Saint Mommy

Saint Mommy by Kate Taliaferro. Daily Graces
St John the Divine Rose Window by 2a by Tony Hisgett (2010) via Flickr, CC. Modified by Kate Taliaferro

My husband has a complicated last name. When you look at the spelling, you would think it is fairly obviously pronounced just as you would sound it out. Whenever someone does this, I usually smile and say “Sure, that’s how it goes.” It’s much easier to move on than to stop our conversation and say “Well actually, it’s pronounced absolutely nothing like it is spelled, sorry for messing up every English lesson you had growing up for a moment.” Because of this, we made the decision early on that we would give our children first names that were classic and simple to pronounce. They are going to always struggle with the last name, at least their first people will be able to get on the first try. We also have intentionally named them after saints so that no matter what, they would have a solid role model attached to them in their name.

John (age 4) is becoming more aware of the saints as holy men and women who are now in heaven with God. Not only are they with God, they can help us by praying for us and reminding us to have good behavior and morals. We have already encouraged our children to pray to their name-saint, asking for help in whatever area of the day they struggled with .

When Ben left for his last deployment, John was pretty upset Ben’s last night home. We decided while praying together that we should choose a family saint – a saint that could watch over our family while Daddy was gone and we all could pray to during our nightly prayers, no matter where in the world we are. John liked that and of course, asked if our family saint could be St. John. The next day, he figured we should add St. Rose and St. Clare too for Rosie and Clare.

This evening at dinner, Rosie (age 3) was trying to figure out the whole saint thing since we’ve been talking about it so much. “Mommy, St. John helps John make good choices and helps take care of him right?” “Yes Rosie, St. John can do that.”

“And St. Rose can help me?”


“And St. Clare can help Clare? Well, Clare is a baby, but St. Clare can help her someday?”

“Yes Rosie, St. Clare can help Clare.”

“And Mommy, St. Mommy will help you too! And St. Daddy will help him too! And St. Uncle Steve will help Uncle Steve!”

Oh my sweet Rosie. What a beautiful thing she came up with. While we might be a little confused about the whole name = saint thing, she is laying a beautiful foundation of understanding for the communion of saints.

Even if your given name isn’t a canonized saint, you can still adopt one (or many) as your own patrons. Patron saints are saints that you feel close to, that inspire you or challenge you. Though my name is Kathryn and there are a number of St. Catherine saints, presently I feel closest to St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Frances of Rome, and a Carmelite monk from the 1600s, Br. Lawrence.

When you ask a friend to pray for you, the saints operate in the same manner. They are dear friends who happen to be situated that much closer to God – we believe they are in heaven after all.

Advent Reflections – December 10, 2015

Able to Love without Requiring Love in Return: In Church Tradition

Very simply, love is choosing to put another’s needs before our own. The First Letter of John says,

If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? – 1 John 3:17

Everyone knows the iconic man, who is merry, jolly and bright, and the joy he brings to children across the world. There is a story about St. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, that beautifully demonstrates this kind of love.

Nicholas lived in the 300s (fun fact: he attended the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. which is when the Church formalized our understanding of Jesus’ relationship with the God the Father and officially formulated the first part of the Nicene Creed – the statement of faith we still say to this day at Mass). In those days, a father had to produce a dowry, money or some other possession of value, that would go with his daughter when she married. No dowry = little chance of a husband. The father in our story was poor and had 3 daughters. Nicholas heard of this situation and had the means to fix it. On three separate nights, he tossed a bag of gold coins (some legends say a ball of gold) into an open window, allowing the girls to have enough money for a respectable marriage.

Photo of St. Nicholas byzantine icon from the Chapel of the Holy Trinity at Theological SChool of Chalki, Heybeliada Turkey. By Lapost (2015). Via Wikimedia (2005), CC.

Nicholas had two options. He could have called the father to his home and graciously bestowed the money. He could have made a public spectacle of the event, showing off to everyone what a kind and generous person he is. But, Nicholas heard well the admonishment of Jesus:


“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;ย otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. – Matthew 6:1

Is it easier to do acts of love when others are watching? How can I more freely act in love without looking for praise or recognition in return?


Following the Rules

Every household has rules, be they written or unwritten. Some families have specific times for meals. Others don’t allow jumping on couches. Some are specific about the type of language they permit in their home while others choose to keep a specific night a week for family time, free from practices and commitments.

Our family, like others, has rules. As our children grow, the rules change and evolve. One of our more recent rules regards our dinner conversation. Part of the bedtime routine for John and Rosie is getting to watch a little TV before reading books, brushing teeth, etc. This is the only TV they watch during the day, so deciding what to watch is an important topic. Often, it will be all they want to talk about and debate. Lately, we have had to ask them to stop talking about what they are going to watch while we all eat dinner.

Yesterday, we went to the library and Ben picked out a few new movies for he and I. While eating dinner, we started talking about what we would watch after the kids went to bed. Rosie, our sweet, observant 3 year old, says: “Daddy, we don’t talk about TV at dinner time. It’s not time to talk about that. You have to wait until later.” I swear I’m not exaggerating or adding in extra words. She repeated verbatim what we have been saying to her, holding us accountable to our own rule.

Has this ever happened to you? Your child reminds you of your own rules. She looks straight into your eyes and questions if you are bound to your rule, or if you are the exception.

Continue reading “Following the Rules”