Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The feast of St. John of the Cross is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I was looking at the article on Wikipedia. I noticed that the bibliography includes my good friend Fr. Steve Payne's doctoral dissertation (in philosophy at Cornell; he has another doctorate in theology from Catholic University), which was published under the title John of the Cross and the Cognitive Value of Mysticism.

That, plus a brief exchange with Mitchell about the cats, reminded me of a story about Steve's visit to the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Spain when he was doing research for his dissertation. I am not sure which Carmel he was visiting, but he was trying to speak to them in Spanish, which he reads much better than he speaks.

This was a traditional cloistered community, and his visit took place in a parlor with the nuns on one side of a grill and Steve and another friar on the other. As some point in the conversation, he noticed that some of the nuns were amused. It dawned on him that he had been addressing them as mis hermosas instead of mis hermanas. In other words, my beauties instead of my sisters.

He hastily apologized, but the prioress stopped him.

"That's fine," she told him in flawless English. "We seldom get to hear ourselves called that and it's a nice change."


John Gray said...

I like this

Ur-spo said...

nice story, this.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Wonderful. (And now I'lll never get the Irving Berlin song out of my head!)

Michael Dodd said...

The nuns are famous for lively recreations, so they may indeed be singing and dancing to Irving Berlin in that photo.

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