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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three French Hens

Advent is almost over!  Can you believe it?  We're so excited. Our lights are up and ready to light!  We don't have a tree.  We usually do that about a week before Christmas, but...maybe today!  Here is the Wisconsin Advent calender to mark the remaining days.

Back to work!
Dear Sister Mary Martha, I have been recently diagnosed with OCD. Are there any saints you recommend? I know St. Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illness, but I thought it would be nice to know if there were a saint who personally went through that sort of pain. While putting a name to my psychological struggle has helped me some, I need all the help I can get. God bless.

One of our dear readers jumped on and did my job for me by suggesting St.Alphonsus Ligori. Perfection.  As she points out, St. Alphonsus was saddled with "scupulosity", a form of OCD.  He agonized over the smallest things, fueled no doubt by "Catholic guilt".

I'm not sure if our reader knew how very perfect St. Alphonsus is for you, although her fast answer causes me to suspect she does.  It seems that Alphonsus was able to work around his own struggle because his contribution to theology was his teaching that we should not be too rigid.

He opposed sterile legalism and strict rigorism. According to Alphonsus, those were paths closed to the Gospel because "such rigor has never been taught nor practiced by the Church". His system of moral theology is noted for its prudence, avoiding both laxism and excessive rigor.  This coming from a man who also was schooled in the arts. He was a musician and painted, wrote poetry and books.

With all of that going on, OCD and all, he became a Doctor of the Church.  There are only 33 of those, so he is one special person.  As are you, my dear!

Sister, is there a patron saint for nerve damage? My best friend suffers from dystonia and she is having a very bad flare up. I have neuropathy caused by autoimmune disease and am having a flare up too. Both of us are in our early 40s and when we feel well, crochet, knit, and sew for charity. We are praying a Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes because I always pray to her or to St. Bernadette for everything. Thank you! Laura (and Mary)

I think you are on the right track with Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.

But I poked around a bit and came up with St. Gemma, as well.  She died in 1903, so we know a lot of details about her life, complete with actual photographs and the like.  Now, she didn't have the same afflictions as you and your friend, but she was horribly afflicted just the same.  At age 19 she became very sick, was in horrible pain, had to wear a painful back brace, all her hair fell out and she was on her death bed. She was 19 years old.

She was visited by (then) Blessed Gabriel Possenti, who is now St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (because of his devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows) and he facilitated her over night cure.  He was canonized in 1920, so I think Gemma might have been one of his saint clinching miracles.

After her miraculous cure Gemma was blessed with a new affliction: the stigmata.

Let me just point out that the Church, upon hearing about a person with the stigmata, doesn't react by saying, "Oh boy!  Another stigmata person!  A holy miracle that will bring more people to God!"  The reaction is more along the lines of, "Oh dear. Not again.  If this person is faking it, (or crazy) it will drive more people away from God."  As a result, Gemma's stigmata caused her suffering in more ways than one.

In any case, her life is well documented and I invite you to read up. 

I should think if you turn to St. Gemma, St. Gabriel might be along for the ride.  A two-fer, as they say.


Anonymous said...

St. Gemma was so pretty.

SMM, I have been a volunteer child advocate through the national CASA (court appointed special advocate) program on and off for ten years. Is there a saint for advocates of children?

Dejanet said...

Frances Xavier Cabrini had two feet; and not to sound like Mrs. Know-it-all but the picture next to the response about St. Alphonsus Liguori is actually of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Oh oops! I was looking for a younger more vibrant picture and thought I'd found it. He's always depicted as an old shriveled man, the patron saint of arthritis.

dre said...

Well, Ignatius Loyola also suffered from scrupulosity, so it's all good....Lots of other saints as well!

Dejanet said...

I found one younger picture, he looks the rather sophisticated bishop about town, but I think I like the shriveled version better. More the kindly understanding old Uncle when his rheumatism flares up. Back to Frances Cabrini - I think I read she was around 5 foot tall (hey, I tower over her by an inch!) are those the feet you were aiming for? Blessings, Sister, for Christmas and always.

Unknown said...

I'm kinda in love with that Advent calendar! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my question, Sister! I enjoyed reading up on St. Gemma. Merry Christmas!

Melissa said...

Dear Sister,

For those suffering from post-abortion trauma, is there any saints they can pray to, to help in their recovery?

Thank you so much sister. God continues to bless you and your community's beautiful works.