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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Light Dusting

I hope I don't disappear on you again, but school actually starts at the end of the week. I'm hoping to power through questions and comments, so let me know if I accidentally skipped you. Some one wrote in the comments section "Andrew of Scot---where do I leave a question?"  I don't know if they meant to try and ask a question about St. Andrew the Scot or they were using his name in a sort of "Jumpin' Jehosaphat!" sort of way.  In any case, the comments section is the place to leave questions.

Meanwhile a comment from a reader about the "Superheroes".

Ahhh - but there is the anomaly of not letting one's Right hand know what the Left hand is doing.....drawing attention to one's good deeds by Dressing Up somehow diminishes the effect.
In my opinion.

Dressing up how?

While I can see your point, I can't really agree. Perhaps if I hadn't had to listen to so many comments about what nuns wear or do not wear over the years....

The whole habit /clergywear argument goes something like this:
"Nuns and priests should always be identifiable, like policeman and ....well, policemen."

Now, I can understand that sentiment.  So the same thing can be said of these do-gooders.  Their outlandish outfits identify them as people who are there to help. Like  policemen.  Or  nuns. The whole reason the Pope wears that tall hat is so that you can pick him out of a crowd.

My beef with the need of some folks to see habits and collars is that it seems like when they say they want to be able to spot the avowed spouses of the Church,  what they mean is that they don't want to be caught misbehaving, or swearing or being unkind and gossipy because they didn't realize the guy they were having a cocktail with was a priest or the lady they cut in front of to steal a parking space was a nun. 

To them I say, "Behave yourself!"  That way you won't have a problem no matter what anyone around you is wearing.  This includes the beach.

Is St. Catherine of Siena or St. Catherine of Sweden the patroness of preventing miscarriages? and why? I've seen both, and while it's possible they both are, the names make me think someone mixed it up somewhere. 

No, it is both of them, but I don't know why St. Catherine of Sweden wound up in that category. I've actually been on the case trying to find out and I've come up empty.  That means the reason may well be that a prevention of a miscarriage has been attributed to each her, ala St. Gerard.

St. Gerard is the patron saint of childbirth because he forgot his hanky.  He left it at someone's house and then, later, while a young woman was having a very difficult and dangerous labor, somebody in the house remembered Gerard's hanky was there and gave it to the young woman to hold.  Mother and baby did fine, as they say.

So, I'm thinking something along those lines must have gone of with Swedish Catherine.  Unless perhaps her own birth was difficult.  She was the middle child of eight, the daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden. Which brings us to Siena. Her patronage against miscarriage is a no-brainer.

St. Catherine of Siena's mother had had 22 children (half of them had died) when she gave birth to twins in while in her forties. Catherine's twin didn't live long, but Catherine became one of only three women "Doctors of the Church".

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Order of the Eastern No-No

Since things are so quiet around here, I have time to stir up some trouble with this question from a reader:

Here's my question....At what time in history did Catholics decide to condemn Masonry or The Order of the Eastern Star? Are they the same? HELP!

I bought some religious items from an Estate Sale. The estate lot had a membership to the Fresno Chapter of The order of The Eastern Star. The membership holder was a Nun. I have her holy cards, letters she has written with her signature, friends memorial cards( including a few priests) and other devotional items.

I wasn't really surprised by her membership, however others looked at it has the devil walked into the room! How can a Nun be in the Eastern Star? Can Catholics be a Mason? I'm not armed with such knowledge can you help me?

When did the Church first warn about the Masons?  1738 AD. You can read all about it here.  But if you are allergic to things that are dry as dust, scroll to the bottom, where you'll find what Pope Clement had to say back then.

The last time I discussed the Catholic Church's teachings about the Free Masons, some Free Masons hair went on fire.  Be sure and read the comments section, unless you can't stand the smell of burning hair.  It's like an exploded blow dryer in there.  I'll let you wade through this.  I'll have some coffee while you read.

So that's that.

The Order of the Eastern Star is a women's auxiliary group for the Masons.  When it started way back when, you had to be related to a Mason to be eligible. You had to be a daughter, wife, widow, niece...something familial...to a Mason. The rules have relaxed (no doubt to increase dues revenue) to include women who have some sort of relationship with a Mason.  I'm not sure how close the relationship has to be.  Or how you would prove that relationship.  Maybe you have to show your Facebook page.

I don't know what was going on with that nun.  She shouldn't have been in the Order of the Eastern Star, the Church expressly forbids it.  Maybe her poor misguided father was a Mason, and she was somehow 'gifted' with a membership and just stuck the membership certificate in a drawer where it stayed until she died. Let's hope that was the case.

I'm not inclined to behave as though Masons and their families are devils with horns, unless one is willing to judge that such notables as Clara Barton and that lady that wrote "The Little House on the Prairie"  (both members of the Eastern Star) were Satan worshippers.  But the Church has asked us not to be Masons.

So that's that.  If it all makes you smolder, try this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Oh, these lazy days of summer! Thank you for you're continued patience with my absenteeism.  Sister Julianne is such a whiz with everything that it's done before I think about doing it.  And if I mention something I might want to get done, she runs off and does it.  She is one of those people who loves to fix things for you. Can't find your glasses?  She's already searching for them!  Need to trim the morning glories off the power lines before they crawl up and choke off the power to the whole neighborhood? She found the clippers, the green can, the ladder, the garden gloves....and she's halfway up the ladder while you're still changing shoes. At the end of the week, I go back to school, just to dust and arrange and collate.  I have a feeling that when I get there, she will have arisen in the middle of the night and done it all and I'll just skip through the hallways all day.

So I had some 'leisure time'.  I usually read. Or visit with you.  But I watched a documentary that someone recommended.  For the longest time, while watching it, I was sorry I took it on.

According to this film, there are people who have decided to be Superheroes.  They make up some kind of silly costume and stand out on their own street corner, or a corner somewhere in their town and wait for some crime to come by and then they try to stop it.  They fashion weapons.  They make masks. They practice fighting by sparring with other pretend superheroes.

And, I have to say, the poor things, if we were to call people names, they are the king nerds of nerdery.  They are Nerdtastic.

One fellow had made himself some sort of flash ring. It looked like a "magic ring". It had a little lever or knob on the side and when he flipped it, flame shot out.  Or, it flashed so it looked like flame was shooting out.  "It's a distraction," he said, sounding very important.  I'm not sure what he planned to do with the criminal once he was distracted.  Magic Ring was practically an old man.

I don't think they really fought much crime.  One fellow kept his secret identity as as superhero from his wife. When he finally told her what he was doing with his evenings, she did not laugh in his face or leave him, like any sane person would.  She became a superhero, too.  That's devotion.

Or Nerdtastic.

So it was a little sad watching  a group of them stand on street corners at night and skateboard around talking to each other on walkie talkies. A drunk driver side swiped a car and the skateboarder "called it in" to the corner stander.  "Get the license plate!" the skate boarder yelled into the walkie talkie.  "What?  Can you repeat that? What?"  the corner girl answered.  Drunk driver, gone.  

They did eventually stop the man, took his keys away and promised to mail them back to him the next day.  Shazam!  Take that, crime!

But near the end of the movie, most of these people were shown doing something else. The man and his wife spend their own money to make a homeless person kit.  They take really large size zip lock bags and go to the Rite Aid and buy lip balm and toothpaste and toilet paper--a list of things they think one person would need to live on the street for one day--and they bag it up. A roll of toilet paper, a lip balm, a bottle of water.  Each bag is worth about $20. They make as many as they can muster and pass them out among the homeless.

Many of them carry back packs filled with candy and little toys and nutrition bars and pass them out to people they encounter that need a lift.  They help old drug addicts in wheel chairs get across busy intersections.  They ask people where they stay at night, and arrange places to meet to bring them things they need.  They hold hands and take names.  At Christmas,  they collect enormous amounts of clothing and toys and bring them to homeless shelters.

Today, we call these types nerds. But from the time of Christ on, we have called them saints.  Oddly dressed people with funny ideas about doing what they can to help humanity in need, wherever need exists.  People who really don't care what other people think about their odd mission in life or their funny hat.

They urge everyone to join them, to pick up the slack, but you and I know that very few people have the nerve to be Nerdtastic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is It Still Summer?

Where have I been? Just a minute ago it was two weeks ago!  Sister St. Aloysius is off on her yearly Think Tank sabbatical. I thought I was going to have to go it alone with Sister Mary Fiacre, but it's really a two man job. A two nun job. A two person job.  We have it down to a science, getting her in and out of her wheelchair, and in and out of bed, the medication schedule, the TV shows that seem to entertain her. Trying to explain our inanely complex routine to an 'outsider' is almost embarrassing.

"You put the empty bread bag under her left foot and then pull her up and spin her around into the wheelchair."

"Bread bag?"

"Yes.  The bread bag under her foot lets her foot spin like a ballerina. Otherwise she could snap her ankle."

The bread bag was the brain child of Sister St. Aloysius.  Genuis. No wonder they have her at the Think Tank every year.

"If you cut the cookie into pieces and stick a piece between her fingers, she will eat it herself automatically. But you have to pry her fingers apart."

"Pry her fingers apart?"

"Yes. with your own fingers. You won't need any tools or a crowbar or anything."

Around this time, some people flee, with their hair on fire.

I had lined up several of the church ladies to drop in from time to time to pick up the slack. Or the bread bags. We were good to go.

You may remember that last year...was it last year? I lose track.  Anyhow, we had St. Nicolas during  Think Tank season. I didn't think I'd get any help from the powers that be this year.  It's harder and harder to find a spare nun anyplace. So you can imagine my surprise, just after returning from a whirlwind trip to the airport after we realized we misread the ticket and the time was 12 noon, not 12 midnight (poor Sister St. Aloysius thought she'd be sleeping through a redeye and didn't bring a thing to read, this is where a rosary is so handy!), to find a certain Sister Julianna parked on the door step with her little black bag.

I thought she was sitting down when I saw her, but she was standing up.  She's two feet tall!  No, she isn't.  But she is very tiny. I feel like a Yeti standing next to her. She's Cuban.

Actually, she isn't really.  We talk that way here in America.  "I'm Irish!"

No, you aren't.  You may be of Irish decent. But you are not Irish. If you go to Ireland and tell them you're Irish, they'll shake their heads and say, "You're an American."  And they'd be right.

Sister Julianna is of Cuban descent.  She does wonders with a sweet garlic sauce and those little bitty bananas. Who knew garlic and bananas would be a good thing. Although they did not agree with Sister Mary Fiacre at all. So we won't be having them again. I'll offer up my suffering for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

So it's going very well! Her hair didn't go on fire when I showed her 'the routine' and she can pivot a person on a bread bag with the best of them.

We're back in business!