I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.
They have clung to me all my life.
This is the fifth in a series of interviews on faith and motherhood. My goal is to interview fellow mothers/bloggers of different faiths and have a little window into each of their lives…and to see in the end, how we are all trying to achieve the same thing…to prepare faithful, loving, compassionate, children to go out into the world and lead productive, purposeful, meaningful lives.
We are all more similar than we are different.
Different doctrines, different traditions, different rituals, different beliefs, but our fears, our love for our families, and our hopes for our children are all so alike.
Here is an interview with Colleen, a Catholic mother to four, soon to be five.
What are the
strongest values and beliefs of the Catholic religion?
The Apostle’s Creed is a prayer that states our beliefs as
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under
Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father
almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of
saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life
We have such beautiful traditions and can
actually trace the beginning of our Church back to Jesus Christ! How amazing is that?
I think being a Catholic means
living a moral life (following the Ten Commandments), trying to love our
neighbor as we love ourselves, and using the gifts and talents we have been
given to help others.
What are your family’s daily and/or weekly worship/prayer rituals?
We attend Mass on
Sundays and Holy Days, which is obligatory.
However, since we believe the Eucharist is the true body and blood of
Christ, we try and go to daily Mass as much as possible. When I was a stay-at-home mom, this was much
more do-able! As for daily prayer, we
just try and incorporate it whenever we can.
I am sure we could use a lot of improvement in this area. But I say morning prayers in the car with the
kids on the way to school, we say grace before every meal, and we say prayers
at night before bed. We try to either say
a Rosary or a Chaplet of Divine Mercy each night as a family. We love that motto: “The family that prays together
What are the most
important concepts of the Catholic religion that you wish to teach your
I want them to know that God created them to love, serve,
and honor Him in this world in order to be united with Him in the next. Truly, if all my children can one day enter
Heaven for all eternity, I would be a very happy and successful mom!
Will you make decisions on schooling for your children based on religious values?
YES! We already have all four children in a
wonderful, small, Catholic school that goes from preschool through 8th
grade. My husband is the Department
Chair of Theology at our Catholic high school, and so our children will attend
Catholic high school as well. Education
is very important to us, but what does it matter to gain knowledge if you lose
your faith? We want the best for our
children, and for us that means a Catholic education. We do whatever it takes to be able to afford
this gift to our kids.
Food and faith are
so tied together…what are some culinary traditions?
I wish I could say
that I’m one of those moms who plan meals around feast days, but I’m not that
put-together! We definitely fast during
Lent, and give up some of our favorite foods during Lent and Advent in
preparation for Jesus’ Resurrection and Birth, respectively. And of course we feast on all the major
holidays. Most of our family time occurs
when we are gathered around the table or preparing food in the kitchen, so we
make the most of it.
What are the most
common misconceptions that many people have when it comes to your
religious/beliefs/appearance? Have you
ever been offended or dismissed by others because of your faith?
With the exception of
ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday, Catholics look like everybody
else. It’s how we live our lives that
should set us apart. I think for me, the
most common misconception people have about my faith is that we are all
holy-rollers who look down on people of other religions. We are supposed to model our lives after
Jesus Christ, who would never look down on anyone. In fact, He loved to party with the
sinners. Ok, maybe not party, but you
get my point J. We are human and flawed like everyone else,
but like the saints, we need to keep striving for Heaven in our daily
actions. It ain’t easy, but will be so
very worth it in the next life!
I think I have been most offended by the remarks about how
Catholics view sex. Many people think
the Church is against sex. Not the
case! The Church is very much in favor
of sex, as long as it is done in the way God intended, which is: 1) In marriage 2) Prolific and unitive. Those are the only rules!
People assume that
if you have a large family, you must be a poor Catholic who doesn’t know any
better in the matters of birth control.
It’s not that we don’t know
about artificial birth control, it’s that we cannot use it (hence the prolific clause). We are allowed to use Natural Family Planning
to space out our children if we have a serious reason to do so. That serious reason is a decision made by the
couple, in prayerful conversations with God.
And as for the unitive clause, that means that the action must be a
loving, unifying act (no conception in a lab, no forced sex, etc.) I think these rules are set up to allow us to
be completely free and happy, and feel sad that people think they are too
strict or hard to follow.
Have you ever
questioned your faith?
Growing up, I never
questioned the Catholic faith. Any
questions I would have that I couldn’t quite answer fully, I would just tell
myself that I would ask God if and when I get to Heaven. I had a very simple faith. My husband, however, loved to play devil’s
advocate in questioning his faith, and now he can answer any question his
students throw at him, which is wonderful!
As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy reading more and more about apologetics so
that I too will be able to answer people’s questions about the faith.
Have you ever had
a profound spiritual moment that has stayed with you forever?
When I was sixteen, I
entered an essay contest to win a trip to see the Pope when he came to New
York. It was a national contest, and I
was one of sixteen winners! Seeing Pope
John Paul and meeting the other contest winners, all “normal” high school
students who had a strong love for their faith, really made me realize I wanted
to go to a college where there were more people like that. I visited Franciscan University of Steubenville
that same year, fell in love (with the school first, and then my husband – whom
I met there) and continued to be challenged and grow in my faith. I could have gone to more “prestigious”
schools, as academics came easy to me, but knew growing in my faith and
education was more important than education alone. When I studied abroad in college, I was able
to see the Pope two more times, and vowed to name my first-born son John-Paul,
which we did!
Do you see your
spiritual beliefs playing a large part in your marriage?
Oh my yes! We rely on each other only almost as much as we rely on God. We believe that we should love God first, our
spouse second, and our children third.
We received a poem on our wedding day that reads something like: “A successful
marriage takes not two, but three.”
What is the single
most difficult struggles you have overcome and how did your faith play a part
in bringing you peace?
We have been so blessed, and have not had many family
tragedies. For us, it seems that our
financial affairs are what cause me the most stress. But being a Catholic means fully trusting in
God’s Divine Providence. That means believing
that He will always take care of us if we do the right thing. It may not be in the way we want, but it will be in the way we need.
What is your
favorite spiritual quote when it comes to inspirational mothering?
I have two, the first being from Mother Theresa: “How
can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many
And the second is from Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty:
“The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of
having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more
magnificent than any cathedral — a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny
perfection of her baby’s body…. The angels have not been blessed with such a
grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to
Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any
other human creature. God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of
creation…. What on God’s earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother.”