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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Soft Place to Land

Sister, Would you please guide me to a patron saint. These are my issues: I work full time as a school guidance counselor, I am married and have three children. My son is a nice young adult who has graduated from college and lives successfully on his own. My daughters are a mess. Both still live at home. The oldest thinks partying is her main purpose in life and she has a daughter out of wedlock. The youngest suffers from mental illness and struggles from day to day. Needless to say I feel stressed and am often vacillating between being angry, frustrated, and worried sick. I would really appreciate your guidance. Thank you your blog really is a bright spot for me.

You need to head straight to St. Monica.  Her child was a mess, too.  He ended up being a Doctor of the Church. Her husband was no picnic, either, but her prayers straightened him out as well.

When we ask a saint to pray for us, just the same as when we ask our friends to pray for us, we pick a saint who we feel understands our travails.  But I think St. Monica is a good choice for another reason.

Keeping in mind that St. Monica has no power to help out except through intercessory prayer, like anyone else who might pray for you, clearly, prayer is something at which Monica really, really excelled.

Keep in mind one other thing: Monica led by example.

One of our wonderful readers who left a comment suggested Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  I couldn't agree more.  For me, she is the soft place to land when life pushes your to your wits end.  You know that saying that God doesn't give you anything you can't handle?  I don't believe that.  Whoever said that just made up something that sounded good.  Life kills people all the time.  PTSD, anyone?

But God has provided us with grace and sanctuary, and one of the many ways he has done that is through Mary.  God provided us with a mother, Mary the Mother of God.

Go home to mother!  Here is the prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, oh virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

Oh Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petition, but in they mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

If we back away from the fancy language what does the prayer say?
Mary, everyone knows that you have never turned a deaf ear to anyone who has asked for your intercession.  This makes me feel safe in asking for your help, even though I don't feel much like I deserve any help from anyone, let alone, you.  Thank you for your compassion for me.

And hey, everybody! Can we please note the word INTERCESSION, right in the prayer, there? Thanks.

I think teaming up with Mary will help your stress level enormously, knowing you have two very powerful pray-ers, on your team.

One word of advice.  Stop being a doormat for that girl.  If she's out too late, lock the door. Make yourself available to babysit, only if the child's mother is at work or at school and at no other time. She'll need to find a job to pay a sitter. Set some boundaries, as they say.  She can treat you with respect and pitch into the household (far be it from me to dismiss the idea of communal living!) or she can leave.

I have compassion for her, as she may be behaving badly due to the stress you are all under. But she's going to have to try out some new coping mechanisms.

Also, drop the anger. It's okay to feel anger. It's not okay to harbor anger.  Recognize it for what it is: pain that is not resolved.

Okay, that was more than one word.  Now, you'll have Monica to help you out!


Anonymous said...

I'm a musician and I know that St. Cecilia is the standard patroness for musicians. But I'm so excited to have recently discovered St. Ailbe, a Welsh saint connected with (and possibly related to) St. David. The Celtic name Ailbe is anglicized to Elvis so I think he would be an outstanding patron. St. Elvis, pray for us!

Jenni said...

I am so glad you said it Sister. I don't believe the adage about God not giving us what we can't handle. Even if it were true, it isn't all that comforting anyway. I mean...we can handle quite a bit. Ultimately God may decide that "My Grace is sufficient for thee" and we could required to go through just about anything.

When my husband was in a coma and we struggled through the aftermath of TBI and PTSD, people used to say that to me. I accepted it graciously because they meant well, but I grimaced a bit inside.

Anonymous said...

Pain is unresolved anger? Never heard it put that way, but how true! Thank you, Sister!

Anonymous said...

Please change the typo in the prayer from "ever was it known" to "never ever was it known" as the meaning is opposite otherwise.

Thank you,

-Librarian at heart (who thoroughly enjoys your writing.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you sister for answering my question. I try not to hang onto anger but at times I do experience it. The anger is not near as difficult for me as are the worry and anxiety. (particularly in regards to my younger daughter with the mental health issues or the care of my grandaughter) I know worry is unproductive and I try not to get mired in it but sometimes that is easier said than done. I really appreciate that you included the prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I did not know this prayer and have found myself turning to it often during the last 24 hours. I can see it becoming a great comfort to me. Sister thank you so much for your time and guidance. This blog and you are a blessing.
Sorry if I posted this more than once. I was not sure if it worked!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

Thank you for this post. You are wonderful!

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

Also, can you make a pendant or medal for Saint Hubert? I've heard he is the patron saint of metal workers. I can't find a medal for him and would love to buy one from your shop.



Sister Mary Martha said...

I have St. Hubert! He may not be in the shop at the moment, but I have him in stock.

Unknown said...

Sister, how do we direct questions to you? thanks!

Sister Mary Martha said...

leave them right here!

wuthering_alice said...


I am cheerfully agnostic (but always interested by Catholicism- half my family were raised in the Church) and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog! There is a lot of good common sense.

Just out of interest, who's the patron saint of stressed, newly married teachers who would prefer to be writers?

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

SMM, have you ever heard this one?

Two brothers were very wealthy and attended the same church. They put on the Christian front, but did not "walk the walk". When one of the brothers passed away, the other one went to the pastor and handed him a large sum of money. He said, "I'll give the church this money, but only if, during my brother's funeral, you say that he was a saint." The pastor agreed. Then, at the funeral, the pastor stood up and said, "He was a liar, a cheat and a thief. He betrayed people and stabbed them in the back many times. But, compared to his brother, he was a saint."

Anonymous said...

Sister, I have been married to a very verbally-emotionally abusive man for over 30 years. He criticizes everything I say or do. I was young and dumb when I moved in with him ( I was 16 and he was 33) He told me then he wanted a young girl he could mold his way. Things went fine until I matured and developed my own thoughts, opinions and personhood. I have no right to disagree with him on anything else he calls me and idiot and moron. He tears me down. He says things like " one of these days I'm going to forget about your mental disability (implying I'm nuts !) and just pop you ! " or " If there is any thinking to be done around here let ME do the thinking"-implying of course I'm incapable of thinking rationally ! He is now 70 and having health issues, I am 53. He has told me for years I could never make it without him-he has ruined my self esteem. One of the ailments he is having is a burning feeling in his mouth that the doctors have not been able to diagnose, I believe it could be Gods justice towards him for afflicting me for so many years with that mouth . Anyway now that he is suffering with that and other health issues it is difficult for me to feel merciful to one who has never shown me any mercy. Of course I know the Lord would have me show mercy. What Saint should I be praying to for help ? Saint Rita
( patron of the abused? )
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so kind and taking a moment to respond-its really appreciated you really exhibit the love of the Lord you say you serve !