I spoke to Sister Mary yesterday. It was great to hear her voice again, and I felt guilty about the somewhat sardonic tone I have taken towards the nun thing. I didn’t realise how much I had missed her. She is by no means my closest friend, but is certainly my oldest friend. She has also always been a very faithful friend and I have no idea what she sees in me. I am a most unsuitable friend for a novice and I was an even less suitable friend for the sort of teenage girl who would one day become one. I have always had my foot in my mouth around Mary, much as I love her.
Anyway, she is extremely happy. Great thing about being in love with Christ is that He is perfect and never squeezes the toothpaste in the middle. Her passion is a joy to listen to, but I can’t help sensing that she feels desperately sorry for me because I don’t have God in my Life. And I don’t know what to say when she hints at this. I try to say everything is fantastic. I don't think she believes me.
And Mary did mention healing, which she never has before. Her mother has a similar condition to my own, but the lady offers up her suffering to get time off in purgatory (so I understand). Mary was at pains to point out that we all have things we need healing in our bodies and in our souls and the things we need healing in our bodies and in our souls are in no way connected to one another. Glad she cleared that one up.
See, look, there’s my sardonic tone again! I desperately don’t want to be cynical about this. It is all completely true to Mary, not only true but really great news for her. I really have no excuses. Do I feel insecure about my own beliefs? No, I don’t think I am at all. Do I feel jealous of her happiness? No, I am comparably happy myself much of the time.
What I am perhaps just a touch envious of is her ability to express her total euphoria at having found her vocation. She is without shame or inhibition in her happiness. That, I would like to be able to do.
As for the healing, I’ll do as God suggested to Moses and keep taking the tablets. For now at least.
Talking of spreading the word, March 8th is International Women's Day and Vegankid has set up Blog Against Sexism Day. Go on, sign up, it is only one day where you have to say something against sexism. Like, “Oi! Stop Sexism!” – that would do, I’m sure.
Errm... I am not entirely sure that my English is good enough to express what I mean, but I will have go: I think the basic problem is that our western culture has most of its roots in Christianity. Basic rules of everyday life, how to treat or not to treat other people and so on derive from Christian values. Therefore those who believe do have a far better standing than those who do not. You do not have to justify your believe, you only have to justify your disbelieve. And as nuns are the most dedicated believers they do not have to justify anything. They are good by definition, so who are we to argue? It is a no win situation, because nothing they believe in can be prooved, but nevertheless they have all the morality and can't be questioned. All the nuns I have met before were really great personalities and very much devoted to their work and they were all extremely happy, which is good. But I also think that happiness comes easy if you do not have to care about any real life problems, like paying the rent, having arguments with your partner, job problems, etc.
My infancy was dominated by teaching nuns, and I have worked with nursing nuns. Most of them I have found to be emotionally, just like anyone else, but then I never met any novices, who have to be protected from the cold winds of the world's cynicism.
Your Sister Mary is presumably in the honeymoon stage still; sadly, like human-based love, the euphoria will pass and settle down, and there will also be periods of disillusionment and doubt, even with a perfect Being; although she is unlikely to share that with a lay person. (If she does, it will be the greatest compliment she could pay you.) Meanwhile, I can only suggest that you treat her as you would any other friend in the first flush of a love-affair.
Some religious even seek out personal suffering in order to offer it up on behalf of others.
I think Mone (who explained herself very well) has a very good point about the lack of worries. Mary is sorted now for life; she'll never have to worry about relationships or money matters and even concerns about her health can be put in a different context. That's most ordinary folks worries dealt with.
I also think Charles is spot on about the honeymoon period. Mary has had periods of spiritual... anxiety in the past and of course it will happen again; in fact I have far more respect for anyone, Christian or atheist who has moments of doubt about their particular take on things.
Speaking as a disabled practicing Christian (I need to practice because I’m rubbish at it!), I have given some thought to the subject of healing. Quite early on after I acquired my degenerative impairment, I submitted (somewhat reluctantly) to laying on of hands, anointing and prayer for healing; but nothing changed.
With the benefit and maturity of hindsight, I realise now how much disability and my impairment have contributed to my social and political identity and, I believe, have made me a “better” person.
This is nothing to do with seeking out suffering or denying the flesh. But why would I want healing from this physical condition which has made, and continues to make, me who I am? And why would God want to do that to me?
I think it was one of the Old Testament chappies beginning with an E (long time since I read the Bible) who said something along the lines of,
"Who would choose to straighten what God has made crooked?"
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