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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Consider the Manger Straw

Dear SMM- Any thoughts on the "tradition" of taking a piece of straw from the manger of the nativity scene at a church and putting it in your wallet. It's supposed to ensure your wallet is never empty.

I haven't heard of that one. 

Some of these traditions make people very nervous.  I think we can all be honest and admit that the idea of putting manger straw in your wallet to ensure your wallet is never empty really sounds like rabbit's foot territory.  

And really, the Holy Family was famously poor, making the whole situation sound like it should be followed up with a hardy, "Good Luck!"

We don't believe in luck.

I am much more on board with the tradition of using manger straw to remind children to behave during the Christmas season. You set up the empty manger with straw to await the Baby Jesus and every time the child misbehaves you remove a straw to show them they are making the Baby Jesus less comfortable. 

Catholic guilt, instilled from the cradle.  It's a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

But I won't tell you not to put manger straw in your wallet any more than I would tell you not to bury St. Joseph upside down in the front yard when you're trying to sell your house.

As long as you don't think of the manger straw as a rabbit's foot, a lucky piece.  You have to let the manger straw be a reminder of what you really need and what you don't need.  

Let me remind you of what you do need: Faith.  

This is the perfect time to answer another question that has come into the queue.

 What is you favourite book or passage from the bible?

My favorite Bible verse  is the one that commonly is thought of as the "consider the lilies" speech, although no lilies are actually involved. I believe the correct translation is "flowers".   But this gist of it is this, from Matthew:

25. 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!
26. Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?

You get the drift. The manger straw isn't to remind God what you need. It's to remind you that you only need God.


Claudia said...

Rabbits foot? It wasn't so lucky for the rabbit.

Katie said...

Now Sister, that manger/straw business is backwards: the kids are supposed to ADD straw to make Jesus' bed softer with each good deed!

Anonymous said...

Hi SMM. I just have a prayer request. I would ask your advice, but I know what you'd say- Let Go, and Let God. I know deep down that's what I have to do, but my whole insides just want to do something. A few months back, I rekindled an old flame from high school. We talked a lot, even about marriage. He is in the army and has been stationed in Korea since the first of February. Do you see where this is going? I wouldn't be as worried if he hadn't been suicidal on the 21st of March. I stayed home from Spanish class to talk him through it. I last talked to him on the 30th of March. He has not seen my messages since. No way to contact him, as his facebook is disabled, and he hadn't seen my messages before it was disabled either. (It tells you when they are seen). Since I lost contact with him, I've been back and forth between being at total peace and total sadness. Throw stones at me for saying this, but I love this person. I probably loved him when I was 15, too. I'm broken hearted and worried. I know, I know, Jesus said not to worry. Just pray for him. I have a bad feeling, I don't know. Oh and speaking of Facebook check out the page for unvirtuous Abbey, you'd love their clean and dry humor.

mph said...

Well, it would definitely work, your wallet would never be empty, it would have manger straw in it.

Brynne said...

I completely agree with the previous commenter -- add straw to reward goodness! :)

Saintify App said...

Danielle- If you feel your friend is in danger of committing suicide, try to find him help. Suicide is much too common in our armed services. Real Warriors seems to be viewed positively and has a couple of crisis hotline numbers:


Sister Mary Martha- we thought you might enjoy the origami nun flickr gallery.


nebula said...

Thank you for replying to my question about your favourite part of the bible. You have given me something to think about!
God bless

Anonymous said...


I'm praying for your friend and all who are in harms way in Korea and the surrounding area. And I'm praying that you will have peace in your heart and in your mind. Regardless of how much you worry, you can't change how things are. They just 'are'. Have hope that your friend is exactly where God needs him to be. And God loves him more than anyone else on earth. And God has got this covered-regardless of the outcome. It's going to be okay.

Anonymous said...

Allow God's promises to dispel your fears and reassure your heart.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27 (NLT)

Dear Lord,

My fear has trapped and consumed me. But I am tired of living under the weight of my fears. These verses reassure me of your presence and confirm that you are able to deliver me from my trouble. Please give me your love and your power to replace these fears. Your perfect love casts out my fear. I thank you for promising to give me the peace that only you can give. I receive that peace now as I ask you to still my troubled heart. Because you are with me, I don't have to be afraid.


Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support. I was able to contact a military suicide hotline, who referred me to the Red Cross, who took all kinds of info down and then told me to contact the family. My mom works as a hospital switchboard operator. I know what "We suggest you contact the family" means. It's code for "I'm not allowed to tell you he's dead." So I contacted his parents and no response yet. I loved feeling like I had some sort of control when I called the hotline and the Red Cross. Wherever he is, I just hope that he can be at peace, because he has not had much of it in life thusfar.

Anonymous said...


The Red Cross can't give out info on anybody due to privacy concerns. They may not have had any info on him at all.

I remember reading about a nun who had visions of purgatory. She said very few suicides go to hell but most spend a long time in purgatory. They have to make up for all the good they didn't get to do because they cut their life short. So..if your friend is gone, don't despair that his soul is lost. God knows how he suffered on earth. Sometimes a cross is so heavy to bear. And people who are suicidal don't want to be "dead", they just can't live with the pain any longer. People say that those who commit suicide are cowards but that's not true. It takes a lot of courage to end your own life-not knowing what will happen next for you. For someone to take that step, they must be in immense pain. And God understands. So pray for your friend. Pray every day when you wake, and before you go to sleep, pray during the day when you think of him. He may need a lot of prayers to get to heaven.

Also, even though purgatory is painful, people there have complete peace because they KNOW they are going to heaven. There is no more worry about whether or not they'll make it. They did make it. So, I'm sure your friend has that peace.

Anonymous said...


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