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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Different Kind of Dark Knight

Hi Sister Mary Martha,

My younger sister committed suicide four years ago. Is there a saint that I could ask for prayers for her soul? I have asked, but I keep getting different answers.

How unbearably sad.  You'll be comforted to know that the Church does not pass judgment on those who have taken their own lives.  While it is considered to be a mortal sin, we don't know the person's state of mind, a persona who may well have not been rational at the time of the act.  Your sister may well be already in Heaven.
I would turn to Mother Teresa, who was very well known for her own dark night of the soul, which plagued her for almost her entire life.  She would understand the torment of hopelessness and abandonment, the purpose of a patron saint: someone who understands your issues and can intercede on your behalf, or in this case, your sister's behalf.  She would also well understand your own anxiety.

We'll keep you both in our prayers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

A reader pipes up:
You forgot to say, "Happy New Year."

Yes, I did! Happy New Year! To celebrate, here's a little New Year's baby for you.

We don't make a big fuss about this being our New Year.  It's not like Chinese New Year or one of those other other than Jan. 1 New Year's things.

But it is indeed the beginning of the new year for the Church. Advent is the beginning of the calendar, which we use to align ourselves with the Life of Christ.

It always seemed to me that the calendar should start with Jesus' birthday, and while that makes sense, it doesn't really work, because we have so much to do to prepare.  If Advent wasn't the beginning of the calendar year we'd be doing all of that outside of time, so to speak.

In any case...Happy New Year!  Here we go!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Prepare Ye A Way!

Whew!  Good-bye Thanksgiving!  Hello Advent!

Yes! Advent already started.  We'll be getting out the giant manger scene and dusting off the sheep.  I think we'll take a little drive and get some new straw.  You can't dust straw.  Well, you can, but if we were going to do that we'd save it as an activity for Lent.  As it is, we'll offer up our suffering whilst sneezing repeatedly throwing the old straw out.

I trust many of you have your Advent calendars at the ready.  Advent wreaths and candles are getting fired up.  What's it all about?

We look to our old pal, St. John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, who should also be known as "The Inventor of Advent".  Mind you, had John the Baptist not invented Advent, we would have come up with it just the same.  We like to take four weeks to prepare for major invents in our yearly calendar of following the path of Jesus, and since His birth is one of those events, Advent would have just happened on its own.

But St. John the Baptist spent quite a bit more time than four weeks preparing the Way of the Lord.  He was baptizing people on a daily basis for Heaven only knows how long.  Since we've already got the baptism part covered, what's left to do?

It's interesting, isn't it that Mr. Baptist was shouting that we should prepare a way for the Lord.  He could have said, "Jesus is coming, get ready."  Or the currently popular, "Jesus is coming, look busy."  (I'm afraid that is exactly what many people are doing.)  But no, St. John wants us to prepare a way for the Lord. 

I take that to mean we need to examine what it means to follow a way for the Lord. John tells us "make the way straight.  This road we must be on with Jesus has to be straightened out and once that's accomplished we still have to travel on it.  It's really a hard road, because almost no one is ever on it.  You'll be out there on your own, turning the other cheek and loving your enemies, while everyone around you will try to convince you that you must protect yourself at all costs and keep whatever you can lay your hands on and put it someplace safe for when you need it and so you'll have something to leave your children when you die.

Jesus said, "Take no shoes, take no purse..."  I think it's okay for you to wear shoes.  (Although you only need that one pair you've got on if you shop wisely.)  Some of you would actually die if you didn't wear them, those of you in Minnesota, for example.  But you'll be on the Way with no money, or just what you've got in your pockets.  Jesus says you should consider that God takes care of lilies and makes them beautiful and the lilies know that.

So on top of everything else that is going to make this lonely and difficult and seemingly futile, you have to just stop worrying about it and head on out.

It's too bad we Catholics don't believe in luck, because it seems like we'll need a little.

Lent is also a time of preparation.  What's the difference between Lent and Advent?  Joy.

Make the way straight.  Prepare with Joy.  And Santa (who is actually a Catholic saint) and stir.  Egg nog with brandy is not far away.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Welcoming Thanksgiving!

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought today's question might give us something for which to be thankful.  Not that that is a tall order.  If you woke up this morning, you've already got that covered.  But I thought a happy story might enhance our festivities.

Sister, I am sorry to ask a question in your comments spot,but I haven't figured out how to ask questions on this blog, so here goes.
I was born and raised Southern Baptist, but as a young woman I became interested in other religions.
Catholicism was an eye-opener. All of a sudden, the Bible stories I heard as a child lost the dry, dusty, not quite done feel. The Catholic version was more real, more full-bodied. As time has gone on, I have learned more and more about Catholicism.
Now, I am ready to go to the priest and ask to go to classes so I can be baptized a Catholic.
Is there a saint that intercedes for almost Catholics?

YAY!  Welcome!  Particularly timely and wonderful in lieu of the last couple of posts what with our discussion of the Bible and all. Delightful!

And OF COURSE, there are saints for converts.  The truth is, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of them, since so many saint spent their lives converting people.  You could go for the North American Martyrs, for example.  They'd be happy to help!

But perhaps you're looking for a convert who became a saint.  You could turn to the original convert saint, St. Paul.  He wasn't just any convert.  He was a persecutor of Christians before Jesus knocked him off his high horse.  He turned out to be quite the convert.  Like an ex-smoker in his zealotry.

God love those ex-smokers.  For one thing, they've stopped smoking.  Then they become really rapid anti-smokers.  Good for them! I think it's because they finally realized how terrible they smelled.  That is quite a revelation to them, it seems, once they can smell things again.

I remember when I was five, by little best friend who lived up the block had a stuffed monkey that she left at my house.  It smelled so...weird.  Bad.  I had never smelled anything like that, and this is back in the day when adults sat around smoking whenever they were and whoever they were with, infant or octogenarian.  My mother said, "That's because they smoke."  I thought that was very odd, because the monkey did not smell like cigarettes or smoke. It just smelled.  Poor monkey.

But I digress.

Here is a list of saints who were converts.  It's a bit overwhelming. Notice that it includes all of the apostles, who were all Jewish.

Which gives a wonderful idea for you!  St. John the Baptist!  He was Jewish, became a Christian before the word was invented, started Baptizing people and Baptized Jesus Himself!  And the word "Baptist" is right in there!

I think we have a winner!

Happy Thanksgiving!  We'll talk again over leftovers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Angels in the Plains

While we're on the topic of the separated brethren we have a couple of separate comments and questions about what goes on in the Not Catholic realm.

When I encounter an In-the-bible, Exactly-as-written Evangelical, I ask them, "What about the different Resurrection accounts?"

Did the women see an angel? Did they talk to the Risen Christ?
Did they run to the Disciples and tell them the Body was missing?

Each Apostle emphasized different aspects, may have forgotten or misremembered a detail or two. The important message is there. "He is Risen!"

It's fun.

It IS fun.  Are you sure you didn't talk to me first?  I've been using that one for years. Great minds and all that.  I never went into all that detail, I simply asked, "How many angels were at the tomb after Jesus left the tomb?"  And the answer from the Bible is. One.

No.  Two.

No.  None.

If we take the average number of angels at the tomb the answer is one.  Right?  I'll ask Sister St. Aloysius. She's a math whiz.  She's busy pouring over pie recipes. I don't want to get in the way of that.

In any case, I have used that question numerous times and then....silence...no answer....

I particularly like that question because it's something we all agree happened.  We might disagree about what Jesus meant when He said, "Take this and eat, This is My Body..."  A lot of people think that direct order was symbolic.  But we all agree Jesus rose from the dead.  He was in the tomb and then He wasn't.  There may or may not have been angels.

And that right there rather closes the argument about how one should think about the Bible, does it not?  Unfortunately, we all know it doesn't.  It should.  But it doesn't.

Here's one I always wondered about: Some, as you call them, separated brethren have ornate churches that resemble ours but some are simply bare and sparse with just a plain, unadorned cross...why? Is it part of their teaching and beliefs, or do they just prefer it that way? Also, where, besides google, do you find other churches beliefs, or catechism, if they call it that? Does everyone have one? Thanks, Sister. Love your blog and your etsy shop is great!

Thanks! Great for stocking stuffers!  What better Christmas gift than your own personal patron saint?

But about those churches.  The simple answer is that the separated brethren who are most like the Roman Catholic Church (like the Anglican, Episcopal and the Eastern Orthodox Churches) have ornate church buildings.  The simple churches come from the Protestant movement.  Note the word "protest" right in there.

The Protestant movement arose as a direct response to the Church's ornate wealth in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Martin Luther, the granddaddy of the movement was really angry at the Church's fund raising tactics and he wasn't wrong.  The Church responded by making necessary changes but that horse was out of the barn.

Of course, it's all way more complicated than that, but that's the deal in a nutshell.

Pecan pie.  I'm hoping that's on the agenda.  Although last year's sour cream apple was a keeper.

The second part of your question is very intriguing to me. Frankly, I have asked people point blank what they believe, and past "Jesus Saves" I can't get a coherent answer.  Episcopals are okay with the saints and Mary (I think...), but the Anglicans and the Episcopals are... Catholic Lite.

And after that, other than "No Mary, No Saints",  I'm at a complete loss.  Transubstantiation?  Yes to some, no to many.  Original Sin?  No clue.  The Holy Trinity?  The Holy Spirit?  St. Paul?  A lot of what Luther believed was from St. Paul.  I think.  How does one eschew the saints and read the New Testament, when the authors are all saints?  Baffling.

I had a book a while back that was one of those "For Dummies" books that traced the origins of the Christian faiths.  "Christianity for Dummies", I think it was.  It was interesting in that each new sect developed because they disagreed with a thing or two in the sect before.  But what they actually believe and don't believe really wasn't in there and left me with more questions than answers.

I have had no luck by asking individuals, either.

And finally, the Crucifix. Again, Catholics for Jesus on the Cross and Protestants go for plain.  That's because Catholics feel that we must realize the full measure of Jesus' sacrifice for our salvation.  Protestants want to emphasize the resurrection.  To which Catholics reply, "That's too easy."  It wasn't that easy.  It isn't that easy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Bible Does Always Win

Dear Sister Mary Martha-

I couldn't figure out where to post a question, and so I'm posting one in a comment.

But first, let me add that I love your blog! I was raised Catholic, and I'm so happy there's something like this, now that I'm in college with so many different flavors of Christianity on campus.

Which brings me to my next question. I'm being pursued, for lack of a better word, by members of a nation-wide Christian collegiate group called Chi Alpha. Pentecostal-based, it holds that "the Bible always wins." In other words, if it is not specifically word-for-word in the Bible somewhere, it isn't true, never was and never will be.

Don't we also believe that? If so, that rules out a lot. My friends don't believe in infant baptism, Transfiguration, Mary as venerated by Catholics, or the saints.

And what about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and speaking in tongues? A large majority of my friends speak in prayer languages, ones that they don't understand, but God does.

And the sacraments! Oh, my goodness! Where, I'm constantly asked, is the Biblical reference for Anointing of the Sick and Holy Orders? And papal infallibility, while we're at it?

I may have taken religion classes in Catholic school my entire life, but even that is not enough to render me a walking "Catholic for Dummies."

Thanks again for your blog. I've already used your dinner-making analogy to explain why we heretics pray "to" saints.

Did I say something about dinner and the saints?  I don't recall....worse..I probably said it last week.
Your questions involves  a lot of Church Doctrine and Dogma.  I'll try to give you a quick tutorial, but before I do, there is this thing called the "internet" on which you can find things like "The Catechism of the Catholic Church" and you can type in a topic and find out exactly what the Church says about a lot of things.  Just so you know.

Here we go!

First of all, we do believe things that you can't find verbatim in the Bible, but everything we believe is derived from the Bible.  For example, there is no mention of Purgatory in the Bible, but in Maccabees (a book that your friends tossed out of their Bible because of this passage) there is an admonishment to "Pray for the dead".  There is no need to pray for anyone who is in Heaven or Hell.  So who are these dead people for which we are asked to pray?  Where are they?  The Catholic Church teaches that that passage must refer to where these people are.  I can't think of another explanation, can you?  They don't have to think about it because they booted that whole book right out of their Bible.  (Which is astonishing, when you think about it?  These are the people are so very interested in the importance of the words God wrote in His book. So interested that they just threw some away!)

The Immaculate Conception falls into this category, too, as does Papal Infallibility.

On we go.

Did you mean to say "Transubstantiation" instead of "Transfiguration"?  The Transfiguration is in the New Testament.  Transubstantiation is when the Host turns into the Body of Christ.  Google that up!

It always makes me sad that the separated Brethren dismiss Mary.  I can't imagine if you had a chance to actually meet the Mother of Jesus, Jesus, who you claim to love so much, that you would just ignore her and not pay her any honor.  God certainly honored her, but that's not good enough for you?  Holy Toledo!  That is just rude.

Next!  Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This one is tricky. We do believe in that! But they mean something different by that phrase than we do...I think.  We believe the the whole Church was baptized in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  We baptize babies and they receive the Holy Spirit, but then the Sacrament of Confirmation brings more gifts from the Holy Spirit when the child is old enough to pledge himself to the Church himself and become a "soldier of Christ".

There are Catholic Pentecostals who speak in tongues, but the Church as a whole has frankly never been particularly comfortable with it.  I think it's because it can be such a slippery slope if you're babbling in some unintelligible ravings.  Possessed people do that, too.

On the home stretch!

Here are the Biblical references to Holy Orders: Acts 20:28; Lk 22:19; Jn 20:22; Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:22; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6; Tit 1:5

And here are the references to Anointing of the Sick: Mk 6:12-13; Jm 5:14

I do hope this helps and bless you for hanging around with these people and trying to know what you're talking about!  Come back anytime and we'll keep up the good work together! 

Meanwhile here's a great example of how to use this internet thing. I just did a Google search for "Biblical reference to papal infallibility". I even spelled infallibility wrong in the search! I believe I typed infallibiblity (which is probably just about what your friends think of it).  And here you have a wonderful, clear, concise explanation that will clear up a lot.

But do come back anytime.  Sometimes, it's much more fun to chat than to Google. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Proceed with Caution

We've had some interesting comments on my comments about the comments that have been made about Medjugorje.  Some people are willing to admit that all that glitters may not be a gold rosary.  Others are more adamant about Our Lady being a visitor.

If you are worried about the length of time the Blessed Mother is with us here on earth, then what will be your reaction when you reach heaven and have the rest of eternity with her?

The kingdom of heaven? It’s here. It arrived with Jesus. And he teaches us that he is with us always.

Medjugorje? God’s merciful love. Tap into it. Receive it. Enjoy it. Live it. There’s more to come. That’s his promise.

Again, we can make our own decisions about personal revelations. I'm sure many people are indeed profoundly effected by their visits to Medjugorje.  But there are very, very good reasons to believe that the committee that studied the apparitions were absolutely correct in their assessment that nothing supernatural is going on here.  And there even better reasons to be extremely cautious about jumping in with both feet to a series of events that are not, repeat NOT, approved by the Church as worthy of our devotion.

So let's take an even closer look at why the Church has come up with this pronouncement.  What is the criteria by which the Church passes such judgment.  There are three major categories for consideration.

1.  Banality or lack of dignity.
This is what the Bishop was referring to when he gave off with that list of all the places Mary appeared, from trains, trees, houses....Remember that list?  It wasn't even complete.  Mary might have been appearing at the bowling alley and in the dryer like she did in Georgia.  The Church didn't approve that one either.

So the frivolity of the places isn't enough for you? How about some of these gems:
Besides predicting a Yugoslavian soccer win, Mary also moved one of the seers watch hands when Mary was asked to leave a sign, left several times because she claimed people had trod on her veil and on another occasion got all smeared and dirty because those present had all touched her cloak and her veil.

Banal and undignified. Check.

2.  An Apparition Teaching Error and Heresy.
I think having any marks in this category ought to seal the deal, but we still have the other two categories and Medjugorje has filled them all.  In any case, here are a two doozies from the hill (or the train or the forest or the grocery store...).  "All religions are equal under God."  That may comfort the separated brethren, but that would also include Hinduism, Wiccans, and Scientologists, would it not?  God may love all His children equally, but He didn't write that whole big book so you could be a Buddhist. 

She also asked not to be an intermediary between herself and her Son and to direct all petitions directly to Him!  What a nonsensical statement!  So why are rosaries turning gold there?  The rosary is an intermediary prayer.  You remember that part that goes "Hail Mary full of grace....pray for us sinners..."?  She can't seem to make up her mind.

3. Undermining the Church's Authority.
Jan. 1982: The Virgin states that two Franciscan priests, removed from their order and under suspension by the bishop, one of whom later fathered a child by a nun, may continue to say Mass and hear Confessions. Vicka the seer is asked "If the Lady said this, and the Pope says that they cannot..." Vicka answers: "The Pope can say what he wants. I'm telling it as it is."

Yikes.  It was our current Pope Benedict who defrocked that priest.
There are quite a few more examples in all three categories.

But the Holy See may give Medjugorje tacit approval in some way, perhaps with shrine status. It has already issued statements that the pilgrims must be pastorally supported and that is happening.

In fact the opposite is true. The Church has removed the shrine that had been built.  The statements that have been issued about pilgrims being pastorally supported is so that the faith that come there are not lead astray by these events that do not have any support from the Church.

And another Pope Benedict (XIV) that said this: 

"We must suspect those apparitions that lack dignity or proper reserve, and above all, those that are ridiculous. This last characteristic is a mark of human or diabolical machination."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mary All Over Town

Sister, what is going on with Medjugorje now anyway? I've been hearing mixed things about it.

God bless:)

And you will continue to hear mixed things about it, mainly because people who go there are crazy for it. Perhaps I shouldn't put it that way.  "Deeply moved by the experience" would be another way to say that, wouldn't it?

On the face of it, Medjugorje is quite a phenomenon.  Six children receive regular visits from the Blessed Mother.  She brings messages of peace.  The town, in a war torn country, becomes a cradle of peace and prayer, an oasis of all things good.

Meanwhile, virtually everyone who visits there is impressed by the experience.  Rosaries turn to gold,  a bleeding Host appears in the sun, statues drip with holy oil and visitors leave with a sense of peace that is profound. This has been going on, with no let up for over 20 years now.

The visionary children have grown up and gone away, and one by one, Mary stopped appearing to them, or appeared less frequently.  At least one of the girls still lives in Medjugorje and Mary appears to her once a month.

Of course, the Church was called upon to give the apparitions Her blessing, so the matter has been examined and studied, and while the official word from the committee is  "cannot be affirmed as supernatural".  Finally, in the early 90's, the local Bishop of Medjugorje wrote a letter stating that he was not a believer (which is putting it mildly).

He had a lot to say about it, but he basically made this point: What is Mary's problem that she can't seem to get her point across to six people for over 20 years?

On top of that, the visionaries have been given 'secrets' about the future and whatnot and the reason that Mary is still appearing to some of them, or two of them or one of them or whatever it's boiled down to now, is that she hasn't given them all their secrets yet.

For me, the most compelling "agin it" argument comes from the commission itself.  These are the people who spent three years interviewing everyone, pouring over diaries and documents and writings and studying everything with a fine toothed comb.  Two of them thought the visions were real, one abstained from voting, two thought that the visions were real at first, but no longer are and eleven of them said the whole thing was not supernatural.

If I had a vote, I'd say no. I haven't been there to have my rosary turn to gold, but this passage from the Bishop's letter has stayed with me.  The visions were initially on a hill.  And then..."she came into houses, into forests, fields, vineyards and tobacco fields; she appeared in the church, on the altar, in the sacristy, in the choir loft, on the roof, on the church steeple, on the roads, on the way to Cerno, in a car, on busses, in classrooms, in several places in Mostar and Sarajevo, in monasteries in Zagreb, Varazdin, Switzerland and Italy, once again on the Podbrdo, atop Krizevac, in the parish, in the rectory, etc. It is certain that not even half of the places where the alleged apparitions have taken place have been mentioned, so much so that an earnest man—who venerates the Madonna—asked himself: "My Madonna, what are they doing to you?"

What are you supposed to think?  Whatever you like.  You don't have to believe that Fatima was a supernatural phenomena, either.  The Church says it was, but as it came through "personal revelation" (through the visionaries of Fatima), you can do with it what you will.

There is only one thing, as far as I can tell, that you are forbidden to do, and that is to organize a pilgrimage there based on the idea that the apparitions are real and have the blessing of the Church.  You can still have a pilgrimage there and come home with a gold rosary.

Paraphrasing St. Augustine:  In necessary things unity, in undecided things freedom,and in all things charity.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress Dreamer

I'm not a doctor, but I play one here on the blog:
Dear Sr Mary Martha,
I have a friend who has quite vivid dreams. She would quite often thrash around, talk and even shout in her sleep, while dreaming. Sometimes, she would even cry in her sleep.
I love your blog, but have always been very 'shy' in making our 'lurking presence' known. But, I had to ask you for a patron saint for my friend who has not had a dreamless sleep ever since she could remember. And I hope to be able to get some divine intercession before it escalates. (She swatted me in her sleep a couple of nights ago!)
She had very unhappy childhood and I have prayed for the Lord's healing on her and had taken her to healing Mass, but it doesn't seem that she is healed, at all of her past hurts and unhappiness. And 70-80% of the times when she got upset in her sleep was because she was dreaming about her parents and/or her past.
The both or us are ok with our Lord's plan for her in this suffering, rather than rush Him. But is there a saint that can help in carry her cross sometimes or fix a wheel on it so it's not so heavy?
Thanks, Sr Mary Martha!

There certainly are saints for that.

But there are also medical solutions for that.  She should be evaluated at a sleep clinic.  It sounds like she is suffering from a parasomnia called REM sleep behavior disorder.

First of all, no one has dreamless sleep.  When REM sleep (the phase of sleep during which dreaming occurs) is not present, people become psychotic very quickly, literally overnight.  People who say they do not dream are wrong.  They dream.  They do not remember their dreams.

It would not be good for her to take her dreams away (unless you want a full on psychotic on your hands), but there are medications that can stop the flailing.  It also sounds as though she could use some therapy, to help her deal with her past.

My favorite saint for sweet dreams is St. Joseph.

St. Joseph was visited by angels in his dreams on two important occasions. When he found out his virgin wife was with child, he was not a happy man.  An angel explained the situation to him in a dream and the rest is the history of the Catholic Church.

It happened again when the Three Wise Men stopped to ask for directions.  The one time in history when a group of men actually stopped to ask for directions and what do they do?  Ask the evil King where they might find the "new" King.  What were they thinking?

An angel came to Joseph, again in a dream, and warned him to get his family to safety.

That is some helpful dreaming.

I also recommend St. Michael the Archangel, fighter of demons no matter where they are found.

Friday, November 04, 2011

St. Anthony Finds His Own Book

My husband, who depends greatly on St. Anthony for helping him find things, is wondering about the book. I will try a search, but just in case, could you fill us in? Incidentally, My husband has been enlisting St. Anthony's intercession regarding lost items for years, but didn't even realize that that was his patronage.

Yes, supposedly St. Anthony's patronage of finding lost objects stems from this story:
Quite some time after St. Anthony left this mortal coil, a book that was a relic of his went missing.  Since the book was a holy relic of the saint, everyone was duly upset and prayed for the intercession of the saint for its safe return.

The book reappeared.  But the explanation was not miraculous.

Some novice had it.  He had borrowed it and was very embarrassed to have caused the commotion.

So that's that.

Have a nice weekend everyone!  Don't forget to turn your clocks back!  You'll have an extra hour.  Use it wisely!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Patron Saints for Dark Times

It's not all chuckles and grins in the world of patron saint matching.  We'll keep this reader in our prayers:

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

Love your blog!

My nephew and his wife recently had a baby boy. My nephew has been battling a rare form of cancer for several years and now the battle is over. He is preparing to die. Is there a patron saint for this situation?

How about a saint for restoring one's faith after it has been shaken to the core because of this set of circumstances?

Also, I am in the process of selling my small business and am wondering which patron saint I might pray to for a successful outcome. I found patron saints of business people, but couldn't find anyone to help with selling a business.

Your assistance is much appreciated!

We are so sorry for your family.  How very sad.  When we say God works in mysterious ways, we are not kidding.  I'll spare you the platitudes about doors closing and windows opening, and instead call on the angels for grace and comfort.

Yes, of course are patron saints for your needs.

First up: St. Bernadette of Lourdes, who knew the healing spring was not for her.  She spent her short life battling terrible and painful illness, but faced her seemingly cruel fate with grace and calm.  Her life was certainly not what she would have chosen for herself.  She would have preferred to be an anonymous peasant who got married and had children and died of old age in the village. Instead, she became wildly famous, vilified, questioned and harassed.  She went to the convent because she could not stay in the secular world after Our Lady appeared to her.  While in the convent, her Mother Superior treated her with relentless disdain until the day Bernadette died.

And yet, Bernadette was not unhappy or bitter.  Whatever she wasn't given in life, she realized the enormous gift that had been bestowed on her.  A message from Heaven.

Secondly: Faith Shaken.  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her famous "dark night of the soul".  She's not the only holy person who struggled with their faith.  The term "dark night of the soul" is a very old one that speaks to the turmoil that seizes so many people who spend their lives trying to do God's binding, only to have life spit right in their faces again and again.

As a young nun, Mother Teresa had a visit from Jesus, who told her to go do what she did with the rest of her life.  But after Jesus told her what He wanted, He never spoke to Her again.  Now, where one might think, "Well, once Jesus actually speaks to you, He shouldn't have to tell you twice, or come back and cheerlead your efforts."

And that's true.  In fact, that is the reason that the visionaries of Medjugorje have recently been suppressed.  They had daily visits from Mary all these years, and the local bishop finally just said something to the effect of, "What's the matter with Mary that she can't get her point across?"

What, indeed.

But for Mother Teresa, if wasn't just that Jesus no longer spoke to her.  She felt as though He was gone altogether. She eventually came to terms with what this meant to her when her confessor pointed out that this was her opportunity to join with Jesus' suffering, specifically "the Agony in the Garden".  She was happy with that, although it took her most of her career before she ever arrived at that thinking.

And yet, she did it anyway.  She lived a beautiful and significant life in this world.

And finally, St. Joseph, the buyer and seller of real estate is good for buying and selling business.  He is that patron saint of workers, after all.

But on your prayer hats, readers! This family needs you!