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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, August 17, 2009

As Old as Methuselah

We've had quite a lot of patron saint matching requests. I'm working on it! Meanwhile some questions to catch up:
Sister, Why did people in the Old Testament live so long? I understand that we don't have to look at things from a highly literal, Fundamentalist perspective, but it still baffles me why they would inflate the ages like that.

I've heard a couple of different explanations. As far as I can tell, the Catholic church doesn't worry about it one way or the other. It might even be along the lines of a "Sacred Mystery"*, although it's not really a 'sacred' mystery. A "Bible Mystery", perhaps.

This is my personal take on the matter. At first the world was a perfect place. There weren't any diseases to spread around because Adam and Eve didn't have anything to pass on or spread. Virus? What virus? If Adam who lived, according to the Bible, for 900 years managed not to get eaten by a lion, he's home free. He doesn't have a ton of stress. The environment is clean as a whistle. Food is plentiful and he's not competing with other tribes or people for food and shelter. He doesn't have to concern himself with sewage and waste.

If Adam who lived, according to the Bible, for 900 years managed not to get eaten by a lion, he's home free

You might also take note that people have shorter and shorter life spans every generation as life on this earth becomes harder and harder to live. As the Old Testament goes on, people are only living for 600 years, and 400 years and 300 years and on down.

Or...they were vampires and someone finally stuck stakes in their hearts.

I'm joking.

I really don't think much about it. I don't think much about vampires, either.

Can you tell me how to pronounce Dymphna?

Interesting. I never really thought about how to pronounce it. I've always pronounced it "Dimf' -nah", but maybe I've been saying it wrong all this time. I am notorious for mispronouncing the names of flora. I have a habit of looking at words I am unfamiliar with and just taking them in. I know what the word is and what it means but I've never bothered to say it. When I am finally called upon to use the word I say what I think it looked like and I'm wrong a lot. Maybe it's supposed to be "Dime-f- nah". And who even knows where the accent goes. It must go on the first syllable, don't you think, with that "nah" on the end there. Who would put the accent there? Heathens, maybe.

I would like to suggest St. Helen (Constantine's Mother and finder of the Cross) she is obscure; in that we don't hear much about her and yet a good saint for the stay at home mom - maybe??

Well, I have to respectfully disagree. First, I don't think she is obscure at all. She is, after all, the finder of the Cross (among other things she found). And she isn't much of a stay at home anything. She was quite the traveler.

She was the wife of the Emperor. He dumped her for the new model, as so often is the case even now. But when he died her son Constantine became the Emperor, tossed out his step mother, and restored Helena to her rightful place in the world, now "Mother of the Emperor".

So I would put her as the patron saint for people who come out on top of a hideous divorce, women who are dumped for the new model and the like.

At this point, Helena is no spring chicken. But she embarks on a world tour, mostly to the Holy Land, where her dreams (actual REM sleep dreams, not her old ambitions) lead her to find the True Cross. I think she also found the pillar on which Jesus was scourged and the crown of thorns and whatnot. Nails...

So she is also the official patron saint of archeologists.

I recently had a customer at the shop who requested a custom order of St. Nicholas for her home school. I think he would be a lovely patron saint for the stay at home mom. You have to like children a lot to hang around with them 24/7.

You know who else might be lovely? St. Elizabeth Seton! She had to drag her kids everywhere with her all over the Europe and everything. I believe her daughters became part of her order. Let's look into her a bit.


TheSeeker said...

I like your answer about Biblical longevity. As a Evangelical-to-Catholic convert it made me sad to see the footnotes in Genesis of my new Catholic Bible that said it was all figurative language. I figure if God could have His son born of an intact virgin and then be physically present in our Eucharist, He could do anything He wanted like create the world in 7 days and have 900+ year old people.
People were also probably less polluted with sin like we are, generations later.

Good Remedy said...

Agree about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. We visited her shrine during our first home school year. The thought of having to walk miles, with all the children up a mountain to Mass, in winter, carrying your own pots and pans....well that puts my life in a whole new perspective! Getting to Mass on Sunday isn't so hard after all.

Minkykat said...

While you are looking into Saint Elizabeth Seton, perhaps you could also break down for me the concept of just HOW our suffering aids the Lord in the conversion of souls and such.

While I understand the "offering it up", the old "Methodist" part of me still snarls that by having died on the cross for our sins, Jesus paid it ALL and that he does not, NOT need our sufferings on top of his to aid in salvation of the masses.

(My cradle Catholic husband also joins the choir of discontent and unbelief of this as well)

I can ALMOST grasp it, the concept sparkles just beyond my reach. I know that the honest to the point way you have of putting things will lay this gem in my hand.


Mary Alice said...

Love the posting on St Helena, my confirmation Saint!
Perhaps you could steer me toward a patron saint of pregnant and parenting teens? I hope to one day be an advocate for them. I was a teen mother. Also, os there a good patron saint for teen fathers as well? I direct my prayers to "Madonna of the streets" which is a popular portrait of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Sister, how does one pronounce Guadlupe (is that even the right spelling?)

sandy said...

I think it's important to remember that God created man to be immortal. Taking that into account, living for a few hundred years seems more plausible, although apparently not tolerable for God since in Gen 6:3 he says, "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years."

Dymphna said...

My husband pronounce Dymphna as Dimfna. My mother says Dipna. I think they're both right.

Anonymous said...

Sister, here's a nugget that's bothered me since CCD.

Why is it that God is happy to forgive our sins before we die, but we don't get a chance to repent after we die? Or, why aren't people who are currently in hell given a chance to repent their sins?

What I'm trying to say is that it seems odd to me that an infinitely compassionate God refuse to forgive people after they die. Mind shedding a little light on this for me?

Anonymous said...

Do we, in fact go to hell at all? Jesus loves us so much more than we can ever comprehend, no matter what we do. He wants us to spend all of eternity with Him, and that is why He became sin, died on the cross, and descended to hell, so that we wouldn't have to. He endured the suffering for all of us. There is a period of purification if you will before we can spend all of eternity with the Lord. But He wants to be with you in heaven, in His kingdom, where He always intended you to be, forever! PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, but this is how I understand it.

Anonymous said...

God loves you more than anything our mortal minds can grasp. He wants to spend all of eternity with us in heaven, and He became sin, died on the cross, and descended into hell so that we wouldn't have to. He suffered for all of us so that He could have all of His beloved with him forever. I believe there is a time of purification, if you will, before we can truly be united with the Lord, but I can't imagine that our Lord in his infinite love would abandon us with no hope of redemption forever. PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

While we are on the subject of saints....what do you make of the other gospels - Mary Magdalen, St. Philip, St. Thomas? Inquiring minds would like to know. Blessings all round.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and love it! You are funny, witty and to the point. I would like to suggest to your readers with an interest in the saints to go to SQPN.com and listen to the podcast "The Saintcast". Actually I would love for you to check out SQPN (Star Quest Production Network - run by a Catholic Priest, Fr. Roderick, who is using the new media to evangelize) and hopefully start doing a podcast yourself. It would be a great way to reach more people! Please consider this.

Anonymous said...


I live with a chronic pain condition. Which Saint can I turn to for intercession when I don't think I can take anymore?

Hodgepodge said...

Anonymous asked about Guadlupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Deigo. It's a beautiful story. She left an image of herself in a cloth that is still visible today. She is the patron saint of the Americas.

say it like this:
wah da loo pay
gwa do loo pay

the g is not a hard g

I hope this helps.

Mary Alice said...

The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of my family! She is our guardian after I painted her image on our fence to keep Mexican gang graffiti at bay. I agree with Hodgepodge's pronunciation, with emphasis on the "loo". It means "place of the wolves" although now Mexico City has encicled all around and I don't think there are any wolves on that hill now.