Anni Apologetics Faith Formation Ink Slingers Prayer

A Recipe for Catholicism

Being Christian is tough at times. Being Catholic? Even harder most times!

Sometimes, as Catholics, it can be difficult to explain our Faith, let alone convince others about our beliefs. As I have explained to my husband (who is Methodist), as a Catholic, there are more things I am called to pay attention to – not because I think we are better than anybody else, but rather, because I have firm belief that my Catholic Faith and Traditions will open my soul to be truly transformed by Christ!

To use a cooking analogy – I believe the Catholic Faith has the complete recipe, with generations of those who have gone before having filled in the recipe card with handwritten notes of love, encouragement, and tried-‘n-true tweaks.

When we look at the recipe of Catholicism, the (arguably) Six Precepts of the Catholic Church are outlined on the Vatican website, and are the pen on the recipe card:

1.) Participate in the Eucharistic Celebration (a.k.a. the Mass) on Sundays and all other Holy Days of Obligation;

2.) Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (a.k.a. Confession) once a year;

3.) At a minimum, receive the Eucharist once a year, during the Easter season, making the second precept annual to ensure reception of Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity is received under a state of grace;

4.) Keep holy ALL Holy Days of Obligation by attending Mass;

5.) Fast and abstain on all Church designated days;

6.) According to ability, contribute to the support of the Church.

The other penned ingredients include the belief found in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible.

Further down on the recipe card are instructions, in which we find the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, the Theological and Cardinal Virtues, and the Fruits and Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But, written in the margins?

The writing left from those who have come before us, and traveled the rocky, hilly terrain to God?

In the margins, tucked between the ingredients and steps of the recipe, we are given the devotions promoted by the Catholic Church!

Just like our generational recipes for cooking and baking, things will still turn out okay if we just stick to the black and white print… if we just stick to the basics. However, without the devotions, we may miss out on that extra sweetness, fuller depth, richer relationship with God!

Nowhere is the uniqueness of the Catholic Faith more acutely felt, than when one considers the vast devotions applicable to living and being transformed by one’s Catholic Faith.

Whether it is a special devotion to the Rosary, to the First Fridays or First Saturdays, Divine Mercy, or Brown Scapular, there is no right or wrong! Sometimes, devotions can begin to weigh you down, literally, as you add the Miraculous Medal to the one worn by the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, to the St. Christopher Medal, or medals for other special causes or saints.

Each of us have our own call to particular devotions – one person may feel drawn to the Immaculate Heart devotion, while another may feel drawn toward the Divine Mercy devotion. The beauty is that we don’t have to adhere to every special devotion, but we can learn from each other, and share those treasures – those notes in the margins – with each other!

The point of this is to not discount the handwriting in the margins.

Instead, keeping the ingredients written in pen, read the extra handwriting, take note of added ingredients, and tinker with your own recipe!

Devotions serve to enhance our transformation into followers of Christ. They are present to allow us into a deeper relationship with Him! 

Through our Catholic Faith, we see a transformation in our lives as we seek, find, and get to know God. Through that transformation that occurs, we are challenged to be Christ’s hands and feet, bringing Him to others through our thoughts, our words, and our actions. 

Devotions serve as a (mostly) daily reminder of the added benefit of knowing Christ, and being Christ-like to others. They serve as a way to recognize Christ in our neighbors, and become a representation for us, of the reward of knowing and keeping Christ close.

When was the last time you researched a new devotion?

When was the last time you considered adding a new devotion to your faith life?

Do you have a special devotion?

I’d love to hear your devotions in the comments below!

7 Quick Takes Ink Slingers Kerri

7 Quick Takes Friday: Lesser Known Marian Titles

It’s May and that means it’s Mary’s month. Mary is so special to our Catholic faith that all around the world she has acquired a variety of titles and traditions. Whether her names are traditional, attributed to a Marian apparition or special devotion, or developed out of a specific culture, there’s probably at least one (if not more) for which we each have a particular fondness. In this post, I thought it would be fun to explore some Marian titles that are a little less well-known. So let’s have some fun and explore some new names for our Blessed Mother.


Our Lady of the Pillar

Feast Day: October 12

You may recognize this one if you are of Spanish descent; for the rest of us, this may be a totally new title for the Blessed Mother. It was new to me. This is a title for Mary attributed to an apparition said to have occurred in 40 A.D. This is the first apparition of Mary in recorded history and amazingly, she was still living in Palestine at the time. As tradition has it, Mary appeared to a discouraged St. James in what is now Zaragoza, Spain. He was about to give up on his attempts to convert the pagans of the Iberian Peninsula when Mary appeared. Today a huge shrine has been built on the site. To read more about this apparition, check out this article: Our Lady of the Pillar.


La Madonna del Parto

Feast day: October 9

Jacopo Sansovino - Madonna del Parto (Roma, Sant'Agostino)

Also known as Our Lady of Childbirth or our Lady of Smooth Delivery, this is a Marian title many of us may want to learn more about. If I ever get the chance to go to Rome again I’m definitely going to go look for this sculpture. Carved in 1521 by the sculptor Jacopo Tatti, it is housed in a special niche in the back of the Church of Sant’ Agostino near the Piazza Navona. For some five hundred years, Roman women have prayed to la Madonna del Parto for a child, for a healthy pregnancy, and safe childbirth. The statue is surrounded by offerings from parents on the successful births of their children, including pictures, birth announcements, and pink and blue bows. Read more about this Marian title at this page: Tell us About Our Lady of Smooth Delivery.


Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto

Feast day: October 11

In the United States, many of us may be familiar with Mary under the title of Our Lady of La Leche, whose shrine is located in St, Augustine, FL. The history of this title may actually go back to 4th century Bethleham. To this day, a Franciscan community maintains the grotto there known as the Milk Grotto; its centerpiece is the Virgin Mary nursing the infant Jesus. Crusaders in the Middle Ages most likely brought this devotion to Europe. The image became popular in Spain under the title Nuestra Señora de la Leche Y Buen Parto (in English: Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery) after a woman and her baby, both expected to die in childbirth, lived through the intercession of Mary under this title. Devotion spread and Spanish settlers brought that devotion to the New World where they built the first Marian shrine in what is now the United States. Read more about Our Lady of La Leche:

Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche (St. Augustine, FL) (Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto)

Our Lady of La Leche’s History


Our Lady of Einsiedeln

Feast Day: July 16

Our Lady of Einsiedeln is named for a statue of Mary said to work miracles and located in a chapel 20 miles southeast of Zurich, Switzerland. In the late 9th century, St. Meinrad (a Benedictine monk) received the statue from Abbess Hildegard of Zurich and brought it with him into the wilderness. He built a hermitage and eventually a small chapel for Our Lady. The site of St. Meinrad’s hermitage became Einsiedeln and developed into a popular pilgrimage site, receiving about 50,000 pilgrims during the middle ages and continues to receive about 200,000 a year.

The statue is a Black Madonna, her color being attributed to the smoke of the votive candles surrounding her. Her popularity is mostly known in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. More on the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Einsiedeln here and here.


Our Lady of Good Help (WI, USA)

On December 8, 2010, Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, WI approved the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI as worthy of belief by the faithful. Our Lady of Good Help appeared to Sr. Adele Brise in October of 1859 with a message to teach the faith to the children. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help has been a center for prayer for the past 150 years and many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady’s intercession. This is the first approved Marian apparition in the United States. To learn more about the Shrine and Sister Adele visit the Shrine’s website here. Visit this link to read more about the approval of the apparition.


Mary, Undoer of Knots

Feast Day: September 28

Mary, Undoer of Knots is a devotion to the Blessed Mother that developed in Germany in the 1700s. The reference to Mary as one who can untie the difficult knots of our lives goes as far back as St. Irenaeus in the second century. In 1700 the artist Johann Melchior Georg Schmittdner, painted the image that is still revered today based on a story of a couple whose marriage was saved after the husband and their priest prayed together for the marriage and a miracle occurred with the couple’s wedding ribbon. The painting now hangs in the Church of St. Peter in Perlach am Augsburg (Germany). Not a very well-known devotion, it was brought to Argentina in the 1980’s by Archbishop Bergolio (now Pope Francis) and continues to be popular today. After his election as Pope, Pope Francis presented Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI a print of Mary, Undoer of Knots thus sparking further interest and popularity in the image over the last year. Read more about the story of Mary, Undoer of Knots here.


The Kitchen Madonna, or the Madonna of the Kitchen

Kitchen Madonna

This one is not so much a title for Mary as it is a tradition of the faithful. Keeping an image of the Virgin Mary in the kitchen is supposedly an old tradition, although information to support this claim is scarce. At any rate, in more modern times small statues and other images have been created showing Mary in contemporary dress often holding a broom or a loaf of bread and sometimes depicted with the child Jesus at her side. My own mother has always had a “Kitchen Madonna” in her kitchen, so I grew up with the custom, but never gave it much thought. More recently I have seen some interest in images of the Virgin Mary holding a broom and that sparked my interest in learning more. The image is a relatively new idea of the 19th and 20th centuries. These images are meant as historical representations to make Mary more relatable to our day. The images of the Kitchen Madonna vary a lot. Since the kitchen is often the heart of the home, it makes sense that a depiction of Mary would find a place there. Even before specific images of Mary in front of a hearth or holding a broom became popular, it seems that an icon or other image of Mary was often kept in the kitchen as a reminder that Mary too was a housekeeper and the heart of her home.

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