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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Yikes! Where have I been? Right here, trying to adjust to life without Sister St. Aloysius, who is off at her think tank as of last Monday. It already seems as though she has been gone for decades. Our replacement helper has not yet arrived and so the parish ladies that also work at the Catholic Charities are pitching in. Just after I finish adjusting to them, I will have to re adjust to whoever shows up to help next.

Sister St. Aloysius and I, although she is very....tightly wound....are a well oiled machine, particularly when it comes to the care and feeding of Sister Mary Fiacre. Her problem solving abilities have come in very handy. For example, she came up with the bread bag pivoter, in use several times each day.

Here's how it works! To get Sister Mary Fiacre, say, out of bed, we haul her to her feet. We have strategically placed the wheelchair at a slight angle by the bed and then we have to swing her around to land, PLOP! on her pile of pillows there in the chair. The problem was that while at some point she was able to shuffle her feet around for a step or two to turn around to sit in the chair, her feet now remain glued to the floor. So when we pivot her, she could snap an ankle.

What a mess that would be!

I had no idea what to do. We can't hold her in place while one of us picks her feet up for her. We can't simply leave her in one spot all day and night.

Sister St. Aloysius came up with the plan to put a bread bag (sans bread) under one foot and pivot her around on that. It works like a charm! The bread bag goes everywhere with us. Any plastic bag will do.

Paper or plastic? Plastic, please.

Try explaining this oddity to the new folks. "Bread bag!?!"

"Yes, it's right there by her shoes."

"Put it where?"

"Under her pivot foot. Let's see, we're going to swing her to the left, so put it on the left side."


"You'll have to actually pick her foot up like you're shoeing a horse and put the bag down and put her foot back down on top of it."


Everyone has been impressed with the results.

All of this has been compounded by the kitten.

I didn't mention this way back when because I didn't want to ruin everyone's Christmas, but our wonderful old cat, Teddy, expired in the middle of December. He suddenly got really thin and moved outside. We moved him back in, but he just wasted away. Poor old thing. We really missed him.

So back in April a neighbor found a little abandoned kitten. He was so little his ears were still round. He wasn't weaned. We had to give him a little bottle every two hours or so and set him on on a heating pad.

As a result, he is the dog of cats. With us every second, very involved and curious about every single thing we do. So now everything we do involves one extra step. Move the kitten out of the way. Ready to put Sister Mary Fiacre in the wheel chair? Move the kitten who is standing in there playing with the tassles on the pillow. Putting the laundry in the dryer? Remove the kitten several times while loading and double check before you shut the door. Trying to write a blog? Find someone to play with the kitten for an hour or so because it is not lost on him that you are playing with a mouse.

Of course, the kitten loves the bread bag. Happily, Sister Mary Fiacre is very amused by his attention to her feet. I guess she doesn't have much feeling there anymore.

At any rate, I haven't had a moment to visit with you. And I have a pile of questions to answer. I'll try to get to as many as I can before I have to readjust to the new new help.


Shannon said...

Oh, I love your kitty already! What is his/her name?

Donna. W said...

Don't you love it when you find a solution that's both cheap and simple? Like a plastic bag?

I like the fact that you have a resident kitten. I know nothing of the kind of life nuns lead, so this amuses me. I guess you are real people after all!

Marian Ann Love said...

I especially love the Wal-Mart Bags...good for a lot of things! Glad it all worked out for Sister. :)
PS: You are hilarious! :)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

How nice for you to have a "dog" cat. I have a cat from Jordan who is both Alpha cat and socialite; I call him my "doggie" -- he rolls over, wants his belly rubbed, and follows me around like a dog. Your little kitty will be great company for you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, your kitten is so cute!

I love cats. Can you please, please tell my prioress that convents ought to come with cats?

Sara said...

Wow, what an ingenious solution. That would have helped a lot when my mother was confined to a wheelchair or bed. Sadly, it's no longer needed.

Elizabeth said...

My eight year old is in awe of your kitten. I had two that needed bottle feeding...it sure does make them "attached". Blessings for the next 15 -20 years with that one!

Diane said...

What a charming post! I hope I can remember the plastic bag when . . . what was I saying?

Judy said...

Dear Sister,
(I hope this is the correct way to submit a question; I didn't see a way to e-mail you.)

I'm hoping that you can advise me on a moral dilemma.

My oldest daughter's confirmation sponsor, call her "Jane", will be marrying "John" in September, and has invited our family to the wedding. Jane and John consider themselves to be serious Catholics, and Jane talked at length with my daughter about the importance of purity, etc. etc.

Turns out that Jane will be having a baby at the end of this month.

John is a minimally-employed graduate student. Jane is unemployed and living on food stamps. In spite of their financial situation and the baby on the way, they've managed to come up with the money for a big white wedding. (Jane is estranged from her family, so she and John are paying for the wedding themselves.)

Since they had intended to marry before they found out that Jane was pregnant, I believe that they should have married before the baby was born. Absent that, I think that it would be far more prudent to have a small, inexpensive wedding with a cake-and-punch reception, so that they'd conserve their resources for their child.

Shortly after she told me she was pregnant, I talked all this over with Jane in a gentle but forthright way. She's not a terribly mature person, and her response was basically "I want what I want and I'm gonna have what I want".

I'm certainly glad that she's chosen to give her child life, and that she's marrying John rather than denying her daughter a father. However, regarding my own four kids, who range in age from 7 through 15, I'm not comfortable with the message that this sends. "Do the wrong thing (fornication), but have a big fancy wedding anyway." Is she not giving scandal?

So my options are to

1) not attend at all, which will probably end the friendship

2) attend with just my oldest daughter, with whom I've already discussed the situation at length

3) attend the wedding, but decline the reception

4) plan a family vacation that weekend and skirt the issue entirely. (OK, so that's not really an option, but it sure sounds tempting!)

I'd just like to hear your opinion. Thanks, and I love your blog!

Judy Bettinger

Anonymous said...

Another option, Judy, is to attend the reception - which shows your support for a friend and allows her to celebrate a happy event with you, but miss the actual wedding - which allows you to avoid the appearance of approval for the appropriateness of a white wedding.

Even serious Catholics make mistakes (sometimes serious ones) but our Church offers forgiveness when it's sought. Janes's lengthy discussion with your daughter was probably inspired by her own mistake.

You say Jane is estranged from her family; that means, despite her efforts to have a traditional wedding, her father will not be "giving her away." Perhaps the wedding is in the spirit of bravado.

You can use this as an opportunity to explain to your children how one can love someone without approving of everything the person chooses to do. Your children are already learning about chaste living from the examples you offer, by the clothing you let them wear, by the entertainment you choose. And as they grow older and more aware of the world "out there" they will measure what they see with what they've learned. Your friend's decision will be considered in this light. In the meantime, you can continue to praise Jane & John's decision to choose life, even when they are faced with adversity.

Peace be with you - Linda

Linda said...

Sister you crack me up!
God bless you and all the Sisters. As far as the plastic bag dilemma my daughter was pregnant she was sick for her entire pregnancy, I won't go into details as it would be more than anyone needs to know. But she found that Macy's has the best plastic bags and don't leak. lol
Have a blessed day!
In Carmel,

Tami said...

SMM, or any other knowledgeable followers,
I recently had a new friend ask out of the blue, "how hard is it to become Catholic?" I shared my knowledge of the process, being a convert myself, but was wondering if anyone had a suggestion of a good book I could offer. This family believes in God, but does not attend church at this time. One was raised Lutheran, the other no church. They are moving to the Bible Belt, but have been turned off by charismatic churches in the past. Both feel church is a more private affair. HELP! I don't want to miss this opportunity to evangelize, but also don't want to smother and turn them away.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

I really have no better suggestion than to tell them, "Find out where your parish is, and ask the priest."

I can suggest Catholicism for Dummies as an excellent and faithful guide to Catholic doctrine and belief, and Why Do Catholics Do That for all the other, cultural Catholic stuff.

The most common procedural stumbling block (as opposed to doctrinal) is for the person who is divorced and remarried. Before such a person can enter the Church, he or she must prove to the marriage tribunal of the diocese that any previous marriages were not sacramental. Of course, if your friends are still both in their first marriage, this is not an issue.

Unknown said...

love your clever plastic bag idea! my children sit on one while another child grabs the handles and they drag each other around the house.

Linda said...

For Tami,
May I suggest you just simply pray to the Holy spirit for your friends,especially since they are moving. Invite them to your Church with you and let God do the rest. :)
God bless you,

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister,
I was wondering what you could tell me about mortification of the flesh, such as what I have heard St. Francis did. In what ways, if any, would it be acceptable to copy his example?

Lisa said...

Sister, your cat is adorable! And he sounds like a sweetheart.

I have a question for you -- according to the RC church, what happened to the souls of all of the people who died in the years BC? This question is really bugging me.

Leigh said...


I haven't blogged in eons. I've been sucked in by social networking! Hopefully, this too shall pass. Yes...I'm still promoting our favorite blogging nun on Facebook. I've updated your page, plugged your wares, and even created a Sister Mary Martha quotation medley, so to speak. So check it out. Your following is growing!!

emeraldwednesday said...

My condolences on the loss of Teddy. :-(

Cute kitten though, and very resourceful idea with the plastic bags! I'll have to remember that one in case I ever need it.

De Liliis said...


Tami said...

Thank you for your suggestions.

Diane said...

I enjoyed reading 'Meat and Potatoes Catholocism' by Rev Jos Classen.

Claudia said...

When you use the bags to aid in Sisters transport be sure she doesn't slip slide away and break a hip.

I use my bags to scoop my cat litter and associated products in to put into the trash and the other I give to St. Vincent DE Paul thrift store so they can put the clients purchases in them.

Anonymous said...

Plastic bags are plenty useful. I keep a bag of them close by in the laundry room and grab one before walking with the dog. (It was funny at work one time when someone asked a co-worker for something he had to get in his pocket for, and the co-worker emptying his pocket pulled out a small dog biscuit, and I noted that I had both a dog biscuit and a plastic bag in my pocket.)

On the other subject, a 'gait' belt is what is used sometimes in the convalescent care facilities, a stout belt worn about the waist that a person holds onto, as the two pivot together. If Sr Mary Fiacre isn't strong enough to stand, then it's better to save all backs involved and use a shifter.

Remember to keep the center of gravity low when transferring by crouching a bit as well as flexing hips to work with larger stronger muscles of legs (rather than depending on those skinny muscles along the backbone), to provide stability as well as inspire Sr. Mary to give it her all, as well.

Sue said...


Scott Hahn got his phD in a Protestant college, but the more he studiedmwhat the bible actually says, he had to become Catholic. He writes with humour and in lay language as well as running free online Scripture course.

The account of his conversion is here http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0088.html

Amazon has lots of his books and I'd suggest Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
Also on Amazon are loads of reviews of his writings.

githin said...