St. Therese, Barbaric Baptism Practices, and Not Taking Your Kids to Mass


Can anyone translate for me?

Can anyone translate for me?   “Earth collected under the first coffin of the Blessed Therese of the Infant Jesus during her exhumation on the 6th of September 1910”

Thoughts on a saint I don’t get.

{Her feast day is October 1.  I’m posting this October 2 but writing it the evening of the 1st.  So there.}


St. Therese was baptized two days after her birth.  Two days!!!  What are the odds her mother was present at the baptism?  Slim to none, I’m thinking.

A lot of Catholic women I know–myself included–are drawn to the theological ideal of having your child baptized as early as possible.

At the same time, we adhere to the modern social conventions of the mother showing up at all.   And getting dressed up.  And being in a crowd (especially if several other babies are being baptised that day and/or it’s done at Sunday Mass.)   And hosting a party.  Or at least attending a party.  This all makes sense if a child is baptized at six months or a year, as is common in less-conservative religious traditions.  It makes no sense when you’re just a week or two or three out from giving birth.

A friend of mine passed out and started hemorrhaging at her baby’s baptism–only a week after the child’s birth.

This is madness.  It’s barbaric.

We traditional(ish) Catholic women (all women??) have a way of taking conflicting burdens upon ourselves.

Both my girls were baptized at two weeks.  Both times Pat’s and my sweet parents took care of all the entertaining.  And we kept it really small the second time around.  Still, I looked like crap and felt crappier.  I should have stayed in bed.

I don’t know what I’ll do next time, but I can promise you it will be different.

There’s a line early in Story of A Soul (St. Therese’s autobiography): “On Sundays Mummy stayed at home to look after me, as I was too young to go to Mass.”

I wonder if her mother was considered exempt from her Sunday obligation because she had to stay home with a young child?  (There’s a thought, eh?)  Or if her mother went to a different mass?

In my circles, there’s a lot of emphasis on taking one’s children to Mass.  A lot of frustration with those who aren’t accepting of young children in church.  And I’m 100% understanding of that.  You want people to avoid contraception, you’re going to have a lot of young children in church!  Get over it!

This is a source of tension in our parish, where the pastor is less than fully. . . sympathetic.

For one thing, when a family lives half an hour or more away from church, it just isn’t feasible for the parents to go to separate masses.  Just driving to and from the church would eat up two hours of the day.

At the same time, I felt a lot of pressure for a long that that it was an ideal to all go to Mass together as a family.  That I was taking the lazy way out if Pat and I went to different masses, leaving the girls at home.

Never mind that they were miserable and we were miserable.  They weren’t getting anything out of it, and dealing with the girls during mass was a huge source of tension between Pat and me.

I got over it a while ago.  Pat and I go separately.  We only live five minutes away from church.  The five-year-old comes with one of us about half the time; the two-year-old, almost never.  I love it.  And that little line from Story of A Soul made me feel even better.

Maybe my kid still has a chance at becoming a doctor of the Church,

even if she doesn’t go to Mass as a toddler.

I first read Story of a Soul back in high school, I think.  It didn’t sit well with me.  I couldn’t reconcile the idea of a “little way” that was supposedly so simple, with giving up your life at 15 to be a cloistered Carmelite nun.  That seemed the hardest, least appealing thing I could think of.  If that’s the “little way,” maybe I’ll take the big way.

And melodrama, oh my goodness.  St. Therese is full of that.

For instance: “I felt myself abandoned and there was no help for me on heaven or earth. . . . Nature seemed to share my misery.  The sun never shone once during those three days and the rain fell in torrents.  I have noticed that, at all the important moments of my life, nature has mirrored my soul.”

Um, it’s called seasonal affective disorder girlfriend.  It’s your soul mirroring nature, not vice versa.  Self-absorbed, much?

{Cue lighting striking me down dead for my irreverence.}

I re-read it a few months ago.  I’m better able to appreciate, now, the idea that her words can have meaning for me, even if I don’t relate to how she applied them to her life; does that make sense?

My maternal great-grandmother’s name was (is) Theresa.  (Spelled with or without an “H”?  Can’t remember.)

She was of English/Irish descent, and some ethnic tensions existed in New England between her people and the French Canadians in the 1930s or thereabouts.

My grandmother (her daughter) once asked her, “Which Saint Theresa are you named after mom?”

She replied, “. . . Not the French one!”

My maternal grandmother (“Meme“), nevertheless, developed a great devotion to the Little Flower.

She was over the moon when we picked “Teresa”  as the middle name for one of our daughters.  We talked on the phone and she told me how much the name meant to her: it’s her mother’s name, the name of a favorite saint, the name of her parish, the name of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, etc.

Come to think of it, it was one of the last cogent conversations I had with her before dementia took a stronger hold and, ultimately, she passed away.

I didn’t have the heart to point out to her our “Teresa” is without an H . . . not the French one!

Meme gave me her relic of St. Therese (pictured above).  It fell off the shelf recently, cracking the frame, when Girl 1 had one of her many wall-kicking sprees.  (Fitting, perhaps, given St. Therese’s fiesty personality as a child?)

I still don’t really “get” St. Therese.

But I’ve put her relic on the mantle, cracked frame and all.

We have a connection, she and I.

“See How He Loved Him”: Mourning A Friend

Today’s readings at Mass were about Elijah’s and Jesus’ raising of two young men.  The Gospel reading for today’s morning prayer was an excerpt from the story of Lazarus.  I thought for the thousandth time of the Kane family.   Joseph’s funeral was yesterday.

James Joseph Kane, III

My sister Martha wrote more about Joseph’s disappearance in her blog.  I haven’t really blogged about it because . . . I don’t know.  This loss is so heartbreaking, and what is there to say?  I go about my days, but this weighs heavy on my heart.

Reading the guest book to Joey’s obituary is bittersweet.  I babysit him and his siblings years ago.  He served at Pat’s and my wedding Mass.  It was Ordinary Form-but-in-Latin.  Bless his heart, I don’t think Joseph ever had heard a word of Latin before in his life.  He was a bit apprehensive, but he agreed to serve at the last minute when our planned server couldn’t come.


As the years went by and his sisters and my sisters and I grew up and moved away, I saw his family only occasionally.  I think the last real conversation I had with him was two years ago.  How heartwarming–though not surprising–to  learn what a wonderful young man he grew to be.

Please pray for my friends.  Thank you.

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord

and let perpetual light shine upon him.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,

through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

What I Wore Sunday: Luck o’ the Unenthusiastic Irish

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, y’all!


I’ve been fiddling with the exposure settings in Windows Live Photo Gallery. Don’t judge.



Sadly, I was the only one of our family to wear green to Mass today.  Girl 1 picked her own clothes (pink).  Pat picked out his and the baby’s, with nary a stitch of green between them.  My dear, 75% Irish husband–named Patrick–likes neither corned beef nor cabbage nor Irish music.  Nor does he like Guinness, whiskey, or Killians.  As you may guess, Saint Paddy’s Day is a real blast at our house.

What Pat lacks in the spirited celebration of his heritage, he makes up for in mad modeling skills.  So be sure to check out his guest appearance in my Style and the Stay At Home Mom post yesterday.  (Shameless plug.  Not sorry.)

Okay, for what could hardly be less festivity, check out Fine Linen and Purple for their What I Wore Sunday link up and (for the first time) Lily Among Thorns for Rubi’s My Style, Your Style link up, and Elena’s Monday Bloom link up at DCinStyle.



What I Wore Sunday: Floral Cardigan & Chambray Shirt

Hello, my name is Laura.  On Sundays, I go to Mass with my husband and children.


In my spare time I like to pretend I’m a fashion model.

** Update **

Per Stephanie’s sweet and very flattering comment, here’s a close-up of the skirt.  It has a pattern made with gold thread:

Material of the skirt.  It looks more golden in real life.

Material of the skirt. It looks more golden in real life.

Skirt is from LOFT (old-2010 I think); Cardigan is from Target (last year); Necklace is from Target (older still), Shirt is Old Navy (on clearance several months ago).

Surprise surprise!  I looked up the shoes and they are still available: Lennox from Naturalizer.  Quite comfortable, as heels go AND they come in wide width, which is a must for me.  Worth the $$.  Highly recommended.  They do run a tad small though.

Oh, and that crooked picture on the wall?  It’s on purpose.  I do that occasionally as an impromptu exercise to fine tune my husband’s moral bearings à la That Hideous Strength.

P.S. I’m writing a series of posts on Style and the Stay-At-Home Mom, in which I will humiliate myself by detailing my own efforts in this regard.  The first was posted yesterday.  Hopefully it will be interesting to other SAHMs, other  work-at-home types, anyone who (like me) dreads getting out of her pajamas each morning, and others who want a good laugh.

Okay, for more fashion and possibly some jokes that are funny to people other than just the writer, check out Fine Linen and Purple for their What I Wore Sunday link up!

What I Wore Sunday: Polka Dots and Stripes

No angst to report today!  Unlike last week and the week before, everything went as planned.  I spent Saturday evening prepping my hair, doing my nails (for the first time in months!) and choosing my outfit.   It was an incredibly boring Saturday night, but oh well.

This morning went smoothly.  I got up with the girls and let Pat sleep in.  I spent a little too long with the eyeshadow, again, but there was plenty of time so I didn’t neglect any of my duties.  Girl 1’s tights were on properly, and all our fingernails were clean.  I even said some of Morning Prayer and read the Gospel reading in advance.

So, hooray for good routines!  Now to keep it up . . . .

My outfit:

IMG_1457 IMG_1461 IMG_1462 IMG_1464


So, our fingernails were clean but Girl 2’s nose was not.  Her nose is running so much these days I don’t even notice it.  But once we got in our pew I tried to wipe it and boy, that was a mistake.  She shrieked, loudly and indignantly and repeatedly, so Pat had to take her to the back almost immediately.

They returned to the pew later, and Girl 2 had a fresh booger hanging out of her nose, just ripe for the picking.  I thought I could get it with one, quick swipe of a wet wipe.  (They say insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result . . . .)  She shrieked, she screamed, she arched her back in protest, hit her head on the pew, and screamed even louder.  Blood curdling.  Poor Pat spent the rest of Mass with her in the vestibule.

Okay, for less grossness and more fashion, check out Fine Linen and Purple for their What I Wore Sunday link up!

What I Wore Sunday: Confessions of a Vain Mommy?

This is what I wore to Mass today.

New red coat (clearance find!) from Anne Klein.  Chutzpah to wear purple tights with nude heels from Martha.

New red coat (clearance find!) from Anne Klein. Chutzpah to wear purple tights with nude heels from Martha.




Scarf close-up

Scarf close-up

The girls wore matching gold sparkly dresses and pink sparkly cardigans.   Have I mentioned how much I love having little girls?

IMG_1405 IMG_1406 IMG_1407 IMG_1408 IMG_1409


What I really want to write about, though, is last week.  Last Sunday, I spent over an hour (okay, almost two), getting myself showered and dressed, working on hair, trying out an eyeshadow technique I saw on Pinterest, etc.   Pat got himself and both girls ready.  We then gathered up the girls and their accoutrements into the van in our typical rush.

Before we left, Pat snapped a pictures of me.

IMG_1326[1]Ugh.  Well. . . . That was a waste of time.  (I truly truly am not fishing for compliments here.  A lot of you left sweet, encouraging comments last week, which made me feel much better and which I appreciate.  Still, subjectively, I was not happy with how I looked.)

We got to our pew and I looked down to see that Girl 1’s tights were on backwards, so the dingy part that is supposed to be on the bottom of her foot was instead on the top.  Her shoes were on backwards and . . .

My own fingernails were dirty.  With eyeshadow, I think.

I don’t believe our God is one to play “gotcha” with us.  But, man, I sure felt I was being taught a lesson.

Somehow, the hours before Mass have become “me” time, and that just doesn’t seem right.

Is God glorified when we put on nice clothes for Mass, when we wash and nicely arrange our hair, when we put on a bit of makeup?  Sure. Is He glorified when I perfect the latest eyeshadow technique from Pinterest and spend long (futile!) hours with a round brush trying to get my hair to look like Kate Middleton’s?


I’ve  never been a high maintenance kind of girl (at least not as far as the externals go, emotional maintenance is another story).  So, I’ve always felt silly, vain, when I spend a lot of time on my appearance.

And yet, after having two kids and turning 30, I’m convinced it’s not a bad thing to have a nice two-hour stretch once a week to take care of myself: to take a long shower, to take whatever depilatory measures are necessary, to “do” my hair nicely, to play around with makeup.  It’s not a bad thing.  It might even be a good thing.  It’s not just vanity.  (But yes, I realize it is a luxury I am extremely blessed to have.)

At the same time, it doesn’t feel right to do it on Sunday morning.

So this is where I was going to write about how I’ve started making Saturday evening my “me” time: taking a nice long shower, putting my hair in Velcro rollers overnight, picking out my outfit, maybe doing my nails, so that I can get ready quickly in the morning.

But then real life intervened.  We stayed out late at a lovely gathering of dear, old friends.  Once we got home and got the girls to bed, my tired mommy bones weren’t up to anything more than going to sleep.  Then this morning, my Saintly Husband let me sleep in, and I had about half an hour to get ready.

Somehow, though, like the way I turned out a bit better this week:


I’m not really sure what the moral of the story is here.  Spend time with good friends whenever you can, and get as much sleep as you can, I suppose.  All the same, next weekend I will try to implement my new Saturday night routine.

My hair looks better when I do the Velcro rollers anyway.  😉

Fireman’s wife with curlers in her hair, ca. 1955. Photograph by Honoré Desmond Sharrer. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

As usual, I’m linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday.  Check there for lots of Sunday finery!

What I Wore Sunday: The Polka Dot “It” Sweater

So this is what I wore to Mass today:

Someone was good at Mass AND at the grocery store and got some MnMs.  I was good too but only got a bag of dates.

Someone was good at Mass AND at the grocery store and got some MnMs. I was good too but only got a bag of dates!

Someone was good at Mass AND at the grocery store and got some MnMs. I was good too but only got a bag of dates!

The sweater was an impulse buy at Old Navy a few months ago.  Turns out I inadvertently found the “it” sweater of the season, at least in the < $50 range.  This is new for me.  Usually, my impulse buys turn out to be “not it” items.  But, at least according to Pinterest, I lucked out this time:


I like the look of a button down underneath it, but it doesn’t work for me.  I probably would need a size up for that to work.

Zooey Deschanel from “New Girl”

And check out the lovely Erika, in her WIWS post for today.  (I promise I didn’t see her post until after I had selected my own outfit!)

Anyway, My Lenten contribution to the blogosphere will be a two-part (possibly three-part) series on cooking Good Enough Fish.  First part is coming tomorrow  here.  Check it out!  Unless of course you know how to cook Really Good Fish, in which case I have nothing to offer you.  😉

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks, Kendra and Emily, for hosting!  Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

What I Wore Sunday, Confessions of a Late Mass-Goer

I ran late for mass today.  Suffice it to say, I was running late for reasons 100% my fault, I am very repentant, and I shall never make the same mistakes again.  And God cut me a break because Father started mass a few minutes late, which means I wasn’t late after all.

You see, Pat and I have determined three very important guidelines for determining whether you are late for mass:

  1. If you are inside the church before the priest processes in, you’re not late.
  2. If you are in your seat before the priest reaches the altar, you’re not late.
  3. If one of you achieves #1 or #2 while the other parks the car, the car-parking spouse is not late by virtue of the first spouse’s being not late.

No. 3 didn’t apply today because we went to mass separately, for the third time in a row.  The girls are sick yet again.  Please, please Spring come soon!

I went to an English mass for, I think, the first time in at least a month.  I attended the Spanish mass the last two times, and Latin the times before that.  Because we usually go to a Latin mass, I still have to look at the cheat sheet for the new responses when we do go to an English mass.  Very humbling.

So anyway, this is what I wore:


My jacket is from Old Navy, at least 5 years ago.  It’s a testament to how their clothing used to be of good quality.

I like to think my outfit looks a little bit like this get-up from J. Crew:



                     See it now?

J. Crew says that “a denim jacket makes everything seem a little more effortless.”  Does anyone else out there get annoyed by the idea that our outfits are supposed to look “effortless”?  At this stage in my life, “effortless” is pajamas.  Just getting dressed at all is an effort and I don’t care who knows, dammit.

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks, Kendra and Emily, for hosting!

What I Wore Sunday, The Epiphany of the Lord

I’m trying out a new blog format today.  Let me know what you think.

Another Sunday, another lazy morning, another outfit, another afternoon Spanish mass by myself.

Instead of last week’s mariachi band, the Spanish mass today had a cantor with the most beautiful voice I’ve heard in a long time.  Pure, clear, lovely lovely lovely.  I wish I could understand the words of the songs she sang.


Lighting isn’t great here, but I have dark blue trouser jeans, navy blue striped tee, and navy blue corduroy blazer.  I don’t usually wear blue jeans to Sunday mass, but I dunno, this felt okay.  I was way more comfortable than I usually am in dressier clothes, which made me less distracted.  Of course, attending without the little bundles of need and noise goes a long way, too.

The necklace is a Christmas gift from my brother.  The beads are made of juniper wood, and they are wonderfully fragrant.  Kind of like having a little bit of incense around my neck.

Breastfeeding/babywearing necklace from Kangaroocare on Etsy. Handmade in Estonia from juniper wood.

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks, Kendra and Emily, for hosting!

What I Wore Sunday, Ole!

Happy Feast of the Epiphany, everyone!  Here’s what I wore, my first official repeat since I started joining the WIWS link-up:


Today it was especially hard to find a spot in the house that both (a) did not have too much back light and (b) was not cluttered with stuff stuff stuff.  Despite all the back light  I’m feeling a general lack of sunlight in my life these days.  It’s been gray and mostly overcast for a while now.  I think I have some degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Can’t wait for spring!

Pat and I went to different masses today, since the baby has been sick (though gradually improving).  I went to the Spanish mass, which is a whole lot different than the Tridentine mass we’ve been attending.  Wow.

Before mass, I was thinking about going to the Spanish mass and what I would blog about it.  I kept hearing the word “Olé!” in my head.  Sure enough, the refrain in the processional hymn was “Olé olé ola!”  Something about Baby Jesus being born, I think.  Little Drummer Boy was the Offertory hymn.  Hearing it in Spanish was a little less grating than hearing it in English, but probably just because of the novelty of it to me.

There was no rapping at mass, fortunately, though.

Here’s hoping for a sunny week ahead!

For more Sunday finery, check out the link-up at Fine Linen and Purple.  Thanks as always to Kendra and Emily for hosting the fun!