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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Strange Looks and No Comments

We had a little earthquake today.  As one of the eighth grade boys said, "We eat earthquakes for lunch."  Yes, we do.

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

My protestant friend invited me to join her bible study group. I've been going for several months now and I enjoy the bible study and the prayers. However, anytime time I mention anything remotely Catholic they all go quiet and wait for me to finish and then have no comment. Until last week when I mentioned the Immaculate Conception of Mary and one woman sat bolt upright and said "I've never read that story!" The group leader told her it wasn't in the bible and that is was Catholic Doctrine. I didn't know how to defend this (I do know now as I came home and studied!). Should I keep going to this study? I've been praying about God's will. Am I sinning by going? During this same evening someone talked about praying to God about getting a parking space. I told her we catholics have a saint for that!
I was met with strange looks and no comments.

We do have a saint for that! St. Boniface.  And if you want to be able to drive your car into that parking space, St. Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of keeping your old car in running condition.

But the separated brethren just have a nonsensical problem with asking saints to pray for us.  That's because they believe that we pray to saints.  If that was true, they would be correct.  But it isn't true, so they are not.

When we ask saints for help, the help we are requesting is their prayers in our behalf.  As far as I know, the separated brethren, like Catholics, run around asking people to pray for them on a daily basis.  But saints, people who exhibited heroic virtue, are off limits?  To me, that merits a strange look.

I understand that you might not have wanted to pipe up with "What're you lookin' at?  Don't you ask people to pray for you all the time?  I ask you and people who are sitting around with Jesus in Heaven to pray for me. I'm smart that way.  So just real those eyeballs back in."

But, maybe at some point, you might want to raise your little paddy paw and say, "You know the other day when I mentioned having a saint for parking?  You don't think I was actually praying to someone, right?  Because when we ask a saint for help with anything, we're just asking them to pray for us, the same way I would ask you to pray for me.  And I might actually say to you, 'pray I get a parking spot.'"

Which brings me to your actual question: is it a sin to go to this class?


It could be.  Some would argue that maybe it's not a good idea, as it could sway or confuse you.  That's a valid argument.

I feel that it could actually enhance your Catholic faith.  I find that when I look into the belief systems and roots of many denominations, I merely breath a sigh of relief.  Not only do we belong to the One True Church, we can play cards, drink and dance.  Our dolls can have faces and our clothes can have zippers. We have an army of people in Heaven praying for us along with an army of people on earth who are joining them. And we have a really pretty mom.

Should you find yourself being swayed away from the Catholic Church and you stay in the class, that would be a sin because you are intentionally doing something that is undermining your faith.  But it sounds to me that the opposite is true.  Now you know all about the Immaculate Conception, for example.


Marion Teague said...

I think your questioner has been very fortunate to be in a good Christian group where her Catholicism is only greeted with silence. She could have got the whole "Whore of Babylon" barrage and been kicked out. I'm hoping that at some point one of the group at least will ask for more information and explanation.

Hattie Heaton said...

I love this post, Sister. I just heard one protestant complain about prayers to Blessed Mother Teresa by saying," why would I pray to a dead nun when I can pray to my risen Saviour?" As a former protestant, I think that perhaps fear and a lack of understanding prevent many from being willing to even "hear" our explanations. OK Sister here is my question/observation...my son is a recovering drug addict. It was a most difficult year and while I know our journey is still a long one, I am proud of the gifts that this suffering has brought to my son and my entire family. My son is living a life I never expected. He is sober and working and doing an apprenticeship and there is a light in his eye that I haven't seen in a while. I am so frustrated by the stigma of addiction. I am working on writing an article and when I researched the word stigma I found that it is the singular form of the word from the Greek meaning marks or tatto and that the plural form of the word is stigmata. I find that "goosebump" worthy and wonder what your thoughts are on that and the stigma of addiction. As people of the church are addicts our modern day lepers?

Laurie said...

Dear Sister, I am not sure that I have left a comment before. I just want to let you know that I enjoy your writing and always learn a little something when I read your blog. Thanks for sharing your sense of humor and your wisdom! ~Lori

Maureen said...

Now I am intrigued: whose dolls can't have faces??? And zips? - I've never heard of those particular prohibitions - please tell us about them.
Maybe the faceless dolls wouldn't be such a bad idea; I have, once or twice,tried to knit dolls for grandchildren, and although I knit beautifully - the effect isn't quite as it should be once I have attempted to embroider the face!

mph said...

Maureen, it's the Amish that apparently don't allow dolls to have faces and don't have zips on their clothes.

mph said...

Not on the subject, just thought I would let you know Sister, we finally sold and moved house yesterday. I did ask St. Joseph to intercede but didn't bury a statue of him. As it is, I have had a little Holy Family nativity statue on the window sill since Christmas and will keep it there permanently. The sale wasn't as quick as I wanted, but the house we are now in is the nicest we saw throughout the time, so it worked out well for us.

'LUSH' said...

I found your blog, actually my sister sent me your link, and I love it! Thank you.

Unknown said...

Oh I just love what you said about us having a pretty mom. It brought tears to my eyes.

Unknown said...

My husband has been going to an "ecumenical" book study for several years, and he's one of two or three Catholics in a group of 40. THe books are often anti-Catholic. But he goes because he enjoys the thought it entails, and he's made some progress in getting them to the point where they actually ask him about Catholic doctrine rather than staring dumbly. He's "spreading seed" regularly. I, on the other hand, cannot tolerate the group because it makes me, not to put too fine a point on it, nuts--so I'd echo Sister--as long as it does not make you doubt your faith, go because it can really help you to know more about Catholicism. On the other hand, if it starts making your feet itch, stop--there are better ways to spend your time than being frustrated.....

Unknown said...

Shortly after I became a catholic(I was raised protestant), I had a protestant coworker stare at me wild eyed and tell me I was going to burn in hell. I don't think the protestant church does much to educate their members on what Catholics are. And most do seem to think we worship saints, I get that a lot.

graceling said...

I can only speak for myself, but as a protestant, the reason I reject asking those in heaven to pray for me (and certainly reject praying TO them) is that I believe there is one mediator between God and Man: Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). Further, God does not answer prayers based on WHO is praying/asking, but based on praying according to HIS WILL. I believe we can confidently come before God with our prayers, knowing that HE hears us (1 John 5:14-15).

Further, I do not find any biblical reference suggesting we ask saints/those in heaven to pray for us. Are there? All biblical examples I have of people "speaking" to those who have died are in the context of witchcraft/sorcery/divination/necromancy.(1 Sam. 28, Lev. 20:27, Deut. 18:10-13)

While I believe those in heaven are aware of what is happening on Earth, I see no biblical evidence that they can necessarily "hear" us. While they are in heaven, they are still finite beings, not omniscient.

I do think there is a general misunderstanding of Catholic doctrines in the protestant church, and certainly, among my Catholic friends, I have heard them say they are "praying TO St. XYZ" or praying a novena TO so-and-so, which clearly doesn't help the understanding of the actual Church doctrine.