Baltimore Catechism: Where Have You Been All My Life?!?!?!

Someone decided back in the 70s or something to change the way catechesis was done. That meant that the Baltimore Catechism was no longer used. Though my whole life I have heard it references in homilies, and wished that I, too, had memorized it as a child. When M and I were thinking about what sort of religion instruction to give G this year, we turned to the Baltimore Catechism. The first catechism in the series is the The New Saint Joseph: First Communion Catechism. So, we will spend three years on it, but why not start with something so solid that explains the truths of our faith so well?

To demonstrate the books awesomeness, I share with you a series of pictures from Lesson 7: Jesus Opens Heaven For Us:

 See God the Father with the closed Gates of Heaven.

 Then when Jesus died fire shot out of His and Mary’s hearts and burned up the sin which was barring us from Heaven. This is the best illustration EVER!

 Now the gates of Heaven are open! Don’t forget about Mary!

Oh yeah, and the Church still is, and always will be, the way Jesus established for us to go to Heaven.

On Thistles and the Fall

I am joining in on the “epic blogging challenge” of “7 posts in 7 days“, motivated by Jen of the 7 quick takes. I plan to have a post everyday this week Monday-Sunday.


I finally have a yard this summer and now finally have a garden. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been fighting off a thistle that is in my tomato and basil vegetable garden. Every time I go out to the garden there is a new shoot of this creeping thistle, and every time I dig it up I can’t help but think of sin. And how sin is something we have to dig up and seek the root of to be rid of it.

A thistle coming up (again) in the shade of my tomato plant.

If I break the thistle off and not get the whole root it will grow back again and again. The thing about this thistle in my garden is that no one did any gardening last year and this thistle was allowed to run wild. It is a creeping thistle which means that it creeps underground with the same root system. I don’t think there is any way for me to pull up all the roots of this thistle; I will just have to keep on digging up the sprouts as they come up and they have spread into at least a ten foot diameter circle of area. Eventually I will wear down the plant. My other option is an herbicide, but here is the thing, it is a garden where I hope to grow food for myself and my family, so digging it is.

Creeping thistle on the lawn of the ecclesial community behind our home.
I will have to go around and did them up!

I never understood what a thistle was like until I met one in person, and a few weeks ago I heard this passage at Mass from Matthew 7:15-16:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?”

Knowing what a thistle was like made this passage make so much more sense. I thistle just won’t go away and it is prickly and will choke out other plants. It takes a lot of water to grow, so it will take water from the plants around it. In no way does it bear good fruit except the seeds of more thistles. It makes a great example of sin in our lives. Then reading in Genesis, I discovered that thistles are described as one of the consequences of the Fall:

“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, `You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

It is only just that thistles grow in my garden; laboring with weeds is only part of growing my own food. So, I will fight this thistle, and use it as an opportunity to grow in virtue, offer up the annoyance of weeding the same weed over and over, and hopefully eat some yummy tomatoes and basil this summer.

P.S. According to Wikipedia (see “Uses”) the roots and the leaves of thistles are edible, the taproot being the most nutritious. However, since it represents sin, it has the uncomfortable and socially awkward side affect of flatulence.

The Two Reasons that Compelled me to Veil

M and me at G’s baptism.

I started veiling the year I studied for my Master’s in Theology. I was regularly attending the (newly named) Extraordinary Form of the Mass and immersing myself in studying for classes such as Christian Liturgy, Vatican II, and the Tradition and the Development of Doctrine. When studying the documents of Vatican II, I wanted to know why so many things had changed in the liturgy itself and in the all the practices surrounding the liturgy. Naturally, the question of covering women’s heads came up. My mom hardly remembers the time of her life before the liturgical changes due to Vatican II, but I know that she did wear a head covering at church until these changes. I was never told why women used to cover their heads and believed that it was something old and backwards that “we don’t do anymore”. It was not until I looked at the history of this tradition and the Scripture that backs it up that I realized that this tradition is one that should not have been lost.
Here are the two reasons that compelled me to wear the veil:

1. It is in Scripture: In my earliest discussions of why women covered their heads in the liturgy for the whole history of the Church until the late 1960s, I was informed that it is in Scripture. I had no idea. Sure enough, I looked up 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, and there it was:

 1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head–it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) 10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. 11 (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) 13 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

I then realized that the reason for women to cover their heads was a theological one, it is about the relationship between Christ and His Church, that of a husband to his bride. And it was not a cultural point of St. Paul’s but one specific to the liturgy: “we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” And here to the Corinthians, St. Paul is making a theological point that men and women are different and that this difference is important in understanding our relationship as a Church to Christ. Only men can be priests and the priest represents Christ in the liturgy. Women then symbolize the Church, Christ’s bride, and are told by St. Paul to veil their heads because they “are the glory of man.”

The Church veils things that are important: the tabernacle is veiled, the chalice is veiled, altars are veiled, Moses veiled his face after he had seen God. A veiled woman shows reverence for God, symbolizing the veiled bride of the Church, but also honors herself as a women before God. Veiling is about men and women as different (think Theology of the Body). It goes against a society that tells us that men and women are the same, that there are many genders, and that gender is not important when people want to marry. Veiling is an outward statement against modernity and its lies. A woman choosing to be submissive as a wife, as woman, to her husband is against all that our society tells us about man and woman, but St. Paul talks about women submitting to their husbands, and the Church submitting to Christ. And Christ loving the Church to the point of his suffering and death, and husbands loving their wives in this same way. This is what veiling is about; it is about submission and about love.

And then St. Paul says this, which goes against his culture’s ideas about men and women: “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.” Christianity has made men and women equal in God, and St. Paul says this right in the middle of the passage where he talks about women covering their heads. It is important to remember that when Jesus and St. Paul talk about women in the Scriptures it is in a new way that was not normal to their cultures. Women veiling is not putting them lower than men, but must be seen in conjunction with men not covering their heads. It emphasizes the difference of men and women, and the symbol they are as the image of God.

2. Women covering their heads in the liturgy has been the continual tradition of the Church, passed down from the Apostles: Truth has never changed, but the Church’s understanding and knowledge of the truth has increased in the last 2000 years. There are certain traditions that have remained the same, and tradition does not develop in a way that changes what truth is. If it is true for the Church of 90 A.D. that women are to veil their heads in Church, true in 875 A.D. and still so in 1954 A.D., then the way the Church develops does not allow for it to be no longer true in 1970 A.D. or 2013 A.D. This was an unbroken tradition.

St. Paul says himself that the Corinthians are to “maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” The tradition of women covering their heads in Church was from the Apostles and it was maintained until the 1960s when so many liturgical traditions were discarded. I do not know what happened, except that perhaps feminism was infiltrating the Church trying to make men and women the same. The 1917 Code of Canon law required women to cover their heads and forbade men from covering their heads.  The 1983 Code of Canon law omitted the passage about women covering their heads, but maintained that men should not. It is unclear why the Code was changed, though it is clear that head covering by women is no longer required by the Church law.  What is clear, however, is that this has been a tradition passed down, and as laity there is no reason why we cannot continue that tradition even if it is not in the Code of Canon law.

When I grasped these two reasons for women to cover their heads in Church, I felt compelled to do so myself. I overcame my ignorance of this issue, and my conscience would not allow me to do otherwise. I started veiling immediately, and it was very awkward for me at first. I first wore a veil to a Novus Ordo Mass on campus at my college. I knew by sight most of the people in the chapel, and they could remember that I had never worn a veil before. The number of women who wore veils on campus was minimal, so they stood out. It took about a week to stop feeling awkward, and then I had to face veiling at home with my family and then at Masses with my extended family during our Christmas travels. It has been over five years since my change in head dress, and I still veil or cover my head whenever I enter a Catholic Church, am present at a liturgy, at Eucharistic adoration, or receive any Sacraments. My daughters wear head coverings as soon as they have hair. It has become our habit, and it is my hope that the laity will bring back this tradition, especially in this time when the difference of men and women has become so confused.

Originally published at Truth and Charity…

The Joy of Good Friday

A Station in Czetochowa, Poland. Photo by M.

Holy Week is the time when we hear the Passion of Christ again and again and again. The whole week is centered on it. On Palm Sunday as I was listening to and praying with the Gospel, I started to think about how much I do not really like to hear about Jesus being betrayed, arrested, condemned to death, beaten, and crucified. It is not a pleasant thing to think about for many reasons: two of them being that He is God and our Creator and that He is doing this because of us.

Yesterday I was praying the Stations of the Cross (for the first time this Lent, which is too bad for me) and I got to the second station where Jesus takes up his cross. This was the meditation that stood out to me (from St. Josemaria Escriva’s meditation The Way of the Cross):

“Is it not true that as soon as you cease to be afraid of the Cross, of what people call the cross, when you set your will to accept the Will of God, then you find happiness, and all your worries, all your sufferings, physical or moral, pass away?

Truly the Cross of Jesus is gentle and lovable. There, sorrows cease to count; there is only the joy of knowing that we are co-redeemers with Him”

I remembered again that as Christians we can have a joy in our sufferings, and as St. Paul explains we participate in our salvation. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24).”

If we can rejoice in our own sufferings, then is there joy also in Christ’s suffering? He is God and has perfect suffering; and while it seems totally wrong for our God to suffer and die, this is what He chose in order to redeem us. What makes Good Friday good is the fact that His suffering brought about our redemption. The meditation on the Second Station from the St. Andrew Missal says, “A heavy cross is laid upon the bruised shoulders of Jesus. He receives it with meekness, nay, with a secret joy, for it is the instrument with which He is to redeem the world.” Imagine Jesus already so tired and hurt, bearing not just his physical ailments but also the sins of the world, having a Secret Joy in what He is doing.

On Good Friday Catholics practice fasting and abstinence to do penance for our sins, so that we can be united with the sufferings of Christ. But it is a joyful suffering and penance and one full of gratitude. Unlike the apostles, we know that Jesus has risen. The memory of his death should be solemn and sorrowful for our one sins and that God suffered, but I think that we can also share in the Secret Joy of Jesus in His carrying of The Cross.

Secular Advent Music

When I think of Advent music the first song that comes into my head is O Come, o come, Emmanuel. There are other hymns that are suitable as well, like Come Thou Long Expected Jesus  and Wake, Awake, but these are not what you here on the radio. So, here I am going to give a few ideas for songs to listen to in the more secular line of Advent music:

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town- Watch out, don’t cry, or else guys. That is the message of this song. 🙂

2. I’ll Be Home for Christmas– This is also an anticipatory song for Advent. It dreams of Christmas and all being together, which are very good values, especially wanting to be with loved ones.

A White Advent.

3. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas– This is definitely for Advent, as once Christmas comes, you can’t really dream of a white Christmas coming.

4. Silver Bells– “Soon it will be Christmas Day.” It is all about shopping, because that is where you hear the silver bells.

Anymore good “secular” Advent songs?

While the secular ones are fun, they do not compare to the depths of the coming of our Savior:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

What does Santa coming with presents have to compare with Jesus coming to bring us eternal life? Snow is a cool gift from God, and very beautiful, but it is not God Himself. Being together on Christmas with gifts for each other is nice, but it does not compare to being together in Heaven. I am struggling to find the value in the seemingly shallow secular celebrations of Christmas, but maybe I should see them as a precursor to the joy that will be eternal life together in Heaven.

Baptised at Last: Cradle Catholics

On Saturday the baby was baptised! Alleluia! She also came down with baby acne. I guess 3-4 weeks is about right for that to show up. We had a wonderful crowd of family and friends at the baptism (a great uncle and aunt with their three kids, three of four grandparents, the aunt and uncle godparents, a cousin plus a number of friends), and it was just a fraction of our Catholic family and friends that were present. M and I are both cradle Catholics and so are our parents. In fact our parents were also raised by cradle Catholics, and so on. The line of cradle Catholics goes back to at least my great grandparents on my side and probably further.

I am so blessed that my faith has been passed down to me from the Apostles through the Church and also from my parents and their parents. For all of high school, my grandmother in St. Louis was in my family’s parish. I would see her every Sunday in the front row and then would catch up with her after Mass. It was such a blessing to share this part of life with her. I have always known my mother’s parents, who live near Cleveland, to go to daily Mass. What great examples of holy lives they have given me. I see their marriage and how well they raised their seven children as an example to me of how to be holy, loving parents and spouses. As Catholics, we look to the lives of the Saints to learn how to love God and be saintly; and I feel so blessed to look to the lives of my people in my family to learn about being holy and Catholic.

It is so easy for cradle Catholics to take their faith and religion for granted; we need to realize that while our faith has been given to us by our parents, it is our responsibility to live the faith. We need to seek to have active prayer lives, go to Mass, have frequent Confessions; without these things, especially with the continued secularization and modernization of society, our faith will quickly fall by the wayside. M and I have discussed how many of the converts to Catholicism we know really know the faith and really care to live it well. Is there something about being raised Catholic that makes it harder for us? We could blame bad catechesis as children, but we are adults, so we need to take responsibility as adults. There are so many resources for learning about the Catholic faith, for example the catechism. Or one could look at New Advent for great resources about the Church.

And as a parent raising three little Catholics, I know the importance of teaching the faith to my children from a young age. I need to be an example of what I teach them in my behavior and in my life of prayer. I am so blessed to be continuing the line of cradle Catholics, and pray that my little ones grow up to bring more converts to the Church.

Three Year Old Theology: Food in Heaven

At dinner the other night G announced: “I wish we could eat macaroni and cheese for dinner every night until we get to Heaven!” (We were not even eating macaroni and cheese. It was leftover night which may have inspired the thought).

M asked her, “What will we eat for dinner in Heaven?”

She responded, “Bread. Jesus’ body.”

Friday Quicktakes, Oct. 4

1. This may be the last First Friday before the baby is here. Then again we could have one more. 🙂

2. Today G went over to the calendar on the wall, counted the pages she could reach that were hanging down, came over to me using two hands to get her left hand to show three fingers and said, “There are this many pages left of the calendar.” I explained to her that that means there are three months left of the year. She responded, “Then there are no more years after that?”
“No,” I told her, “that means we will get a new calendar for next year.” She then asked for a new calendar for herself to have also. I guess we are old fashioned with our paper calendars and all, but whatever, at least we know that the end of the calendar does not mean the end of time.

3. M and I are leaning more and more towards a house with land. He told me that his dream house is a combination of the earthship houses,

Frank Lloyd Wright style (particularly the Falling Water house),

the hobbit-like house we saw on our honeymoon,

and Pemberly (as represented in the 2005 BBC Pride and Prejudice).

 You only wish your husband had the same architectural taste as mine.

4. I have 22 prepped/cooked meals in the freezer for post-baby. Many thanks to a friend from high school who also lives in Minnesota for her help last weekend getting a number of the meals finalized. It was really nice to catch up. 🙂

5. Getting ready for baby list is getting shorter. I stocked up on a lot of necessary household items so we don’t have to worry about those for a while. Last night as we were in discussing things about baby prep, we realized that we could not remember where the infant carseat was or if we had moved it to our home here from Buffalo. We were already in bed and not willing to search the basement for it. I found it first thing this morning. It “expires” 6 years from the manufacture date which is a year before we had G (Is the manufacture date visible before buying a carseat? Because I want one that is made the day before the kid is born so we can get our full six years out of it) . This baby will get 17 months to use it and then, as the manual says, we have to discard it and make it unusable for any dumpster divers out there. I can imagine a lot of fun ways to destroy an old carseat.

6. My husband shared these links on Facebook: From a Catholic Worker: An Open Letter to Paul Ryan ( and an Open Letter to Joe Biden (, the two Catholics running for VP. Both Catholic candidates for VP do not fully integrate Church teaching into their political views and actions. I know there are issues that are seen as more important when it comes to voting for a candidate (specifically in focus life issues, marriage issues), but it is important to remember that the poor do need help and the government is not letting them help themselves. Anyway, read the letters, he explains it better. And if you want to know about real conservatism and the roots of it read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind.

7. The Cardinals are playing a one game play-off today against the Braves for the Wild Card spot in the division series. The traditionalist in me thinks we should go back to two divisions in each league and just the pennant and the series. Others I know think they should just have the series. I do not claim to be a sports expert, but I like to have an opinion to share. Also, I will root, root, root for the Cardinals no matter what the play-off arrangement.

Friday Quicktakes-Sept 7

1. These will probably not post until Saturday. Today was get the kids ready alone, quick pre-school activity, Mass for First Friday, playdate, naptime (workout video and shower), get ready for sitter, new faculty dinner at M’s school, talking to my sister about labor, finishing Miss Marple episode. Now I am attempting to do a few quicktakes.

2. Speaking of First Friday Mass we went to a church near our home but not St. Agnes. After communion, G asked me “Why did they not use the kneeler?” pointing to the communion rail. Exactly. I love St. Agnes liturgies. They know how it is done.

3. I went to a women’s Bible study at St. Agnes given by our pastor. I went to Mass alone without children, had a dinner with other ladies that I did not cook, and listened to a lecture on scripture. It is a monthly event, and I am really excited to participate in it. Plus, the other ladies in my small group seem very nice.

4. L is obsessed with bathtime because of the toy ducks and fish she plays with in the tub. So much so that she calls bathtime, “Duckfish”. We have been imagining a creature that is a combination of a duck and fish. Today on Motherhood on a Dime’s 20 Freebies list was this kindle book: DUCKFISH. This caused a fit of giggles for my husband and I at the end of the day, and we downloaded the book to a kindle app and discovered it was not even to be considered a work of literature. I will show L the picture of the duckfish at least.

5. Speaking of children’s literature I plan to start a series on here reviewing worthwhile children’s literature and why individual books/authors are awesome. I am tired of bad children’s literature.

6. I need to tell you all that Cajetan and Garrigou-Lagrange are not evil, contrary to what I was taught in college. Further DeLubac demonized them unnecessarily or he was a bad scholar. If you want the evidence talk to my husband. I am still getting over the negative aversions instilled in me when I hear those names.

7. On a lighter note I have embarked this week on my goal to learn easy, pretty updos for long hair now that my hair has gotten long again. I am branching out from the ponytail. This blog seems to have some good tutorials.