Why Do Catholics… Tour of a Roman Catholic Church – 4th in the series

So why do Catholics traditionally build such beautiful churches?  

A Catholic church building is the House of the Lord, not only figuratively but literally. As Catholics, we believe that during the Mass, the bread and wine truly become the physical flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. The beauty is not just for show, but as a celebration of what happens every day in these buildings during the miracle and sacrifice of the Mass. 

The Body of Christ

The sacrifices of time, talent and treasure it takes to build such a church worthy and fit for God are readily seen and understood by all who see these beautiful buildings. 

The Church speaks silently yet eloquently. Proclaiming that we are willing to invest and to sacrifice in order to build a proper witness that will last long after we are gone.  

Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may be pleased with it, and that I may be glorified, says, the Lord”  ~ Haggai 1:8

 A Tour

So, is a Catholic Church just like any other Christian church? In some ways, yes and in others, no. Let’s talk about the parts of the Roman Catholic Church building itself and the items that you may see while you are there. 


When you walk into the church you will find yourself in the Vestibule or Narthex. This is the ‘gathering place’ just outside the church proper. You will see small wall-mounted holy water fonts, just inside the church doors. Catholics bless themselves with holy water when entering and leaving the church to renew their baptismal promises. You may also find information, literature and church news here as well. 


The Nave, Looking toward the Sanctuary

The interior church doors open up to the Nave, or main room of a Catholic church. Members of the congregation are seated in this area, typically in rows of pews. Each row of pews has a kneeler so one may kneel at specific times during the Mass. In most churches, the walls of the nave feature 14 pictures or plaques, known as the Stations of the Cross, illustrating the story of Christ’s crucifixion. You may also see votive candles and a kneeler where you can light a candle and pray for personal intentions. 


The elevated portion of the church at the far end of the Nave is the Sanctuary. This is where the clergy celebrate the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. The sanctuary symbolizes heaven. The Altar is the sacred table on which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God; the table from which the faithful receive the Blessed Sacrament. The Altar is in the center of the Sanctuary. In most American Catholic Churches, the altar is situated so that the priest stands behind it facing the nave and the congregation.  

Tabernacle in my own Parish – The stand and the cross of the crucifix were built by my own father!

You will also generally find the Tabernacle in the Sanctuary. The Tabernacle (meaning “dwelling place”) is where the Blessed Sacrament is housed and is usually found behind the alter. The sanctuary lamp (often red), which symbolizes the presence of Jesus, is placed above or near the Tabernacle. It is illuminated at all times except on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the two days preceding Easter.  Above or in the sanctuary is a hanging Crucifix.  This reminds Catholics about Jesus and how he died to free mankind from sin.   



The Credence Table is the table on which objects are kept during the celebration of the Mass.  The cruets which hold the wine and the water that are used during the Mass are kept here until the priest needs them. 

On the altar itself you may see several items.  The chalice which is a golden cup which holds the wine that becomes the Precious Blood of Christ. The paten is the golden “plate” that holds the bread that becomes the Sacred Body of Christ.  The ciborium, a golden vessel with a lid that is used for the distribution and reservation of Hosts.  

The corporal is a square cloth placed on the altar beneath the chalice and paten. It is folded so as to catch any particles of the Host that may accidentally fall. The purificator is a small rectangular cloth used for wiping the chalice.  The pall is a stiff square cloth used to cover the chalice during Mass to prevent dust from settling in it or anything from falling into it. 


On the sanctuary there is a large candle called the Pascal candle.  This candle is special and is lit at the Easter vigil.  It has an empty cross with five gold studs, this reminds Catholics of the resurrection of Jesus and the five studs represent the five wounds that Jesus received from his crucifixion. Also, on or near the Sanctuary you may see The Baptismal Font which hold the holy water for baptisms. Nearby is the Ambry which is where the three holy oils are kept. 


The room where the sacred vestments, vessels, and other items used in the celebration of the liturgy are stored and prepared and where the priest dresses in his vestments is called the Sacristy. The sacristy is generally behind or to the side of the Sanctuary.  


The small booth or room to one side of the nave is the Confessional. This is where the priest listens to a parishioner confess their sins and receive absolution and penance. 


Catholic churches are often distinguished by their stained-glass windows and statues honoring religious figures. These elements of a Catholic church reflect a time when the Mass was conducted in Latin and not all followers could understand the readings. Stained glass windows helped illustrate the Bible’s words and drew the faithful into the experience of the Mass. Statues or images of Jesus, Mary and the saints are in the church to inspire us try to live like they did. These parts of the church which many deem as merely decorative are so much more. They tell of Jesus’ ministry, of His life, death and resurrection, so that even a child who cannot read, can begin to learn about who Jesus is and what He did. Every image and every statue is thus an opportunity to begin a conversation about God.  


Not all Masses are exactly the same. Different feasts and celebrations sometimes call for specific items to be used, At certain Masses you may see a thurible being used. A thurible is a censer or vessel in which incense is burned for particular liturgical services. It consists of a metal body for holding incense, with a separate lid for controlling the smoke and a chain, or chains, allowing the censer to swing safely without spilling its contents.  

You may also see the aspersorium which is a bucket used to carry holy water for sprinkling. The aspergillum is the sprinkler for casting holy water on people, places, or objects.  

 In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my tour of the Catholic Church.  

These brilliant and beautiful traditional Catholic churches serve a purpose, and it’s not to glorify man. It is to glorify God. It is a place that becomes hallowed with prayer. A place that lifts the heart to prayer and turns the mind to God. When you see a beautiful ornate church know that Catholics want to hold a beautiful celebration every time we go to mass and we will never be able to recreate the beauty of God, but we can sure try as a way of saying thank you. 

A Catholic church building is the House of the Lord, not only figuratively but literally. Click To Tweet

Part 1 of the series   Part 2   Part 3

I am a ‘NEW’ Mom – promises to my new Daughter in law

My Midlife Oasis (I have no patience for a crisis) is always in a constant state of flux. Whoever said life would calm down and be simpler once the nest was empty was totally lying. TOTALLY LYING.

One of the latest ‘big things’ to happen in our lives was not just big…it was huge! We recently became In Laws!

Our oldest son married the love of his life a few weeks ago. Our family grew and we could not be happier.  Seeing the love and respect these two amazing young people have for each other is incredibly heartwarming.

With this new role as a Mother in Law I felt the need to ponder what that might mean. The term Mother in Law (especially MIL of a new daughter in law) tends to conjure up thoughts of an evil, mean, heartless woman who is bent on asserting her authority and making the new bride miserable.

I think that is crazy.

My own mother in law always treated me with love, kindness and respect. She treated me as if I were her own daughter.

So today, as I think about this new role I have just stepped into, I want to say a few things to my new daughter in law and to my son… to make a few promises that I will try to always keep. I love you both and want the very best for you!

My Promises

1)  I promise to always be respectful of your marriage.  It is a big change to go from Queen Bee in your little boy’s life to second fiddle. However it is a GOOD and proper change.


There it is, right there in the bible…and for good cause. A healthy, long lasting, happy marriage relies on this truth. I have seen the love and care and respect you show my son each and every day. I am so very happy to know he has you by his side and that you have his back. You both complement each other so well. It certainly eases this Mama’s heart and mind. I promise to always respect that.

2)  I will always be there for both of you, you are both my children.  I learned this well from my own Mother in law and plan on using her good example as a guideline. If either of you need me I will do all that is in my power to be there for you.

3)  It is your house, your family.  I promise to always call first. I promise to ask first. I promise to always treat you as Lady of the house. I will try my hardest to never ‘take over’ and if you feel I am, please tell me.

4)  If you want my opinion or my advice, you just need to ask for it.  I will be glad to share my thoughts, experiences and ideas with you on any and all topics. However I will not force them on you, I will wait until you ask. Never be afraid to ask, I will always answer!

5) Please know that if I ever do anything to hurt or upset either of you, I can guarantee it was unintentional. Tell me…I may not realize or may not have meant it the way you heard it. I would much prefer you tell me right away, rather than let bad feelings or misunderstandings fester.

6) I love you. Always. No matter what.

I am sure there are many things that I will learn and discover about being a new Mother in law. I hope my growing pains and my learning curve are not too painful for us all.  You two get to ‘break us in’ on the whole In Law thing. So that means you will probably live through a few more growing pains than the rest!  For that I apologize ahead of time.

Now that our daughter has just recently gotten engaged as well (Did I mention life has been HUGE around our house)…I will have to learn how to be Mother in Law to the new Groom soon enough!








this new role as a Mother in Law I felt the need to ponder what that might mean Click To Tweet

The Skin You’re In…Caring for Your Skin Over 40


The Skin you’re in…caring for your skin over 40

So skin, we all have it. It is in fact the largest organ the human body has. It is also often overlooked.

I raise my hand here because I am very guilty of this.  Beyond sunscreen (I am a very pale, freckled Irish skinned girl) I have done little to keep my skin healthy throughout my life.  I do have some things on my side in this department: I do use sunscreen all of the time, I don’t smoke, and I have been blessed with fairly good genes in this department.  However the last few years I have been noticing changes. My skin is drier and I am getting fine lines, broken blood vessels, dark circles under my eyes, etc.  I am ok with my body aging. It is a fact of life folks.  However I do want to have a healthy look. I do want soft skin. I don’t want to shift the aging process into high gear.

So I have been reading up on how to get and keep my skin nice and healthy and supple. I have been trying some new products as well. Totally new to me stuff. Cleansers, and primers, and serums. Seeing what makes me look and feel better and what doesn’t.

So, let’s talk about some of the things I have learned, shall we?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure page for more details.

Skin: Feed me!


You already know diet can do powerful things like transform the size and shape of your body. But did you know it can drastically affect your skin as well?

A healthy diet rich in hydrating whole foods and low in sugar and chemical additives (both of which can trigger skin inflammation) will make a huge difference in how youthful your skin is.  Probiotics are also important for skin health. They combat gut bacteria which can really wreck havoc with your skin. Taking a daily probiotic and eating food that are rich in antioxidants and probiotics will make a drastic difference in your skin and overall health.

Choosing foods that are hydrating is also key to healthy, soft, supple skin.  Also foods high in vitamins, especially A and E, will help maintain healthy glowing skin.


Some foods to add to your menu for Healthy Skin:

Berries – especially blueberries, strawberries and blackberries

Spinach and/or Kale






Dark Chocolate


Almonds and Walnuts

Greek Yogurt

Green Tea

Sweet potatoes


Steel-cut Oatmeal



Not so good for your skin:



Processed Foods



Dairy in excess

Greasy Junk Food


Skin: Hey I am Thirsty too!


Skin needs hydration to be healthy. Lots and lots of water people.  I myself am an “ok” water drinker. Plain water is just kind of blah most days. Hot and sweaty? Sure hand me a huge glass of ice water please. However, you average day I am a sipper of water. So I don’t get enough in by a long shot.  There are ways to combat that however. Let’s look at that a bit…how on earth to get all of that skin quenching, organ healing, digestive aiding, weight-loss assisting water down the hatch, ok?

Infused Water

Alternatives to PLAIN water:

Coconut Water

Green or Herbal Tea

Bone Broth

Iced Tea


Mineral or Tonic water


OR….you can just jazz up your water with an endless variety of Infusion recipes that you can create in no time!  Or even freezing herbs (Mint? Lemon balm? Rosemary?) or fruit (Lemon wedges? Berries? Grapefruit?) into ice cubes and floating them in your water to add a bit of flavors.

To infuse water, you simply add whatever flavors you find appealing – say, Cucumber/Lemon/Mint or Lemon/Ginger/Basil wash well, slice or chop and add to your glass. Then ‘muddle’ (crush a bit) to release some of the juices/flavors. Pour in water and stir or shake. Allow mixture to sit for several hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to combine. Easy right?  You can also buy a water bottle with an attached ‘cage’ to put slices of fruit/herbs/veggies in and just let it hang out in your water for awhile to flavor the water. This method is much more mild as there is not muddling involved.


On a hot summer day you can break out the blender, some ice and your favorite fruit combos and make a healthy and hydrating slushy!  Or even an ice pop…now there is an excellent and tasty way to get your water in! Some spices will work as well! Especially in the slushies.


slushies and smoothies

A few recipe/flavor combos to try:












Skin: Clean and Gentle

Wash your face Your skin is right out there. In the world, mixing it up every day with dirt, toxins, weather, germs and all sorts of filth.  You must be sure to keep it clean in order to keep it healthy. I currently use Mary Kay’s skin care products. I love the Time Wise products and it is great that they have Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval.  I love the difference in my skin! So much so I am now a Mary Kay Consultant.



Basic face washing –  at the very least every night, preferably twice a day:


Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol. Strong enough to clean the skin but mild enough not strip the oils from your face. Preferably one that coincides with your skin type ( Dry/Oily)

Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser.  Using a washcloth, mesh sponge, or anything other than your fingertips can        irritate your skin. Use warm, not hot water.  Long hot showers are very drying to    your skin.

Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin. Exfoliation is different and when done properly an important part of keeping your skin healthy.

Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel. No rubbing!



 Now that your skin is clean. What now?


Well, your next step should be toner (unless your cleanser already has that in it like mine Mary Kay’s  Time Wise 3 in 1 ) Toner is excellent at removing any residual impurities still on the skin and reduces pores.

Next up would be any Serums that you might like to use to focus on any problem areas or issues you might have with your skin.

After that you need to moisturize your skin. No matter what your skin type, your face (and neck) need a moisturizer.  Oily skin needs a lighter lotion type moisturizer, while dry skin needs a creamier product. Either your moisturizer or serum should contain sun protection.

Lastly an eye cream is an important step in your daily skin care regime. Eye cream is important no matter your age because the skin around your eyes is very different than the rest of your face.

This entire process should only take a couple of minutes.


Now what about the EXTRAS? Charcoal masks, peels, dermabrasion, exfoliation?

These steps either deep clean or remove dead/old layers of skin. This allows your daily products to seep in and work even better. Revealing new, fresh skin will help you look better and your skin will be super soft. These type of products are not for everyday use. Either once a week, or every 3 days is plenty.



Now, the last thing (before make up of course) is a face primer (Mary Kay Face Primer is great and adds another layer of SPF protection) Face primer is the suit of armor for your face. Keeping the good stuff against your skin (serum, moisturizer, etc) and everything else away from your skin and pores (makeup, dirt, toxins). It also smooths the look of your skin and helps your makeup look more even and last longer.


Me - Freshly scrubbed
47 years old, no filter, no makeup. Just freshly washed skin!

You only get one face….take care of it. Treat it well, pamper it now and then.

You will be glad you did!

You only get one face....take care of it. Treat it well, pamper it now and then. Click To Tweet

Graduation – Been There, Felt That

Been There Felt That

Time Flies

You blinked and now it is here.  How on earth did this happen? Where did the years go?

Yes….it is that time of the year…graduation time.   Now as a mom who has been through this several times I thought I would let you know something. It will be alright!  Really!

I may not be an expert, but I have done this once or twice or even EIGHT times (and at least two more to go!)  So I thought I would hold your hand, hand you a tissue and walk you through a few things.

Graduations 1 - 8

I was there, when our first child graduated high school and we left her at college…all alone (I can still remember the feeling as we drove out of the parking lot!) I cried my eyes out, we all did. How could she be old enough to be off on her own? What if she gets sick? Would she make good choices and do well at school? Would she be overwhelmed? How would our tight knit family do with a member missing?

A million thoughts, questions, concerns and insecurities rattled around in my head. Unease….even panic welled up at random moments.

We soon discovered that she not only survived but thrived in college. She blossomed into an adult with her own thoughts and opinions and she discovered many new facets of her adult self.  We also survived. We realized that we saw her often enough and she did call, text or facebook regularly. We also discovered that we liked having an adult child. Getting to know this side of her was exciting and fascinating. We enjoyed hearing about all she was learning and experiencing.

When our next two children graduated and headed off to college…well we cried, but not as hard or as long. We now knew what was ahead and that the secret is to look forward with excitement and hope not behind with sadness or loss. This change really IS good. Getting to know these brand spanking new adults and see them try out their new wings was a blessing.  If you did a semi-decent job raising them, they will bloom where they are planted. They will (generally) make good decisions and do well. They will keep in touch. They will involve you.  So be present…when you get a phone call, ask questions, listen, pay attention.


Now the trick was when our youngest child graduated high school last year (as Salutatorian no less)…..the last one to leave the nest. That means we will have (between college breaks anyway) an empty nest.  Wow.

We have had at least one child at home full time for the last 26 years. Talk about a major change!  It is another new chapter, another new season. Although it was a hard, and there were tears, I am so looking forward to seeing my ‘baby’ grow into an amazing man in his own right. I plan on taking it all in.


 The Parent’s Graduation List

So here are a few bits of advice from a veteran Mom of four…take them or leave them as you see fit.


  • I had read this and many, many teachers, professors and veteran parents have said it…and now I believe it is true…when you drop them off RESIST the urge to visit or have them come home for the first month or so. Experts say that the more freshman students see their parents/family when they first get to college, the harder time they have adjusting and the more homesick they become.
  • You will miss the ordinariness of everyday interactions and that is normal. It will be hard and very strange at first. It will not be very long before you are adjusted to your ‘new normal’.
  • Don’t ask them if they are homesick. With so much excitement and activity they may not be. The power of suggestion can definitely change that!
  • There WILL be a ‘crisis’ phone call. That A student gets their first failing grade, they have a cold or flu, a professor was dreadfully unfair, some social catastrophe has occurred, or they are just plain overwhelmed. When the call comes, be understanding, listen, give advice if needed and then STEP BACK. Don’t jump in the car and race off to the rescue for these mundane mini freak outs. Part of growing up is handling the ups and downs of life. Express support, but give your children time to solve their own problems—it will ultimately benefit them. Colleges have all sorts of support at the student’s disposal. Of course if it is super serious, go. However most of the time the crying person on the other end of the phone needs to know that YOU believe in them and their ability to get through it.
  • Expect Change. They may change majors, roommates, friends, dorms, or even schools etc. You may also see changes in their attitudes, ideas and beliefs. That is all normal. Part of this experience is figuring stuff out and making changes is part of that. You helped them develop character and now they are searching for their calling.
  • When you do visit try and meet their friends. Offer to take them out to burgers or pizza. These are the people in their life…and friends do matter. These are the people your child is spending their time with. Take the time to get to know them.
  • Encourage your child to get out of their rooms and join some clubs, attend some school activities, volunteer, or participate in whatever might interest them. Try new things. They need a healthy balance of school work and non-school work to be happy and to grow into their best self.
  • Remind them to always remember their morals, their values and their integrity. Hold on to those. Remind them that they ALWAYS have a choice. Remember that the choices they make can and will be positive or negative and they determine that outcome. Remind them to be an adult includes taking responsibility for their choices and accepting and dealing with consequences.
  • Be present! I said this before but it bears repeating. These moments are a blessing. Be involved, be engaged, ask questions, read about the new topics and ideas they bring home. Enjoy the fact that these young adults are so willing to share what they are thinking about the world.


So go, take lots of pictures (and tissues) and enjoy this special day, this wonderful achievement. Be excited for them…and for you.


Graduation time! I may not be an expert, but I have done this once or twice or even EIGHT times Click To Tweet


Noah’s Salutatorian Speech – posted with his permission


“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” These words by poet Patrick Overton are a great way to describe our situation here today. All of us are taking a step into the unknown, into that new darkness. All of us are splitting up, and going our own way. Some of us are going to college, others into the military, or into the workforce, even the parents here today are taking a new step when they walk their child down this aisle to receive their diploma. Change, in and of itself, is always scary and difficult. Yet life is always changing. Every day is different from the one before. Every day is a new unknown.

Some in here will take that step into the unknown and find themselves on solid ground. For them, things won’t change very much at all. A few will take that step and soar like an eagle, adapting to the changes in their life with ease. Most of us however, will take that step, and not find solid ground awaiting us. We will have trouble flying at first: leaving home, the weight of college debt, boot camp, or real world bills, pulling us down. Some of us will struggle to learn. Some will find the many changes overwhelming. Some of us will feel that they may never fly.

Remember that you have, up until this point, consistently conquered each and every change that life has thrown your way. So don’t panic. If you feel as though your wings are not strong enough, then think outside the box.  Maybe to fly you need to simply build yourself a plane.  Find another path to take. There is always another way if you take the time to look for it. Each choice you make and path you take has its own risks but it also has its own rewards. Denzel Washington once said, “Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. FALL FORWARD. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”  Just because you don’t fly easily doesn’t make you’re a failure. It makes you wiser. You’ve had to learn a different way to succeed. I believe everyone sitting here today will succeed in their own way, at their own time. Every single one of us will fly, but no two of us will do so in the same exact way.

I know almost everyone here is worrying about the unknown future that awaits them. Will I like my roommate, will I like my classes, will I succeed? There are a limitless number of worries for everyone sitting here. However you will never know what will happen if you don’t take that step into the unknown darkness. Esmeralda Santiago is right in saying: “How can you know what you are capable of if you don’t embrace the unknown?”

How can you know? Everyone is scared to go off on their own, to feel alone. However you are never truly alone. You have your family, friends, and loved ones. You aren’t the first to take these steps, and you certainly won’t be the last. Although everyone has different experiences every day, those who have taken similar steps as you will be able to help. This year I was the lead of the Drama club play. I had never had to say more than 20 lines on stage in front of an audience. This year I had close to 200 lines! It was one of the most nerve-racking things I think I had ever done at that point in my life. However that doesn’t compare to my sister. In college she went to Italy for the summer. No one in our entire family had traveled so far, let alone by themselves. Not only that, but she is just returning from living for two years in Arizona. Again she left, on her own, to an unknown place with unknown people. She didn’t have a place to live, she didn’t know the area, and she didn’t know any one there. She had so many unknowns, so much darkness, and no one’s foot steps to follow, but she knew we were there for her, supporting her choices every step of the way. She is a great example of diving into the darkness and coming out on top. She not only survived the unknown, she thrived.

When you feel overwhelmed and afraid by what is happening in your life, take a moment to reflect on all of the examples of strength and courage the people in your life have shown you. Think about how many challenges and ‘unknowns’ your parents face every day. Yet they endure. They face each new day bravely…and usually with a smile. My parents and my older siblings have an amazing way of getting through all of the challenges they face with love and laughter.  What better example could I have?  You too have footsteps to follow and people who will cheer you on and support your choices.  Today, maybe we should take a minute to thank them for all that they do and for helping us get this far.

Let me leave you with something I’ve learned from my parents, brothers, and sister: be brave. Go out and do new things because every step you take will bring you a different experience. You might as well take as many as you can, and learn from each one. There are no wrong steps to take as long as you learn and grow with each one. Remember that you will never have to take a single step alone. You will always have family, friends, and loved ones to help you when you need them. So try to spread your wings and fly because they will be the wind under your wings. I’d like to end with a quote from Mother Teresa. Something I want everyone here to think about: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Thank you.