11 June 2009

Mouths of babes

The other night when we were saying prayers before bed with the kids, we got to the portion where we ask for intercession for others and our intentions. We have a pretty good litany of saints we implore for their help. Since my son is getting a little older, I like to allow him to lead the prayers and to try to remember, or at least contribute, some saints to ask for their intercession.

One of us will mention a saint's name, and the rest of us respond with, "Pray for us."

After I had rattled off a few saints, I paused and waited for a second to prompt my son to list a few saints. After seconds of awkward silence, I said, "Anyone else?"

"Pray for us," was his reponse.

Yes, dear St. Anyone Else, please pray for us.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is my cousin, a fallen away Catholic. I mentioned to her that I would be out in her area today since I was giving a Carmelite nun a ride from this end of town to fairly close to where my cousin lives. I needed to find something to do for a couple hours while this nun visited the local hermitage until it was time to drive her back to this side of town. My cousin has been inviting me over for some time, so this seemed like a good opportunity.

This cousin is now quite involved in Evangelical Protestantism.

My cousin was curious about this nun. What did cloister mean anyhow? I very briefly explained to her the austere and contemplative life of the Carmelite nuns.

"Oh, I just think that is WRONG!!! Don't you?" said my cousin.

"No. I think it is incredibly beautiful. We need more of these types of people praying for the rest of us." I said earnestly.

I was stunned to find out that my cousin, who went to Catholic grade school, had the notion that these women were locked away behind bars and gates like they were prisoners. Further, believing their prayer life is a burden and that they are naive young women who had impulsively made a decision that they obviously must regret. How could anyone live a life like that?

"It's a special vocation. A call from God, who has given these ladies the gift and grace to live this incredible life," I said sincerely. "They're not there against their will. This is the life they desire and have chosen. They go through a novitiate period where they discern if this life is what they are called to. It's not a rash decision where they one day decide they'd like to be a nun and the next day they are locked behind metal bars with a shackle around their ankle."

My cousin's perspective was quite an eye opener for me. I was sad she had this opinion of religious, especially the cloistered life. Little does she know of how much these nuns and monks study each and every day. If she ever got a chance to talk to a Carmelite, she would be amazed at the breath and depth of their knowledge. Not to mention, those who have found their true calling in this life are joy-filled. As I am happy being married and a mom, although it is not without its ups and downs, they are happy and content with their lives too.


ArchAngel's Advocate said...

It is also useful to point out that the bars and locks ARE ON THE INSIDE of the cloister and are there to protect the cloistered (men & women) from the World, not to lock them up in a prison (where the locks are on the outside).

On a lighter note, a friend told me about when she sang with a formal church choir(you know, those which hire professional (often non- or not practicing Catholics) lead singers). One Easter apparently, the lead tenor had bee "celebrating" a little too well. He was intoning the Litany of the Saints and lost his place, so he starting "canonizing" non-standard saints (St. Oregano, St. Thyme, St. Bonifide, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised about the way your cousin thinks. I remember having much the same view. I thought it was cowaridice that made people enter enclosed orders-to run away from the world and it's problems.
Yikes I was so ignorant. But this was what we were expected to believe.
It was years later when I began to realise how much eejits like me needed these powerhouses of prayer!