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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Everything That Grows

Will you explain Rogation Days?

Of course!  Rogation days are the days when bald people pray to grow some hair!

I'm kidding, although, perhaps bald people do just that during Rogation Days. The word "Rogation" comes from the Latin words that mean "to Ask" and they follow the days after the Gospel in which we hear "ask and ye shall receive".

After that the explanation gets a bit thick.  For one thing, they land between Easter and the Ascension and since Easter moves around, so do they.  In general, they start on April 25th, unless we have a late Easter that lands after that, then they we start them the next week. There are four days, the major Rogation on April 25th (or the week after that) and the Minor Rogation, for the three days before the Ascension.  They used to involve fasting, but now only involve praying the Litany of the Saints and maybe a procession.  They used to involve big processions.  If there is a procession, it has to be followed by a Mass. 

That's if you can find anyone who still observes them at all. They were removed from the Church calendar during Vatican II in 1969. You'll be hard pressed to find any processions these days.  Rogation days were established (already considered an "ancient" practice in the 6th century) to pray for a good harvest and to mark the change of seasons.

Rogation Days are another one of those things that the early Church grabbed to replace a pagan practice.   I say, "Good for them!" The pagans had a big procession going on around this time of year to pray to the gods and make sacrificial offerings for good crops.  The early Church was sharp as a tack in replacing pagan festivals and holidays with Christian ones, so no one felt deprived, while at the same time ridding the world of silliness.

Although, obviously, there is work to be done, as we saw last weekend. (And will see again in a few months, it seems.  Reverend Crazypants now claims he was off by five months. Think anyone will believe him?  Third try is a charm, afterall.)

Many people still observe Rogation days on their own.  It's a lovely way to observe the change of season and to connect ourselves to nature.  You can have 'do it yourself" Rogation days by simply saying the Litany of the Saints.  

You should, however, walk around while you do that, since the whole idea is to connect with nature a bit.  Put on your Sketchers and take in God's bounty.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not Rapturous

Since there is no such thing as the Rapture, I'm still here. Are you surprised?

I've always been quietly thrilled that as Catholics we do not believe in the Rapture. I do not find the Rapture rapturous.

This decade's crazy preacher (he was last decade's crazy preacher, too) posited that some 200 million "true believers" would be sucked out of their shoes last Saturday, because misguided Bible wavers love numbers. Exact numbers. You would think that someone who knew the Bible so well would appreciate one important fact: all numbers in the Bible are symbolic. Even the numbers that actually were the right number.

The Twelve Apostles. Yes, there were twelve. The "inner circle" of Jesus. There were twelve to represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  But Jesus traveled with quite a few more folks than that. Quite a few women were around, people that went with Him this way and not that way and then went with Him this way again. Jesus could have had three apostles or eleven, but He didn't.

And if He did, that number would also have been symbolic.  That's the way the Bible works.

But that's not the disturbing thing to me about the Rapture.  I am disturbed to the point of disgust at the idea that anyone would be so happy to be whizzed up to heaven because they are so righteous while many more millions suffer the Wrath of God.

I don't want anyone to suffer the Wrath of God. I'm sure they would tell you that they don't either, hence the warning billboards.  If I was a rapture believer, I would not be happily waiting my flight to Heaven, I would be mourning the fate of the rest of the world and the horrific suffering that was to come. I can't help but notice the sense of glee at the idea that they are chosen and others are not.  

So now, these believers are "disappointed" at best and "devastated" at worst. I would think they would be delighted to have more time to save more people! Thrilled! "Whew!" they should be saying, "Jesus wants many more people than 200 million with Him!  Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work!" But they are disappointed and upset that hundreds of thousands of people across the globe were not destroyed in earthquakes, fires and floods.  They are sorry the ground didn't open up and swallow people into a fiery pit.  They are sorry that they are not taking tea with Jesus while the rest of us wail and gnash our teeth. And make no mistake, Catholics are not included with these righteous believers.  We don't believe right.

As we communicate here, there is a protest underway of righteous believers who want their money back, as though they bought a ticket on a flight that was canceled.  

Someone asked me my take on the Rapture last week.  Here's my take: it's sad and selfish.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good-bye Cruel World

Sister, what's your take on May 21 being the end of the world?

I'll let you know on Monday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Corporate Ladder to Heaven

I've been stuck at entry level in my job for four years despite trying my best - and asking St. Joseph and St. JoseMarie 

I can accept no for an answer. Would praying for a visible sign in this case be evil?

I imagine that the visible sign would be a promotion? You haven't mentioned that you'd like a whole different job. 

St. JoseMaria Escriva is the patron saint of diabetics, not that he wouldn't help you. He certainly was a highly motivated individual.  St. Joseph, although he is the patron saint of workers, was a humble man who accepted his lot in life.

If you're striving to get out of your entry level job, you need a patron saint who climbed up the ladder through the stained glass ceiling. I recommend a person who did that, and ended up  in the greatest job in the world for a very, very long time.

Pope John Paul II, now Blessed John Paul II.  Did we all watch his ceremony on EWTN?  I did!  

In Step Two in the canonization process, after much vetting and proving that the person possessed heroic virtue (not run of the mill virtue), having been declared "Venerable" (worthy of veneration), the candidate is declared "Blessed" when one miracle has been proved.

You may recall that Pope John Paul II had Parkinson's Disease.  It seems there was a nun who had a severe and fast moving case and the moment Pope John Paul II passed on to his Heavenly reward, her whole convent began praying for his intercession with the dual goal of her cure and his sainthood.

These miracles are nothing to sneeze at.  There can't be any guessing, any, "well...she seems a little better today".  Instantaneous and unexplained.  That's the criteria.  Sister Marie Simon-Pierre went to sleep one night with  severe Parkinson's and the next morning she was reborn (her words).

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre was on hand for the ceremony, which begins with a night long vigil.  A very snappily dressed Italian woman with big hair was the hostess who interviewed people who had known the Pope.  Sister Marie Simon-Pierre told her story and her whole convent (the Congregation of the Catholic Maternity Wards from France) was in the audience.  Sister Simon-Pierre woke up one morning two months after the death of the Pope, cured. She could walk and talk normally, write, drive!  

What a night!  I meant the ceremony...but really, that night of being cured in her sleep, too.

She says Blessed John Paul II is with her every day, and will be through out her life.  

He'll help you, too!

I don't think it's evil to ask for a sign. The question is, will you know it when it comes?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Like a Good Neighbor

Is there a point in praying for a change in people who have no intention of changing? We've had no offers on our house and I am still in an unhappy relationship with neighbours that seem to get more vindictive with no provocation...I'm praying for myself to rise above it as well...

No, they're going to Hell.

I'm kidding.

We think of miracles as outward signs, tangible proof of God's mercy.  The lame walk and the Parkinson's disappears. But there are other miracles that aren't seen. The softening heart, the finding of forgiveness.  All of those things can come from prayer.

So don't despair. For one thing, despair is a sin. With God there is always hope.

We don't know the details of your situation. I'm not asking you to provide them. We'd still only be hearing your side of the story, although we're assuming you are dealing with the neighbors from Hell, who play heavy metal music at all hours and scream across the yard and the house at each other using all types of foul language as beer bottles roll down the driveway.  They are Satan worshippers who don't pick up after their dog.  Or dogs. Dangerous dogs who may eat one of their children or the mailman.

Here's some help: Jesus still loves them. And you, too. He has your back. What is the point of praying for them?  Jesus loves them. If you want to be in harmony with Jesus, you'll want to love the people he loves, which is everybody.

Sometimes it's no fun to be a follower of Jesus.  Then on top of how impossible Jesus' demands are, you can't sell your house and get away from these people.

You do know about St. Joseph?  Have you buried him in the yard yet?  I know a lot of people are rather horrified by this old Catholic wives talely ritual, but a lot of folks swear by it. I don't have a problem with it. I have yet to hear any objection from priests, bishops, cardinals....you can buy a little kit at any Catholic goods store. 

If it bothers you to actual bury a statue in your front yard, which is entirely understandable, at least turn to St. Joseph for help.  His neighbors were way worse than yours and he also had to move his family. He's got your back.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cinco de What?

What month is it?  My goodness, am I ever behind!  Between getting over my food poisoning, our Easter festivities, basketball playoffs and lovely gardening weather, I have been a blur of black and white. What a wonderful time we've had!  

If you have followed our little convent on the internet for any length of time, you'll know about my basketball fandom.  I'm not sure if I mentioned that it all began because I lived in Chicago for a while, during the heyday of Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Phil Jackson.  So of course, I am tickled pink at the success of this year's team.  If you'd like a Mother's Day treat, find Derek Rose's speech, accepting the MVP award (the youngest player ever to receive the honor, just shy of age 23). He waxes poetic about his mother, who is in attendance, and there isn't a dry eye in the house.  

But, back to work.
Sister, who do you suggest as a Patron Saint for a person with kidney troubles?

That would be none other that St. Benedict!  THE St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Monks and the Rule of Benedict. St. Benedict was a teenage living in Rome, watching his peers' lives turn to sinful mush and thought he'd better get out of Dodge to save his own soul.

Off he went to the desert, and the rest is history.  Major, major church history. 

He is the patron saint of kidney disease. I have no idea why.  If anyone knows why, I'd love to hear it. Here is my best guess: the other monks tried to poison him. Twice.

Benedict was all about discipline and rules and the monks didn't much care for what he was asking of them.  They put poison in his drink. The goblet shattered.  They put poison in his bread.  A raven swooped in and snatched it away. Let's hope the raven was part of a miracle and not just hungry or it was curtains for that raven.

The shattered goblet and the raven incident were viewed as miraculous and part of the reason St. Benedict's reputation grew.

I can't help but think that his association with poison might have something to do with the idea of bad kidneys. That's the best I can do.  I'd love to find out more, if there are any Benedict experts out there.

Meanwhile, we have two other questions that have been answered before, but they happily bear repeating:

Hello Dear Sister,

Who is a good saint for when you feel spiritually dead? i.e. - I feel like I'm praying to a brick wall. I go to Mass out of habit/duty. I am near to weeping out of frustration in not knowing how to "fix" this.
Not sure who the saint of the day is, but my answer is their two feet that follow Jesus.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta!

What a lovely blog - thank you for enriching our knowledge of our catholic tradition. A request more than a question: apparently there is no patron saint for autistic children. If you are going to the blogger's picnic/conference at the Vatican, please speak to the powers that be to allocate a saint to our wonderful children. And (perhaps of equal importance), a saint for those who take care of autistic children and adults - the educators, the doctors, mums and dads and sibling - there is a LOOOONG list and we all need help at times.

St. Joseph Cupertino!