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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Buttons and Bows

 It's a rainy Monday here, so let's cheer up and start the week on a happy note, shall we?

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

Do you have a suggestion for a saint to help with depression and anxiety - mostly anxiety?



Let's take a look at the issue of depression and anxiety from a slightly different angle today, shall we?

Before we begin, let's admit that depression and anxiety can be due to chemicals in your brain and that you may want to seek medical attention, that it may indeed be very important for you to do so.

That said, I normally shove people in the direction of Mother Teresa of Calcutta because she famously suffered from what is known as  a 'dark night of the soul', which is a fancy, theological way of saying she felt abandoned by God and was very depressed about it.  Being the busy gal that she was, she must have had a good deal of anxiety about that. Her book outlines her depression and anxiety.

But today, let's also admit that many of us feel depression and anxiety because the world around us makes it seem as though everybody else is doing pretty well, living happy lives surrounded by loved ones.  They are all out there posting pictures of their dogs, snuggled in the bedclothes, and the kids, smiling from ear to ear in the snow.  They send emails quoting hopeful messages of love and inspiration.  Their houses are cleaner than ours. They don't have a lot of junk on the floor of their cars and they don't forget appointments or birthdays.
 Or, just when you do feel rather happy and relaxed, you realize that there are people suffering and dying and starving, there are wars, shootings, murders, chopped up people, dogs being kicked and yet another political debate scheduled for this evening.

So let's find a patron saint for that type of depression and anxiety, too.  Lo! and Behold! Her feast day is today!  She hasn't been canonized yet, but only because they haven't set a date for the party!

This little German girl grew up in Utica, New York, worked in a factory and became a nun.  She was a born leader and quickly became a Mother Superior, over and over again.

She ran a hospital.

Meanwhile, over in Hawaii, a leprosy epidemic caused the government to dump all the poor sick people together on one island.  Just dumped there. Good luck to you, lepers!  At least the weather's nice!  There were so many of them, they couldn't check them onto the island fast enough. A call went out to the nuns in the Mainland.  Anyone care to come and help out?

Sister Marianne Cope took 6 nuns, all with their hands eagerly in the air to go along, and spent the next 30 years caring for the lepers.

And what does all of this have to do with depression and anxiety?  Sister Marianne couldn't stand the depressing atmosphere. Why should these poor sick people, doomed by their disease and corralled onto an island, have to live out their days slumping around in despair? Why shouldn't they find some joy in life?

She established a school for girls and made sure they had pretty dresses!  She drummed up parties and generated entertainment.  She found joy where there had only been sorrow.  And she put a brightly colored bow on it.

She probably invented clipping plastic flowers to flip flops.  I made that up.  But she would have done that if she had some flip flops and some plastic flowers.

In any case, she was beatified back in 2005.  But just last month her second miracle was confirmed! She's in!  Be sure and wear a pretty dress on the day she is canonized.


Bethany said...

You may have just introduced me to one of my new favorite saints! Thanks! I try to live like that myself, though my own anxiety can make it a challenge sometimes. It'll be great to learn more about someone to look to as inspiration, especially since I'm only trying to cheer up myself and one grumpy husband, not an island full of people suffering leprosy!

Anonymous said...

What is the name of the little German girl who grew up in Utica, NY? I don't think you mentioned her name...

What about St. Dymphna? She is the patroness of those afflicted with mental and nervous disorders. I've been praying for her intercessions since my husband's bipolar disorder reared it's ugly head a few years ago... Anyway, here is a wonderful link to the St. Dymphna novena...


Here is another link for the National Shrine:


While things with my husband have improved, I prayed this novena has calmed my anxiety that surrounds my sometimes chaotic life. I considered making a pilgrimage to the Shrine in Ohio but life was too difficult at the time.

I hope this helps and gives another example for your and your readers.


Anonymous said...

The little German girl who grew up in Utica became Sister Marianne Cope. Her given name was Barbara, I think. At least, that's what our priest said at Mass today!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sister for the time you take to entertain and educate us. I hope you can help with a Saint matching for me. I have a friend who has been recently diagnosed with conversion disorder. The case is very severe and she is completely disabled and unable to care for herself. She requires in home nursing care and her family is suffering terribly, along with her. I do what I can to help from time to time, but I know that prayer is the only thing I can do to help her all the time.

Monica said...

Have i told you lately how much we love you at our house?

Tracy said...

Our prayers are with your friend. conversion disorder does sound awful (I had to look it up). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001950/

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Sister, how you enlighten us and make us smile!
Blessings and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Oh Sister M-M, thank you once again. You are a true gift to all of us out here in interwebzland. The image of the saint inventing flowered flip-flops brought tears of joy to my eyes ... I love your sense of things and your sense of humor. May God bless you and this beautiful ministry you have.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,
It is truly wonderful how God gives us such a variety and numbers of saints. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of them with us. Saint watching is a good hobby to have, especially if you watch for the human side so we can see that we could be a saint too. And of course that is what God wants of us.
I WILL wear a pretty dress on the day she is canonized!
God bless us all.

Anonymous said...

You are wonderful. Thank you!