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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Proclamation
[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Unhappy Thanksgiving

Hi Sister Mary Martha, I love your blog! I've been following for a long time, but never commented before. I'm writing to ask for your prayers and for a patron saint suggestion. I have been outcast from my family and so the holidays are a difficult time for me. You see, my father molested me when I was little. At the time, my mother knew, but she refused to help me or protect me. I told my siblings and husband about it only after my father died. It seems they all blame me for what happened. It doesn't make sense; as if a little girl was supposed to be able to fight off a grown man. My husband left me because he thought, if we had children, that I would abuse them. (I know first hand the horrors of abuse and would never do that to anyone!) Anyway, I am kicked out of the family, written out of the will, and not welcome at any Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings. Please pray for my family, that they can some day realize their mistake. And please pray for me, that I might some day be at peace about all this. Do you have a patron saint you can suggest for me? Thank you SO much!

It might be that they don't so much blame you as they simply don't believe you. They can't deal with the idea that what they think to be true about their father and the life they lived in your family is not true.  If they let the truth in even for a second, they cannot blame their beloved father.

All of this is a tragedy.  For you and for them. But tragedy cannot be the prevailing wind of our lives. They may never come around. You need to forgive them, which I think is extremely difficult to do when they aren't trying their best.

So for now, don't try. Put them on the back burner, but don't let them simmer. Turn the heat off of those pans back there. Concentrate on the front burners. Your life. What it is going to be, how to be fulfilled in life. When you eyes float to the back burners, pull them back to the front.

You CAN do that. There are people who need you. People who also, for a wide variety of reasons, have a difficult time over the holidays. They need your help and your love. They already have your understanding, don't they. They are surprising easy to find.

Start by volunteering. A soup kitchen, the Catholic Charities, a nursing home. Cook, visit, help.  The gratitude you will receive will fill the empty spaces.

Find a support group. If you can afford therapy, get some, but at least find a support group and go.

And, of course, I have a patron saint for you! She is so perfect for you! And only recently canonized. Mother Mary MacKillop, founder of the  Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (also known as the Josephites).

Kicked out of your family?  She was excommunicated (and still made it to canonization).

Why was she kicked out of the church? For exposing a sexual abuser.

Yes, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. You know what else it is? Thursday.  A great day to find those people who need you. You need them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Patron Saint of Exam Acers

 I work at a Catholic high school and 1st exams will be upon us in a few weeks.I would like to have some holy cards available for the students so they know who to ask for help with their exams. Who are the saints for the major school subjects: Math, English, Social Studies and Science...ooh and Theology too?

You need look no farther than St. Albert the Great for all you scholarly patron saintage. He was the teacher of the patron saint of teachers and students, St. Thomas Aquinas. Both saints are Doctors of the Church.  ohh and the that makes them particularly good choices for theology patronage.

And while we're on the subject of Doctors of the Church you might want to introduce your girls to three girls in Heaven who are Doctors of the Church: St. Therese the Little Flower, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Teresa of Avila. I think of them as the patron saint for people who are annoyed by the annoying habits of other, the patron saint of dieters, and the patron saint of perfectionists, respectively, But obviously they are all good choices for theology. I'll bet St. Catherine would be good for penmanship, too. She wrote a  lot of letters.

Is penmanship even a subject anymore? It should be.  Although the Palmer Method? That was for the birds.

I think outside the box, patron saint-wise, as my readers well know. If you're looking for someone to help you with your exams, I'd also turn to St. John Cupertino. He really could barely read or understand anything, but when it came time to take his priestly exam, the bishop asked him one question about one particular passage of Scripture. It was a passage that John was obsessed with...the ONLY one. So he aced his exam. That would make him the patron saint of exam acers.

I had a similar experience once in college. I was taking philosophy in summer school but I had missed the first day of class.  One evening I watched a documentary about Washoe, the chimp who had been taught sign language. The chimp using sign language proved that this animal was able to use symbolic thought by signing, when presented with a  doll in a cup, "Baby in my drink."  She also made jokes. 

The next day in class we covered a chapter in our book about what separates people from animals and there was a list of things. One of them was that animals were incapable of symbolic thought and another humor (which involves a lot of symbolic thought, when you think about it). So I explained what I had seen this chimp do and was able to knock three or fours things off that list in the book. Making and using tools was on there, too. Chimps also make and use tools and use some types of deductive reasoning.

Unbeknownst to me, because I had missed the first day of class, we had each been assigned a chapter of the book. I was supposed to lead the discussion of that chapter. That was the chapter I had been assigned. I had no clue until I was told I got an A on "my chapter".  I didn't even know I was leading the discussion.

I digress.

Another saint who believed in the power of education was St. Thomas More, who believed that boys and girls should be educated equally, a radical idea for his time. 

I'm sure our readers will pile on with some more wonderful ideas. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rote Prayer

Dear Sister, Lately I have been trying to start my spiritual journey with God, but when I pray I often find myself just repeating empty words and I feel disconnected. Or I feel like I'm just going through the motions. Can you tell me how to actually feel God during prayer?

Whose words are they? Are they your empty words or are you saying prayers from the backs of holy cards and novenas, rosaries, litanies?

I don't think we're in any real trouble here if that's the case.

If they are YOUR OWN WORDS, then you really have a problem.

It's easy to disconnect from what become rote prayers. When I'm teaching children to memorize something I tell them to work on it until their mouth knows it, until they can say the words without thinking, and the example I use for that is saying a Hail Mary or the Pledge of Allegiance. Your mouth knows that. You can say it without thinking.

Which is a good thing when you're saying a rosary, because while your mouth says the Hail Mary, your mind is mediating on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary. Some forms of mediation empty the mind. The rosary fills the mind.

So if this is the case with you, stop saying rote prayers for a bit and just talk to God. Start with gratitude. That will make you feel better and much more connected right away for all the gifts you have.Did you ever stop to think that it was very smart of God to make you waterproof? What if, when you got wet, you got all soaked and had to run around or stand dripping so the sun and wind could dry you out again? Be thankful that you're waterproof.

Think outside the box.

It's okay to ask God to find ways to connect with you.  Be sure and wake up that His answers will astound you. You may not recognize them until after the fact. Terrible things can become blessings. Blessings can become wake up calls. Pay attention!

Let us know how you're doing. It's a great week to be thankful. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rosary Saints

Hello! I have a question about the rosary. What is the point of making specific rosaries associated with a saint? Such as having a rosary with the charm of a saint on that middle connecting piece (I'm not sure what that is called). Are you supposed to be asking them to pray the rosary with you or is it just to be reminded of a saint you like or something along those lines?

I can't think of anything simpler, or more confusing, than the rosary. A lot of variety, a number of different prayers, five sets of five mysteries, which day of the week each mystery is invoked and during which liturgical season.

And then, throw in some saints in the middle of mediating on the Life of Christ as seen through the eyes of His Mother.  

Here's one easy answer: the charm of a saint on the middle connecting piece? is called "the medal".  

Whew! That was easy.

What's for dinner?


Okay, so having a specific saint has to do with the specific saint. For example, one might pray a rosary with St. Michael the Archangel on it for the protection of St. Michael the Archangel. Military families might want to to this, as St. Michael is the protector of soldiers.  And to do that you would simply pray the rosary with that intent, and maybe add a prayer for the intercession of St. Michael somewhere in there.  

Well, not somewhere, really...at the end. And you can look up prayers to say.

Or just make one up. That's okay, too. I don't think Heaven is so picky as we religious often lead everyone to believe.

It follows from there that your "saint rosary" would be said for the intercession of what is considered the patronage of that saint. St. Jude for hopeless causes,  St. Gertrude (also the patron saint of cats and cat lovers) for souls in Purgatory, for example. The list is endless.

And at the risk of confusing you more, more common than rosaries with saints on them (the Miraculous Medal Immaculate Conception Mary Self Portrait is the most common rosary medal), are chaplets for the intercession of saints.

The chaplet, like the rosary, is really a way to count prayers. There are dozens and dozens of different types, for different intentions, with varying numbers of beads and lot and lots of different prayers. The Hail Mary might not even be in there.

Here is the St. Benedict chaplet for your perusal.

And then, just to add one more weinie to the roast, there are Novenas, which also might involve saying a rosary every day for nine days, or nine first Fridays, or more timelines that involve doing something nine times AND are said for the intercession of a particular saint for the intention of a particular cause.

Is dinner ready yet?

Are the saints praying along with you? I'm sure they are.  If you imagine that asking me to pray for you is the same as asking a saint to pray for you (although I believe saints, since they are alive in Heaven, are better at being in harmony with God than I am), then you would imagine that you and I would in some sense be praying together, if not simultaneously.

A lot of people feel very connected to their patron saints, or the patronage of a saint for a specific intention. Praying the rosary is a meditative prayer. This involves (one of my new favorite phrases) mental lingering.  So it leaves a lot of room to connect with Heaven.

And finally, it may just be that you happen to have a rosary that has a saint on it instead of Mary because you found it in your Grandma's junk drawer. That's okay, too. We're just glad you found it and got it out of the junk drawer.

Our neighbor brought us some french apple cake.  Maybe I'll say a rosary and then have some.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Random Act of Prayer

Hi sister! I love your blog and now I finally have a question for you! I feel compelled sometimes quickly pray for those I pass in my car on the street. Since these people are nameless and faceless to me is the fleeting prayer Even worth it? I love when an intense prayer moment happens and words just start flowing. Does the quick intercessory prayer carry the same weight as an intense prayer? And what about perseverence? I feel bad when my intercessory prayers feel so light And insignificant...they lack perseverance, often only one quick prayer offered even if the situation is rather grave. Am I doing something wrong? I find myself discouraged with intercessory prayer because they seem weak and feeble.

I don't see how intercessory prayer is weak and feeble. Surely, when people ask you to pray for them, you do and surely you have asked people to pray for you (or really, really wanted to). You do that because you know that people praying with you and for you is actually helpful.

This is my best guess as to what is happening here. When you quickly pray for someone on the street, you're not really invested, in the same way that when someone asks you in passing "how is your day", you're liable to say "just peachy" because you know it's just a polite moment and not an actual request to probe into how you're doing.

So you see some poor soul on the street and you think "God help them", which may in turn lead to a little more of a prayer, "No, really , God, help them" and at that point the light has changed and the guy in front of you is trying to change to your lane without having signaled his intentions and the guy behind you is right up on your bumper. In another second you'll be praying someone doesn't hit you. Or praying you don't jump out of your car and hit somebody.

I'm exaggerating. Although the ability of the human mind to go from intercessory prayer to road rage in under 30 seconds is astonishing.

I think your prayers feel light because they are light. But that doesn't make them insignificant. Think of them as shining a little light.

And I don't think you're doing anything wrong. But I do think you could get better at it.

Going back to my "have a nice day" analogy, those words don't have to be so light. If you're a bank teller saying to someone "how is your day?" , you probably really don't want a real answer from every customer. But...what if you did? Or you were at least willing to hear a real answer when you asked that question.

Just invest a little more care into your little prayer.

And keep it up! It's a random act of kindness. Never to be under rated.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hidden Relic

I purchased a Beautiful Infant of Prague Statue at our local St. Vincent DePaul store.When I got home I discovered a small round piece of something stuffed up inside and then tissue stuffed inside to hold it in. It looks like a small round stone or bone item. Would you have any idea what people may have put inside there statues?

There: a place. They're: Contraction for "they are". Their: belonging to them. Copy this and put it on your refrigerator.

What did they put inside their statues? Is it white? If it's white, I imagine it is a bone, a relic of a saint.

If it's not a relic, then I have no idea what they put in there, in their statue, or why.

It's supposedly much harder to get your hands on a relic than it used to be. There was a time when you could write a letter requesting a relic and voila! But the Church would rather that individuals not have them these days. I don't really know why. Maybe they are worried about running low.

Flying in the face of this information is an individual I met who wrote for a relic and got one. Bingo! Just like that. I think he somehow slipped through the cracks. Because now, in order to request a first class relic, you have to have a letter from the Bishop stating that the relic is not for private veneration. First class relics are only for public veneration.

There are three types of relics:
1. First class is an actual piece of the saint. A bone fragment, a hair...The St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal has St. Andre's heart in a jar. That would be a first class relic.

2. Second class relics are items that touched the saint while the saint was alive. A hair brush, an item of clothing, etc.

3. A third class relic is an item that touched a first or second class relic.  You can make your own third class relic pretty easily. The saint's tomb would count and you can use anything...your hanky or your rosary.  Don't use your socks. Be respectful.

So it seems to me that what you have there is a first class relic, a bone fragment, but we don't know to which saint it belonged.

You can't buy relics, by the way. But....you can buy them if it's the only way to save them from desecration. For example, if I was holding a relic over a furnace and telling you I would drop it in unless you gave me $10, you could do that and it wouldn't be a sin.

Consider yourself blessed. Don't consider yourself lucky. We, as Catholics, do not believe in luck.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

If You Don't See It, Ask

Comments often turn up on older posts as people dip into the archives. Hooray for archives!  I think I am becoming one big archive. Just yesterday I was trying to explain to a child that the telephone used to be attached to the wall.  I'm not sure he knew what I meant by  "TELEphone".  

I digress.

This comment turned up on a post about patron saints.

I'm not catholic but all this has me thinking, cause I'm facing some big problems and not sure how to tackle what I'm up against.

This is a great opportunity to plug the shop. We make a great Christmas gift!  A personally picked patron saint. 

St. George Patron Saint of Dragon Slayers

You can go to the shop and browse. If you don't see the saint you want, or you don't know the saint you want, send us a note and we'll match you up with the perfect saint or saints.  We can put your hand painted medal on a necklace, a bracelet or a keychain. 

Some saints are not available on those little medals, though. But not to fear! We can put any saint at all on a glass pendant.

Maybe you have a whole laundry list of things for which you need prayers from Heaven.  We can make you a charm bracelet style item with as any saints as you like.

Just drop us a note either here or at the shop. You'll see on the right side of the page a blue box that says "request custom order". Click there. That opens a little conversation dialogue and we can chat about which saints are a good match for you.

Each item comes neatly packaged with our own "holy card" story of your saint, written by yours truly.

We're stocking up on supplies for what we hope will be our Christmas rush!  After Thanksgiving we'll put our Santa hats on.

And for the separated brethren who need the explanation of patron saints one more time, here goes: Yes, we ask saints to pray for us. We do not pray TO saints. We ask them to pray for us just like you might ask me to pray for you or I might ask you to pray for me. We feel a special bond with our patron saints because they are chosen because they have some affinity with our troubles and cares. So get on the bandwagon!

To help you with that we also have booklets.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Latte for the Soul

Sister - I have to confess that I've seen that fellow with the Starbucks cup! He lives in Los Angeles (maybe West Hollywood?) and his name is Kevin. I don't know why he dresses "like Jesus" (as if we know what Jesus dressed like) but he seems to be a friendly person, and I took seeing him as a "sign" that my formerly agnostic self was trepidatiously going to catechumen classes. You see, I got on the bus one Saturday after a thoroughly thought-provoking and unsettling class where we discussed that big "If God loves us, why is there suffering?" question, and I was full of all kinds of thoughts and feelings and I looked up and there was someone who looked like Jesus, getting up and offering someone else his seat on the crowded bus. He had two Starbucks cups in his hands at the time. He got off the bus at (you won't believe it, but I swear this is true) at Temple Israel. It was one of the funniest and surprisingly inspirational experiences I've had. There were many reasons I came back and I really can't count one more goofy Hollywood weirdo as a major influence, but it was like a silly reminder that I was moving in the right direction. And maybe even a sign that God does have a pretty good sense of humor.

Which begs the question "what would Jesus actually look like if he were strolling around now?"  Of course, He told us how to find Him. Look no further than whoever you see.

We really aren't going to find Jesus knocking on our doors, wearing a toga with long hair and a beard. He's not going to be what I call "mosquito bite Jesus" (because He's so pale and white that biting insects cannot resist Him).

If He was alive now, we'd probably miss Him in the jangle of sound, the endless tweets and postings. He'd be just another Deepak Chopra kinda guy. Would He
appear with Oprah?

We'll never know. He did the only thing that was available to Him at the time. Walk around and talk to people. He would have many more options now. Would he start an indiegogo campaign to crowd fund a mega church?

Ironically, He is using the internet. Because ....here we are.

But I really do think that if Jesus were just starting out right now He would be considered "one more goofy weirdo", no matter how he dressed, because His message, what He asks of us, is so completely radical, in some cases counter intuitive, that few people actually would take us His cause.

And if we look at the world around us, we can ascertain that few people really have. It's why so many followers, like Mother Teresa, have a "dark night of the soul". It doesn't last for just one night.

You're right. We need to see Jesus breezing along with a cup of Starbucks coffee in each hand once in a while. We need to be reminded that what He asks of us makes our lives better, and makes the world better.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Starbucks Jesus

I figured out that if you leave your question in the comments that might do it. My question is about Adoration. I go, but I'm not sure what to do and the whole idea of it confuses me. Am I supposed to pray or be silent in His presence...or alternate both? What do I pray for? I go in there with a list but I don't feel like it's quite appropriate to do this...but I don't know what else to do . I pray a lot for guidance on what to do while I am in there and a closer relationship with Him. I also take a few books with prayers in there, too...but I always think I am "doing it wrong". For once, I would like to do something "right". Would you spell it out for me and help out? Thank you Sister. Oh, and one more question... When I go to Adoration (it's in a small chapel), I always go to my seat first and then kneel down facing the monstrance for my opening prayers. Some people walk in and kneel down right in the aisle and "block traffic" so to speak. I want to do what's proper. 

Yes, leave your questions in the comments section.

Now that we have that out of the way....

This Adoration thing is not a confusing idea.  But I do understand your confusion. I mean, really, if you said to me, "Come on over and adore me", I wouldn't know what to do either. 

Adding to the feeling that you are doing it wrong are other factors:

1. Everyone else seems to know exactly what they're doing. Especially, those people who are clogging up the aisles in an adoration logjam.

2. The decor and atmosphere are sure signs that "you are not in Kansas anymore". It can give you that feeling you have when you discover no one told you the brunch was black tie only. The monstrance is a really big ornate gold thing.  You have a run in your hose. That sort of feeling. Jesus is there wearing black tie and you are there in your pajamas. Like that. 

So, yeah. I understand.

You just need to adjust your perception a little. Then you'll be fine.

So imagine this. You're sitting in your house stewing in your own juice about whatever is eating you today. You're doing whatever it is you do there, putting some coffee on, sweeping the front walk, wondering if you should do the dishes now or wait until the lunch dishes are in there, too. You get an excited call from a neighbor. Jesus Christ in the flesh is over at the Starbucks with a few of His disciples.

It's a block away from you!

So, of course, you throw on whatever isn't pajamas and get down there.  Now what?

Are you worried you're not dressed right?  I doubt it.  Are you afraid to speak to Him? You just might be.

But it would be enough just to be there, wouldn't it? And if He caught your eye and smiled, or put His hand on your shoulder, that would make all that stuff you've been stewing about just evaporate, wouldn't it. Probably just being there would.

That's Adoration. Go down to that Starbucks where Jesus stopped in. And just be there. There's no wrong way to do that. You can ask questions. You can pray any prayers you want to pray. You can let Him know what's bothering you. Or not. He knows already anyhow.

You can politely step by the logjam, or you can join them. Would you worry about where the disciples were sitting or standing or kneeling at the Starbucks? Of course not. You'd just squeeze in there anyway you could. 

You might look down and find you're still wearing your slippers.  That's okay, too.

The only thing you could possibly do wrong is to be disrespectful. Somehow I don't think that's an issue, either. Jesus didn't turn away the disrespectful. The Pharisees were always at the edges of the crowds who gathered around Jesus, making snarky remarks and trying to dream up questions that would stump Him. He never told them to take a hike. And they were probably dressed nicely.

So relax. Jesus is adorable. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Snapping...Out of It

Dear Sister Mary Martha, I'm really tired of being nice all the time, and I'm ready to snap and say something mean.

Snap out of it.

What gives you the right to be mean to anybody?

 Is everyone else stupid? Is that it? 

I have news for you. They're doing the best they can. Yes, they are lame. Maybe they do need to try harder. However, if you snap and say something mean, they won't for one second think to themselves, "Wow, I'm so stupid." What they will think is, "what a mean person."  What's the point of that?

The world is a difficult, often terrible, place. You have a choice to add to the terribleness of the world and make it an incrementally more terrible place or to try to make it a less terrible place. You can add ugliness or you can add beauty.  You certainly won't help one blessed thing get better by being mean.

What you will do, besides degrading the state of the world, is make yourself into a bitter, crabby person with some sort of sense of entitlement that things should go better for you. 

That person that you want to be mean to is a whole human being, too. You've lost sight of that.  

On top of that, if you had simply snapped and said something mean, it might not be a sin, because you may not have had any actually intention of being mean or hurting anyone. There was no intent, just a momentary lapse, for which you could have apologized. The end.

But now, you're giving yourself permission to give into your anger. And that is a sin. Anger is not a sin. Living in anger is.

Perhaps you need a break. Put your feet up with some tea and take some deep breaths to quell your anger.

Whatever you do, the idea that you are simply too weary to be nice is  an idea to be dumped in the trash heap of useless plans. Get some sleep. And some gratitude. And some compassion.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Oxygen for Mom

Yesterday's post scared somebody:

Hi Sister, this post has got me worried. My son was baptised, but although I regularly attend mass, (his father doesn't as he is not Catholic and not interested), I don't take my son very often. He is autistic and has limited understanding and no verbal communication as such. He won't sit still for long and shouts out when he feels the urge and tries to run off. Should I still be taking him and explaining things anyway, in the hope that he may understand something. The priest is a little impatient with anyone out of the ordinary, which has put me off a bit.

You have nothing to worry about. You're doing the best that you can. And hooray for you to get yourself to Mass! 

It's just like when you are on an airplane and the stewardess tells you that, should that oxygen thingy drop down, you should put your own on before helping any one else, including your own child. Why would she say that? Because if you pass out you won't be able to help your own child.

And this is EXACTLY like that. You are keeping your oxygen mask on. Taking your son once in a while is as much as you can do.

The people in yesterday's post not only did not put on their oxygen masks, they refuse to believe there is any problem with the plane. You can't see oxygen (and those bags don't inflate). Keep watching your movie. 

They were planning on lying to the priest so they could get what they wanted, a ceremony in which they have no belief, to please an old lady and to quell the fear brought on by a dream. What a sad mess.

I think for you, though, it might help you a lot to go have a chat with the priest.  Many people just have no clue when it comes to autism or the autism spectrum. So many people believe that if you just disciplined your child he would behave himself. That if he won't eat something because of the texture or color, you should just not feed him anything else and "he'll eat if he gets hungry enough".  Not an autistic child. No he won't.

Think about what you need the priest to know. Can you explain your son's behaviors in a few sentences? Don't put him on the defensive. Tell him your concerns about wishing to bring your son to church but fearing that he will become too disruptive. Don't mention the impatience on the priest's part. Let him comfort you. I believe he will do that.

I can understand that you feel put off. You certainly have enough on your plate. But let's give the priest the benefit of the doubt about his level of understanding.  If I were a gambling woman I'd lay a large bet that the priest doesn't understand autism or doesn't realize your son is autistic.

By the way, we've chosen St. Joseph Cupertino as the patron saint for autism.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Boot to the Head

Hey Sister, I've got a bit of a pickle. My friends are going to be baptizing their daughter next month. The priest has asked them to come to three services before the date, they are not church goers and unless God comes into their hearts, I don't think they ever will. They know I'm a practicing Catholic, and have quite openly told me that they were planning on lying to the priest about their presence (its a well-attended downtown church, it most likely wont be noticed) and not attending at all. I've offered to accompany them, and to even drive them to and from the church but they are adamant and are really not respectful of the church, the faith, or the priest. The only reason why they are baptising their daughter is because her grandmother demanded it, and because the mother had a dream about red devils capturing her daughter's soul in a ball of flames, so took it as a sign that it needed to get done. My question is, what can I do to help them out, encourage them into actually attending those three services, and knowing what they plan to do, am I supposed to say something to the priest?

For the life of me I can't imagine the logic here. "I don't believe in any of this, but I had a dream that red goblins would eat my child if I don't do it and..."

Stop right there. If they don't believe in the faith and in God, then why would they believe in red devils? They don't seem to believe that any of this type of thing exists. Hedging their bets? Not good enough.

So you're dilemma, dear reader, is "how much of a buttinski should I be here?"  A pretty big one, I'd say, because they need a boot to the head. Let's walk them through this:

1. We baptize babies to erase Original Sin from their souls and to welcome them into the Church. Babies can't make this choice for themselves, so we make it for them and we are responsible for their souls always, but importantly, until they reach the age of reason and can choose for themselves.

2. YOU parents have just made that choice for your baby. A choice that involves protection from sin, and in making it have chosen to begin the spiritual life of your child with a lie. Which is a sin.

By the way, how are these people getting away with having their child baptized without having a sponsor class? I thought everyone had to do that to get their child baptized. 

3. We do believe in dreams in the Catholic Church. Just ask Joseph. Red devils captured your daughter's soul in your dream. That's because THAT WILL HAPPEN if you carry out your half baked plan. It's not enough to have her baptized.Baptism actually has MEANING. You think your dream has meaning? But baptism does not? Then what did the dream mean? Do this meaningless thing? Where are your brains, you parents? You make absolutely no sense.

I'm using capital letters for emphasis, because I'm not there to give these people a boot to the head.

This isn't a game, or voodoo or a rabbit's foot of "good luck" (we don't believe in luck) or an excuse for a christening party. This is a Sacrament. A holy vow.  Wait, let me restate that.  A HOLY VOW. A holy vow YOU take on your child's behalf.

Part Two of your dilemma is whether or not to squeal to the priest.  I'm on the fence on this one. I know the priest will want to baptize the child no matter what.  But I also think he has the right to know what's really going on here.

Perhaps if you present it to him the way you presented it to me, not as their problem, but as yours.
' What should I do, Father? My friends have told me they are having their child baptized as a cosmetic grandmother appeasement plan."  And he'll say, "I'll handle it." 

Then you and I both will have to work on getting over our sense of anger and judgment.  Someone will have to give me a boot to the head. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

San Quentin

We have some more serious question with which to deal, but since today is a feast day and everyone has a Snickers hangover, I thought we could do something a little different.

At school on yesterday, the sixth grade teacher, Miss Vollmer, had the bright idea to celebrate the upcoming feast day of All Saints Day, to make an alphabetical list of saints. She put the whole alphabet up on the board and the children were invited to find saints that correspond to the letters. Some of that is really easy. St. Ann, St. Patrick, St. Peter and Paul, James and Mark.  And some caused a little more digging. St. Gerard is not a saint children are particularly familiar with, nor is St. Genesius or St. Expeditus.  And where does Maria Goretti go? With the M's or with the G's. Same problem for Mother Frances Cabrini. Is she an F or a C?

After that it came down to Google.

I whizzed in to inspect the list. There were a lot of questions about the various saints and of course, I don't need Google to tell you that St. Genesius is the patron saint of lawyers and actors. (Which is kind of funny if you think about it, because he had absolutely nothing to do with the law or lawyers and everything to do with actors. That indicates to me that somebody thinks that lawyers are really actors. We could easily make a case for that. Pardon the pun.)

And then I saw St. Quentin. San Quentin.  It really never occurred to me that the prison is named after a saint. San Quentin is synonymous prison the way Kleenex means a disposable hanky, the way Xerox means to copy something. And just who is St. Quentin anyhow and why is a prison named after him?

Who knows.  We really know almost nothing about the dear boy. What we do know about him is the stuff of legend, which is this: he was the son of a senator in the 3rd century and when he got the spirit, he was shackled and tortured. This went on for some time but he miraculously escaped.

I don't know what that means. I have to assume that it means it was actually miraculous, as in angels set him loose, as opposed to "Wow, he got loose while the guard was drunk! It's a miracle!"

In any case, he was captured again and shackled again and tortured again, but this time he was beheaded. Unlike St. Denis, St. Quentin did not take his head and stroll to a better part of town with it. His remains were tossed into the marshes, head and all.

There he stayed for five years until a blind woman found him. She didn't dig around in the marshes. She prayed and St. Quentin's remains rose up out of the marsh. Intact. I'm not sure if that just means he was incorrupt and his body and his head rose up, or he was in one piece again. I'm assuming that either way he was incorrupt. He had 'the odor of sanctity'. I suppose that's how she knew he had floated up out of the marsh, because she couldn't see him. Maybe he said, "Hi."  The blind woman took whatever that was in a cart and when the cart broke down she buried the saint right there on the spot. A chapel was built.

He was dug up one last time, this time to distribute his relics.

The prison, however is not named after the saint. It is named for where it stands, Point Quentin. Point Quentin is named for a Miwok warrior named Quentin who was imprisoned in that spot.

I have a hard time believing that. Why was a Miwok warrior named Quentin? It seems to me someone named HIM after the saint, which would mean the prison was named for him who was named for the saint.

He seems a very appropriate patron saint for a prison, don't you think?