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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Praying to Grandma Part II

It's only Wednesday, and we've made such a mess cleaning the desk, it will take us several more days to clean from the cleaning and be ready to roast some weenies and load Sister Mary Fiacre into her traveling wheelchair to head to the docks and watch the fireworks. The end of the school year is one of my favorite times for cleaning. I get great satisfaction by throwing things out.

I grew up in one of those German households where everyone saves every single thing. Nothing is ever throw away because you might need it five or ten years from now. When my Grandmother passed away, we found three Cool Whip tubs she had saved, because, of course, you can't throw out a perfectly good plastic container. Each tub was full to the brim with bread bag ties. Not the useful kind that twist that you could also use on garbage bags or plate stakes. No, these were the little plastic square things that are only good for holding the bread bag closed. You get a new one every time you buy a bag of bread. Even if you lost the one on your current bread, you would never need three tubs full of little plastic squares.

Hopefully, Grandma is in heaven now, rewarded for her thriftiness and attention to detail.

Or, shes' in Purgatory, suffering because she really was kind of glad when Grandpa kicked the bucket. She loved her children so dearly. Him, not so much.

Dear Sister Mary Martha,Are we supposed to be praying for those people that are in Hell? Not that I suspect that anyone in particular is there, but would our prayers help them? Thanks,Jack W.

No, it's too late for them. Hence the term "hell", meaning, a terrible place of suffering that you never can leave no matter what. That's why we fear Hell.

We're not looking forward to Purgatory. I know I'll end up there for a good long time. But the people in Purgatory are suffering happily. Like a woman in labor, the situation will have a happy ending.

Hell, not so much.

Sister, Don't we know for sure that children who have died are in heaven? Children under the age of reason have not committed any sins of their own, so why would they need to make a stop in Purgatory?--Lori

Good point! Children under the age of seven go straight to heaven! Everyone is heaven is a saint.

Hi Sister Mary Martha,I didn't realize that the Church discourages asking for the intercessory prayers of dead friends and relatives. I have asked my parents (deceased) to pray for my three children. I figured they raised me and my brother...I don't understand why this is discouraged.Thank you. Love your blog!Suzanne

Well, I think I explained why it's discouraged. Perhaps you were cleaning up a coffee spill and missed that part. It's because we don't know if you're love one is in heaven. If your loved one is in Purgatory, he needs your prayers. You should be interceding for him, not the other way around. And if he is in heaven, your prayers for him go to someone else who needs them. There must be some sort of computer or accounting system that takes care of all of that. You needn't worry yourself about it. Mary is in charge of Purgatory and she knows where to send all the prayers.

And hang on a sec...I believe the Church canonises people because miracles have happened through their intercession? So presumably people must be "praying" to them before the Church has sanctioned it? Seems a rather chicken-and-egg set up to me!

Another excellent point! But don't concern yourself about it.

To begin with, the canonization process doesn't just take into account the you are dead and we liked you. To even begin the process, we have to have massive evidence of heroic virtue, virtue above the call of duty. Like Maximillian Kolbe. He lived an exemplary brave life, right up to his stunningly brave death.

Then, we begin the rest of the process, the 'cause' of the saint, meaning, if we get some miracles out of you, that will cause you to be a canonized saint.

Holy Mother Church allows the faithful to have faith. When the Church is dealing with supernatural phenomena, like where a dead person's soul might be, or was that really Mary in the toast, She will do one of three things:

1. Tell you that something is worthy of veneration.

2. Leave you alone to venerate something while the jury is out on it's worthiness.

3. Tell you to put a cork in it.

In other words, some things are encouraged, like a belief that Mary really did appear to three peasant children in Fatima, Portugal. Some things are ignored, like saints who have been venerated for years by the faithful, but who have no proof of even their existence, like St. Philomena. The Church is not going to tell you to stop praying to St. Philmena, but She is not going to encourage you to pray to her either.

This is the category in which your dead relatives reside. We like to err on the side of caution, so their veneration is discouraged.

Which is not to say that they are in category three: forbidden. Your dead relatives are not Mary Toast or Nancy Fowler.

As I mentioned, however, in the post that generated this barrage of questions, it's perfectly normal for you to talk to your loved ones who have passed and to yearn for their, hopefully, heavenly help and guidance.

While you do that, Holy Mother Church will just close Her ears and hum.


Claudia said...

I can relate to the frugalness of the older generation. When my father died in 2004 he had such a collection of junk.

Piles of metal, gallon milk jugs, old car parts of cars long deceased, unlabeled jars and bottles of flammable liquids which I had to take to the hazardous recyclers and I prayed that no one would hit me on the PA Turnpike.

He had motors that I had an inkling he had pilfered from he past employer.

The odd thing was that anything that would have been of any value, old Christmas ornaments, bubble lights and that quintessential aluminum tree with the rainbow spot light he had thrown away.

Anonymous said...

My aunt died just a few months before my mother. As we were cleaning her house my cousin called and asked "Did you find it yet?" and we asked what were we supposed to have found. "Why the little baggie of twist ties of course." We also found the bag of bags, the ball of rubber bands and several hundred dollars hidden around the house.
Another friend who's mother had recently died told us his mom never was without her purse where ever she went so they looked in and lo & behold amongst the kleenex and lipstick was her pistol. The purse was tucked in with her in the coffin sans money & gun. They are sure they will hear about that later....
When we cleaned out Mom's sewing room where she spent most of her time we found her gun and the spent cartridges to prove she was practicing regularly.

Anonymous said...

Who is the patron saint of both selling your house and finding a new one?