The Other I

July 9, 2007

A nun’s very Catholic family

Filed under: Catholicism and other questions of religion,Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 4:13 pm

We grew up in a very very Catholic family.  In fact, we were super-Catholics, and were burdened with the belief that we were each chosen to do something very great with our lives.  So we thought pretty highly of ourselves, and thought we were a moral cut above the average sinner.  My father believed that the greatest thing any of his children could achieve was to become saints.  Sanctity became our highest goal.

 On the wall of the kitchen was a Christian calendar listing the feast being celebrated on each particular day.  Each one of us were named after a Catholic saint who was held up as our special example, and whose feast day was celebrated on the par with birthdays.  I was named after St. Therese of Liseaux, the “Little Flower” who became a cloistered nun and died in her early twenties, having celebrated the value of “little things.”  I never liked being named after her.  My plans for myself were never little. 

Every night the family gathered after dinner to say the family rosary together.  Mom was often pregnant and was the only one permitted to sit during this ritual.  The rest of us sprawled in what we called kneeling, positions that were rather surprisingly tolerated by a otherwise pretty strict parenting code.  During the forty days of Lent preceeding Easter, we each engaged in a series of public resolutions like abstaining from candy or parties or listening to our favourite loud music.  At Easter, Dad hid what he called an Alleluia Egg, pure white with Alleluia printed across its face in yellow food coloring.  Whoever found it earned a prize.  Mostly it was hard to find.  Once it was in the telephone (it was eventually found by the telephone repairman who was called in when the phone wouldn’t work), another time in the dust bag of the vacuum.  And there were first Communions and Confirmations, baptisms, and all the rituals of the Catholic year.

I thought all Catholic families were more or less like us.   But there was one critical difference between us and most other Catholic families.  For all his commitment, Dad wasn’t afraid to teach us how to ask questions, and to challenge religious authority.  I was an expert on the fine nuances of papal infallibility, and on just when the pope couldn’t be wrong, and the much larger arena when his view should merely be respected if not accepted.  This unsubmissive attitude, this default setting of disbelief, if you will,  which I learned at home, was not at all what most Catholics were like.  It certainly was not what was expected of me in the convent.   



  1. Theres plenty of spammy comments on this site. Have you actually thought about trying to eliminate them or installing a extension?


    Comment by Valerie Aquero — March 12, 2012 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

    • I’d be interested to know which comments you consider “spammy.” When I leave a comment in, it is with the assumption that the writer is sincere in his/her comment, whether or not I agree with it. I was tempted After some thought, I decided to edit out your swearing. I do not feel that any of the comments currently on this blog deserve it. No one is trying to sell Viagra or imitation Rolex watches. In any case, I’m inclined to think that comments without expletives are more apt to reflect less drinking and more thinking.

      I’m open to hearing why you think I may be wrong, and should re-instate your original comment as is.


      Comment by theotheri — March 12, 2012 @ 10:05 pm | Reply

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