Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 8 – Orthodoxy

Wow. It has been a very long time since I wrote my last Baby Catholic Answers All the Things post. This was supposed to be a regular feature! I’m sorry.

Here’s what happened: I got a question from my friend Liz that threw me for a loop a bit (back in, *ahem*, August). I kind of knew the answer, but I wasn’t sure if my answer was the whole answer, and Google was not helping me find the whole answer very easily, and then once I did find the whole answer, I couldn’t manage to get the post written in a way that I liked. And I didn’t want to write it wrong, because referring to myself as the Baby Catholic who Answers All The Things is a lot of pressure!

So I didn’t write it at all.

And even though I sent a message to my friend Liz giving her the answer, I felt like I shouldn’t just skip it and keep doing other BCAATT posts without answering it here too (though I did do a few posts after getting THE QUESTION). So. Radio silence from Baby Catholic for (*gulp*) four months.

How’s that for a lengthy explanation?

Anyway. In spite of how long it took me to finally get around to it, I am not one to shy away from a challenge. This question and this post have been in the back of my mind for months. Today, I shall answer the question that derailed me for a while, but will not defeat me.

What was it you ask? This:

“What is the difference between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox? Or, when people refer to Orthodox Catholics are they simply implying more devout Catholics (like Orthodox Jews)?”


Now, you may wonder why this stumped me. I think most Catholics, including me, know that the Orthodox Church is a different thing, separate from the Roman Catholic Church but similar. Often referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, though it is also called the Orthodox Catholic Church, it split away from Roman Catholicism in the East-West Schism of 1054. I learned about this in RCIA last year and also by reading Catholicism for Dummies.

Easy answer, right? So why in the world did this fluster me so much?

Well, I thought I remembered reading something in Jennifer Fulwiler’s memoir, Something Other Than God about how she and her family had found an orthodox Catholic church to attend that they felt was a good fit for their family. I looked through the book, but I couldn’t find the page to reference. However, she mentions in this post her comment to her husband during one Mass, “I think we’re orthodox,” and then she received help from a reader to find an “orthodox parish” to attend. Anyway, because of all this, I was pretty sure that the answer to Liz’s question was “The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are separate but similar, AND “orthodox” is also a way of referring to more strict Catholics.”

However, when I tried to learn more about orthodox Catholicism, I came across the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, which is a whole different thing, not affiliated with the Roman Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox Churches. I couldn’t find much about orthodox Roman Catholic practices. I was frustrated.

Finally, I managed to string together the right phrase in a Google search to find some of what I was looking for. From my results, I read about the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement, led by some priests who didn’t agree with the changes made to the Mass and the Church after Vatican II. There were many changes that came after Vatican II, and I don’t know all of them, but a big one was the way the Mass was celebrated. Before Vatican II, the Mass was almost always celebrated in Latin, and the priest stood between the congregation and the altar, consecrating the bread and wine with his back to the people of the parish. This is called the Tridentine Mass or often just the Latin Mass.

Now, here’s where I get a little unsure. As I understand it, the powers that be in the Roman Catholic Church say that it’s fine to still perform this Latin version of the Mass, and I assume this is considered an orthodox practice. I’m not sure if there are other Roman Catholic parishes that would be considered “orthodox” but don’t conduct the Mass in Latin. My guess is yes, but I could not find any definitive information about just what makes a parish “orthodox,” or if there even are any rules. It seems as though this is not an official label placed on any segment of the Catholic Church. I suspect that orthodox parishes are more conservative and hold more strictly to the laws of the Church.

Just thinking about the parishes in my town, I can say that there are some that are likely considered more orthodox than others. Our parish for example sometimes includes more modern music in our liturgy, especially at the teen Mass. And up until a few weeks ago, we did not have a tabernacle in the main sanctuary of the church (it was in a small side chapel). Our church also looks more modern, and sometimes at the end of Mass the people involved in planning parish activities come up to the front and do silly skits or wear costumes while making announcements. Probably not terribly orthodox, but lots of fun for our family, and never going against any Church rules. I’ve never been to a Mass at a different parish in our town (other than Miss’s school Mass), so I can’t say for sure, but I’ve heard that some of the other parishes tend toward being more old school, though I don’t know if that’s orthodox or not.

So, what I’ve come up with for a final answer is this:

1. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox (or Eastern Orthodox) Churches are similar but separate.


2. There are also some Roman Catholic churches that are more orthodox in their practices, though I am not sure exactly what would constitute calling a given parish “orthodox.” Perhaps they have the Mass in the Latin Rite. Probably their music mostly consists of traditional hymns, sung by a choir. Maybe parish members dress more conservatively and some might even wear chapel veils for Mass. Most likely they didn’t have a woman dressed in Mardi Gras garb dance up to the front of the church to announce the parish’s Mardi Gras dinner event next Tuesday in a weird accent (intended to sound Cajun?). Or maybe it isn’t really any of these things but simply a more firm adherence to all the teachings and rules of the Church and the pope (if anyone knows a better answer to this part, please share it!).

In my opinion, we are all part of the same church family, whether we attend an orthodox parish or not, whether we prefer the Mass in Latin or English. I love being Catholic, and I like seeing all the ways our Faith is practiced in accordance with the laws of the Church and under the guidance of our pope.

I’m sorry it took me so long to write this post. Send me more questions, and I promise I won’t take so long next time!


Holiday Happenings – Fabulous and Not (7 Quick Takes)

It’s Saturday, but I’m doing Friday. And there’s a new host of 7 Quick Takes – Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Here we go:


We had a really big day yesterday (which is why I’m posting today instead). We started by going to the mall to see Santa.


We have the best Santa at our mall. I like that he has a real beard and wears clothes like what you think Santa might wear on a regular day in his workshop. When the girls see a Santa with a fake beard in full red-suit getup, they always notice and say, “Mom, that’s just someone dressed up as Santa, right?” They think this guy is the real deal.



Almost as big of a hit at the mall as the Santa visit was our ride on the escalator. We entered and exited the mall through Scheels, and they have big escalators in the middle of their store, with lots of hunting mounts upstairs. As we were walking by on our way out of the mall, Miss said, “I wish we could ride one of those again someday.” So I said, “Well, let’s go then!”

It was a bit of a fiasco, because I was holding Lass and Sis’s hands, and Miss balked behind me after I had gotten her younger sisters on. The younger girls and I were starting to go up and Miss just froze at the bottom. I had an image flash in my mind of Miss standing there by herself as we all rode up and away from her. I yelled, “Honey, get ON!!” After a brief hesitation to screw up her courage, she did it. Phew.

Then I worried about the ride down for the whole time we walked around upstair admiring the mounts. I’ll just say that all three girls insisted on holding my hands to get on the down escalator, and we had a slight stumble, that could have been much worse. But we made it. In spite of the fears and near disasters, they thought their ride was pretty nifty.


Last night we went out for dinner and then headed to the local art museum, where they have a gorgeous Nutcracker display every year. The museum is in an old mansion and the display is called, appropriately, Nutcracker in the Castle. Last year we visited during the day on a weekday, which is when I do most things with the girls to avoid crowds. But The Godmother works at the museum and told me that the best time to go is on Friday or Saturday evenings. The mansion is extra pretty with all the twinkling lights at night, and they have electric candles to hold during the tour.

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The best part was that they had cupcakes for sale and a visit with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

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Watching the girls dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy was priceless.

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Sis was so fascinated with her. “Are you da Sugar Pwum Faiwy? Why you wearing dat butterfwy? I yike you wings.”


The sweet girl dressed as the fairy really earned her pay last night!

When I put them to bed, I asked each of them what their favorite part of the day was. All three of them said “Dancing with the Sugar Plum Fairy.” It was my favorite too.


Thank goodness we saw Santa and the Sugar Plum Fairy yesterday, because this morning I woke up to the sound of retching coming from the bathroom. Blah.

Here’s me looking on the bright side of things:

  • I have had to clean up almost no vomit so far (except out of the bucket).
  • The retching didn’t occur until 5:45 this morning, after my alarm had already gone off, so I got a full night’s sleep before being called to sick duty.
  • So far only Miss has gotten sick.
  • I am kind of a pro at managing puking after last winter.
  • Because of my experiences last winter, I keep a supply of clear bubbly pop and saltines on hand, so I didn’t even have to make a run to the store for stomach-virus supplies.


My poor big girl.


On the not-so-bright side of things, one of my first thoughts after getting my girl settled back into bed with an ice cream bucket this morning was, “Damn. Now I’m not going to be able to go visit Super Friend and my sweet godson.”

Super Friend had her baby boy last Sunday, and he is my godson. My very first godchild!! I was supposed to go visit them in the hospital on Monday, but I couldn’t get a babysitter. Then I didn’t want to crash her house during the week because she had family visiting. So, I have been looking forward to today to see my friend and her precious new baby. And I couldn’t go. I’m trying to do the Catholic thing and offer it up, but I think mostly I’m pouting.


One of my favorite things this past week was that I sent Miss for some extra time at school so she could go to their Secret Santa shop. She was so proud and excited about the items she bought for each of us for Christmas. She has been carrying around her bag of gifts since Thursday, half hinting to everyone about what their gifts are. She has been telling Lass all kinds of things about hers and goading her to guess. She said to Sis, “Yours is not an owl!” She said to me, “Mom, I just love giving gifts!” I’m thrilled that she truly loves the experience of selecting gifts for others that she thinks they will really like (I’ll post in the near future about our annual tradition of giving dollar store gifts to my husband for his birthday, which is tomorrow).


I have an appointment to get the window of my vehicle fixed on Monday. I’ve been driving it around like this since last weekend:


The mechanism that moves it up and down broke a week ago, and the window would no longer stay up. I’d push it up and then hit a bump and it’d slip back down. I’d push it up again at the next stop light, and the same would happen, over and over. It’s freezing here, so I couldn’t let it keep on that way. I had to resort to duct tape. It works. Though I never noticed how much I roll my window up and down until now when I can’t. I’ll be happy to have a functional window again in a few days.

As I mentioned at the top, Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum is the new host of 7 Quick Takes. Check out the link up here.

Halloween Recap

Whew! Another Halloween is over. We had a fun week of parties, treats, and costumes.

Here’s a recap, mommy-blog style:

First of all, the issue of costumes almost became a big drama when we first started Halloween planning a few weeks ago. I told the girls that I was not going to buy them costumes for Halloween this year, because they each had gotten two new costumes for the Labor Day party in September. Why two costumes? I had already allowed them to pick a costume for the “Cartoon” theme of the party, and then my Mother-in-law requested that everyone in the family come as a Smurf, knowing that would make for an awesome family photo, so they got additional Smurf costumes.

DSC_0763I told them they could choose from the Smurf costumes, the other costumes they got for the party (Mulan, Ms. Frizzle, Sofia the First), or pick something out of our extensive dress up collection. Sis and Lass had no problem with this. Sis wanted to be Sofia again. Lass decided to wear her veterinarian dress up outfit. Miss, on the other hand, insisted that she wanted to be a witch. We don’t have witch dress up. We had a stand-off on the issue for a few days, until I found a witch hat in the Target dollar section. I conceded to buy her the hat, but told her we’d have to piece together the rest of the costume from things we already had. She agreed. And then Lass changed her mind and decided she had to be a witch too. Soooo, a different witch hat, also from Target, and plans for two witch outfits. Costumes decided, crisis averted.

The actual Halloween revelry started last Saturday when we were invited to a party by some lovely friends.


You might be wondering what happened to the witches and Sofia the First, yes? Well, I suggested to Miss that she might want to save her witch costume for her school party, since lots of the kids from her school would be at this family party. She agreed and grabbed her Elsa dress (which needed some last minute repairs). Then Lass decided to be Cinderella, but melted down because her Cinderella dress, which she got as a gift for her second birthday, is now too small for her. She did not want to wear Miss’s Cinderella dress from last Halloween, but Sis decided she’d love to be Cinderella instead of Sofia. Lass recovered from her devastation quickly upon catching a glimpse of her unicorn costume in the closet where it has been stuffed onto a shelf for the past year. So, no witches, no Sofia. Elsa, Cinderella, and a unicorn instead.

Are you still with me? Good.

The party was wonderful, with lots of games and pizza and treats. The girls had a blast.

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^^ A last stretching leap to win her heat of the sack race. She’s not competitive or anything. . .

My Halloween torment began on Wednesday, when I had to roll up my sleeves and actually bake the treats I had envisioned after my Pinterest search last week. I think I mentioned that baking is not one of my talents. Cooking I can do. Baking? Not so much. And yet, I volunteered to bring the sweet treat for Miss’s school party. I’m sometimes not too smart, either.

So, what do you think? Did I nail it?

Cupcake collage

At least they tasted good. I helped out at Miss’s party, and most of the kids devoured them, and had no idea they had pumpkin in them.


Yeah, she decided to stick with the Elsa costume for the school party too.

Yesterday afternoon/evening was a whirlwind of carving pumpkins, getting costumes on, giving candy to early trick-or-treaters, and trying to find their pumpkin-shaped candy buckets.


^^ Last minute jack-o-lantern success.

We had to really bundle up, because it was extremely cold and windy here last night. Miss and Lass each wore one of my sweaters as a witch “dress.” We managed to fit costumes on over bulky coats, so no one’s outfit was hidden for the sake of being warm. I crimped the older girls’ hair to make it look “witchy.” That was my favorite part.


We never did find the pumpkin buckets.

Miss insisted on pulling her sisters in the wagon, and off we went.

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“Trick or Treat!”

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It was really, really cold and the witch hats wouldn’t stay on because of the wind. The houses in our neighborhood are kind of far apart, and there were many with no lights on. We only made it to four houses before calling it quits.



The girls didn’t care that we didn’t go to more houses, and we would have ended up with the perfect (small) amount of candy for the night. Except that it was so cold, very few trick-or-treaters came to our house to take our candy.


Right now our huge bowl of leftovers is “hidden” in our laundry room. Unfortunately I can’t hide them from myself. I’ll be donating all of it somewhere ASAP.

It was a fun Halloween. I hope you had a fun one too!


Cupcake Anxiety, a Singing Nun, and a Deer Head Dance (7QT)

Doing what I usually do on Fridays:


I’m in charge of making the sweet treat for Miss’s Halloween party at school next week. Right now I am both loving and hating Pinterest. I think I’m using a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes and adding chocolate chips. The frosting will be pumpkin cream cheese and I’ll put orange sprinkles on top. I’m hoping they’ll look something like this:

Of course, they’re not really going to end up looking anything like that. And I have spent waaaayyy too much time thinking about this. But the kids will have cupcakes.


The last time I tried to make something from scratch for a school party was when Miss was still in preschool outside the home, and I tried to make paleo brownies for her to take for her birthday. I baked them after putting the girls to bed, and thank goodness I tasted one before taking them to her school. They were disgusting. Truly. I threw them away and made an emergency late-night trip to the grocery store to get some pre-made cupcakes from the bakery.

This time I’ll bake the cupcakes early enough in the day that I can test one and have some time to consider decent replacement options if these are awful.

Baking isn’t one of my talents, so I must always prepare for the worst.


On Wednesday I got pulled over. I was going 69 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. the officer took my license, went back to his car, and came back a few minutes later saying, “You have a great record, so I’m giving you a warning.”

IMG_3804I barely managed to keep my jaw from dropping.

I don’t know whose driving record he was looking at, but if it was “great,” it wasn’t mine. Or maybe he could only see the past year or two. It has been over two years since my last ticket. . .

I’m kind of a lead foot.


Our house has walls. And rooms.


See that big window right in the front? That’s where my school room is going to be.

IMG_3785 IMG_3790Can you picture it? Little desks and tons of books and art projects everywhere and storage, storage, storage. I can’t wait.


When I was a tween (though no one used that word then), I loved Madonna. My Mom wouldn’t buy me the tape of her music (I think she called M a “tart”), but I recorded the songs off the radio and sang and danced to them with abandon. Borderline, Material Girl, Crazy for You, Like a Virgin. . .

Okay, I still dance and sing to them with abandon.

Yesterday I came across a video. Some people might find it weird, but I just think it’s awesome. It’s a nun. Singing “Like a Virgin.” (I think it’s the nun who won some singing show in Italy).

Her performance is incredible, and it gives the song a whole new meaning. Don’t just listen. Watch her sing it.

It gave me chills. As someone who spent nearly a decade as an atheist, this video really struck a chord with me. I’ll never hear that song the same way again. And that’s not a bad thing.


Today was lovely. Days like this are why fall is my favorite season.


They were trying to catch leaves in their hats as they fell from the trees. They weren’t too successful, but it sure was fun to watch them try.

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Each time she fell she’d look up and me and say, deadpan, “A little help here.”


Hunting season is upon us. After watching my husband practice shooting his bow, Miss asked to get hers out too (my Dad gave it to her).

She practiced for at least 30 minutes, and went from needing lots of assistance and correction to being able to nock, draw, aim, and shoot the arrow herself, often placing it in the target.

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Lass took a short turn with the bow when Miss was done. Both the girls said they wanted to go out and hunt with my husband, to which he replied that they could (hunt = watch deer). This quickly resulted a dance and song that went something like this, “We’re gonna put a deer head on the waaaall,” over and over and over.

Deer dance

I hope you had a lovely Friday too.

Catch the rest of the Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Five Favorites – Etsy Shops for Kids

Have I ever mentioned that I love Etsy? Once or twice, yes?

(just for fun, type “Etsy” into the search bar on the side of my blog and see how many posts come up. . .)

Well, since Christmas is coming up, and I always love to get a few sweet handmade/non-mass-produced things for my girls, and because there is a new hostess of the Five Favorites link up so I want to give Jenna some love, here are my five favorite Etsy shops for kids’ stuff.

I adore Etsy so much, that I don’t think I could narrow down my favorite shops to just five overall, so these are just for kids. And maybe later I’ll share another post with my tops shops for grown up gifts and/or home decor. Then maybe another time I could share my five favorite party supply shops. Or five favorite shops for vintage stuff. Five favorite jewelry shops?

Yes, I love me some Etsy. So, without further ado, five favorite shops for kids’ stuff, in no particular order:

1. Huggie Saints – These soft saint dolls are so snuggly and very well-made. Sis has a Saint Brigid that she sleeps with every night.

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Super Friend got a Saint Philomena for her youngest daughter, which is just as cute as can be too.

2. Nana’s Sewing Closet – These dresses. I just can’t even explain the cuteness. We have a Minnie Mouse dress, a Snow White dress, and a Cinderella dress (though ours is made of cotton and is quite different from the one linked to here). And I can’t even get over how sweet the work dresses, or “raggy” dresses as my girls would call them, of Cinderella and Belle are. We have cute, comfy dresses like these from another shop too, but I like Nana’s better because hers are less expensive and she has the biggest selection of different character dresses to choose from (plus the other shop closed!).

This is my favorite type of princess dress, because the girls can wear them any day, not just for dress up. They are comfortable and easy to wash.

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I couldn’t find any good photos of our dresses. The girls wore them to Disney World, but it was so cold they were covered up with coats the whole time. Just trust me. They’re adorable.

3. and 4. Pray With the Saints and St. Luke’s Brush– These little saint peg dolls are so fun. We have dolls from both of these shops, and both are wonderful. Pray with the Saints dolls are less detailed, but also less expensive. St. Luke’s Brush dolls are amazing in their detail (check out his Blessed Mother Theresa!), and he has a larger selection. We have Saint Cecilia, Saint Therese, and Saint Brigid from St. Luke’s.


Maggie from Pray with the Saints was delightful when I requested a custom order doll for Miss’s birthday last year. Miss had been begging for a Saint Anne-pregnant-with-Mary doll, and I couldn’t find one anywhere (not surprisingly). She also wanted Saint Anne to be holding a rosary (not historically accurate, but she was only four when she was imagining this doll!). Maggie was so accommodating and asked lots of questions to get the doll just right. She even asked what color Miss’s eyes are to make the doll’s eyes match.


Perfect for St. Nicholas feast day presents!

5. Three Yellow Starfish – The reversible pinafores from this shop are darling. The fabric selections are gorgeous and the sewing is flawless.

Three Yellow Starfish pinafore

They’re reversible!

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Though this isn’t really the time of year for little dresses like these, they look adorable over a long sleeve shirt with pants underneath too.

Any guesses which of my girls that is ^^?


Two more shops that I am very intrigued by, but have not personally purchased anything from (yet):

Whole Parenting Goods – I’ve been stalking this shop for a while. If I had a baby, I’d be all over this stuff. I almost want to snuggle my computer screen when I look at Nell’s blankets and scarves. She just added leggings to her list of items, so I might need to get some of those for Sis (they don’t come big enough for Lass or Miss). The bandit bibs are so sweet, and would have been much cuter than the ugly, stained bibs I had during Miss’s crazy drooling phase.


I also have to add that Nell is a blogging friend, and you can check her out here.

Catholic Inspired – I’m especially intrigued by these rosary mats. What a great idea. Finally a rosary that Sis can’t break (at least, I don’t think she could break it).

Now, you must tell me – what are your favorite Etsy shops?

And, check out others’ favorite things at the link up, now going on over at Call Her Happy.

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 7 – The Rosary

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and October is the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. When I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, who is in the process of reversion to the Catholic Faith, she mentioned that she is eager to learn about the rosary so that she can begin praying it herself. So I’m bringing back Baby Catholic Answers All the Things (sorry, it’s been a while!) with a post all about this beautiful devotion.


The rosary has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. You can read a history of the devotion here. It is made up of five decades of repeated prayers, Hail Marys separated by Our Fathers, used to meditate on sets of mysteries.

So, what does that actually mean? Using sets of prayers, called decades, to meditate on sets of mysteries? Wha?? Why the repetitive, memorized prayers? Why the devotion to Mary?

Let me break it down. First of all, you can read my Baby Catholic Answers post on Marian devotion here. In a nutshell: Catholics don’t’ worship Mary. The rosary is not a way to worship Mary. One of the people in my RCIA class from last year had been staunchly anti-Catholic before converting from Protestantism. She began praying the rosary during Lent and asked during class one week, “What is the deal with all these prayers to Mary? Why am I praying to Mary??” My answer to her was something like this, “The rosary is not so much about praying to Mary as it is about growing in our understanding of and faith in Jesus. The mysteries are almost all about Jesus, not Mary. Mary always leads us closer to her Son.”

Let me back up just a bit more here to explain how the rosary works and what a “mystery” is in this context. First, how the rosary works:

If you pick up a rosary, you will see a loop of beads with a tail coming out from it. At the end of the tail is a crucifix.


Above the crucifix, on the tail, there are five beads. First is an “Our Father bead.” Our Father beads are sometimes different from most of the beads on the rosary, and sometimes they’re just separated by more chain. The next three beads are  “Hail Mary beads.” Then there’s a space and another Our Father bead, followed by the joiner (I think that’s what it’s called). The joiner can differ from rosary to rosary. One of mine has a Holy Family medal, another has an Ave Maria thingy (see below).


^ This one is an example of a rosary where the beads are all the same but the Our Father beads are separated from the Hail Mary beads by more chain.

Looking more closely at the beads on the loop of the rosary, you can see that there are groups of ten Hail Mary beads, called “decades,” that are separated from each other by Our Father beads.


So to pray the rosary, you start on the crucifix and say the Apostles Creed. Then you move to the first Our Father bead and say. . . an Our Father. Then three Hail Marys on the Hail Mary beads. On the the chain between the last Hail Mary and the next Our Father bead, you say a Glory Be. Then on the final Our Father bead, announce the first mystery, then say the Our Father.


Then you move to the first set of ten Hail Mary beads and say ten Hail Marys. When you get to chain before the second Our Father bead, say the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (I’m not sure if some people maybe don’t do this last one?), then move to the next Our Father bead, announce the second mystery and say the Our Father, then pray the next decade of Hail Marys. And it goes the same way through all five mysteries and five decades until you get to the last Fatima Prayer. After the last Fatima Prayer, on the joiner, pray the Hail Holy Queen. Then to conclude there is another prayer, but I’m not sure what it’s called. Most sites I looked at included it at the end of the rosary, but I haven’t seen a name for it. It goes like this:

Oh God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee that, meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.

So that’s the sequence of praying the rosary. But you may be wondering what in the world are these mysteries I keep referring to, and why so many prayers repeated over and over?

The answer is meditation.

The rosary isn’t so much about the prayers, as it is about meditation. The prayers are repeated over and over because most Catholics can say Our Fathers and Hail Marys and Glory Bes without needing to think about them, freeing their minds to meditate on the mysteries. The rhythmic nature of the prayers actually facilitates the meditation. And what we meditate on are the 20 mysteries of faith.

For centuries, there were 15 mysteries included in the rosary, grouped into three sets of five.

The Joyful Mysteries (prayed on Mondays and Saturdays):

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity of Jesus
  • The presentation of Jesus
  • The finding of Jesus in the Temple

The Glorious Mysteries (prayed on Sundays and Wednesdays)

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption of Mary
  • The crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The Sorrowful Mysteries (prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays)

  • The agony in the garden
  • The scourging at the pillar
  • The crowning with thorns
  • Jesus carries the cross
  • Jesus is crucified

In October 2002 Saint John Paul II (is he referred to as Saint John Paul the Great now?) added the Luminous Mysteries (prayed on Thursdays):

  • The baptism of Jesus
  • The wedding at Cana
  • The proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The transfiguration
  • The institution of the Eucharist

When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the days’ mysteries, each for the duration of a decade.


^ Someone else around here really likes my rosaries and chaplets.

To sum it all up, when I pray the rosary today, it will go like this:

  1. I will make the Sign of the Cross
  2. I’ll say a short prayer stating my intentions for the rosary (i.e. I offer the rosary for the intention of my children, my husband, my godson, a sick friend, etc.)
  3. The Apostles’ Creed
  4. The Our Father
  5. Three Hail Marys
  6. The Glory Be
  7. Since today is Tuesday, I will then say, “The first Sorrowful Mystery – The agony in the garden.”
  8. Then I will pray the Our Father
  9. Ten Hail Marys
  10. The Glory Be
  11. The Fatima Prayer
  12. I will do 8-11 all while focusing my thoughts on Jesus’s agony in the garden. This is the meditation part. I’ll try to think about how He felt, remember what He went through, imagine myself in that situation, etc. I’ll try really hard to stay focused, but sometimes (often!) my mind will wander. I will repeatedly bring my thoughts back to Jesus in the Garden.
  13. I’ll repeat these steps for each of the other four Sorrowful Mysteries.
  14. I’ll pray the Hail Holy Queen
  15. Closing prayer (above)
  16. Sign of the Cross

If you pray the rosary frequently, you are repeatedly meditating on all of Salvation history, all of the mysteries of our faith. It covers Jesus’s conception and birth, high points of His childhood and His adulthood as He spread the gospel and performed miracles, His Passion, death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven, and His sending down of the Holy Spirit.

I really love praying the rosary. It is so beautiful and such a fulfilling way to pray. I highly recommend it.

DSC_0132^ Only two of those are rosaries, the others are chaplets (Seven Sorrows, Stations of the Cross, and Hannah’s Tears)

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 6 – So, How Does One Become Catholic?

No one asked me this question. But tonight is the start of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at our parish, and I’m joining as a sponsor. So I’m going to answer this one just because I want to.


So. How does one become Catholic?

Lots of people get to start out that way. The “Cradle Catholic” is one who is born into a Catholic family. This person is Catholic from the start, but goes through a fairly typical process of receiving the sacraments gradually. First is the Baptism, usually within a few months after birth. Then there’s the first Reconciliation (confession) and First Holy Communion in the second grade. After this point, the child is able to receive the Eucharist at weekly Mass. The final step is Confirmation. This usually occurs between the ages of 13 and 16 (the other sacraments are Marriage, Holy Orders, and Annointing of the Sick, which not every Catholic will necessarily receive).

For converts, the path to full communion in the Church wan be widely varied. But converts  do need to receive all the same sacraments as Cradle Catholics. These occur in a more condensed time period, mostly at the Easter Vigil Mass, held the night before Easter Sunday (for all but Reconciliation).

The Catholic Church does recognize baptisms performed within many other Christian denominations, so individuals who were previously baptized usually don’t need to receive this sacrament at the Vigil (like I did).


Adult converts who were baptized in another denomination will still have to make a first Reconciliation, usually at some point during Lent, and then will receive First Communion and be confirmed during the Vigil. Edited to add: a friend just informed me that sometimes the Church will even accept Confirmations from other denominations (i.e. Lutheran), so some people only receive First Communion at the Vigil when they convert.

So, what does a convert have to do to get to the point of being able to receive sacraments?

Basically, go through RCIA, which begins right around this time of year in most parishes. RCIA classes usually meet weekly, and in them candidates learn about Christianity in general and the Catholic faith in particular.

If they haven’t already, candidates begin attending weekly Mass, but they do not receive the Eucharist. For some people, the process of conversion may be relatively quick. In my case, I knew I wanted to become Catholic last summer. So I contacted my RCIA coordinator, began RCIA in September, and was baptized, received First Communion, and was confirmed in April. I felt sure it was the right thing for me.

For others, the process may take longer. Some people go through RCIA and still aren’t sure, so they take more time before deciding to enter the Church, maybe even going through RCIA more than once. Attending RCIA does not constitute any sort of obligation to become Catholic.


Thanks to Kendra of Catholic All Year for letting me use her image here

You can also read more detailed information here. But, if you think you might want to become Catholic, or you’d like to learn more, contact your parish to get more information about RCIA. Taking that step was one of the best things I’ve ever done.


Still taking your questions for more Baby Catholic posts. I have a few in the works, but I’m happy to try my hand at answering yours too!

So Big, and Yet So Small – The First Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday morning, when I went in to wake Miss up for her first full day of kindergarten away from home, I stood and gazed at her for a second before rousing her. I brushed her hair back from her sleeping face, and as I looked at her in profile, I saw her, right then, as a two-year-old. In sleep, her big-girl face took on the baby-like qualities from when she was smaller, and it almost took my breath.


^ In the upper left-hand corner of that photo is Miss at about 18 months.

I almost didn’t want to wake her. I wanted to just stand and look at her. She looked so little and so big, at the same time.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about today. I knew it would be hard/weird to send her to somewhere else for a full day. I knew it would feel strange to know that my little girl is big enough for kindergarten, even though next week she’ll be back home with me, and we’ll be doing school at home most of the time. I knew I would be nervous and excited for her.

She was certainly excited.

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So, did I cry when I dropped her off?


No. I didn’t. I felt the throat tightening, eyes burning feeling for just a moment when she first started to walk away with her class. But it passed pretty quickly.

However, it was certainly a strange, and in some ways difficult, day. I kept feeling like a part of me was missing. At lunch, sitting with just my two youngers, I noticed how odd it felt to not have Miss there. That was the hardest part. That’s when I almost cried.

Sis: (to Lass) “You be Pincess Pesto, and I be Affa Pig, and Mama, you be Supa Why!”

Me: “Okay! Too bad your sister isn’t here. She could be Wonder Red.”

Sis: (looking sadly at Miss’s seat) “We need to go get her!!”

That moment, that little-sister-missing-big-sister moment, is when I started laugh-crying, as I said something like, “We can’t yet. She’s at school.” I almost spiraled into all-out bawling, feeling acutely the void left by Miss’s absence right then. But I pulled it together and rallied with more Super Why! pretending. It helps when you know all the words. . .

For most of the day, I kept looking at the clock and wondering where Miss was and what she was doing right then. “11:07, I wonder if she’s having lunch yet?”  Super Friend kindly texted me a photo of her grinning from ear to ear on the playground at recess and let me know that she seemed fine at lunch.


By 1pm I was checking my watch every five minutes or so, to see if it was time to go get her yet. I missed her.

At pick up, I realized how much fun she had had, and how grown up it made her feel to have had a full day at school, away from Mom and sisters.


She and her sisters played with other kids on the playground for a bit after dismissal. Miss kept following Sis around, helping her on the relatively large play structure. She came to me and told me that I didn’t have to watch Sis, because she would take care of it.

The whole day, I was struck over and over by the juxtaposition of so grown up with so teeny tiny. She was acting so responsibly, and so big with her little sister. Yet the older kids careening around her dwarfed her.

Her uniform clothes were so grown up.


But in them, she looked so teeny tiny.


I guess that’s one of the tough things about the start of kindergarten. Our little ones are so big and so small at the same time. This makes it hard to let go. At least for me.

I must say, I am quite relieved she will be back at home with me next week. I think I’ll be able to handle this for one and a half days per week.

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 3 – The Priesthood

My friend Liz asked:

Do Catholics have a “priesthood?” If so, how is it used and who is given it?

The short answer is this: Yes, Catholicism has a priesthood. Catholic priests are celibate men who experience a calling to a vocation in the priesthood. They attend seminary and are ordained priests, able to administer sacraments and perform other duties involved in ministering to a parish community.

And now the longer answer:

As I understand it, the process of becoming a priest basically begins with a man experiencing a call to serve God in the priesthood. Usually he prays quite a bit about this to discern if this is his true path and may meet with a spiritual or vocations director to assist with this discernment. He obtains a college degree, then goes to seminary. I’m not sure of the sequence of events, exactly, but a candidate for the priesthood also has to at some point undergo quite a bit of interviewing, background checks, and psychological and medical assessments before he can be ordained and assigned to a parish.

There are three levels of ordination in the sacrament of Holy Orders (the sacrament by which a man is ordained). The first level is the episcopate. This is the ordination of a bishop. A bishop is ordained by other bishops and stands in a direct, unbroken line from the apostles. All episcopal ordinations must be approved by the pope.


The second level of ordination is the priesthood. This is what people typically think of when they think of a Catholic priest. There are not enough bishops to minister to all the people in a diocese, so lay priests carry out this duty. Priests exercise their powers only in communion with their bishop. In fact, during their ordination they vow to maintain obedience to their bishop (there are also priests who are ordained to particular orders such as the Dominicans or Franciscans, and I believe that their vows are a bit different in that they are obligated to obey their order, rather than the bishop of the diocese, and their duties can be quite different too, but I’m less familiar with this type of ordination, so I’m just going to leave it at that).

The third level is the diaconate. A man can be ordained as a transitional deacon while on his way to becoming a priest, or as a permanent deacon. A permanent deacon can be married, but a transitional deacon must remain celibate, as he is preparing to become a fully ordained priest.


^^ From left to right, a seminarian, a priest, and a deacon ^^

When a man receives the sacrament of Holy Orders, the bishop lays hands on him and says a consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the gifts to fulfill the duties specific to his ministry. Once a man has been ordained a priest, he is spiritually changed and he is granted special graces according to his level of ordination.

Deacons can read the Gospel during Mass, preach a homily, and perform the sacraments of baptism and marriage.


Priests can perform all the duties of deacons as well as being given the special ability to act in persona Christi,  or in the person of Christ. This is the way in which priests are able to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist, by consecrating the bread and water and turning them into the real presence of Christ, His body and blood, through transubstantiation during the Mass. Priests are also able to act in the person of Christ when they administer the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests can also administer the sacrament of anointing of the sick and sometimes the sacrament of confirmation, as in cases of adults who are confirmed at the Easter Vigil (like I was).

DSC_0134^^ That’s me with our priest’s hands on my head during part of my confirmation ^^


^^ Here he’s marking a cross on my forehead with Holy Chrism oil ^^

Bishops usually perform confirmations and they are the only ones who can perform the sacrament of Holy Orders.

This is just a quick summary of what bishops, deacons, and priests have the authority to do. Of course, they have many other duties and responsibilities in their positions as well as administering sacraments and preaching during Mass.


Some people get upset by the fact that only men can be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church. The reason for this is that priests are acting in the person of Christ, and Christ was a man, obviously. The Catholic Church does not see men and woman as interchangeable, as some may argue they should be. Instead, the Church sees men an women as suited to different, yet complementary roles. Further, the ordination of men is a tradition that goes back to Christ Himself. He chose only men as His apostles.


The last issue I’ll mention about the priesthood is another thing that people seem to often misunderstand: celibacy. Priests and bishops are required to commit to lifelong celibacy as a prerequisite for ordination. Permanent deacons can be married when they become deacons, but I don’t think they can marry after they are ordained.

In our society, people are so inundated with the idea that it is unnatural to not have sex, whether married or not, that the idea of celibate priests is mocked and debased. People claim it is freakish to be celibate and usually do not bother to try to understand why the Church has this rule.

In fact, celibacy was not an original requirement of the apostles and early Catholic priests. In the early Church there were some problems, however with corruption and nepotism among priests, favoring their offspring and/or passing Church property to their spouses and children upon their death. In 1075, Pope Gregory VII issued a decree which effectively prohibited married priests from acting in the ministry. This was formalized by the First Lateran Council in 1123, and the Roman Catholic Church has required celibacy from priests ever since.

Consecrated celibacy is seen by the Church as a gift that God bestows on those called to the priesthood. It is a way for priests to be more like Jesus, to be more focused on their faith and duties. Saint Paul said, “I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1Corinthians 7:32-34

Liz, I hope that answers your question adequately 🙂


I’ve had a request to discuss confession, so that will be my next topic. What do you want to know about? The rosary? Saints? The Catholic Church’s stance on birth control?? Keep the questions coming!


Five Favorites – Little Moments

My five favorite little moments of this week.

1. Watching the girls play in this tall grass:

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I took the next picture thinking I was going to capture a total “Little House on the Prairie” moment as they were running, slightly downhill, through the grass. Laura and Mary for sure:



2. Our “Secret, Special Snack” up on the platform of the swing set. They thought this was pretty awesome, and kept talking about all the animals that wouldn’t be able to “get us” or take our snack because we were up so high. My arm wasn’t long enough to get a selfie of all four of us:



3. My eldest in a nice display of sisterly love and helpfulness.

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4. The other night after I put the girls to bed, I saw several deer right near the house drinking from the pond.


I could hear that Miss was still awake, so I ran downstairs to get her so she could see them. The first thing she said, when I told her there were deer right by the house and I wanted her to see them was, “I can’t believe I’m up so late!!!!” She giggled like she was getting away with something and ran back up the stairs with me. She said the same thing over and over. “I can’t believe I’m up so late!”

Clearly it was much more exciting to be up out of bed five minutes after I had tucked her in than to see four deer up close.



5. The fishing tournament weigh-in.




My husband and our brother-in-law won the tournament.



The girls kept grabbing his plaque and telling their cousins, “My Dad won this.” The pride in their voices was priceless.

Happy Father’s Day to my BFF.

For more favorites check out Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.