Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Assume It's a Sin

My favorite blogging nun, Sister Mary Martha, recently posted on what she considers to be "sins of the new millennium". These "sins" are actually what the rest of us would describe as obnoxious behavior. You know...irritating realities that have somehow infiltrated our daily lives. Take, for example, the endless, rambling cell phone banter we hear from perfect strangers. Constantly. In a taxi. At the grocery store. Fast food workers wearing Bluetooth earpieces. Yapping about last night’s party-at-the-club while keying in food items that in no way approximate anything you actually ordered.

You might wonder which other random vexations Sister MM extols to the full-fledged rank of SIN...

Deep fried macaroni and cheese. Self-righteous cable talk show hosts. Tooth bling. I'll even throw in a few on her behalf: A lone sales clerk for a line of 28 at a fabric store close-out sale. Brain-dead bank tellers. Naming your newborn child Blueberry Jade instead of her Church sanctioned saint name, Agnes Scholastica. Baptizing your child when he/she wears a size 6X. Even THINKING about missing Mass to catch that Bears game. Failing to return your pew kneeler to the upright and locked position. Got the gist?

These life irritations may not fall under the heading of sin in our world, but all of the above clearly register on Sister’s transgression radar. Call it creative license in the condemnation department. And while you might dismiss her extended sin criteria as the ravings of a crusty, worn out nun, you can be sure that generations of scheme-hatching munchkins were subjected to similar world views from equally observant, habit-wearing arbiters of all things sinful.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, you know. I, for one, just assumed that nuns took a liberty-or-two when it came to characterizing sin. Not an altogether bad strategy to maintain a shred of order among their numerous, young charges. I'm not sure it did much for the Church's ultimate credibility, but hey, it's what some of these overworked women had to do to keep untold numbers of miniature heathens in line.

More nun manufactured sinfulness:

poor penmanship

wrinkled pleats on uniform jumpers

edge of pleats on uniform jumpers which do not create paper cuts

untucked, Peter Pan collared blouses


uniforms that reveal any indication of the female form

dog-eared textbook pages

dirty chalk board erasers

dirty desk tops

glossy Chapstick (dangerously close to appearing like make-up)

failing to volunteer at the rectory to staple church bulletins

bringing store bought cupcakes to the bake sale

using the edge of the pew to support your backside while kneeling

singing at Mass with Baptist-like enthusiasm

singing at Mass with any enthusiasm

engaging in activities that seem too “Protestant”. Bible camps, holding hands in church, etc.

laughter of any kind during the retirement mass of an archbishop. (Not that I had any personal experience with this, mind you.)

anything or anyone not deemed specifically holy or pure

As a kid you might have thought twice about arriving 1.5 minutes late from recess if your punishment was certain, eternal damnation to the fires of you-know-where. A slightly more persuasive deterrent than the obligatory 150-word essay, no doubt.

So give the nuns a little leeway in the sin definition department. They're still pulling out all the stops to get a maximum number of souls into Heaven. Overkill, in this case, never actually killed anyone. It kept generations of children on the straight and narrow. (And afforded financial security to countless mental health practitioners.)

P.S. I adore Sister Mary Martha. And several other nuns for that matter. All in good fun, right?


Anonymous said...

last paragraph is "souls" not "soles"

you forgot the sin of not leaping to your feet with breakneck speed any time the principal or priest or anyone visited the classroom and singsonging "good moooooorrrrrrnnnnnniing faaaathhhher jim."

i also think it was a sin to have to go to the bathroom during class time. no one ever did it.

in the upper grades, not being able to diagram a sentence. what is a gerund anyway?

Leigh said...

Thanks for the editing, anonymous. Even if one (hopefully) knows how a word is spelled, sometimes a tired mommy brain has something else in mind. Plus, I think spell check, although handy, makes us a little lazy.

Come to think of it, spelling soul as sole is probably a nun sin too. Add it to the list!

Your nun sins are good ones too!

Bless you dear editor. :-)

Mandy said...

I love SMM as well. She makes me laugh with every post.

Nuns did not let you go to the bathroom...when I was in Kindergarten, I had to go sooooo bad. She would not let me go. I had an accident. She was not pleased and I was reprimanded in front of the class. I was MORTIFIED. That was 1980. I teach now and would not dream of telling a student they could not use the bathroom. I would probably get sued!
Thanks for posting. It brought back many, many, Catholic school memories. :)