Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Little Doctor To Remember!

In the almost giddy delight of today's feast of the Little Flower, St. Doctor Therese of Lisieux, I have been given permission by the Editor-in-Chief to post this awesome excerpt from the exceedingly famous (and rare) journal called Something Good To Read.

It's very funnny, and if that Black Hole story doesn't get me on the Index, this surely will. (Though all I am doing is posting it. I am in enough trouble already. The E-i-C wanted to know how I got an electronic copy. Whew.)

--Dr. Thursday.

Odd Things The Saints Said

We were looking over some recent religious journals and newspapers, and we saw that St. Therese, who sometimes writes her name with accents, and who is called the Little Flower, was awarded her doctorate last October [this was October 1997]. We don't quite recall where we were, but we wish we had been invited to the heavenly commencement, as we think it must have been very interesting: all the other doctors struggling into their official robes (Aquinas complaining that his is too small again, as usual), the Trinity signing the diploma, Mary helping Terry with her hair, and the choirs of angels bringing her robe, hood, and doctoral beanie (Whatever is the name of that thing? You know, like St. Thomas More always wore.) The choirs and all the celestial musicians playing "Pomp and Circumstance" or whatever it is they play at doctoralizings. (I still can never tell the difference between a pomp and a circumstance; can you?)

Well, she processes up the central aisle of heaven, all the choirs and saints arranged in perfect order, and cheering fit to wake the dead. She passes all the other doctors who smile at her warmly. The last two in the row are St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena, who give her high fives.
At the end of the aisle stands her committee, who are smiling, and she shakes their hands. On a table just beside the throne is her dissertation, all signatures appended, neatly bound, and completely free of typos.
She hands her dissertation to the Trinity, Who smile at her with love. The Trinity pronounces the words of conferral, Their voice sounding a lot like John Paul II's, and the heavenly PA system working perfectly, as one would expect. Just as the exit music is about to start, before the party resumes, one of the messengers rushes up.
"Special Delivery for the Little Flower," he says, holding out an envelope. "Sign here, please."

The court gasps.

"That's Doctor Flower, now," she says, with a rosy smile, as she signs the clipboard and opens the envelope. She nods, handing it back to the messenger, who darts off, his embarrassment already vanished. Everyone breaks up with laughter, and goes off to the celebration.

* * *

Of course, I have no way of knowing if that is what really happened - I mean, word for word. But it is odd, and saintly, and I don't know that all the other little stories reported of saints have exhibited unambiguous proof that they really happened, either. So I got out our standard reference, Twisted Haloes [by Father Robert Eimer], and looked to see if I could find something relevant. How about the time St. Francis de Sales showed (by rigorous proof) that sanctity does not consist in an astronomical number of devotions? Here's what he said:
"It's rightly said that we must advance in perfection, but our advcancement must not be through a multiplication of spiritual exercises as you think, but by the perfection in the way we do them. Last year you may have fasted three times a week. If you wanted to double this exercise, you would have to fast the entire week. Then what would you do the next year? You would have to make a nine-day week, or else fast twice a day."
I apologise if this sounds very technical. I guess I was thinking about Doctor Flower. Here's a simpler one from St. Francis:
A young lady once asked him whether or not it was sinful to use rouge. Francis cocked one eye, and said, "Well, some theologians say it is perfectly all right, but others disagree."
But she was not satisfied - as who would be? and she asked him "So, what do I do? Use rouge or not?"
He told her, "Why not follow a middle course, and rouge only one cheek?"

In concluding, I would like to mention a very witty line from Giuseppe Sarto, who went on to become Pope Pius X, and later Saint Pius X. People saw his extraordinary holiness and started saying he was a saint, going so far as to say he could obtain
miracles. He replied, "So now it's miracles they want from me. As if I didn't have enough to do already."

Another piece of advice given by another Pope (though I am not sure who) to his assistant, who wondered what he should do if God Himself should look in the window.

The Pope ordered, "Look busy."

Reprinted with permission from Something Good To Read Volume CXIV Number 230 (February 11, 1998). Yes, I have a signed note!


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