Categories
Ink Slingers Kathleen

How to Take Your Kids to Mass in 10 Easy Steps!

With this handy guide, taking your baby, toddler, small child, or unbelievably sassy older child to Mass is no problem at all!

 

1.) Get a (not) solid five hours or so of sleep the night before.

More would be great, of course, but we get it- sometimes (all the times) there are bad dreams and night feedings and I don’t know, an uncomfortable sock or something to contend with. It doesn’t matter, you’ll all be bright eyed and bushy tailed to sit quietly and behave the next morning!

2.) Spend a quiet half hour or so making yourself presentable.

It helps to have children in the bathroom with you saying things like “Ha! You look funny in a towel!” or “What are you doing to your eyes?” or “why do you look so tired?” or “I’m going to clean the toilet with this brush.”

3.) Reject small child’s dress suggestions.

Because they consist of a.) a tux, b.) his old halloween costume and c.) a Super Mario costume. Suggest khakis, a polo shirt, and maybe a nice sweater vest. Stand there while he yells at you, “BUT THEN EVERYONE WILL LAUGH AT ME.” Keep mouth shut, even though it’s really, really hard to not ask, “But the tiny Roman collar is a cool look?”

4.) Reject older child’s suggestions.

Because they are that she be allowed to wear makeup and perfume. “But you wear makeup and perfume!” “I’m THIRTY. When you’re thirty you can wear makeup and perfume to church.” Marvel at how you have actually become your mother.

5.) Lay out husband’s clothes.

You know what? I’m not even mad about this one. He gives me no trouble about my choices.

6.) Rudely notify children of the time remaining to get dressed every five minutes or so.

Rest assured they will still yell at you, “I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS TIME TO GO???!!!”

7.) Tell them no, they can’t bring snacks.

We don’t bring snacks in our family once you’re not a toddler. Somehow this is still a shocking discovery every single weekend.

8.) Ditto on stuffed animals.

If you’re old enough to receive communion you’re old enough to pay attention. Don’t look at me like that, young lady.

9.)  Pray in the car on the way.

Ahahhahahaha. Sorry. I meant referee whatever fight is happening in the backseat and then send snarky snapchats to your friends because you a.) have makeup on for once and b.) need to tell them how many times you’ve yelled already because the devil definitely knows it’s Sunday.

10.) Get inside. Sit down. Say a prayer. Feel the calm wash over you.

Even though you know that ahead of you,  you have at least an hour of pulling the little one off the floor, redirecting the big one’s attention to the sanctuary, and whatever it is you people do with babies (I’ve blocked it from my mind.) Think about the look on your son’s face as he genuflects before the tabernacle. Think of your daughter receiving communion and being thrilled every time. Realize that all of it is worth the hassle of the morning.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Until they are doing the same with their kids.

Categories
Ink Slingers Kathleen

Finding Love in Fajitas: Giving ALL of Yourself and Loving It

Finding Love in Fajitas: Giving ALL of Yourself and Loving It

“You know what would be amazing? If we had fajitas sometime.”

Record scratch.

My sweet, hardworking husband spoke those words. Please note- he was not demanding fajitas. He was not impugning the dinner I did cook. He was not even really asking for them. He was simply commenting- hey! It would be cool to have fajitas sometime!

I would like to say that I reacted as a kind, loving wife. Or, indeed, a kind, loving, not-insane-person-of-any-relationship because again, a comment about fajitas should not make one literally foam at the mouth in anger.

But I did not. I reacted selfishly.

Here’s the thing. I hate cooking. I do not use that word lightly. I really, really hate cooking. I hate meal planning, and grocery shopping, and prepping, and cooking, and cleaning up, and ugh, all the cleaning up. There’s so much. I. Do not. Enjoy. Cooking.

I’m a stay at home homeschooling mom, though, so that’s something that I have to do every day. At least three times a day. And join me in the refrain this time- I DO NOT ENJOY IT.

Tuesdays, though. Tuesdays are easy. I’ve instituted a strict Taco Tuesday policy. I make three pounds of taco meat every few weeks (the kind that comes in the tube, because we’re classy.) and simply thaw it every Tuesday night and throw some tortilla chips at the kids. You know, for fiber. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s a day I don’t have to do much or any prep at all and everything goes back in its containers and in the fridge. That’s the entire point of Taco Tuesday.

So when my husband innocently suggested that I make fajitas for Taco Tuesday, I felt personally affronted. It’s Taco Tuesday. It’s not explore-Latin-cuisine day. It’s not chop-a-bunch-of-things day. The chopping! Do you know what has to be chopped for fajitas? EVERYTHING. LIterally all of the things except the tortilla is chopped to make fajitas. If you’ll refer to the previous paragraph, the joy of Taco Tuesday is that THERE IS NO CHOPPING.

I mean, seriously. Does he not know what I do all day? The other meals that I have to prepare and serve and clean up after they’re rejected? The educating of his children? ALL Of the other things? He cannot seriously be suggesting that I find a new recipe, marinate steak, and chop all the things.

Whoa. Where did that come from.  Why is my reaction immediately one of selfishness? One of holding back a part of myself- even if it’s just the part that chops vegetables. Why is a simple request- not even a request, a simple comment- met by my biting his head off?

After all, marriage is a total giving of self. We so often think of it financially, or sexually, or the whole in-sickness-or-in-health thing. I am the first person to opine on how you need to share everything with your husband, and refuse to withhold your fertility, or being prepared to stick it out when things get gross in marriage. (I’ve seen many, many happy marriages go through the taking-the-other-person-to-the-bathroom stage.)

I’m busy. I’m tired and cranky and sick of being asked for things all day long. But it would not occur to me to withhold affection from my husband or children because I was tired. Why did I immediately jump to pitching a fit about chopping vegetables?

Love is sacrificial, even if the sacrifice is small. I want to show my love for my husband in all the facets of our life- just like he does for me. So for now, I’ll show my love for him by making fajitas.

(Author’s Note: It turns out that fajitas aren’t very difficult at all and DANG THEY ARE DELICIOUS.)

(So he’s smart on top of being an awesome husband.)

 

Categories
Domestic Church Finances Ink Slingers Kathleen Marriage Vocations

Holy Budgeting: Practicing Detachment and Stewardship in a World Filled with Money

Holy Budgeting_ Practicing Detachment and Stewardship in a World Filled with MoneyMoney, more specifically budgeting, is one of those topics that everyone urges you to sort out before you get married. Make sure you are both on the same page! It can put a big stress on the marriage if you are not! It is also one of those topics (see also: child rearing) that I thought I totally had figured out. Or at least I did before I got married.

If you asked me, I would say I am financially conservative. I like having a savings, I think it is important to plan for a rainy day, I do not gamble, and I do not think that spending an exorbitant amount of money on frivolous things is a good idea. My husband feels exactly the same way.

The problem is we differ on what exactly “exorbitant” and “frivolous” mean. So if you put us in a Sephora, we will have very different reactions to a new release of an Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette. I will be super excited because her shadows are super blendable and I love the way they bring out the blue in my eyes and it is only $42! My husband will question spending $42 on anything to put on your eyelids, especially when it looks exactly the same as the other ten palettes I have at home. (He is wrong, all palettes are as unique as children. But point noted.)

After five years of marriage to an actually fiscally conservative man, I have to admit that I am much less conservative than I thought, and much less conservative than my husband. I love buying things. I buy things when I am happy. I buy things when I am stressed. I buy things when I am sad. I just really enjoy buying things. That is not inherently wrong- it is fine to take pride in ourselves, our appearance, our home, etc. But it should never come at the expense of putting things above the true goals of our life and marriage- to imitate Christ and gain everlasting life with Him in heaven.

So obviously, something in my attitude had to change. I had to reevaluate my approach to money, and budgeting, and how I viewed wealth in general. Wealth is not bad. The gospels speak often of feasting, of wine in abundance, and of expensive oils being literally poured out for the betterment and the enjoyment of Christ and his friends. God made everything, and enjoying the good things of His creation is not a bad thing. It is a good, worthy thing to enjoy the goodness of creation. Christ did it. We should not hesitate to do it either.

The problem comes in when we elevate these mere things to the level of attachment. To remain complete disciples of Christ while not eschewing the world and its goods (which those of us who are married are certainly not called to do), we must practice detachment, or an attitude of financial stewardship. All that we have is God’s. Our homes, our things, our health, our husbands, even our children. They are all God’s. We have been given the opportunity to enjoy and take care of them for Him while we are here on earth. That is wonderful! We should take pride in the beautiful things that God has given us, and care for them.

But we must be frugal. I recently attended a talk with Milwaukee area accountant Maria Johnston, a faithful Catholic wife and mother who knows her way around a spreadsheet. She urged frugality in all things, but to be careful to understand that frugality means different things for people in different situations. Having a lovely home can be good- you can welcome people and bring people together in a way that a slovenly home that is uncared for does not. This does not mean you need a seven-bedroom mansion. Taking care of your things- your car, your clothing, your electronics, with great consideration is frugal. This does not mean that you need to have the newest or most expensive versions of everything- sometimes the opposite, in fact. Even carefully considering a date night with your husband can be a good use of your income since taking time together can strengthen your marriage. This does not mean that you need to spend $300 on dinner and a babysitter twice a month if it is not in your budget. (It certainly is not in mine.) All of this makes sense when you consider that our lives are entirely stewardship. All that we have is God’s, and we are merely caretakers of His goodness.

STEPS FOR IMPLEMENTING

Johnston had several tips for implementing this stewardship and detachment mentality to our lives and budgets.

 

  • Give first!

 

Catholics get a bad tithing rap sometimes. It is urged that Catholics give a portion of their income to the Church and charities. This is a suggestion that fits in perfectly with a stewardship mentality. It is important that we do this this first on our budgeting, not at the end. Our first  priority needs to be the care of Christ’s Church and his poor here on earth, even before our own needs.

 

  • Pray about budgeting. All the time.

 

This suggestion really helped me. When I feel myself wanting to stray from my budget, urge myself to pray about it. Do I need to spend $20 on lunch for the kids because I am running late and cannot get it together to pack one? Nope. Get out the sandwiches. Does the home decor purchase I am contemplating really help accent my home and therefore help my hospitality? Or is it just a throw pillow? Are those eyeshadow palettes all really the same? Sometimes, yeah. This is not to say you need to talk yourself out of buying everything, certainly not. But stepping back and praying about your budget, your purchases, and how you and your spouse view them can foster a detachment from things and a stewardship mentality.

 

  • Acknowledge that you will not be perfect.

 

Budgets are goals, and our entire faith life should be striving towards greater holiness.

We are never done, we are never perfect. We can always do better, appreciate more, and give more. The important part is to not be discouraged when we fail, but to pray and try again.

 

  • Understand that your detachment and frugality will not look like your neighbor’s.

 

A homeschooling family with eight children and medical bills whose sole breadwinner is either starting a new position or in a lower economic bracket will obviously not have the same budget as a newly married couple with two established incomes. Both families can be faithful stewards of their goods, however. But they must understand that their realities will look completely different.

Spending money is not evil. Having nice things is not evil. Ignoring the poor, the Church, and elevating mere things to a level that they are not accorded is evil. We are all given different gifts, but we are ultimately all stewards of the King.

 

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kathleen Matrimony Sacraments

The 2018 Catholic Sistas Wedding Gift Guide

The 2018 Catholic Sistas Wedding Gift Guide

As the weather warms and we approach Ordinary time, we also enter the hallowed secular wedding season. For those with friends and relatives of marriageable age, it’s a veritable blur of invitations, scheduling, lukewarm chicken, and gifts. So, so many gifts. We all want to give thoughtful gifts that stand out and hopefully offer some spiritual benefit to the happy couple. For some ideas, check out our Catholic Sistas Wedding Gift Guide. We asked our friends, our families, and women from our Facebook groups what their best ideas and gifts were, and here’s what we came up with.


 

Nativity and Creche

A June wedding might not scream “Christmas,” but several of our readers fondly remember the beautiful Nativity sets they received for gifts. Whether it’s from your parents, a group of friends who got together to give this substantial gift, or a handmade heirloom that is passed down through the generations, you can be assured that the couple will use this gift every year and it will be a part of their family memories forever.

 

Papal Blessing

Papal blessings are actually not that difficult to procure! Simply contact your diocese for advice or use this Vatican website. The cost is minimal- around $40 usually, and the blessing comes on a beautiful parchment. A great idea for a gift between spouses as well- Catherine from Milwaukee wrote that her husband had the blessing matted, framed, and hanging in their new bedroom. “Such a beautiful surprise!”

The 2018 Catholic Sistas Wedding Gift Guide

Something Blue

Honor Our Lady by gifting the bride with a Miraculous Medal coated in blue enamel. Available from most Catholic gift stores and website such as The Catholic Company, this is a tangible reminder that the Church is a part of even our secular traditions. Carry the “blue” theme through with some books of devotions to Mary or statues for around the house. Even statement pieces like wall hangings can make Mary and Jesus seem like “a part of the family gatherings!” (Amy from Milwaukee.)

The 2018 Catholic Sistas Wedding Gift Guide

A Personalized Bible

The family Bible is such a huge tradition but one that many modern couples forget to consider. Give the new family a personalized Bible to record their events and all the new additions that hopefully will come in the following years! One bride’s parents went further- Chelsea wrote that they brought their family Bible to the wedding to serve as a guest book. Guests would highlight their favorite passages and sign the margins with notes. This is a great idea for weddings that mix Catholic and Protestant families- most can agree that the Word of God is sacred and the best advice for the new couple! These can be found at most Catholic gift stores and online. A lovely example is available here.

(Note: If you’re going to have guests mark your copy, make sure to have Bible highlighters available to protect the delicate pages and a note reminding guests how sacred the Word of God is to us.)

Marriage Books

Those of us who have been married for awhile know that you can never have it completely figured out. Help the bride and groom along with some good Catholic marriage books. We at Catholic Sistas like these:

 

Three to Get Married, by Fulton Sheen

 

Holy Sex!, by Gregory Popcak

 

Life Giving Love, Scott and Kimberly Hahn

 

Liturgy of the Hours (a set for husband and wife)

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church Hannah writes, “It seemed really random at the time, but has been pretty useful to have around the house!”

The 2018 Catholic Sistas Wedding Gift Guide

Newlywed Retreat

Offer the new couple a chance to dig deeper together- a newlywed or young adult retreat can be a perfect way for them to remind themselves of their love for each other and also get closer to God. Options vary across the world, so get in touch with the Office for Family Life at your diocese for some good options. Remember- the wedding day is the beginning, not the end!

New Home Blessing

Starting out is hard, no matter how happy the couple is. Make sure that they are beginning their lives in a happy Catholic home by arranging for a home blessing. Any priest is capable of performing this simple and beautiful ritual- promise to bring food and wine and turn it into a dinner party to make it a celebration of their new home as well!

A pyx

This small box that is made to contain a consecrated Host for transport to those who are unable to attend Mass is an unlikely but thoughtful gift for a couple that is truly promising to be together in sickness and in health. Lora writes, “we as a couple is called to bring Christ to each other and the world. We have actually used it quite often through sickness or bedrest.”

Pyx can be purchased at gift stores and online here.

Practical Gifts

Throughout my research, so many women responded with, “A crockpot was the best gift I received.” At first, it seems like that is not terribly spiritually fulfilling. But, the couple has to eat. The parents have to nourish their children. A home and a life have to be built from nothing. All of that requires things to aid in our devotion to our homemaking, whether full time or not. So give a crockpot, or a toaster, or a blender, or mixing bowls. Give them with prayers and include a note reminding the bride and groom to use them in building and maintaining their own domestic Church.

The Greatest Gift

Sometimes, the greatest gift is one of bending to God’s will and the desires of our (soon-to-be spouse.)

Annaliese tells this beautiful story of her favorite wedding gift from her husband:

“I’m Catholic and he grew up Baptist. We were living in West Virginia at the time and there aren’t too many Catholic Churches around. He agreed to have a Catholic Mass for our marriage which was so important to me and agreed to raise our children Catholic. I’m sure this couldn’t have been easy, especially not growing up with many Catholics and so much misinformation and misconception there regarding Catholicism given the large protestant foothold. But I am grateful and thankful, especially as he is now becoming Catholic this Easter!”

The sacrifice of the Mass is one of the greatest gifts Christ gave us, and it can be one of the greatest gifts you give your husband or wife.

So there you go, some fun and unique Catholic gift ideas. Above all, remember to keep the bride and groom in your prayers. They are truly the best gift we can give.

Categories
Communion Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kathleen Lent Liturgical Year Sacraments

A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Holy Communion

A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Holy Communion

Dear Daughter,

I remember my First Holy Communion like it was yesterday. I remember the warm May day, the excitement of putting on my dress and sitting with my family, and the fact that a bunch of kids passes out during the photos afterwards. I remember the Mass, and the party. But most of all, I remember writing a “1” on my calendar in my bedroom. When we went to Mass with my class two days later, I wrote a “2.” The next Sunday, a “3.” I kept this up most of the summer. I wanted to remember every single time I was able to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. It was special, and new, and EXCITING. I was excited to receive the Body and Blood of Christ every chance I got.

I want that for you.

More than the pretty dress, and the warm family embrace, and the pictures; more than any of that, I want you to feel the Body of Christ on your tongue and know that you are participating in the most important thing you will ever do. You could cure cancer, become President of the United States, or be a mom of 18 little souls. You could do all that and more. Nothing will ever, ever, be as important as what you get to do as you approach the altar and receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ inside your very body.

That is what I want for you.

We have been through some things, my little girl. You did not grow in my womb. You were born to me, in a sense, on Holy Thursday. On that Holy Thursday many years ago, at the celebration of the institution of the Eucharist, I saw you for the first time in Daddy’s arms. I felt the Holy Spirit in my mind and my soul and even though I did not understand it, I knew I would bring you to the altar one day for your First Holy Communion. I knew you were my baby, even though it made no sense. That first Holy Thursday with you, I knew that Christ, through His life, death, and resurrection had given us the protection to go forward as a family.

This meal that you get to partake in is the source and summit of our faith*, and of our family.

It will not be easy, Daughter. You will grow complacent. I stopped writing the number of times I’d received the Body of Christ on my calendar. There were so many times I’ve gone forward mindlessly, because that’s what you do. It was important, sure, but not SPECIAL. I would get distracted by other people, friends, what other people are wearing. There are even times I went forward for Communion when I was probably not in a state to do so, and I regret those times more than anything else in the world. (That’s why you made your first confession some months ago, so you can always be prepared to approach the altar of the Lord.)


It’s not always exciting.


Except that it is. A dear priest friend prays before every Mass that we experience it as if it were our first Mass, our last Mass, our only Mass. I want you to realize that. I want you to realize that this could be the ONLY chance you ever get to receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist on earth. We are never assured of anything, and every single moment we get to experience the union with our Lord through his Body and Blood is an unmistakable gift from God, and one that we cannot take for granted, however easy that might be.


I want you to appreciate the significance of this moment, Daughter, and not only today. It’s easy today. It’s exciting. I want you to appreciate it in a year, when you’re looking over your shoulder to find your friends. I want you to appreciate it in ten years, when you’re kneeling and praying but really just watching other people walk by. I want you to appreciate it in 12 years, when you’re being made fun of for going to Mass while you’re away at college. I want you to appreciate it in twenty years, at your nuptial Mass, when the first meal you and your husband partake of together is the Eucharistic feast. I want you to appreciate it every single year after that when you have babies clinging to you, toddlers whining and kicking your skirt up, and children bugging you to find their place in the missal. I want you to appreciate it when you are sick and tired and going through morning sickness and arguing with your husband and it took everything you had to just get to Mass. I want you to appreciate it when you come forward with something broken inside you that only God can fix. I want you to appreciate it when you are preparing your daughter for her First Holy Communion.

 

That’s what I want for you today. And I will spend the rest of my life helping you understand it.

 

I love you,

 

Mommy

 

*CCC 1324