aewthryn, who is apparently one of the pupils of St. Aebbe the Elder. She had men chasing after her as well and a story that is attributed to St. Aebbe is also attributed to St. Aewthyrn, which is that the sea rose up around wherever the women lived and kept the boys away. Maybe the sea did rise up to protect both of them on two separate occasions in two different places. Or maybe the sea rises up a lot along the coast of Scotland.

There is historical evidence that the Vikings did sack the place St. Aewthyrn founded, but again, they did that long after St. Aewthyrn had gone to her Heavenly reward.

The end:

It may be true that the saying did actually come from the Viking incident and St. Aebbe the Younger, it's just that the saying is based on a very confused legend and not an actual historical occurance.

Meanwhile, poor St. Aewthryn, was also called "Audrey" and, also according to Wikipedia, this is where we get the word "tawdry". I'll let them explain:

The common version of Æthelthryth's name was St. Awdrey, which is the origin of the word tawdry. Her admirers bought modestly concealing lace goods at an annual fair held in her name in Ely. As years passed, this lacework came to be seen as old-fashioned or cheap and poor quality goods.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Non Guilty Pleasure

Today dear readers, I'll have to ask you to answer a question for me!

Mr. Rodriguez returned today with the compost bin can and a zip lock bag with two honey combs. He was as tickled as we were that our bees were making honey.

I miss them. If I see a bee now I wonder if it's not some little lost bee looking for his hive.

But I digress. The honey is deliciously light and sweet. Here is the question: How do we eat it? It's in it's waxy honey comb. Are we supposed to eat the waxy honey comb, or somehow let the honey drip out of it first. It's really not dripping anywhere, I don't think.

I know there are some bee savvy readers out there!

Meanwhile, I'll go back to my post on the watchtower (not the Jehovah's Witness one):

Dear Sister MM, Why is a fish sandwich outside of Lent a guilty pleasure? Shouldn't we thank God for the occasional small pleasure?

Of course we should thank God for all pleasures small and large. Our bees have been relocated! They made honey! We got some!

But that fish sandwich? Probably no one should ever eat that. It's a pile of grease and processed food. White bread, fried, breaded. With tar tar sauce. Do you know how to make tar tar sauce? I actually do. It's a lot of mayonnaise with some pickle relish and Worcester sauce. That's all you need to make it. Do you know how to make mayonnaise? I actually know that too. You get a lot of eggs and even more oil and you whip it together. That's mayonnaise.

There is just not one good thing about that sandwich except the taste of it. Hence: guilty pleasure. My other guilty sandwich pleasure is a baloney sandwich with a ton of mustard on white bread. My dad was a butcher and told be all about baloney.

You don't want to know.

Sister, my daughter has asked for a patron saint medal for figure skating. Could you please help me find one? Thanks.

Done and done! Talk about small pleasures! The story of St. Ludwina is not very pleasant, though. She had a skating accident when she was 16 years old and it left her in pain and an invalid the rest of her life. She spent the rest of her life offering up her pain and misery to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

It wasn't all bad. She did have some ecstasies. She went for a visit to Purgatory. Always better to simply visit than to have a stay. She also visited Heaven. That would have been a nice break from the daily grind of the sickbed. St. Ludwina lived only on the Host and lived quite a while, especially given that she was paralyzed and it was 1433AD.

She is also known as Lidwina, Lydwina...apparently you can spell her name any old which way.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bee Gone!

The bees are gone.


I had been hoping that once the weather turned cool, they would migrate or something, like they did the last time. After spending that summer, they left as mysteriously as they had arrived. Had we not been so afraid that some of them might still be in there, we could have had some honey. By the time we peeked in the can again, they were long gone, their hive gone to ruin.

No such luck this year. The nights are cold now, the days cool, the flowering plants dormant, and the bees are as busy as ever. Not that we really minded. They never gave us any trouble, until recently.

It was Halloween night. It was "The Amityville Horror" bee behavior. I believe in that story, flies or bees or some flying menace blackened the windows.

On Halloween night, when the door hung open to give out treats, and while we were oohing and ahhing at little Harry Potters and dozens of fairy princesses, the bees came in. In two's and threes, every time the door opened, they flew straight to the kitchen lights until we had a little mini swarm banging into the fixtures like moths.

I said, "They're going for the lights. We'll just turn the light off."

Sister St. Aloysius said, "No! They'll just go all over the house after the other lights that are on."

I had already turned off the kitchen lights and the bees were flying around in confusion, and heading in two's and three's to the living room area. I turned the kitchen light back on. The bees came back into the kitchen.

At this point the kitchen sounded like a beehive, the buzzing was getting louder. Sister St. Aloysius dug out the fly swatter.

"Wait!" I said. "Leave this to me."

I shuffled her out the front door with the candy bowl. I found a clamp lamp in the garage and plugged it in by the compost bin. I turned out every light in the house and opened the front door. Sister Mary Fiacre dozed in front of the glow of the TV.

All the bees were out in seconds flat. Seconds!

Since Halloween, we've had to shoo them out in the evening with less trouble when we take out the trash or let the cat in.

Yesterday a man came to the door in the middle of the afternoon. "Do you want me to take these bees away."

"What?" I said. "Take them where?"

"I'll take them and bring the can back to you."

"What are you going to do with them?"

"I'll take them and make them a box. It will take a couple of days for them to transfer to the new place and then I'll bring the can back. I'll have to do it early in the morning or in the evening when they're all home."


He said he had done just that with three of our neighbors who also had hives. One family could no longer sit on their deck because the hive was in the eave overhead. They would have had to sit and sip lemonade in a cloud of bees.

Mr. Rodriguez gave me his phone number and said he would be back in the evening. At 7pm the bees were still with us. I thought maybe he was going to come for them in the morning. At 9pm when I put the trash cans out at the curb, the bees and the compost bin were gone.

"I didn't hear Mr. Rodriguez take the can away!"

"I did, I saw him." Sister St. Aloysius, as far as I knew, had been at the other end of the house all evening. In fact, I was in the front room all evening and I never saw her go by. You have to go through the whole house to go out the front door or the back door. They used to call this a 'shot gun' house.

"I asked him if he got stung. I meant, just now when he was moving our bees, since they have been so pleasant with us."

This is true. They are right next to the trash cans, and when we take out the trash or sweep up or wash the car, they just bumble around our heads.

"He said yes, he got stung a lot. But I think he meant in general and not just now. He wasn't wincing."

I wanted to ask her how he 'sealed up the can', which is something that he had mentioned to me, that he would seal up the can and then just pick it up and take it with him, but I was stopped cold by the pressing thought of how Sister St. Aloysius had ended up viewing the bee removal.

Was she bi-locating? Was she both in the back of the house saying a rosary and in the front of the house talking bees with Mr. Rodriguez?

I had asked Mr. Rodriguez, if there is any honey, could he bring us a little. I hope I manage to be available when the can is returned. Or I can just send Sister St. Aloysius over to see how the bees are fairing in their new digs while she is making lunch here at home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

E Freezing

I think today, since it's not Lent, we'll have a McDonald's fish fillet sandwich. I don't eat them during Lent, even though they were made for Catholics to eat during Lent, as they are actually a guilty pleasure of mine (of course nuns have a guilty pleasure or two).

The 'fish on Friday' debacle has raged on for years. Finally, whether or not you eat meat on Friday is left up to the local Bishop. We can eat meat on Friday if we choose. But we are still expected to do some type of penance on Friday.

So...I guess I won't have a McDonald's fish fillet sandwich. Again.

Have you considered offering the St. Isidore medal in a color other than pink? I'm not sure how many computer geeks are into hot pink medals. I'd probably buy a silver one.

Glad you asked! For one thing, we do more custom orders than just about anything! We are always glad to oblige. And perhaps you missed our Heaven for Men section. It's for men and plain Janes.

My son is in grad school and one of his friends was raised Catholic, when she went to college the E-Frees got her to convert. My husband says they have a method to their madness. He says they have a regular process they use to undermine the Catholic faith, also abusing the fact that the student is away from family and home. What I need to know is what is the Catholic antidote? Thank you.

E-Frees? Am I living under a rock? Are they a church that's just on the internet, like an E-Mail, or and E-Vite?

Oh well, perhaps it's not important to know exactly what they're on about.

I wouldn't worry about making them sound so sinister with their "process". We all have a process we use to evangelize. In the Catholic Church we call them apologetics, although I have always thought that is just the...what do the kids say?...lamest word to use for the Herculean job of defending the Faith that they undertake.

(Defender of the Faith raises hand sheepishly): Excuse me. I'm sorry to interrupt your tirade about praying to the saints to suggest that you have it completely wrong and don't for one second understand what you're talking about even though it has no doubt been explained to you hundreds of times and you just hold your ears and hum...but you have it completely wrong. Sorry. Sorry to bring it up again...pardon me, please...

In case, to answer your question "What I need to know is what is the Catholic antidote?" yes.

That would be you. How well you've taught, shown by example and prayed for your children. We should change the concept of 'child rearing' to 'adult rearing'. Your whole goal as you school your children in the Faith is for this day when they are out on their own, that they are impervious to the ramblings and the arguments and the doubts and the threats.

It's the argument both for and against 'home schooling'. For: it gives you all the time in the world to teach them, by word and example, everything they need to know with no interruption. Against: less practice for what they will encounter every single day as adults out on their own.

It's not as though, once they're out there you're done. Your job is never done. In fact, it's only going to get harder. You can tell a kid just about anything and they'll believe you because mommy and daddy (or Sister) said so. They don't need anything more. Santa Claus, tooth fairies....

Speaking of the tooth fairy...I have heard from some moms that they have switched from the tooth fairy to St. Apollonia for the tooth under the pillow drill. And while that' s all well and good, (although I hope no one is telling a child young enough to put baby teeth under a pillow the actual story of St. Apollonia) the fact is St. Apollonia is not out collecting teeth anymore than some fairy. Ever notice that kids never ask why a fairy or a saint buys their baby teeth? It's because they are kids and they'll believe anything.

It's also the reason I can't bear it when young people are tried 'as adults' for some heinous crime. They may know the difference between right and wrong, but we still don't let them vote, drink, or drive a car. Why? Because they're KIDS and they don't have the judgement of adults.

What was I talking about...oh yes, your grown children.

Once your children are grown up you're not going to be able to use the 'because I said so' method of education any longer. Now you're going to have to know your stuff and engage! Be ready to do battle!

In other words, your going to have to switch patron saints from St. Nicholas, the jolly lover of little children to St. Joan of Arc, defender of an entire country.

The job of a marriage is to get your spouse into heaven and the job of a family is to get the kids there, too.