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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

St. Guinea Pig

I was a Catholic School Guinea Pig.
In the first grade, they decided on some new fangled teaching technique to help children 'visualize' math.  So, instead of learning to add and subtract, we all had an abacus.  I loved that thing. The little round sliding circles looking like jewels or Life Savers, or Life Savers made of rubies and emeralds. It was so easy to do math.

By the end of the second grade they realized that none of us could add two and two without our sliding candy toys and we had to start all over.

Somewhere in the fourth or fifth grade they introduced what they called "New Math".  I don't know what that was, because from that point on I never knew what anyone was talking about in math class at all. We were in high school before they changed back to "old math" and I'm still terrible at math. Thank goodness, I have Sister St. Aloysius to balance the budget and make change.

Every other class of children lined up along the Communion rail to receive their First Holy Communion and we all so looked forward to doing what the grown-ups did.  But no.  They opened up the Communion rail and we marched up to the altar. The next year it went back to normal. Just us, the Guinea Pigs.

But we still got our Confirmation names! Apparently, that is no longer the case for many!

My Confirmation class (in 1997 or so) didn't deal with Confirmation Names. I don't know why we skipped them. My younger siblings' classes didn't use them either. But now, people from that church are the only people I know who were confirmed without a confirmation name.

Am I missing out? Is it kind of like finding your own patron saint, who you then have a special relationship with? Am I too late? I mean, obviously I'm too late to have a real confirmation name at this point. But I could still talk to a Saint about being extra good friends, couldn't I?

Poor dear.  Did they give you and abacus, too?

I've heard this from quite a few readers. No Confirmation name.  Booooooo!

It's never too late to pick a saint for yourself. Let's take a quick look at why we even have a Confirmation name in the first place.

When you are baptized, someone else has picked your name (we hope they picked well and didn't saddle you with "Tiffany" or "Dakota" or "Elmer"....or like my poor uncle "Elsworth Elmer") and stood up for you before God, choosing to have you join the Church.

Now you have decided for yourself to recommit yourself to become a "Soldier of Christ" and so you are going to pick your own name this time.

That's all.  It's not rocket science.

I can see where it isn't really necessary to tack on another name that you really won't ever use on your passport or on a  legal document. But it's such a lovely idea and a nice way to reconnect.

 "Church Militant (that's you), meet the Church Triumphant (the residents of Heaven)."

 And people pick names for various reasons: a beloved relative had that name, they want the patronage of a certain saint or identify with the saint, or they just flat out like the name. It's all good.

So go right ahead and jump on the band wagon! Let us know who you pick! Inquiring minds want to know.

Another reader asks:

Also, is there an easy way to find your blog posts about specific saints. I was telling a friend about St. Joseph of Cupertino as patron saint of autism, and I thought there might be an easier way to find your postings versus scrolling backwards through them all and hoping it pops up.

Since I back reference to various saints all the time, searching the blog might not be helpful. Have you tried a Google search?  I think if you type in the name of the saint plus Sister Mary Martha, you might be able to find what ever you're looking for.  In any case, you'll find plenty of references to St. Joseph Cupertino and you can just read it for yourself.  I'm always surprised people ask me about saints that they could just go look up.

Not that I mind.  It's my favorite thing to do anyhow, and often people are asking about a problem that doesn't have a proper saint or the saint fit of the assigned saint is...well, St. Cecilia, case in point. Love to do a patron saint matching any time.

Which brings me to:

Sister, is there a patron Saint for Catholics with no sense of humor?

Of course there is!  St. Lawrence was a real cut up and his sense of humor was not appreciated. Went over like a lead balloon. He's having the last laugh in Heaven.


Curtis said...

I have to object to St. Lawrence. Sure, he had a sense of humour but it was the pagans who didn't. There were no Catholics without a sense of humour involved at all. Maybe St. Phillip Neri would make a better choice? He loved to tweak puffed-up Catholics with pranks and humorous penances.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Yes, but he was playing to the humorless, which seems to be the problem the reader is having, running into humorless Catholics.

Claudia said...

I must admit I am 13 years older than my youngest sister. She, too, was caught up in the NEW MATH, to this day she counts on her fingers when she does her math.....

I think someone in the Ivory Tower, with a Harvard PhD decided what was what was best. It also went away in a short time and my sister still can not do math.

My daughter, the Nurse, had this "Whole Language" approach to reading. When she started they did not correct her spelling, stating "It will come." Well it do not, and although she is very smart, she depends on the computer spell check to proof read her writings. I also proof read them,because the nuns drilled into our brains, reading, writing and "rithmotic.

Ray Ward said...

I too was issued an abacus in Catholic primary school. Only we didn't call it an abacus; we called it a "number aid."

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister,

Could you suggest a patron saint for me? I am a struggling writer. Or maybe you could just come up with the plot of a novel for me to write?


ArchAngel's Advocate said...

I didn't find the "New Math" to be all that new, but then I was taught it before calculators were invented (I used graph paper to help keep all the columns in line doing long division and big multiplications). Anybody remember the slide rule?
As for the candidate for patron saint for the dour Catholic, how about St. Jerome of Vulgate fame? There was the original "Mikey"...

Karen said...

Hello, Sister. I have a question for you about using the Green Scapular. My grandfather was never Baptized, had no formal introduction to any faith, and does not think highly of the Catholic Church. I had an idea to place a Green Scapular inside a homemade pillow to give him, but my family is uncomfortable with the idea. They feel it is being too sneaky. (Giving him the pillow not because we want to give him a pillow but to sneak a religious object into his house.) I can see where they're coming from, but at the same time, hiding is a common way this scapular is used. We are starting a family novena for him, but I was interested to know what your thoughts were.

Unknown said...

I'm a convert, so no Saints' names at all. When I entered the Church, I was told they no longer really did Confirmation names, so I don't officially have one. Before I'd learnt about them not doing that when I was confirmed, I'd chosen St Monica, so I figure she still counts as my patron. :-)

Hidden One said...

I have a dangerously anorexic Catholic friend. Do you have a patron Saint to help?

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Each and every Blogger blog includes its very own search box right at the top. Your readers can use the one on yours to search your blog. I don't know why they wouldn't.

marco said...

I chose St. Max Kolbe in RCIA and gave my last son the middle name "Kolbe" -(somehow I sensed he was going to be a hellion and could probably use a saint to keep an eye out).

I liked St. Max for a number of reasons: while mostly adopted by the Catholics on the "right" who were pro-life he was also adopted by Catholics on the "left" for peace. I also liked his Mariology which actually gave him some problems from some of his superiors and his zeal in using technology (the printing press). There are many remarkable aspects to his life, besides what he's usually remembered for (his martyrdom at Auschwitz.

My other son is my Padre Pio son - I knew he was a boy via St. Pio but that's a complicated story. Anyway, I've had instances that convince me Padre Pio keeps an eye on my family from time to time.

mph said...

I agree with Arkanabar. Even if you back reference all the time and the search picks up one of the back references, the searcher can just click on the reference which links to the original article.

Anonymous said...

@Susan--my husband went through RCIA and his class was instructed to pick Confirmation names.

The whole, no Confirmation-name-thing just sounds odd to my ears.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This is a prayer atributed to St. Gertrude for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and is said to realease 1000 souls everytime it is said:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

God help you with all you do.