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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Burning Up

Since January people have been dropping like flies from the flu. Not me. I have soldiered on while everyone coughed and sneezed and sweated through fevers all around me for three whole months. Three whole months, until last Friday, when I had the opportunity, on a Friday no less, to offer up my suffering with a horrible sore throat which developed into a nasty flu over the weekend.

I'm almost back to normal now.

It was a horrific sore throat. I spend all of Lent reminding everyone that we are to more closely align ourselves with the suffering of Jesus. I recall that Our Lord's throat felt terrible during that time, as He asked for a drink of water. I hope I freed some Poor Souls from Purgatory.

Now, I have some catching up to do. Many people were interested in the subject of cremation. I'm not sure why everyone thinks it's okay to fling ashes all over the globe, or, as one reader pointed out, grind them into precious jewels. It's not. So let's begin at the beginning:

Is cremation okay?
Yes. This is relatively new, though. For most of our history, the Catholic Church has said no to cremation. At first, the idea was to set us apart from the pagans and the Vikings. But also, Holy Mother Church wanted to stress the idea that we will, at some point in the distant future (or not so distant, one never knows) be reunited with our physical bodies in heaven. Or hell. You get your body back then, too, so you can suffer more. Even if you were missing parts of your body, you'd get those back, so that finger you've been missing all these years can also experience the bliss of heaven, or the agonies of hell.

With me so far?

There's more.

The body you have is the one that has been honored through your whole life (unless you've covered it with tattoos and nose rings). It's the one that was baptized and felt the waters and the oils. It must be honored after death as well, and treated with the utmost respect.

As for cremation...that's perfectly respectable, the Church has decided. It is not preferred. But since a zillion people have turned to dust waiting for the day when they can be reunited with their old bodies, the Church just finally said, "Slow dust, fast dust....just take good care of the dust."

Still with me?

That's why you can't fling it all over the place or having it sitting around like a lamp or a Little League trophy. It's not rocket science.

Which means you should be able to figure out the answer to this next question yourselves:
I love your blog, but I have a question.
I understand that we are not supposed to spread the ashes of our loved ones all over the place, but what about the relics of saints? Why are we allowed to chop up saints and send the pieces to different churches? I'm just wondering.

Have you figured it out yet? I'll give you a hint: reverence.

We haven't taken the finger bones of all the saints and put them in a bucket and slung them out over the ocean, nor have we gotten hold of the heart of Blessed Brother Andre of Montreal and shot it into space. We haven't dropped St. Therese the Little Flower's hair from a helicopter over the Andes. We haven't even taken a toe from St. Rita and ground it into a precious gem for the Pope's hat.

Our saint pieces are in altars, the most reverential place in the building. They are not dangling around someone's neck.

I hope this clears the matter up for you.

How do you braid the fronds that way? I was having a new backing put on an icon that was my grandmother's and there was a tiny bit of very old palm frond stuck under one of the nails. I remember her braiding the fronds and placing them over this icon of the Theotokos.

You'll have to ask my mother. There is more than one way to braid fronds and I choose that picture because that's the way my mother does it. I'm not sure if she does it any more. I'll have to ask her. She still does needlework with her shakey old hands and it looks just as fabulous as ever, so it's likely she still sits around on Palm Sunday braiding away.

Have you tried the Google?


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear the flu caught up with you. I've managed to outrun it so far. That is good as I frequently am needed to help my sister. She has terminal cancer and can't be exposed to germy people. I don't know if it's wrong for me to pray I don't get sick but I really can't afford to get sick.

Claudia said...

Years ago while visiting Munich, my friend and I came upon a church in which rested a complete skeleton of a woman saint.

It was in a glass coffin and the bones were decorated with jewels. I do not remember the churchs name or the saint, but she was fully clothed. It was interesting and I a glad no one had decided to chop up her body. I will have to search and find her on line.

CMinor said...

That technique for palm braiding looks about identical to a standard technique used in lanyard making. If you can't find lanyard techniques on the 'net try Klutz Press's book, Boondoggle (one of several terms for that plastic lanyard lacing.)

I usually just do the two-frond square-over-square folding or make crosses. But I've seen some pretty impressive woven figures, like birds.

Unknown said...

@ Claudia

St. Mundita in Peterskirche

Martha said...

Sorry to hear about the throat. Did you get your St. Blaise blessing? If you did, your throat is probably better than it would have been otherwise!