Saturday, March 24, 2012

A St. Therese Rosary For This Mennonite Boy?

How is my mental health today?

I'm very puzzled.

When I picked up our mail yesterday I found a Safeway Flyer, a page of Burger King coupons, and a very small package from the Monastery of Mount Carmel in Niagara Falls, Ontario addressed to me. This is the second time I've received mail from this monastery.

It's a mystery. Where did they get my name and address from? How did they get it? I've never corresponded with them; I've never visited with them; in fact, I never heard of them before I received the first mailing from them. I don't recall what was in the package the first time - I think I just tossed it in the garbage.

This time I looked at the package more closely. Right above my name was the statement, "Your Little Flower Rosary is Enclosed."

What??? Why is a Carmelite Monastery sending this Mennonite boy a Rosary?

As I was perusing the contents of my package the telephone rang. It was Heidi asking about my dinner plans / preparations. We clarified the arrangements and then I told her about this "gift" I had received. While I expressed my bewilderment, Heidi's response was, "That's Cool! You didn't throw it away did you?"

When I raised the question of how and why I had been sent this package Heidi told me I should write the Carmelites a letter. I`m not going to do that - I`ll blog about it instead.

I know Heidi doesn't like it when the Catholic Church is being bashed, so I'll be careful to avoid doing that. But I do have some questions. Heidi asked me if this was another situation where we will agree to disagree; it's not about agree or disagree, I'm just questioning things that I'm reading that don't fit with my understanding of scripture. So...

First of all, I wonder how I got on the monasteries mailing list. Along with the "gift", I also received a request for a donation to (and I quote), "spread the heavenly message of St. Therese and support the good works of Carmelites around the world."

Now, I have no problem being asked to support any one's good works but I'm curious about what they mean with the reference to 'the heavenly message of St Therese'. Why do I need more of a heavenly message than I can find in scripture? Is St. Therese communicating or teaching something in addition to what's taught in the Bible? If yes, how does that fit with the admonitions in both the Old Testament and the New Testament not to add to, or delete anything from what's already been written? If it's not something extra, what exactly is this 'heavenly message of St Therese'?

The back of the donation slip provides me with space to list personal intentions, loved ones and friends that I want to entrust to the "heavenly protection of St Therese". That just does not fit with my study and understanding of scripture. When I want heavenly protection for anyone or anything I pray directly to God in the Name of Christ.

I am completely clueless when it comes to praying the Rosary. I can understand the use of some kind of tool to help focus my prayer, but praying the Rosary seems to be a very specific process that doesn't fit for me. I did a little on-line research, and probably need to do more, but the detailed prayers I found laid out for the Rosary are not something I'm comfortable with, nor do they help me feel closer to God. I know many people find it meaningful and helpful and that's great. I'll stick to what works for me.

So what will I do with this Rosary and the 'personalized' carrying case that came with it? I'm not sure. I'll hang on to it for the time being. Maybe I'll take it along to the next Soul Sanctuary Monk's Retreat (seriously, no sarcasm intended). In the meantime, I think I'll try to arrange a coffee meeting with a friend who just happens to be a Franciscan Priest - maybe he can answer some of my questions.

Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul;
man cannot live in health without them.
~~ Mahalia Jackson

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