Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 158 - Sister Claire and the Matches

In college I wanted to do the right thing and teach CCD. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was an association established in 1562 in Rome for the purpose of providing religious education. In its more modern usage, CCD is the religious teaching program of the Catholic Church. These classes are taught to school age children to learn the basic doctrines of their faith. For non-catholic circles is the equivalent to Sunday School.  I was twenty years old and wanted to give back to my faith and felt like God was calling me to answer the request for new teachers.  One of my basketball teammates had gone on to teach and I later found out that I was really blessed as I ended up teaching the religion courses to the third-graders.  She has taught all age groups and said that third grade is the perfect age as they still ask marvelous questions and are so inquisitive.

It was through the coordination of a special nun that the CCD coordinators were organized.  Our coordinator was Sister Claire Hudert.  I loved her.  We became friends outside of our religious duties.  She invited me one time for tea at McDonalds and as we began to chat, she opened up to me that she didn't understand why the priests would sit around and complain about all the duties they had and needed help with when the nuns of this particular parish had repeatedly offered their services.  Women weren't allowed.

Sr. Claire Hudert OSB
I often gave back my time and refereed the Catholic Basketball Childrens League.  I think this is my favorite league to officiate.  For the most part, coaches are educated and really get the sportsmanship part in the game of basketball.  They teach the kids about life when they accept losing while celebrating personal bests.  It is in these moments that God uses coaches and referees to teach about life through the game of basketball. 

One time upon arriving to do one of these games, I hugged my male partner who I had recently helped recover from a serious car accident.  I mean helped him, like carried him into the bathroom with the open robe in order to urinate help. I was so happy that he and I were going to officiate together but more importantly that he was given another opportunity to officiate by the grace of God.  He had told me the story of how he pleaded with the paramedic before he passed out from the trauma of the car accident NOT TO CUT THE SHIRT.  I've heard that more than one time by officials who have been in car accidents upon returning from officiating a contest while wearing their stripes. 

When I got home from this game, my booking commissioner had called to ask me what happened when I arrived and how did I hug Kevin?  What?  Evidently a nun at the game thought I hugged him "too affectionately" and called him to complain about it.

I didn't hug him lustfully, it was with relief of knowing what he had gone through to get back on the court.  Not only surviving the car accident and rehab but taking the blood thinners too.  I thought why on earth would a nun think that hugging is inappropriate?  Surely we teach children to love one another.  I wasn't sexual in my contact with my partner at all.  That disturbed me that her perception was this reality.

Sister Claire wasn't like that at all.  She was kind, friendly and loved teaching the children about life and relationships.  I was surprised when she was transferred back to the convent near my home town.  We kept in touch and she invited me to go on a hunger walk when I was in town.  I said sure not knowing what I was getting into.  We ended up walking for over thirteen miles in silence to raise money for the hungry.  We went back to the convent (now known as the Mount Saint Benedict Monastery) where we were ravished and ate fruit, cheese and soup.  I had never done this and it was an experience.  Imagine walking with hundreds of people and not saying a word for hours.  Strange but fulfilling. Like basketball...being a part of something bigger than yourself.

She then invited me to the convent/Monastery for Easter Service.  I planned to go. I bought a big stuffed Easter Bunny showed up.  I was so dumb. I knew but didn't think about it. She couldn't keep the stuffed animal as the nuns swear a life of poverty and can't own ANYTHING, but it was with comfort she explained that she would donate to the children.  The convent was like a dorm and I noticed that in all the bathroom stalls there were a packet of matches that was set on top of the casing that held the toilet tissue.  I didn't understand this.

St. Benedict Statue
She showed me the convent and introduced me to the sisters.  I was fascinated by this group of women.  They were so close.  There was a game room in which some were playing checkers.  Sister Claire showed me the gardens, which were phenomenal and introduced me to the "Mother" of the convent which I don't remember her name. (I believe they are now called The Proweress.)  She seemed very old to me.  She lead me into the rectory and told me just to be in this room at five o'clock as this would be Easter Vigil and she hoped I would love it.  I was in awe at the display of Easter Lillies, it was beautiful. As we walked back to have dinner I asked her about the matches in the bathroom.  She explained that the charcoal which the matches are made suck up air when lit.  If there is an aroma in the bathroom that one wants to rid the bathroom of, one can light the match and it will disappear unlike fragrant sprays which "cover up" odors and never get rid of the odor. It lingers like a cheap perfume below the surface breathing air.

Cheaper than bathroom deodorizers, matches will do the trick.  I love that I learned this from a nun. Or if you prefer, a real live sister. But more importantly from Sister Claire who was a match herself. When you lit her up, she got rid of the odors.  This is probably why they transferred her back to the convent from my college town to my home town which was two hours away.  Oh and the Easter Vigil was something I will never forget.  To hear all these female voices that were graced with divine beauty is really from another place...another place where smoke and fires don't exist.

Prayer to St. Benedict

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention it), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

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