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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Culture Shock

The hand holding, clapping war rages on in the comments section.  Who knew such a simple question would start such a donnybrook.  Sister St. Aloysius' worry of a future war in Heaven is not unfounded!  Time for a little palette cleanser:

My fiance has just moved from his home country of England to start a new life together in America. He is suffering from culture shock. Is there a patron saint who helps in a situation like this?

My goodness! Isn't that lovely? The poor man.  America is a very hard place to get used to, I would imagine.  Although, the food is a lot better!  Where in America has he landed, I wonder?  Because I get culture shock going from here on the West Coast to the Midwest.

I have a terrifically hard time finding any food that includes vegetables, for one thing, although I suppose technically speaking, potatoes are  vegetables, as is the tomato on the hamburger. You'd better be a big fan of iceberg lettuce, too. Your salad will have ham on it, if it isn't made up almost entirely of ham. You can't even find ham salad here anywhere. A request for ham salad would solicit blank stares.

And when you actually do find some vegetables, something untoward has been done to them. They have bacon bits on them, or cheese.  Not real cheese, either. Cheeze Whiz or Velvetta

But I digress.

Yes, of course we have a patron saint for him! We have a whole bunch of saints for him! I'd go with the North American Martyrs! Talk about culture shock!  Since I've covered them before, I'll just redirect you there. But I do want to highlight the fact that these men were shocked and horrified whilst having to live among the heathens and were beaten and chewed  trying to do their work here.

That would be much worse than broccoli with bacon bits and Velvetta

Which brings me back to the hand holding wars.  The North American Martyrs should add a little perspective to our thoughts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ON and on

Woefully behind!

The Our Father singing/hand holding controversy has raged on in my absence.  I do believe this is the longest comment thread in the history of Ask Sister Mary Martha. A brief sampling:

Oh, don't get me started on the clapping. I sometimes go to the more (*ahem*) contemporary parish that is closer to my house. I actually stopped going there because they incessantly do annoying things. They always clap after the recessional and and one of the last times I went, the clapped during the Alleluia! Like it was a campfire song! This is how they did it: "Alle" *clap clap* "Luia" *clap clap* and then "alle-alle-alle-alle-alleluia!" I actually turned to the person sitting next to me, with what I can only imagine was a look of horror and a stupefied "really??!" escaped my mouth out loud. She seemed to share my annoyance. Needless to say, I never went back.

Was there a liturgical dance, too?

I also cannot stand singing the Our Father. It's distracting and annoying and takes way too long. Not that I think it should be gotten over with as soon as possible, but I feel that everytime it is sung I'm focused more on how silly the tune is, and how it doesn't sound good and how all I want to do is focus on the WORDS and not anything else.
Luckily it's only sung at 12:00 mass at my church, so i just avoid it... or offer it up!

Strategies are employed:

I've never liked holding hands. We always sit with parents on the outside, kids in the middle. So, I'll be, at least on one side, next to a non-family member. Whether it is someone I know or a complete stranger, I am not comfortable holding hands with a man who is not my husband. It just feels so wrong. Perhaps because prayer and hand holding are both intimate acts, it is uncomfortable to do them with someone I am not on that level with. I usually keep a handkerchief in my pocket and when hand holding time comes around, I just blow my nose and try to look like I'd really like to hold their hands but don't want to spread germs.

The general non hand holding, sing less, stop that clapping consensus:

I've read through the comments here and have seen lots of reasons why and why not people like or do not like holding hands. One thing that caught my attention was the word "unity". This is the precise reason we, Catholic Christians should not hold hands during the Our Father prayer. As Catholic Christians, our "unity" is in the Eucharist. If you wish to imagine those of your family who are not with you, imagine them surrounding the Altar during the Eucharistic prayer, praying with you and the multitude of Angels and Saints.
To hold hands during the Our Father as a sign of "unity" is a misunderstanding of our Faith. We unite with one another at the reception of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

We could start holding hands during the Eucharist, too, in that case.

We're all entitled to our opinions. I would prefer not to sing or hold hands. Do I agree that we shouldn't sing or hold hands? No. I understand those who feel we are somehow chipping away at the reverence we should be feeling at Mass with a held hand here and a tune there.

And all that clapping...it calls to mind a game show, the one where everyone claps like chimpanzees no matter how stupid the answer was.

But I feel that's not the issue on which we should focus. At least one person is on the same page as I.

My husband hates the "sung" Our Father and some of the hymns that are often sung during Mass. He refuses to sing the Our Father but will mouth the words along with those of us who sing. As to the hymns he doesn't care for, he glares throughout without singing them.

My thoughts?

If we're striving for unity, should we allow such petty things to separate us for the others in the congregation? Can't we simply "offer it up" and go along with the flow as long as it isn't something truly un-Christian? Is it really necessary for us to (not) voice our disapproval by refusing to join with others in the Body of Christ?

But that's just me...

No, it's me, too.  Whenever I find myself feeling miffed, judgmental, irked and stiff shouldered, I remind myself that someday I hope to be in Heaven with the source of my irritation:  my singing, clapping, hand holding brethren. I won't even be allowed in Heaven if I'm standing stiff shouldered and tight lipped in the line to get in.

I think it's as important for people to know why they are/aren't standing, kneeling, holding hands, applauding, crossing themselves, wearing flip-flops as it is that they follow the rules. Anytime I've seen someone doing something I was taught was wrong, I ask myself if it would be better that they just not be in church. I'd rather see someone in flip-flops than not see them at all.

Yes. St. Francis of Assisi didn't even wear shoes.

We'll all be in Heaven together. Even Those People who do Those Things.

Whoever Those People are for you.

It always disturbs me  to hear that people have left a parish because they have become stiff shouldered and annoyed.  What are you going to do in Heaven?  You can't change parishes in Heaven. Do you imagine that Those People, simply won't be there? Surely you hope that they will be.

Worried about spreading the flu? That's a lame excuse.  Jesus hugged lepers, back when they thought you could get leprosy by hugging lepers. It made the lepers so happy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Hands, Our Father

The discussion on "Our Father Hand Holding" has been so lively in the comments section, I've decided to repost them here to we can all follow along.  Apparently there has been some major amok running as regards the "Our Father" at Mass:

Hi Sister- I've followed your blog for a couple of years (I think it was the first blog I ever followed) but this is my very first question (and it's rather long!). 

The beginning of this post reminds me of the moment that makes me wince at nearly every Sunday Mass at our parish. The Our Father is sung while (almost) everyone hold hands (a few of us hold out... we have little ones in our arms which is a great excuse!). 

The part that really, really bothers me, however is that they have actually changed the words to the prayer so that it is sung: "Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, father hear our prayer. And lead us not, into temptation but deliver us, deliver us, from all that is evil, hear our prayer.

Changing the words can't possibly be okay, can it? I feel like my husband and I are the only ones bothered by it. We're hoping our new pastor (third pastor in three years now) is going to say something like: "we're going to use the words Jesus taught us and that's that!" but since it hasn't happened up until this point I'm not exactly optimistic. 

No one seems to want to challenge the status quo (except that apparently they did at some point and someone let it slide). 

But changing the words isn't acceptable, is it?

Well, yes and no.  When you sing something sometimes you have to make a couple of changes to fit the words to the music. The changes of which you speak don't change the meaning in any way as far as I can see.  Although I have heard plenty o' versions of the "Our Father" sung that don't change anything. They are all ghastly, in my opinion. There is no cadence to the "Our Father", it's not a poem and it can only be shoehorned into music.  But that's just me.  My heart goes out to you.  Singing the "Our Father" never works out very well.

But back to the comments:

Here's my 2 cents which will probably irritate a lot of people. I've no idea what the official view is on this and don't claim to know everything (or anywhere near) about Catholicism or Christianity. I don't see how either holding hands or putting in "Father here our prayer" is in any way unacceptable. Fair enough, don't add or take away anything from the mass but can't common sense be used. Surely little things that can't possibly be seen as evil or deviant by anyone's standards are ok? Is there an official document anywhere that says people must stand/sit/kneel with their hands, legs and head at a certain angle during mass? If so, fair enough, but I still think it's being extremely petty. I can't help but think of all the references to Pharisees paying too much attention to little details of the law while ignoring the more important matters of religious teachings.

To which we get this very well thought out response:

There actually IS a document! It's called the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, or GIRM for short. And while I agree with your premise entirely, that it seems all too petty to worry about concise language and posture, when all of these are intended to draw us more deeply into the love of God and love for neighbor, here is thinking on that: If you do not have a standard, then what are the boundaries, exactly? Father Joe at St. X parish decides it's okay to say "Father, hear our prayer, hear our prayer." Not so far from the original - but then Father Larry across town starts to use a version with inclusive language. Next thing you know, Father Steve decided to substitute the prayer of the native Sufi tribe in place of the Lord's prayer, because it contains many of the same types of petitions - forgiveness, tolerance, dependence on a Great Spirit. Do you see where this is going? Someone has to decide which form of prayer should be used, and yes, whether or not the people should be standing, kneeling, or seated. As a Catholic who travels quite a bit, I've found it very comforting that I can attend a mass in any country and know when to stand, sit, or kneel, and even if I cannot read or speak the language, I basically know exactly where I am in the mass because of the uniformity in the liturgy.

Catholic School Teacher

I agree with Catholic school teacher! If we just start changing these things, aren't we basically no longer Catholic in a way? I mean, Luther just wanted to change a few things here and there, and then Calvin wanted to change a few more, and before you know it: BAM! a million little offshoots with no authority! The Catholic church has standards and rubrics and a Pope and a Magisterium in order to keep all these things nice and (excuse the pun) "kosher." 
Now, at my church we sing the Our Father and it just drives me nuts. But we don't even change the words. Just the act of singing it bothers me. But that's just me, I guess...

No, it really, really isn't just you.

The churches in our archdiocese ask us to join hands (if we like) during the Our Father. I don't see anything wrong with it; it's not adding anything out of line to the Mass. (We don't change the words.) When I close my eyes to say the prayer, I know I'm holding hands with my family, and I envision the family and friends who aren't with me at that moment holding hands and praying with us, too.

Sometimes we'll try singing the Our Father, but the tune our choir uses isn't that great. I heard one good choral version of the Our Father sung at a parish several years ago, but most of the time it doesn't quite work.
Peaceful discussion continues:

Thanks for all those responses, it's interesting to know there is a document - should have guessed! I do see all your points but still think common sense could be used. I don't know what all the differences are between Catholics and other Christian churches but imagine they're a bit more than whether hands are held during the "Our Father". I do see it's easier to make rigid rules and have no confusion between one person's version of common sense and another's. But I still think we shouldn't place too much importance on it or let it bother us when it's something as minor as holding hands. I can't see it bothering Jesus but could be wrong.
But of course:
The problem mph is where does it stop? It is not petty when one sees week after week the reverence of Mass eroding into trivality. Talking during the silence of the Church before and after Mass trivializes the space and makes it difficult for people who wish to pray. Wearing flip-flops and shorts to Church trivializes Mass and turns it into a tourist activity. Holding hands makes Mass trivial.
And while we're on the subject:

Sister, one of my other pet peeves (besides the cum bya of holding hands during the Lord's prayer) is when the parishioners break out into applause for the choir--at least they normally wait until after the recessional (I hope that is the right word). The choir rarely sings at the early Mass my family and I attend except on special occassions. So, I guess it is just "too special" not to acknowlege with clapping?? Isn't the Mass--meeting the Lord in His Word and receiving Him in the Eucharist enough for people? They've already erroneously turned the altars all different ways. Our tabernacle is in the back rear of our sanctuary behind glass. It is like seating the banquest's guest of honor in the kitchen. Thank God our current pastor started a campaign to raise money to build a new home for the tabernacle front and center in the sanctuary. (Praise God our parish is also debt-free!)

One of my main goals as a Catechist is to make sure that I instill in my students reverence for Christ's presence in the Mass. One of the most important things they need to know is God's love for them and His coming to them in a very real, tangible way in the Mass. God loved them so much He suffered and died for them--He deserves our love, reverence, and devotion. They cumbyas and hand holding should be reserved for summer camp, youth group, and Kindergarten class.

Sorry, I'm babbling. My two cents. God bless you sister.
Deep breath (or is that too "Eastern Religion-ish"?).  Of course, everyone will want to know what I think.  
Everyone is right.  Seriously, that's what I think.
I think we should do things the way they are supposed to be done because there is a reason they are done that way that has been picked at and turned over and thought about and refined for CENTURIES. They didn't just say to everybody, "Oh, let's stand up now, we've been kneeling for so long."  Or "Jesus made a nice prayer, what if people don't get it? Maybe we should dumb it down."
I'm not sure how many of you saw this, but the Pope recently said that homosexual male prostitutes and  female prostitutes should be encouraged to use condoms. Now don't lose sight for one second that sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin, period. And so is using a condom.  Did the Pope bring that up? You'd think he'd want to take this opportunity to drive that point home.
Nope.  He was much more concerned with any tiny thing that could help a person a little closer to doing the right thing.  So he suggested that these colossal sinners would benefit from doing something that caused them to think of the safety of others and thus bring them one step closer to an inkling of a holy life. 
So, if people are holding hands during the "Our Father" and it's bringing the closer to God, hooray! They're at Mass!  With their family!  Maybe later we can mention that we don't do that and why and they can mull that over, maybe try it next time. We can set a good example, meanwhile.
But stop that clapping! That's just wrong.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Going to the Chaplet

Just the other day, we had a question in the comments section (which is just where it should be) about whether or not it's okay to hold hands during the Our Father during Mass.  I haven't tackled that question here, because a couple of readers were very precise and gave good answers. And no, it's actually not okay. You can't do whatever you want during the Mass. We're not holding hands and we're not doing the wave and we're not breaking into applause during the Consecration of the Host, even if we feel like it.  No one is going to come rushing up behind you and hit you with a ruler if you happen to be holding hands with your husband or wife during the Mass. But, we have rules and we'd like you to follow them.

Until we don't.  Sometimes it's okay to make up something and go with it. Like today's question:

Long before I became Catholic I was drawn to the rosary - It somehow provided comfort when I held it, even before I learned how to pray properly. (Which as it turns out, really wasn't until very recently - although I still question if I really understand those mysteries...)

But I digress...I was wondering if you could explain about chaplets and their prayers? I'm confused as there seems to be so many different ones, some (or at least one)that are praying using the rosary itself and others that each seem to have their own 'style'. Some have 10 beads, some have 12, others 33, etc. Some have a Crucifix, others medals, and I assume some have neither...

Can you help me to understand these different tools for prayer? Is there perhaps a book or a website that includes not only prayer, but pictures of the chaplets? I'm hoping you can give me some direction - my internet searches have left me completely lost.

Thank you!

It's okay if you don't understand the Mysteries. Hence the word, "mystery".  You are to think about them while you pray the rosary and meditate on the wonder of it all.  We don't even mind so much if you pray it 'improperly' as long as you're not swinging it over your head. Improperly is better than not at all.  The more effort you put into the way it's supposed to go, the more you'll get out of it.

Chaplets, however, are a whole different issue. So let's explore the wide, wide world of chaplets.

Keep in mind that the rosary itself, and by this I meant the string of beads you are holding in your hand, is a little counting device.  So, you'll find a little object with just a few beads on it that you can just about wear as a bracelet and you can say the rosary with it.  It's little so it's called a chaplet, and it counts the rosary prayers for you.  Well, not for you....it helps you keep track.

In fact, there is also a ring you can get that serves the same purpose, although whenever I see one I also think about all the suffering you could offer up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory by actually wearing it.

I digress, too.

Then, there are a gazillion different devices, as you mentioned, with any number of beads on it, with a special devotion that goes with it, that is also called a chaplet.  Most of them, it seems to me (but I haven't actually counted) use the same set up of beads as a rosary (anyone looking at it would say it is a rosary) but instead of saying, say, a "Hail Mary" on each of the ten beads, there is another prayer entirely that you say.

It's a little confusing now, because we are now referring to both the object and the prayers that are said as a "chaplet".  But not too confusing, because we talk about the rosary the same way, the object and the prayer are called the same thing. Still with me?

The easiest way for you to have a quick overview of understanding is to go to that website you requested. Here is a good one.  The "Chaplet of Divine Mercy" is the most famous one, but as you can see the list is positively endless. That's because chaplets are what we call "'personal devotions".  Which means it's really just about you and what you would like to pray for, and how you're going to go about it.

I don't think you can do anything wrong, unless you swing it over your head or say it while holding hands during Mass.

I believe there would be no problem in you making up one of your own. Counted prayer, devoted to a specific intention.  Not rocket science.

Monday, January 10, 2011

St. Noah

Our readers are talking and saving me a lot of time! Asked:
While you on old testament people, how come they aren't referred to as Saints? I've never heard of St. Moses or Abraham but surely they're in heaven therefore Saints?

Is it just a convention that Saints come from Jesus lifetime forwards?

And answered:

Regarding Old Testament Saints, just as an example, 12/16 historically was the feast of Saints Ananias, Azarius and Mishael (Daniel's companions.) 12/24 was historically the feast of Saints Adam and Eve. 12/29 was historically the feast of St. David the King. Why don't they have days anymore?

I'm going to throw in my two cents. It is exactly two cents and it is entirely my own thought on the subject.

We know that the Church used to refer to some Old Testament folks as 'saints'.  To be clear, everyone who is dead and in Heaven is a saint.  That would include your Uncle Bert, if he's made it past Purgatory and into the Pearly Gates.

But we discourage you asking for the intercession of Uncle Bert, because we don't know for a fact that he did make it to Heaven. If a person has been canonized, however, we know for a fact that person is in Heaven. That's all we mean when we call someone a saint in the Catholic Church. The Church has proven that the soul is in Heaven, through heroic virtue and miracles.

Early on in the Church we did not have the canonization process.  Sainthood was more like the People's Choice Awards.  After a while we just had too many people who....well, some them didn't even exist. There was a person who, upon close inspection, turned out to be a dog.

Not a saint.

The Church is very old now.  New saints are marching into Heaven every hour and we have many, many people on the canonization waiting list. First they are deemed worthy of veneration, then they have one miracle attributed to them and are called "Blessed" and then many of them wait for decades, even centuries, to be canonized.  It doesn't mean they are not in Heaven.  It just means we don't know for a fact they are in Heaven.

And as we add saints to the calender, some other people get bumped off or rotated out.  Not out of Heaven.  Just off the calendar to make room so we get to meet everybody.

As for why we don't call Moses a saint, I do believe that is just the way our Tradition has developed. In particular because of the canonization process, we tend to think of people who are saints specifically as people who first and foremost were followers of Christ.  It doesn't mean Moses is not a saint. It just means we think of the people who carried the banner for Jesus as saints.

If you're new around here and you'd like to ask a question, just leave it in the comments section. Be sure and check back there from time to time, because sometimes our readers jump right in with your answer.

And their two cents.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Gift of the Magi

I never met any Jewish people until I went away to college.  The town in which I was raised was mostly German with a handful of Irish, all third and fourth generations of the immigrants who came to the Midwest.

As a child sitting in church, hearing sermons from time to time about how we were not to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus, that "the Jews did not kill Jesus",  I remember thinking, "What kind of bone head would think that?"  I never understood why it was even a topic for discussion.

What I had gleaned from our daily Bible studies and catechism lessons was that Jesus and his friends and everyone to whom he was talking were Jewish. Everyone. These Jewish people were the beloved characters of the Bible, the saints to whom we look for guidance and the Son of God Himself.

This comes to mind to me always on the Feast of the Epiphany.  I identify with the Wise Men from the East.  Like them, we gentiles were late to the party.

Everyone who came to Jesus' birthday party had a role. The shepherds let us know that He came for the very lowest among us and that their gifts are accepted.  The stable also represents human life at its most basic.  The angels announce that He came from Heaven.

And the Wise Men, the sages from the East, the Three Kings as we call them, show up late, cause havoc and slide out of town by a different route.  That's us.  The gentiles, trying to get to the party, but having trouble finding the address.

Keep in mind, by the way, that there is no number of wise men mentioned in the New Testament. Just wise men from the East.  Scholars believe that the number three occurred because of Passion plays of old where a giant pageant could sport twenty Kings or more. Then the number dwindled to twelve, representing the twelve tribes, the twelve apostles, and finally boiled down to three.  A nice round number that is much more easily managed on stage.  St. Bede gave them names and backgrounds.  Great help for actors for ages to come.

A gaggle of out of towners bearing symbolic gifts.  They follow a star but stop off to ask Herod for directions.  They manage to get in to see Jesus before Herod can mobilize his troops, then the visitors realize their blunder and skeedaddle out of town. The Holy Family, previously living in peaceful obscurity, have to uproot their home and flee for their very lives.

I can identify with that.  Sometimes our best intentions are met with some level of chaos.

We have no choice but to make the journey.  We'll never foresee the outcome.  We'll have trouble finding the way, we'll stumble into trouble and we might show up a little late.

We still saddle up the camels everyday to follow the star.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Hungry Souls

I would love to hear your thoughts on purgatory or what the different saints have said about it? What kind of place is it? Are the fires really like hell? Are there things we can do to avoid purgatory? I just read the book Hungry Souls and quite honestly, it scares me! Do you pray for the poor souls daily? The stories of children being in purgatory, such as Amelia from Fatima being there until the end of the world, it just boggles my mind, do you have any thoughts on this?

The only thing we know about Purgatory for sure is that it exists.  There is a place where souls go before they enter Heaven. Wherever that is and whatever goes on there causes them to need our prayers.

The traditional view of Purgatory is that it is rather like Hell. Fiery, miserable, great suffering. One hour there feels, literally, like sixty years. Mary visits. Angels bring the suffering sips of water.

And poor Amelia is there until the end of time! What in the world did she do, by the age of 14 when she died, to deserve that?

Have we left you behind, dear Readers? Let's re-cap:

We know there is a place between Heaven and Hell where there are souls who need prayers because we are admonished in Macabees to "pray for the dead".  The dead people in Heaven don't need any prayers and prayers are useless for the people in Hell. The Catholic Church named that place Purgatory. We believe that you go there to be punished for sins that you skated on, punishment-wise, and to achieve perfect harmony with God.

After that, everything we think about Purgatory is derived from what the Doctors of the Church and various individuals have said. We have to pay close attention to what the Doctors of the Church have said. But we are free to totally ignore things that individuals have said.

Those individuals have seen visions of Purgatory. For example, St. Catherine of Genoa, who was with a man at his death bed. One hour after his death, he appeared to her full of woe and suffering, begging her to pray for him as he had been in Purgatory "for sixty years".  She had to lower the boom on him and tell him it had only been an hour.

Math class was like that for me.  Time wise.  I was never on fire.

We are never compelled to believe what we call "private revelations".  This includes all sightings of Mary: Fatima, Guadlupe, Lourdes, that new one in Wisconsin...  Great news for the separated brethren who are so uncomfortable with Mary in the first place.

Here's a thought for you, separated brethren, while we're on the subject.  If you could sit down today and have brunch with Mary, wouldn't you?  Of course you would! If Mary, the Mother of God, called you on the phone or texted you for brunch, don't try and tell me you wouldn'g hop right over there.  And while you were at brunch and talking with each other, wouldn't you ask her to pray for you, like you might some other Christian friend at brunch?  Of course you would! 

So, don't wait for brunch. 

Which brings us to Amelia. The children of Fatima wrote down the things Mary said to them and they asked her about a couple of people they had known who had passed away. The first girl, Mary told them, was in Heaven.  But when they asked about poor Amelia, Mary said she was in Purgatory until the end of the world.

Mary appeared to the children of Fatima in 1917. So Amelia is still in Purgatory.  94 years.  32, 520 days.  390,360 hours.  And if one hour is experienced as 60 years, well...I'll try to do the math on that and offer it up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

Amelia is experiencing Purgatory, so far, as 21, 621,600 years, according to St. Catherine of Genoa. I'm on board with St. Catherine, because we all know that time does not fly when you're not having fun.

I can't fathom what Amelia could have done to merit this.  Our grade school nuns always told us that Pontius Pilate was in Puragtory until the end of time, too. Pontius, perhaps you'd like to sit over here with Amelia.

I am one of those people who becomes very upset when children are tried as adults no matter what they've done.  The argument is always that they were old enough to know right from wrong. To which I must answer, but not old enough to be trusted to drive, drink, serve in the military or vote.  Why?  They have issues with good judgement solely because of their age.  Unless you want to let children do those things, I don't think they should be tried as adults, either.

On the other hand, Mary said a lot of things that proved to be true during her time visiting Fatima, so I'll just....let it go.  Perhaps our prayers and sacrifices have given Amelia an early parole. We pray this is the case.

Keep in mind that we do believe, suffering notwithstanding, that Purgatory is a joyful place overall, because everyone there has full knowledge that they are definitely going to Heaven (even if some of them are wishing time would go ahead and end, already). So we know that Amelia is actually very, very happy.

You can offer your prayers for them and offer your sufferings and set backs up for them and free them from their joyful misery.  You can also say prayers for yourself ahead of time for when you end up there, because chances are very high that you'll be going.

I know I'm going to end up there (at least!) Clergy and nuns are held to a higher standard because we have to be good examples of the love of Christ and are therfore punished with, shall we say, more vigor.  Jesus loved people that were just about impossible to like, let alone love. He asked us to love enemies. The words "love" and "enemies" usually don't even go into the same sentence.

Like joyful misery.  Which is exactly how you are to offer up your suffering. Joyfully.

There are several things you can do to avoid Purgatory. Strive for perfection. Go to confession often. Google "indulgences" for a full list of prayers and activities.

Or...you could die the death of a martyr. Martyr's go straight to Heaven, no questions asked.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Future Epiphanies

We're in the church basement again, dusting off the Magi for the upcoming Feast of the Epiphany. We try to take Sister Mary Fiacre with us where ever we can. We feel it's important that she get some sunlight once in a while. We can't get her into the basement, however, so we've had to take turns rummaging around finding what we need to complete the manger scene. We have a whole camel here someplace. Meanwhile, we are shouting, "Marco!"  Polo!" so we don't lose each other.  Perhaps a trail of bread crumbs....

Starting out the New Year in Limbo:

A fuzzy on Limbo sister!
U wrote that Moses, Abraham and all others waited until Jesus opened the gates of heaven. Well, when were the gates closed before they were opened by Jesus? After Noah? After Adam? Did not Enoch ascend to live with God, as per Old testament? Moreover, Jesus depicted Abraham in heaven in the "poor Lazarus" parable. What about that?
Oh, getting more fuzzy, fuzzier than my studies , perhaps ( well is there a patron saint for fuzzy thinkers). Waiting for your answers sister..

Yes, what about that? I believe the answer to that question is how the thoughts on Limbo originated.  The great minds of theology have always been faced with such conundrums.  As far a I can tell the thinking went something like this:

Jesus said we can only get to Heaven through Him and the Bible tells us that we had to wait for a Savior to redeem us.  Hence the term "savior".  So no one could go to Heaven until Jesus died on the cross.

Meanwhile, the Bible also says that some people went to Heaven.

But according to Jesus, and pretty much the whole thrust of the Old Testament, this can't be true.  So where did they go?

There must be a  place that was not Heaven and not Hell.  Limbo. Specifically, the Limbo of the Fathers.

Since these were the Fathers, the great minds sought to describe this place.  What they came up with is that Limbo is just exactly like Heaven, except in one very important detail. You don't get to see God. It is a joyous place, though, and the Fathers in Limbo would have known that they were going to be able to go on to Heaven "soon" (speaking in eternal terms).

Like living in Beverly Hills instead of Bel Air (speaking in earthly mansion terms).  

click here for info on this painting
And while you won't find the word "Limbo" in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, because it is just an idea, the official word on the subject of the opening of Heaven is that no one got into Heaven until Jesus died on the cross because no one could get in without the Savior, the Redeemer.  We also know that while he was dead, Jesus descended into wherever these people were waiting and told them the Good News.

We are just people, living on earth on the corporeal plane.  Are there gates and mansions and doors that need to be opened and closed?  Probably not. We can not imagine life with no physical bodies, no need for chairs, refrigerators or macaroni and cheese. So we end up talking about that which we were never meant to understand in terms that are pretty silly.  We don't really know where it is, what it is exactly, or what goes on there.

It's a Sacred Mystery.  God doesn't expect us to ever understand it.  Sacred Mystery=Just Let it Go.