Not Feeling Saintly

Earth, Purgatory, Heaven
Earth, Purgatory, Heaven

As I write this, it is All Saints’ Day, and I’m not feeling saintly.  My Facebook newsfeed today displayed pic after pic of beautiful Saints with encouraging words, reminding me it is my calling to be a saint, too.  And each time I gazed on one, I felt far from this goal.  Be a saint, they say.  Be a saint, the Church says.  Be a saint, Christ says.  Be a saint.

I read the lives of the Saints.  These holy women and men often began their Earthly pilgrimages as your average sinner.  Sts. Augustine and Dominic are the first to come to my mind with the havoc of their adolescent and young adult lives.  Yet, as they matured in their relationship with Christ, the work these holy men did for God while on Earth, their dedication to the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy are, well, saintly, untouchable it seems. 

I see personal friends endure trials the likes of which I have never known, and their faith in God puts me to shame as I see how weak and hole-filled my own faith is.  Other friends dwell in the peace of Christ and in a devotion to His Mother to a degree that my own soul detects that holiness when I am around them.  Their peacefully confident demeanor is a white back drop which proununciates the black of my sinful attitude – my pride, my wrath, my gluttony, my sloth, oh, so ugly.

I even hear these friends speak so humbly about how they, too, struggle with sins, and I can’t help but attribute this directly to their humility. To the eye of my soul, these friends are nearly sinless and may as well be canonized now, and yet in their humility they can’t even see it. 

Is it possible that one can participate regularly in the Sacraments and not eventually be made holy by them?  I feel like that could be the case with me, but that is my sinful despair talking.  The truth is, if I remain faithful to Christ, faithful to His Grace which He imparts to my soul in the Sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and in Reconciliation, then I have no choice but to know that He, in return, is faithfully working to make me holy, saintly.

Indeed, the truth is, when I reflect on my own Earthly pilgrimage,  I am compelled to notice how His Grace has healed my broken will, my injured heart, dwelling in my soul.  It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t know what any of the Sacraments really were for, nor cared.  It wasn’t so long ago that I embraced the world’s teachings on morality and cast off the Church’s teachings as old fashioned.  It wasn’t so long ago that prayer never entered my mind, and now prayer is often flowing through my mind.  I suppose, God’s grace is indeed sufficient, for even my own soul.  Perhaps Christ is making a saint of me, too.

“He must increase; I must decrease.”

John the Baptist, speaking of Jesus.  Jn 3:30

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

Jesus, to his disciples.  Jn 6:54

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” 

Jesus, to the skeptical Jews.  Jn 10:27

“Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

Jesus, to his disciples, the night before he died.  Jn 15:4



All you Holy Men and Women, pray for us!

Holy Days of Obligation

In Defense of Halloween

Amongst Christians there is a debate on whether it is fine or demonic to participate in Halloween. I’ve watched a few videos of Christians explaining to me how Halloween – costumes, pumpkins, trick or treating, even the date, all have pagan and demonic roots and should be avoided by true Christians. Also, these videos will tie the Catholic feast days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day to the celebration of Halloween. Some will thoughtfully ask me how it is that costumes and candy could possibly be holy or bring glory to God or his defeat over death, and question why Catholics choose to celebrate All Saints’ Day this way.

I’d like to make a critical distinction which is muddying these preachers’ arguments against “celebrating” “Halloween”/”All Hallows’ Eve”/”All Saints’ Day”. Let me be clear. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day by attending Holy Mass on these days, during which ONLY Christ is worshiped and glorified. Trick or treating (or even All Saints’ parties) is not the primary vehicle by which Catholics claim to be worshiping God. Celebrating outside of the Mass (or ceremony) is a common practice – take for instance a wedding ceremony versus the wedding reception. The dancing, food and decorations at a reception are not the critical part of a wedding, those things are merely the celebration of a wedding has already occurred. Different people and different cultures will celebrate differently. Some wedding festivities you might enjoy, like a tasteful reception, and some you may abhor like a raunchy bachelorette party. The style of a wedding reception or pre-party is up to the celebrant, but isn’t a critical component to the validity of the ceremony itself, and in fact doesn’t even need to happen. Likewise, When a Catholic celebrates All Saints’ Day, he/she isn’t doing so solely by the Halloween party he/she may or may not be having. A Catholic only validly celebrates this feast day by kneeling in prayer to Jesus during Holy Mass – if he/she chooses to party before or after then so be it (hopefully it is tasteful ;)).

halloween-candy-pictures-1In America, we have a tradition of wearing costumes and trick or treating on Halloween – October 31st. Yes, these traditions came about somehow and landed on this day by some historical reason.  Some of these things may have been inspired in the past as directly celebrating these Catholic feast days, some traditions may not have – while the authors of the articles I read seem sure of themselves, I find that they often contradict one another and thus I can’t say for certain what came from where. But generally, Americans do these things for neighborly fun. I see these things as fun American traditions, like fireworks and cook-outs on the 4th of July – perhaps another pagan celebration, depending on how you look at it. However, Halloween is the one day a year droves of your neighbors come knocking on your door.  That such a time even exists in our isolated automotive culture is amazing in itself, and I personally thank God for it.  As for the knock at the door, maybe you’ll open it with a warm, friendly smile, pass out some goodies and wish your neighbors a good, safe time along their way. Or maybe you’ll sit in the dark and pretend to not be home. Either way is fine. I’ll be opening the door and sharing some neighborly warmth. And I’ll also be going to Holy Mass to properly and most specifically celebrate All Saint’s Day.  Whatever your traditions, I wish you a Happy All Saint’s Day!

If you are looking for some counter explanations to the non-Catholic blog posts and videos that are circling about, try this one from uCatholic: The Catholic Origins of Halloween, or this one from Word on Fire: It’s Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween.

Whether it is trick or treating, an All Saints’ Party, or a quiet day of prayer, please share with us your family’s traditions for this feast of All Saints!


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Seven Quick Takes Friday: Name these Saints!

Its already October and while I know some mums are trying to avoid thinking about this, just about every kid whose family celebrates All Saints day is already in the throes of deciding and designing his costume. I thought I would give a hand to the mums like me who are dreading thinking about who they should encourage their child to emulate this coming October thirty-first. (And how to dress them!!) So without further ado may I present “Name This Saint.” (Hint – I have seven pictures of saints below that you, dear reader, hum and haw over until you think you know who they are. Once you are certain you scroll to the bottom to read about them. Enjoy!)

Quick Take One:

St Louis IX



Quick Take Two:




Quick Take Three:




Quick Take Four:




Quick Take Five:


St Marguerite




Quick Take Six:





Quick Take Seven:

St Adrian


The Answers (Answers are mixed up to make it easier NOT to see the answer before you are ready.

Click on the link to learn more about number 6  Saint Cecilia.

Click on the link to learn more about number 1  Saint Louis of France.

Click on the link to learn more about number 4  Saint Jean Marie Vianney also known as the Cure of Ars.

Click on the link to learn more about number 2 Saint John of God.

Click on the link to learn more about number 3 St. Catherine of Ricci.

Click on the link to learn more about number 5 St. Marguerite Bourgeoys.

Click on the link to learn more about number 7 St Adrian of Canterbury.

I hope you had as much fun guessing these Saints as I had looking for them. I tried to pick a couple that might be less known in hopes of providing that inspiration that so many of us need this time of year! See you next month. Oh, and don’t forget to mosey on over to Conversion and enjoy a slew of other Seven Quick Takes!


7 Quick Takes Faith Formation Feast Days Holy Days of Obligation Ink Slingers Kerri Saints

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 20: All Saints Facts and Trivia

7_quick_takes_smFor today’s 7 Quick Takes fun and in honor of the feast day we celebrate, I thought I’d bring you a little history and a bit of trivia all about today.


The feast day we celebrate today, All Saints’ Day, can trace its origins back to the 7th century when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to Our Blessed Mother and all the martyrs. This has been celebrated in Rome ever since on the 13th of May.  This date, May 13th, is the original commemoration of all the martyrs of the Church.


In the 9th century, the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI dedicated a church to “All Saints.” He had originally wished to dedicate it to his wife who had recently passed away and had led a devout life, but was forbidden to do so. In this way, if she was in Heaven, she would be remembered with all the saints whenever the feast was honored.


Eastern churches celebrate the Feast of All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost and is known as All Saints’ Sunday.


The Communion of Saints
The Communion of Saints

All Saints’ Day on November 1 as celebrated today was moved to this date by Pope Gregory III (731-741) after he consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints. He fixed the anniversary for this consecration on November 1. Pope Gregory IV (827-844) expanded this anniversary to the entire Church.


All Saints’ Day is considered a national holiday in several countries, usually those with a strong Catholic heritage. It is also a Holy Day of Obligation in many countries, including the United States (so get thee to Church today!).


Customs vary throughout the world. In many places people visit the graves of loved ones and light candles, clean the graves, leave flowers, and clean and repair the graves. One of the most interesting customs I found was in areas around Lisbon, Portugal where children go out in the morning asking for “Bread for God.” This custom commemorates the earthquake that destroyed the city on November 1, 1755. Children collect bread, cakes, dried fruit, pomegranates, and nuts.


Another interesting piece of trivia, the NFL team the New Orleans Saints takes it’s name from All Saints Day, due in part to the large Catholic population of New Orleans.


“All Saints’ Day” at

“Halloween and All Saints Day” at Catholic Culture

“All Saints’ Day” at the Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent

“The Catholic Origins of Halloween” at uCatholic (although it is an article about Halloween, it also describes a bit of the history of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day; a very interesting read)

Pão-por-Deus” no Dia de Todos os Santos (All Saints’ Day) a blog post about a woman’s first experience of the central Portugal tradition of children asking for cakes and bread on November 1.

“New Orleans Saints” from Wikipedia

For more Quick Takes, head on over to Jen’s place where you will be treated to many 7 Quick Takes posts on this first day in November. Happy All Saints’ Day!

Colleen Crafts Domestic Church Feast Days Liturgical Year Saints Uncategorized

No-Sew All Saints’ Day Costume {for the procrastinators!}

If you are spending today putting the finishing touches on your children’s All Saints’ Day costumes, or the completed costumes are already hanging by the front door ready for the party, I salute you! If you saw the announcement about your parish All Saints’ Day party in this week’s bulletin and your eyes widened as you started wondering if your kid can go as himself, a modern-day “St. Jack” who wears a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt, or maybe as pirate saint – this post is for you. I usually find myself in the latter group.  But it really is possible to pull off an epic All Saints’ Day costume in a short amount of time – even WITHOUT your sewing machine.

A favorite movie in our house right now is St. Francis Xavier and the Samurai’s Lost Treasure. I suggested to my two older boys (ages 4 and 3) that one of them should go as St. Francis and the other should be St. Ignatius, who makes a short appearance in the movie as Francis’s friend and the one who inspires him to give up his life in the service of God. My 3-year-old was up to the task.


So I set about making a costume that resembled the above picture, on two conditions:
1) It didn’t take very long to make
2) My blood pressure didn’t spike while working on it.

I know how to sew – that is, I know how to operate the sewing machine and produce something mostly wearable. But between stitches skipping, needles breaking, puckering (oh, puckering!!!), and just the general frustrations that come along with sewing when you are a relatively impatient person who is also kind of a perfectionist, I usually end up with a beautiful finished project and a bloodstream full of cortisol. A “20 minute skirt” once took me 4 hours.

heygirl(I’m not really a fan of the Hey Girl memes, but this speaks to me.)

Therefore, I present to you: The Incredibly Easy No-Sew All Saints’ Day Priest Costume.


{I am making it for St. Ignatius, but there are several famous priests who are usually portrayed with Roman or fiddleback chasubles: St. Philip Neri, St. Padre Pio, Servant of God Emil Kapaun, and Pope Benedict XVI. If your saint is a priest who lived between the 17th century and the mid-1900s, his vestments probably looked like this. Gothic vestments, which are the flowy chasubles that are worn by most priests today, can be made using this tutorial as well – “poncho-style.” Saints that are portrayed in this style include St. Thomas Becket, St. Nicholas, and St. Patrick.}

You will need a glue gun. Fabric glue will work, but it takes a lot longer to dry; glue guns dry almost instantly. I use a lo-temp mini one I snagged from Hobby Lobby for $2.99. My whole project used about 5 glue sticks.

I was looking for brocade fabric, and planning to make the drive to Joann Fabric to pick out some fancy red and gold. However, I discovered that the Walmart near me still carries fabric. The thought of going to Joann’s the Saturday morning before Halloween (aka 40 people in line at the cutting counter) made me determined to find something at Walmart that would work. The red fabric is cotton, the green is a thick tapestry fabric found in the clearance section. 1 yard of each. $6.44 for both. (You can also use felt.)

allst2(I hope St. Ignatius forgives me for using fabric with gold swirls.)

Cut out two matching pieces in a bowling pin shape. (For Gothic-style, keep the length at 40 inches, cut each end 16 inches wide and the center 20 inches wide – more of a hexagonal shape than a bowling pin. Keep neck hole 6″ diameter.) This is a one-size-fits-many pattern – my boys wear 4T and 5T and it fits both of them well. If you have an older child, you may have to add an inch or two to the width and a couple inches to the length.

picallst4(The “15 inches wide” bottom does not look straight – but it should be.)

Whip out yer ol’ glue gun and glue the two pieces together around the border and the neck hole. MAKE SURE you have the fabric lined up with the pretty sides out and the ugly sides in – you want to glue the ugly/backs of the fabric together, so that both sides of the chasuble look nice and it is reversible. Double-check before you start gluing or you might end up with the front on the inside accidentally. (Don’t ask me how I know.)


OPTIONAL: Add decoration. Leaving it plain is perfectly acceptable (after all, the only reason you are gluing your child’s costume together is because you are short on time), but if you add a little gold ribbon it will look more finished and legit and the other moms will be amazed at your mad crafting skills. I used one entire spool of 97 cent gold Walmart ribbon for mine, and since my little guy is a Jesuit, I added an IHS – the symbol for the Holy Name of Jesus and the monogram of the Jesuit order.

Grab a $3.97 men’s Large white t-shirt for your surplice, slip the chasuble over your child’s head, scribble on a beard with eyeliner if necessary, and you. are. done.


Time to completion during naptime: 20 minutes without gold decoration, 30 minutes with decoration.
(Time to completion not during naptime: 87 minutes – includes 2 baby feedings, lunch for the kiddos, and eating Butterfingers throughout.)

You CAN sew this project if you really don’t want to use glue, and if you have an embroidery machine you could embroider a beautiful Sacred Heart or cross on the front or back. You could also make a stole instead of a chasuble and wear it with the white t-shirt surplice to portray St. John Vianney. Even if you don’t need an All Saints’ Day costume, this is perfect for the kids who like to “play Mass.”

For more All Saints’ Day ideas, including other costumes, crafts, games, and educational materials, check out this post. And if you need a quick and easy no-sew costume for a little girl, check out Catholic Icing’s Blessed Teresa of Calcutta costume!