Archive of ‘Catholic’ category

Five Reasons Why I am a Guilty Catholic

When I was a little girl I stole a pack of Rolos from the grocery store. I use the word stole cautiously because there wasn’t any great premeditated plan. The brown roll with the golden edges looked delicious to my three-year-old eyes, so I grabbed them and headed out of the store with my mother. Once we were in the car she noticed the silence and realized that my mouth was quiet because it was filled with chocolatey caramel goodness. I was immediately marched back in to the store where I proceeded to return the half-eaten stolen merchandise to the cashier along with a long, drawn our apology. Certain that I was faced with eternal damnation, my Catholic guilt was born that day.

I am not uncomfortable in my guilty Catholic skin. As a matter of fact, I kind of like it. I am always double checking what I do or say so that when I have to answer to St. Peter at the gates of heaven, I will have a decent story to tell. Make no mistake, I am doing things wrong all of the time. If you’ve read anything else that I have ever written, you know that. I have learned from my mother, St. Mary Maurmi herself, a few things in my life. I have gladly passed these tenants on to my own children so that they will grow up to be a bit more decent…ish……

My mother had this picture taken an entire year after I made my First Holy Communion….Not that she should feel badly about that……

1. Do not discard anything religious- My mother has boxes of broken rosaries at her house because she is sure that lightening will strike her dead if she dares put one in the trash. “These are blessed, Colleen. You can never get rid of anything blessed.” This one statement is why I have an Infant of Prague statue with no hands hidden in my secretary. I also have funeral cards of the parents of kids who my mother went to grade school with in my memory boxes. I have never met any of these people. Not a one. I have no idea how in the hell (I am going to hell for just typing that) I got them. But I sure as hell (back down to the firey abyss I go) can’t get rid of them. I say a quick may God bless you to Mrs. Mary Jones, b. 1921 d. 1994, every time I pass that Rubbermaid tub in the basement.

2. Make the Sign of the Cross when you pass a Catholic church- I live in St. Louis, you sneeze and you’re outside of a Catholic church. That’s a lot of signs of the cross and plenty of time for reflection. Very often when I am driving alone I listen to 90s gangster rap. As soon as I pass the church, that quick sign of the cross turns into a Hail Mary seeking intercession from the Blessed Mother so that I will not be condemned for listening to music filled with curse words, violence and that objectifies women. I really like rap music so I am often overwhelmed with thoughts that I probably shouldn’t be listening at all. Oh, and if I miss a church, then it is a double sign of the cross followed by a, “$h!+” and an “I’m sorry for cursing.” I get so worked up that I am sinning like crazy, I shut the rap music down and end up listening to Barry Manilow for the remainder of the day.

3. Make Sure you are Giving Back- I feel like every single time I go to the store I am asked if I would like to donate a dollar to a cause. Sometimes I say yes. Other times I really just don’t have the extra cash, so I decline. I am instantly overcome with shame knowing that when the cashier says, “Receipt with you or in the bag?” She is really thinking, “Come on lady, you can’t donate just one dollar? Don’t you know that the cure would happen if you just gave one dollar? But instead, you are enjoying that People Magazine with Richard Simmons on the cover and that Diet Coke, which, by the way, isn’t helping. So, please, take that flaming red hair and matching lips and go on about your business knowing that you have just let down the entire effort. Thanks. Thanks a lot!” I reply, “Bag is fine.” And walk out with my head hung in shame.

4. Don’t Forget the Poor Kids- I hold on to every piece of clothing, toy and book knowing that there is a poor child that needs them. Shirts, shorts, coats and anything worthwhile is bagged up and headed to those in need and the poor kids are thrilled. But what about the leftovers? The problem is, the poor kids don’t want tennis shoes with holes or stained onesies, but I feel so badly about throwing away anything useful that I keep it in bins in my basement. Just in case. My fear that the poor kids will go without is not limited to the hoarding of my children’s cast offs. I bring my sadness for the poor kids into the kitchen, too. If I experiment with a recipe that no one will touch, there is no way that we are throwing it out, because people are starving. So, my husband ends up eating the same casserole for lunch every day for a week. Or, he throws it away when he gets to work. Those decisions are on him. He’s the one who will go to hell for lying….and wasting….not me.

5. Look out for Your Guardian Angel- There is always someone watching you and it isn’t Santa Claus. Sure, he sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake, but the guardian angel isn’t limited to the holiday season. He’s with you 100 percent of the time. That angel will protect you when you need it, but he will also give you a quick reality check when it’s deemed fitting. Have you ever smarted off to your mother or slapped your brother and then walked away and tripped, or banged your elbow on the coffee table or spilled something on your shirt immediately following the infraction? That is your guardian angel giving you a shove. Just ask my mother. She has terrified her four children and eight grandchildren with this little fact for years. Next time you do or say something unkind, you’ll fee a swift kick to the back of your knees and fall right over. Mark my words!

There are a lot of things in life that I am guilty about, but my Catholic guilt is not one of them.  My mother has forever said, “If you can’t do it in front of me, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.” That statement has rung true my entire life. My Catholic guilt does not make me a paranoid basket case. Instead, it helps me to make better choices because I am concerned about what will happen to me if I don’t. They say (I don’t know who they are but they are filled with helpful nuggets of information) good things happen to good people. Lots of people call it guilt, others call it Karma, some say it is blind faith. To me, that guilt is like a warm comforting blanket that makes me feel secure in my choices. But I am not too naive to realize that blanket has the ability to spontaneously burst in to flames in case I get off course, so I always keep a bottle of water close at hand to fight the flames…. Just in case……

8 High Hopes I Have for My Girl

Handsome #3 stood on the deck in nothing but his Underoos, his chubby little belly protruding and a big smile on his face.

“Look at him. He is so sweet and happy, letting it all hang out, not a care in the world. Can you imagine having that kind of self confidence?” I asked The Grillin’ Fool.

“What do you mean? I do!” He said with a smirk.

He was only half joking. If he didn’t think anyone would call the cops, he’d be on the deck in his underwear too. But instead, he parades around the house in his boxer briefs and a t-shirt with his bird legs dancing and doesn’t think twice. I, on the other hand, feel like I should have on Spanx under my nightgown just in case the door bell rings in the middle of the night.

My husband has no shame when it comes to his body. He’s a forty-something with four kids just trying to make it through the day like every other man supporting a family. He purchases zero self-care items and will use any bottle in the shower. He has never in his life looked at a nutrition label for sugar, fat or calorie information. As long as it doesn’t smell too bad he will wear it. He is so happy in his own skin, that nothing phases him.

I have birthed three sons who are exactly like him. Handsome #1 is thin and lanky. He loves to brush his hair over to the side and lather himself up in body wash. He doesn’t care one bit about what his clothes look like and will let me pick whatever I want from his closet. Handsome #2 is a bit more of a fashionista. He has a very particular opinion about what to put on,and will fight for a win. Even if that means a sweater vest and a pair of athletic shorts. He’ll wear that combination proudly. Handsome #3 has more confidence in his little finger than the rest of them combined. They are precious, perfect little boys and I want to be just like them.

For years, I worried about what would happen if God ever gave me a daughter. How could I possibly set a good example of body image and confidence if that is the one thing that I truly struggle with on a daily basis? For my first seven years as a mom, I parented my three boys knowing that their father would have a profound impact on the type of men they will become, but not worrying that my self image would affect them.

Then a surprise pregnancy brought the biggest surprise of my life, a daughter. I was thrilled beyond thrilled, but equally terrified that I would screw her up. I am the one who she will look to for strength and guidance. She will come to me for advice and help. I will be her example of self confidence and womanhood. I want to do it right.

DMT

Thankfully, she is only a few months old and I have some time to get my act together. Gone are the days of looking in the mirror and listing all of things that I hate about my body and face. The insecurities that have plagued me for years have to die before they begin to rear their ugly face in my daughter’s eyes. When I look at her, I feel inspired to be better. She is innocent and pure and beautiful. She is so beautiful. I never want her to doubt that. I do a lot wrong, don’t we all? But, there are a few things that I have picked up along the way that I hope that she might think are worthwhile nuggets of advice.

1. Laugh- Laugh Loudly and raucously even if you are the only one who gets the joke. Most importantly, laugh at yourself and know that everyone makes mistakes. Make others laugh and know that there is no better medicine. I would also be extremely proud if you were the third generation class clown at a certain all girls Catholic high school, but I will not put unfair pressure on you to be anything that you are not.

2. Fall Hopelessly in Love with a Boy Band- There is nothing better than covering your bedroom walls with pictures of the men that you are certain you will marry one day. I will happily download all of their music, buy crazy expensive tickets and sob with you when you see them in person for the first time. Trust me, you will want to keep your t-shirts, earrings and every overpriced accessory you can even when you think you are over that part of your life. I will gladly help you hoard them, and hide them from your father, so that when your favorite band goes on tour in 20 years, you can squeeze your postpartum body into that shirt and feel like a kid again.

3. Be a Friend- Not just to the cool kids or the popular people, be a friend to everyone who needs it. The shy little girl in the back of the room wants to play in the game too, invite her. Always be the nice girl, not the mean girl. Years from now people will remember the slightest bit of kindness that you have shown them. I’m sure at some point, you will feel the wrath of a mean girl, and it will hurt, but please do your best to be kind, to watch your words and to walk away with a smile on your face, it will make you stronger.

4 . Listen- This is a tough one, because you come from a long line of people who love to talk. But, trust me as much as you may want to speak, wait your turn and let others talk. It isn’t always about what you have to say, sometimes it is about what you don’t say and the time that you take to hear someone else that makes all the difference.

5. Pray-Every single day of your life take a moment to talk to God. Thank Him for what you have, who you are and where you are going. Ask for forgiveness and guidance. Your faith will guide you in life’s most difficult times. When all else fails, close your eyes and whisper, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in thee. This has gotten several generations of women in our family through tougher times than I could ever imagine.

6. Wear Red Lipstick- Wear bright lips, shabby overalls, plaid high heel shoes, or pink gloves. Your friends may tell you that it is too bright, or too bold, or too much, but if it makes you feel good, do it! If it makes you feel pretty, then wear it, use it and flaunt it often, no matter what it is. You will develop a signature style that screams your name, make sure to scream it back.

7. If You Can’t Do it in Front of Me, Don’t Do It- This isn’t a threat, and it isn’t meant to be scary, it is just something for you to always think about. I learned this from my own mother many, many years ago. And to this day, it still rings true. The older you get, the more time you will spend on your own and you will be faced with challenges and choices to do things that you may not feel right about. If you would be comfortable doing it in front of me, you are golden. If not, it’s probably not the best idea.

8. Be Happy With the Skin You Are In- You are not fat, not today, not tomorrow, not ever! You are gorgeous and perfect and exactly as you were meant to be. Don’t ever let anyone dim your sparkle, especially not someone who wants you to fit in to some kind of mold. They aren’t worth your time if they think a single freckle on your nose needs to change.

As I read over my words, it was very clear to me that this advice is just as important to my boys as my girl. All I want is to raise children who are kind, loving and respectful members of society. Each day I try to be a good mom and I realize that parenting will never end, it will never get easier, it will always change. And it is the greatest challenge I have ever accepted as it forces me to set an example and thoughtfully work to be a better person. To my children, I am so grateful and I love you.

Because I’m Bad, I’m Bad…………really, really bad……

I should have seen it coming. I should have been prepared. All of the signs were there. How could I have been so stupid? There were both physical and behavioral changes, and yet I did nothing to protect myself or to be proactive.
He began to grow a majestic, yet angry mane
He danced on tables without fear
As his brother looked on in horror
This happens to novice parents, not experts like me. But this morning, as I gazed into those beautiful blue eyes, it was as if I could see the flames flickering. I really only have myself to blame.  I have gotten cocky. One good week at Mass, and all of a sudden my son is ready for canonization? Not quite, after this morning’s performance, I think that he may be closer to excommunication.
It started out innocent enough, really it did. We arrived at 10:30 Mass, my strapping lads and I, and made our way to the cry room. Brennan was getting a bit restless by the end of the first prayer, but with Thomas the train in one pocket and a bag of Kix in the other, I was golden. He began with the chorus of “Up, momma, down, momma, up momma, down, momma.” So, I plugged his mouth with a sippy cup of apple juice and went on about my business. Unbeknownst to me, Handsome #2 was winding up on the pitcher’s mound ready to beam an unsuspecting parishioner in the head. I watched in horror as the cup went flying through the air, missing a gentleman, by mere centimeters.  Humiliated, I sheepishly made my way to the front of the room, apologized and sat back down.
(Please note, this was taken after Mass, and is merely a reinactement, well sort of, he was really trying to get out)
As I made my way back to the pew, he stood on the bench, looked at me and cackled. He ran back and forth, taunting me with his eyes, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, you can’t get me.” It was like trying to catch a fish with my bare hands, I finally grabbed hold of him and he slipped right through my arms and made his way to the cry room door. “Help, help. Peasseeee help!” He screamed as if he was locked in a cage filled with live animals. I grabbed him again and attempted to sit him on my lap. But instead he made himself as stiff as a board and howled in agony.
At this point, poor Handsome #1 tried everything to get him to calm down. I think he was afraid that the child was either going to burst into flames right there, or that I was going to make good on my threat to leave someone behind. After handing over trains, cereal, cups and his own prized possessions Handsome #1took a leap of faith and lead his brother by the hand to the stained glass. At this point, my heart melted. He stood and patiently told his baby brother about the colors as Handsome #2 pointed and repeated. It was beautiful to see the love that my boys had for one another and I beamed. That was until Handsome #2 caught my stare and immediately began to scream. “House, Momma! House now! Now! Now!”
Imagine this without Maurmi and wax figures and insert stained glass and people trying to pray in silence

I soon realized that the rest of the cry room’s inhabitants had moved far to the left of the room, I think that they were afraid that the pea soup he was certain to spew was going to stain their Sunday best. For the next 15 minutes we fought, position after position for him to find comfort. We never found that magic spot, but it was time for Holy Communion and a nice walk. You would have thought that he was walking on to a stage, his demeanor changed immediately as we walked out of the door. As we made our way down the aisle, he sweetly waved bye-bye and said Amen! Making all of the old ladies smile.

As Mass came to an end, we walked out to the parking lot and I was stopped not once, not twice, but THREE times to tell me how darling and well behaved my children were. I smiled sweetly, said thank you, and inhaled deeply to be sure that I was not knowingly letting anyone who had clearly hit the Bloody Mary bar before church drive home and kill anyone.
I buckled Brennan in first and made my way to the other side of the car to get Finnegan settled. He is a big boy and buckles himself, so it is a fast effort. As I turned on the car, buckled my seatbelt and checked the review mirror, this is what I saw……….Perfect…….

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

With Pat Benatar as my inspiration, I packed my children up on Sunday morning and headed to Assumption in an effort to have all of our souls cleansed of the week’s sins. Scott and I have already begun the sacrifice of Catholic education with our dear, sweet, angelic, never misbehaving or sassy-mouthed or tasted soap,Handsome #1, so heading to church is part of the package.  He comes home with cute little prayers and songs and insists on praying alone at the dinner table, so Mass should be right up his ally, right? Not so much. Instead, the mere mention of church starts the wining, crying and I am not going chant. Or, as I like to refer to it, the negotiations.  He is shrewd and cunning. He will begin with a ridiculous request like wearing his entire outfit inside out or watching 37 episodes of Pink Panther before we leave, knowing that I will say no and will eventually work his way into getting an entire backpack filled with rubber fish for the trip. As we were getting out of the car, I noticed that he had swiped his train hat off of the hook and looked like he was headed to run the Zooline Railroad. The conversation went as follows…..
Mr. Conductor
Me: “Handsome #1, you may not wear a hat in church.”
Handsome #1: “Why? Will Jesus get confused and think that I am a conductor.”
Me: “Just take it off.”
He is always so happy
Then, there is my Handsome #2. He is precious with his doe eyes and darling little bowl cut. At just 19 months, his vocabulary is exploding and he likes to share his gift of language with the entire congregation as soon as it is quiet. He prefers to yell things like, “Down, down, down, down, down, down. No, no, no, no, no, no. Out, out, out, out. Maurmi, Momma, Maurmi, Momma, Brudee, Brudee. Eye, nose, nose, nose. “And then comes the grunt heard round the world that causes that embarrassing swift exit out of the pew, down the aisle and into the germ-infested cry room. It is as if they keep it 20 degrees warmer to encourage the growth of bacteria. Every child is covered in snot and slime and is rosy cheeked from their peeking fever.  Once in the cry room, Handsome #2 proceeds to touch everything and every child and Monday morning we pay a visit to the pediatrician in an effort to identify the rash that has just popped up!
And well behaved
Never in any trouble
This Sunday; however, was going to be different. There would be no crying, or screaming or infections. Instead, I came prepared for the worst. Armed with trains, juice, books, hand sanitizer and snacks; I was taking charge of this Mass. Most mothers would consider this standard operating procedure. I am much more of a grab a diaper on the run, no wipes, praying that there is no poop and if you get hungry let’s hope I forgot to eat my breakfast one day this week and there is a fiber bar in the bottom of my purse that will lead to that poop that I am not prepared for, so it can’t be a long trip and if you are screaming and thirsty, Momma never gets too far away from a QT, kind of mom.  This kind of parenting has always worked for me, so the overly prepared stuff was a new ball game.
Knowing that Handsome #2 was in no way shape or form going to make it through Mass among the parishioners, I opted for the cry room from the start. I arrived early, go me, and was able to take the first pew. I strategically placed myself, my children and all of our bags across the entire pew as not to encourage any of the sticky people to sit next to me. My plan worked beautifully as we were the only people in the cry room and my boys were able to be there darling selves and I could participate in a prayer or two. That was until THEY walked in.
I am certain they must be church hoppers .You know, the kind that can’t attend the same church two weeks in a row because their children act so horribly that the Priest asks for a reprieve. The parents, haggard and lowly took their twin daughters, who must have been about four, way too old for the crap that they were about to pull, to the back of the room. We hadn’t gotten to the first, “And with your Spirit,” -another bonus for me attending, and knowing some of the responses without the cue card, Mass since the change- before it started.
The two children, who I will refer to as The Most Annoying Whiner on the planet, or Whiney for short, and You Have Got to Be Kidding Me, Shut Up, or Crybaby, to protect their good names, started in with what can only be described as what I believe that a goat giving birth must sound like. The parents just kept saying, “Shhhh. Let’s be quiet, please.” And, “That is enough Winey.” “Crybaby, daddy doesn’t like that.” But when that didn’t cut it, they moved on to the, “If you don’t stop it we are going to the car.” Really? That sounds like a reward, for all of us.
Then, the running of the bulls began. They circled the pews over and over. I felt like a spectator at the Indy 500. At one point, it became so crazy, that my boys were hanging on to me for dear life Handsome #2 was petrified. He wanted out, and he wanted out fast. He began to bang on the glass window as if he were a caged ape at the zoo. People began to turn around to see what all of the commotion was about. They were shooting ME dirty looks because my child was tapping the glass. Little did they know it was a cry for help. He was hoping that someone would see him, hear him and help him to escape unharmed.
As the Mass continued and the behavior continued to degenerate, the parents got out the sugary cereal. Awesome! However, if it had not been for the cereal incident, I may not have noticed the other strange goings on in the cry room. For instance, the couple that was holding hands, facing one another about an inch apart as if they were renewing their wedding vows, the entire Mass. Nope, it wasn’t the sign of peace, nor the petitions, they were having a rehearsal of sorts among the toddlers. It was uncomfortable, but I couldn’t stop watching. Then I noticed the man that was there, in the cry room, alone. Like, no kids, no spouse, just hanging out. Why would you opt for the germ farm? Whatevs, dude.
By the time Communion rolled around, I couldn’t wait to move. I mean, between the wonder twins, Angelina and Billy Bob and creepster, I needed a break. I noticed as I was walking through the line that people were looking, smiling and laughing. I thought, how sweet, my children as so precious. I am so glad that they are well behaved. Handsome #1 dutifully held my hand as I carried Handsome #1 through the line as he played with his beloved Thomas the Train…….or was that a Tampax…………God help me! Handsome #1
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Monday I enjoyed a day off with my boys, Maurmi and Uncle Jimbo at St. Louis Mills. The trip proved to be too much for Handsome #2, who passed out during his lunch. I hope will you enjoy the video and pics as much as we did. And no, he was not helped out of the chair until the proper documentation was completed.
Going
Going
Gone