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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Don't Know Why

A reader asked who the patron saint for seizures might be. I have the answer. Don't I always?

No, not really. Because in this case I'm stumped as to why St. Valentine is the patron saint for seizures.

Technically, he is the patron saint for epileptics, but if St. Sebastian is the patron saint of pin makers because he was shot full of arrows (and he is), then obviously the patron saint of epilepsy would be the patron for anyone with seizures for any reason.

But I don't know why St. Valentine is the patron saint of epilepsy. I do know that this isn't some new mantle flung across an ancient saint. He has been depicted in art healing epileptics enough times for some researchers to do a study on what the sufferers' symptoms were and the ratio of men to women.

Clearly the various artists know something I don't. Anyone have a clue? I'll be holding my breath.

Meanwhile, in the here and now:

Sister please bear with me I'll probably end up taking the long way to get to my question.

During an online discussion about Pat Robertson's bone-headed comments about Haiti someone mentioned that Haitians are something like 85% Christian. This brought about another discussion where a poster took offense to this assertion saying that Haitians are Roman Catholics and not in fact Christians.

I've encountered this before. I don't understand. What brings about this belief Roman Catholics are not Christian or lesser Christians than those of other denominations? I'm confused.

Me, too.

First of all, I don't understand why Pat Robertson doesn't understand that earthquakes are caused by shifts in plates below the earth, not pacts with the devil. Cracks in the earth's crust, known as "faults", shift. The magnitude of the earthquake is measured by how much they shift and how long it takes for them to resettle. Specifically, the Haiti quake was caused by what is called a "strike split" fault, where the two plates move horizontally. That's the same kind of quake we have here in California on the San Andreas fault.


I can't understand how he got the idea that some Haitians actually got together and had a meeting with the devil. Did someone get a picture of that on their Iphone? Was the guy that shot the Rodney King video over at the devil meeting?

The Haitians did get together and do something remarkable, but it wasn't a sit down with the devil. They rose up out of slavery with no help from anyone. Does Pat Robertson imagine that the only way they could have done that was with an arms shipment from Beelzebub? Ye of little faith.

But your question wasn't "why is Pat Robertson so stupid"? I can tell you that he is not the brightest bulb. Years ago, I saw him introduce a guest. He had clearly never heard of this man and spent the long introduction marveling at the man's list of musical credits in a way that belied the fact that he thought the list to be a fantasy. "He wrote songs made famous by the Beatles!" ("and yet, I've never heard of him?")

Even I know about Little Richard. He is a very famous person. Now he may have actually had a pact with the devil at some point.

Your question is about why some people don't think Catholics are Christians. Or why they think Catholics are lesser Christians.

I don't know why. Perhaps they are as dumb as rocks, like Pat Robertson. All the Christian kindness in the world won't make someone smarter than they are. Some people just are not bright enough to pound sand, poor things.

Christians are people who are followers of Christ. Anyone who believes Christ died for our sins is a Christian. After that, all hell breaks loose, so to speak, on which Christian is the better follower of Christ.

We mustn't get all high and mighty about being at the bottom of someone else's barrel. For most of my life, non-Catholics were known as the "lesser faiths". The preferred term these days is "separated brethren". Why? Because they are our brothers who are separated from the One True Faith.

Surely, you can see that is a little off putting to the Separated Brethren, who don't believe they are separated from anything, but believe that you, a Catholic, definitely are. Meanwhile, we believe they are missing the boat. Talk about a strike split!

In a side note, the reason Little Richard was on the 700 Club was because he had left his sinful ways behind (for a little while, at least) and become a preacher singing Gospel songs. He was very subdued in his polyester suit. So, he, too, is some sort of Christian.


Jana said...

No one who believes that Jesus Christ died for their sins likes being told they aren't Christian. It is pretty hurtful.

I'm LDS, if you remember. ;)

El Curioso said...

I am a catholic convert from the Church of Christ/Non Denominational side of the spectrum.
When I was little I sincerely struggled with the worry that my catholic friends may not go to heaven because they prayed to people other than God and never had to make a personal decision to follow Christ. I thought being Catholic was something you are born into, like being Cacaision or Hispanic.

Most of the belief that Catholics are lesser christians comes from superstitions that have accrued from long years where the average southern protestant christian met very few Catholics. In my part of the USA Catholics make up perhaps 3% of a population. If a protestant is told something about Catholiscism it is very hard for them to find an actual Catholic to check their facts with. Thank God that the Internet is breaking down such barriers.
Another explanation is that the protestant immigrants who came to America carried with prejudice towards Catholics that they passed down to their children. Ever wonder why "the pope's nose" is the name of part of a dead turkey?

Claudia said...

Perhaps St Valentine had epilepsy. Or perhaps some one in his family had the disease.

I have a girl friend who was a Southern Baptist and she dated a Catholic boy and her Aunt asked if the Catholics believed in Jesus. I am really not surprised at anything I hear.

LindaM said...

Hi Sister Mary Martha,

I've followed your blog for quite some time but I don't recall hearing about the saint for the colon ("guts") or intestines. My sister-in-law's sister-in-law has lived with a colostomy bag for years. Recently the dear lady (who is a kindergarten teacher) had to go in for maintenance and cleaning of the opening. She was terrified of this and the worst did occur as now she is filled with infection and they are unable to put everything back in that needs to go in. My sister-in-law is interested in becoming a Catholic--so if we could provide her with a patron saint to help with this difficulty that would be great for her and her sister-in-law. I hope this wasn't too confusing!
Thank you, Linda

not a minx, a moron, or a parasite said...

You are always good for a laugh! I love your explanations for things.

gma of bun-in-oven said...

Is it possible the person who said the Haitians weren't Christians but were Roman Catholics meant they weren't "just" Christians, but were Roman Catholic Christians?

joannaB73 said...

I knew a pastor/preacher who thought he was called to go to France because the 'Catholics' there weren't Christians - I hope they converted him to the true Faith! lol

dre said...

LindaM, check out Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez. He lived in the same town in Puerto Rico where my inlaws live...the people there just call him "our Charlie". He suffered from illness related to the colon...was a lay catechist, very devoted to the Eucharist and in particular to the Easter Triduum. Perhaps he would be a good patron saint for your sil's sil.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister!

I hope you or the fellow commenters can help me...

I was having a discussion with a non-Catholic friend of mine about the Catholic attitude toward marriage. I stated that (as the nun who taught me Christian Marriage told me) if you have not had a Catholic marriage, the Church will not recognize your marriage and that if you have had a "civil" marriage and a "civil" divorce, you are not subject to the communion ban.

She asked me whether a couple who has been civilly married but not married in the Church would be considered sinful because they are technically having premarital or extramarital sex. I didn't really have an answer for that.

On a related topic, if one was married outside of the Church and that marriage ended in divorce, could that person still take Communion, as it was not a Catholic marriage?

Thank you Sister (and anyone else who wants to chime in!)

Anonymous said...

I believe many non Catholic Christians have to belittle Catholics because it allows them to justify their rebellion from the Church established upon the Rock. If the Roman Catholic Church is truly the Church of Christ, then they would need to fall in line with the Pope. IMHO

God Bless you Sister.

Anonymous said...

Is it really any more helpful or less hurtful for Catholics to belittle non-Catholics the way you're doing in these comments? I get that it's your humble opinion but I think it's less a matter of open rebellion and more a matter of misunderstanding. If they believed the RCC was the true Church, I believe they would "fall in line." But they don't. For whatever reason, they don't. That doesn't mean they are rebellious. Many protestants have a very poor understanding of what the Church actually teaches. You'd rebel too if you really believed that the Church taught the outright worship of Mary and other heresies.

I teach at a Roman Catholic college and I can't tell you how many of my Catholic students will say to me I'm Catholic, not Christian. So this problem of nomenclature goes both ways.

I like the way you put it here, sister. Thanks.

Diane said...

Anonymous who teaches at a RC college: I hope you set your confused students straight. But the fact that they're college students says it all. Not a lot of them know who they are or where they're headed yet.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't relate to anything, but it is driving me crazy. I just bought "My Daily Catholic Bible" from Our Sunday Visitor over the internet. I like the idea of a plan for reading the Bible in a year, but the books are not in order. The January 1 reading starts with Genesis and Mark. All books seem to be accounted for, but it still makes me a little crazy. Does anyone know why the books are not in order? Am I overreacting?


Jennifer said...

Sister, I would suggest an alternative definition of a Christian. A Christian is better defined as somebody who worships Jesus Christ as God made Man. There are some religious sects who would say they are "followers of Christ" but do not believe that He is one in divine nature with God the Father. There is a big difference there. :)

Amy Rankin said...

Dumb as rocks like Pat Robertson!
That is the best laugh I have had in weeks!!!

And laughter IS the best medicine.

One of those Episcopalian separated brethrens...

the gold digger said...

not had a Catholic marriage, the Church will not recognize your marriage

Hello. I am a Catholic who married a divorced Lutheran. He had to get his marriage annulled for us to be able to get married in the Catholic church, so I would say that the Church recognized his first marriage as valid.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Oh, my.

In re: who is and who is not Christian. According to the Catechism (and the RCIA people at my local parish), anyone that has been baptised properly -- noncoercively, with water, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," by somebody who is sincere about conferring baptism -- is a Christian. Anyone else receives such a baptism upon entering the Holy Mother Church. The baptisms of blood and desire may get some people into the Church Suffering or the Church Triumphant, but ideally the normal baptism should hopefully be conferred upon everyone.

In re: marriage. Your first marriage, if it is between a man and a woman, lasts as long as you both shall live. Holy Mother Church presumes all such marriages are valid. If you have taken and are living with another spouse while your first one is alive, you are living adulterously, and under laetiae sentiae (sic?) excommunication, and thus cannot receive the Sacraments. Neither may your spouse. You can appeal this, and claim your first marriage was not valid, but it's a long legal process decided by at least two separate marriage tribunals. Search good Catholic sites for information about annulment -- nearly every diocese website has a section devoted to their marriage tribunal.

In re: The Daily Catholic Bible. The Liturgy of the Word lasts three years, and covers about 90% of the New Testament and 40% of the Old Testament. I would guess that your Daily Catholic Bible covers 100% in one year. It will clearly take a different course.

Nan said...

To add to what others have said:

The Catholic Church believes that the Christian denominations have two sacraments; Baptism and Marriage, neither of which requires a Priest to be valid.

Any Baptized person may Baptize and so long as the proper form is used, the Church will recognize its validity.

The ministers of the marriage are actually the couple being married; so long as they intend to contract a true marriage, it is a valid marriage. That's why the Church requires annulment for marriages that took place outside the Church.

Anonymous said...

Arkanabar (I hope I spelled that right),

Thanks for the clarification. Maybe I'll give it a try.

Mary Ellen said...

Wow! I'm surprised folks don't understand that Protestants think Catholics are heathens. I spent 20 years as a Protestant before coming home to the Catholic church, and the churches I tried(none were quite complete, nor what I was looking for strangely enough) targeted Catholics for their salvation efforts, and targeted Catholic countries for most of their mission efforts. Instead of trying to bring pagans to Christianity, they are still fighting the Reformation. Weird but true. Fortunately now I have enough background that I can work on reconverting fallen away Catholics who are trying to pull me away from mother church in order to "save me from hell". Odd but true. That Catholics are saint worshiping, potion peddling, indulgence selling, mind-numbed robots contoled by the Pope, is unfortunately quite common out there. They just don't articulate it--they befriend to convert, on purpose. We need to help these poor heretics. They have really skewed the Bible to say all sorts of odd things. It's so worrisome. What will become of them?