5 Tips for Latin Mass (from a non-regular)

A few weeks ago, I changed up my Sunday routine by going to Latin Mass at a parish in town. I’ve been a few times before and, after some awkwardness, I’ve learned a few things about how to enter into this liturgy without getting completely lost.


Latin Mass Tips

This is my unofficial list of tips I’ve learned and had to figure out along the way about how to survive a Latin Mass when you’ve never been before.

1. Embrace the Different

If you go into a Latin Mass expecting everything to be the same as a novus ordo you’ll miss a lot and probably wind up standing when you should be kneeling…(oops!) There will be incense, and lots of singing, and women in veils. And it will also be full of beautiful ritual. Embrace the fact that this Mass will be pretty different than your typical Sunday experience. And that’s okay.

2. Sit Towards the Back

Trust me when I say that this will make the whole newness a bit less overwhelming. First, you can watch everyone else to be cued when to stand and kneel. If you’re an awkward person (like me) you may find you’re less self-conscious when no one’s looking at you. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Don’t Sweat it!

Don’t worry if you get lost or don’t stand right on time. From my experience, people at Latin Mass are actually pretty chill. Just try your best and most importantly pray. Don’t worry about following everything or being on the right page of the booklet or any of that. Just enjoy the fact that you’re at Mass.

4. Know These two Common Responses

While you don’t need to try and learn the whole Mass before you go, a few responses can help you out with being able to participate at Mass.

First, the one every Catholic knows in English and makes Star Wars jokes about…

Priest: “Dominus vobiscum” (the Lord be with you)
People: “et cum spiritu tuo” (and with your spirit)

When the priest is saying a long prayer you may find yourself lost or if you’re reading along in a booklet you may finish reading before he finishes talking. Just wait until you hear this:

Priest:”…saecula saeculorum” (roughly meaning forever and ever)
People: “Amen”

5. Go back!

The first time I went to Latin Mass I walked out frustrated. I couldn’t keep track of the pages and it didn’t make sense. I knew it was beautiful, but I was upset I couldn’t appreciate that beauty because I was struggling just to stand and kneel at the right times.

Going back this week, I was much more comfortable and also less worried about following perfectly. It allowed me a chance to be a part of the Mass and enter into it. If you struggle the first time, don’t worry about it. Try again. It might not be your style but it’s hard to know that after just one experience.

Latin Mass can be daunting. But if you’re interested in going I recommend you try it. It can be a lot to take in, but focus on entering into the Mass and making it a prayer and I’m sure you’ll get something out of it.


Teaching is Tough. And Yet…

I’ve only been a teacher for a few months but already this job has tested me and pushed me to my limits. I’ve seen worse days, but not much worse. But also I’ve had few days better than these.

Let’s be honest, kids are hard work. Especially when you’re partially responsible for their moral upbringing and trying to help them understand the wonder of God’s love when all they want to do is play agario or snapchat each other. (Oh, the joy of middle schoolers!)


Lately, I’ve had some challenges. Some have been small; others, larger. Sometimes I have to pick my battles and sometimes it feels like I’m trying to quell a mountain of misbehavior. Sometimes though…sometimes everything goes right. My lesson is well executed and engaging, students are on-task or at least responsive to my behavior plan, and I would be proud to have an administrator stop by and witness the learning taking place. It’s in those moments that I remember why I became a teacher.

But it’s not just in those moments. And I need to remember that.

Other times, I’m reminded why I became a teacher when I have a one-on-one conversation with a student that I hope helps them see why certain behaviors are needed. Or I’m reminded when I’m grading a particularly excellent assignment where I can see the student really got it. When I see a struggling student succeed, when a bright but lazy student turns in an assignment that shows not just promise but effort, when I can laugh with my students…these are moments in which I love my job.

And I do. Despite all it throws at me, I love teaching. It’s my calling. If nothing else, I know it’s where I’m supposed to be right now. And until He says “move” I’m staying.


This is the first post in a series reflecting on my struggles and joys as a first year teacher. Click on the category “From the Messy Desk” to see more soon.

Life: It’s Going…

I have been on less-than-intentional hiatus from this blog for much longer than I would have liked. I’ve considered blogging several times and even thought about starting a completely new blog for this new chapter in my life. But I’ve decided against it for the immediate future.

One reason is that I don’t want my blog to be “a teacher blog”. Or even “a Catholic teacher blog”. It’s not that I don’t like those kind of sites. In fact, I often browse them for lesson ideas and the occasional dose of humor. However, as a first-year teacher, school is what I eat, sleep, and breathe. So it’s nice to have a little corner of my life that’s not all about that. This corner can be just me, not teacher-me or post-grad-me or any other label.

The stress of inhaling nothing but lesson plans, powerpoints, quiz grades, parent emails, and school generally is what has finally driven me to write again. So…I guess you could appreciate my insanity. You’ve gotten this far in the post so I assume you’re at least vaguely interested in what I’m saying and you have the craziness of my life to thank for that.

It’s not that I don’t love my job. I do. Deep down.
I just don’t like every part of it.

Let me bring you up to speed. In May, I graduated. Since then I’ve been offered 2 jobs in 2 different states, took the one in my hometown, moved back in with my parents, crunched financial numbers until I realized that being a Catholic school teacher with a mountain of private school debt who lived on her own was impossible if I wanted to be out of debt before I’m 30, bought a car, volunteered at a conference, adjusted to my new life as a middle/high school Theology teacher, juggled classroom management and grading and lesson planning and everything else, took my car on a road trip to the alma mater and there visited with good friends.

If that wasn’t enough adult adventures, last week I was driving to work when another car failed to yield and drove right into me. My car is going to be totaled and my hatred of round-abouts has increased and been justified. In the wake of the accident I’ve had backache and a headache that wasn’t just from the accident (see: middle school teacher).

So, here I come back to this blog a single, broke catholic school teacher. But at least, I think, my sarcasm is intact. I shall be chronicling my adventures as a new teacher, an adult who is still learning how to be one, and (that seeming paradoxic) a Catholic young adult.

And why have I returned? Because I need an outlet and a break. Blogging, for me, has often been a way to process things. Especially now that I no longer live with my closest friends, I think it will be helpful.

And if not, I at least hope it will be amusing to read.

Here’s to a new Beginning.

via Flckr



NAS: “Typical Day”

Let’s get back in the swing by sharing what our typical day is like! Tell us however you like, minute by minute or a blurb about your day! Be sure to answer these questions:
– what is your favorite part of your day?
– what is your least favorite part of your day?
– are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has begun?

not alone5

Oh! It’s been so long since I did one of these!

Well, right now I’m in that weird work- and family-filled hiatus between semesters. Breaks are like a second life all their own. I’m surround by different people in a different state doing totally different things. This Christmas Break I’m working. But seeing as how that’s not how I spend 8 months out of the year I’ll focus on life during the school year.

Sometime o’clock am (depending on the first class or obligation of the day is)
Wake up, grab a bite (sometimes), gather my stuff and go.

Classes and/or work in the campus ministry office. This semester I’ve got an 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays to start.

Usually a sandwich or salad from the to-go place on campus

More classes or ministry work or student worker work

Usually dinner at 5. After that homework, hanging out with friends and maybe a club meeting, talk, or social event. I might also work in the evenings.

It might not look like much but I certainly keep busy. I take between 15 and 18 credits a semester. And I recently switched my major to English to I’m seeing a lot of reading in my future this semester as well. I work for our campus ministry program (there’s about 50 students who do) compiling and editing the weekly bulletin and the 3 newsletters we send out to donors every year. I also have a student worker job. To make money, I proctor tests about 5 hours a week. Most days last semester I left my dorm room in the morning before 8am and didn’t come back until around 5 or 6pm. Which I guess is like having a real job. Only I have homework to do after that.

On to the questions!

What is your favorite part of your day?
I suppose my favorite part of the day in the evening when the largest chunk of the work is done and I can sit and relax. On nights when I don’t have a lot of homework, I love being able to spend hours talking to friends and relaxing. I might catch up on my TV shows, or watch a movie with a roomful of friends or just one of my roommates. I also enjoy the random trip to the perpetual adoration chapel next door. 🙂

What is your least favorite part of your day?
My least favorite part of my day is probably the morning. I’m not really a morning person. I like my sleep too much. The snooze button and I are old friends.

Are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has begun?
As far as changes, I’m hoping to add in exercise 2 or 3 times a week, as well as a scheduled prayer time. Those are the big changes.

To read the other Not Alone Series Posts: you can visit Morgan and for the link-up visit Jen.

2015, What Do You Have in Store?

For the last couple of years I’ve set new year goals for myself. My goals for 2014 are here if you care to take a look. But I’d rather not dwell on that shamefully unaccomplished list. Instead, I’m going to look forward. This semester has been, well, Hell. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much stress and anxiety as I’ve felt over the last 4 months. But this semester, and this year, have also been good. I’ve learned a lot especially about education and people with disabilities, taught in an elementary school classroom, switched my major to English, learned a lot about myself, lived in Indianapolis this summer, and made great memories with wonderful people.

This year, I’m going to keep my goals simple. I realized that having a long list can be overwhelming. Usually I can’t remember half of them anyway. Also, part way through the year some of the more specific ones tend to be abandoned. So for the more specific goals, the short-term ones, and the ones that arise later on in the year, I’ll make monthly goals. For my yearly goals though, this year I’m going to focus on things that are close to my heart, things I’ve wanted and been working on for a while.

1) Write
I love writing and I want to write more. Ideally I’d like to write something everyday–a blog post, a scene of fiction. I know it probably won’t happen and it would take a while before I get into any kind of habit. But I want to write more and embrace this passion.

2) Pray
I want to work on my relationship with God and being a better person. Daily mental prayer is the plan.

3) Be/Go/Do Something or Somewhere New
I don’t know what this is going to entail. But I have done some fun new things this year and I’ve loved it. So I want to keep going. I’m taking ballet next semester, I might be doing some traveling over the summer. We’ll see.



This last year, I had a word for the year: joy. And while I hadn’t planned to pick a word for this year, something struck me at Mass today. Adventure. God has led me on a wild adventure this last year and my whole life really. This new year is another step. But I think it’s going to be a big one. Regardless of what happens, life is an adventure. I want to live it and see what this new year brings.

Called to Live Right Now

So, after a summer living with nuns I’m no closer to knowing my vocation. I really wanted to know by now. I’m halfway through college. I’m sure plenty of girls before me knew by now and either dropped out to join a convent or were dating the man who would become their husband. And here I am…lost.

Only, I’m not. As my perfect dream of knowing my vocation started to tumble around my ears I realized that I know my vocation–at least, I know my vocation for right now. Today, right now, I am called to be a friend, sister, daughter, and student. I’m called to be a Catholic, a child of God, and I’m called to work on that relationship day after day. Yeah, I don’t know what I’ll be doing 5 years from now. But that’s ok. (And no, that’s not easy to accept.) God knows what I’ll be doing in 5 years. So, that means I have no reason to fear, really, as long as I’m following Him.

That following is a huge part of what I need to work on right now. We can always be doing better. And no matter where I am called greater virtue and a better prayer life can only help. I don’t want to waste these single years. These years will form the person I will be when I do meet my future husband or join that convent. And I want to be prepared.

More than preparing me these years give me opportunity. At no other point in life will I have so much time on my hands. Yeah, I work, I’m a full time student, and have a social life. But really, when I’m a teacher, a mom, or a sister, I’m going to have less free time. Right now, I can get involved in clubs, do service projects, spend lots of time in prayer, and work on being a better person. I can do things that I won’t have as much time for later. I can also help others and evangelize my peers who may be searching or uncertain.

The point is I’ll never get years like these again. And I should use them for all their worth. To become a better person, to help others, and to do the things I won’t be able to do as easily later on. For example, once I’m married or have a job or enter a convent I won’t be able to spend my summer out of state working on an hourly wage at a nursing home (at least not as easily). I won’t be spending so much time at my parents’ house with my siblings. I may not even live in the same state as them. I need to savor this time.

God’s been teaching me about trust these last few months. And for me, there’s few things that rank higher on the trusting scale than trusting that He’s got a plan when I don’t know what that plan is. I want to know! Although, yeah, I’m definitely scared of what He might ask. Right now, it’s like there’s a fog in front of me that tries to trick me. Am I supposed to go this way or that way? But, in reality, that fork in the road is years away. And while maybe I want to know which path I should take I don’t need to know.

So, I guess, I’m left trusting Him. He’s come through before. I’m the one who needs to work on following when I don’t know where I’m being led. I need to focus on where I am and what I’m called to be right now. I need to see the little choices in front of me. Those matter too. There’s a saying: “whatever you are, be a good one”. Right now, I’m a daughter, sister, friend, student, and Catholic. So I should be a great daughter, a loving sister, a loyal friend, a hard-working student, and a devout Catholic.

This summer I heard a homily on how the law of God is not meant to be constraining, it’s freeing. So if I’m freaking out over my vocation, I’m probably doing something wrong. Maybe it’s just not time for me to know yet. In the end, I just need to trust that by following God, I will be led to the right path.

August Goals

My monthly goals posts have always included a “better late than never” mentality regarding posting “deadlines”. Meaning, yeah, I’m a couple days late. But I usually am. (Maybe I should make one of my goals publishing on time.)

Anywho, July’s over and the ship has sailed on those goals. Below is a recap of July and then I’ll move onto August.2014 Goals August

You can see my reasoning (or lack thereof) for these goals in my July post.

July Goals

1) Write 5 blog posts/
-Result: ∅
Yeah…no. But I have been working on one that I hope to flesh out eventually and I’ve got a few ideas rattling around.

2) Compile my summer reading list
-Result: √
You can see my summer list as well as a list of a few of my favorite books here

3) Read: Finish “A Christmas Carol” and one other book
-Result: √

July was apparently good for book-related goals. I finished a Christmas Carol and read Catching Fire (which was great!).

4) Make a summer budget (spending limit)
-Result: √ (more or less)
I calculated how much I had already spent and set a limit for the rest of the summer. Then I divided that by the summer of weekends before I came home. So…I set a budget. Whether I kept to it is another matter.

5) Get ready for the new school year
-Result: not really…
This goal contained a lot: prepare for another year working with campus ministry, prepare for the semester, and all that. But I still have pretty much all of that to do.

6) Compile my road trip playlist take 2
-Result: still working on it…
I’ve started. But I don’t have a playlist–yet.

July was an ok month for goals. But I’ll be playing catch up for the next several days before I leave for school.

On to August!

August Goals

1) Blog! Darn it! (At least one post a week)
Last summer I blogged a lot. This summer I didn’t have as much free time and blogging definitely suffered. August is going to be a busy month…but I’m hoping to get a few blog posts in.

2) Set Semester goals
Yes, one of my goals is to set more goals.

3) Read one book
This will probably be one of the novels I have to read for seminar this semester. #englishminor

4) Set my schedule for the semester
When am I cleaning my room? When am I exercising? Working? Office hours? Classes start the 27th so I’ve got a few days to try out the schedule and make any needed adjustments before the end of the month.

5) Figure out how to save money/spend less this semester
Okay, I’m terrible with budgets. But something needs to be done. Maybe it will be that I put a certain amount every month or a set percentage of each paycheck into savings (where I won’t touch it!). I’m hoping to add to the “car fund”.


So there are my August goals. It’s going to be a busy month! Check back at the end of the month to see how I did!

NAS: Summer Reading List

This is perfect! Today’s Not Alone Series topic is summer reading lists, which is a post I’ve been meaning to write. My summer reading list last year was more extensive than this one will be but I’ll try to give an overview of what I’ve read/am reading/am going to read this summer as well as recommending a few of my favorites.


Summer 2014

Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
I read this at the very beginning of my summer. It was an interesting one. Curious and a little odd. A nice beach read with just a enough cheesiness to satisfy my romantic soul. It’s about a boy who comes up with a system for making the world better and tries to help who he can including his teacher, a vet who lost his eye, and his mother, a divorced and broken woman. The ending (*spoilers*) isn’t what you’d call happy but it’s hopeful. A couple months later and I still haven’t processed it all the way but that may be because I’ll never be able to form a complete opinion on it.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I’m nearly done with this one. I’m reading for it my english seminar class this Fall. It’s funny, I’ve seen a few different adaptations of this book into movies and the Muppet version is actually quiet accurate. It’s a classic and not too long. So yes, even though it’s the middle of July, I recommend it.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I bought this at a rummage sale this summer and frankly, I needed to read it before I head back to school. It’s a hardback and a little bulky and I’m flying. I knew it would be a fun read. I started it just yesterday as I was traveling back to my internship after a few days at home. And I just finished it. It was surprisingly similar to the movie and makes me want to read Mockingjay right now. It was an easy read and I got caught up in it pretty easily without getting sucked in. I liked it, and, because I’m me, appreciated the themes of self-sacrificing love/loyalty.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
I’m excited that this book is also on the list for my seminar class. I’ve been wanting to read it for a year or two. I’m hoping to read this between leaving my internship and classes starting (so still technically summer).



Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
An almost-gothic love story. A secret. A quiet girl who’s led a hard life and finds it hard to believe in someone loving her. A broody but romantic man who falls for plain and innocent Jane. It’s an old favorite of mine.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
A spoof of a gothic love story. I haven’t read much Jane Austen. I actually find her stuff hard to get through (but that’s based off a couple years ago, which was the last time I tried to make my way through one of her novels) but in high school I ate up this one. It was funny, sappy, and just great.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I also particularly like this one. Yes, another classic. There were some great themes that I really enjoyed.

The Lord of the World by R.H. Benson
How do I explain this? It’s a Catholic apocalyptic book about the end of the world. Well-written and interesting.It centers around a priest who’s at first just living in a world full of the technology of the not too-distant future, atheists and apostates, an oppressive government, and euthanasia clinics. But with the coming go the anti-christ the world goes from terrible to worse and this priest is caught up in the middle of it along with some other characters who come and go depicting a span of human experiences during these end times.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
This one’s a YA book but a good read and has a positive message about the value of life. Plus, I remember it being an exciting read. It follows

How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert
Here’s my review from last year. But basically, if you’re a Catholic young woman read this book.


So there you have it! You should be able to find any of these easily online. Any of these your favorites too? What are you reading this summer? Any suggestions to add to my ever-growing to-read list?

Life is Long

For more than a month I’ve lived and worked in a home for the elderly for my internship with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Before this summer I didn’t have much experience with older people, especially the more infirm. It’s been an eye opening and often difficult experience.

I never used to think about getting old, or even think of my parents getting old (except in perhaps the vaguest sense). My grandmother, who is the main 65+  I’ve dealt with in my life is healthy and able-bodied. So, if anything, I thought of getting old in terms of wrinkles, aches, and extra vitamins not in terms of losing the ability to walk, being continually fatigued, or requiring help with even simple tasks like getting dressed. Now, after 5 weeks here, 40 is young and “the elderly” has taken on a new meaning.

Life is Long

The fact is that I’m probably going to live a very long time. There’s several here in their 90’s and one who’s over 100! (And medical technology just keeps getting better.) But the kind of life I live when I reach that age will be very different from the life I live now.

It may seem a bit pointed but I’ve been thinking of this Bible passage lately:

‘…when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.'” ~John 21:18

These are Jesus words. The writer goes on to explain that “He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” This may have been our Gospel at Mass at some point in the last 6 weeks but that part about someone else leading you where you do not want to go keeps popping into my head. Life when you’re old is not like my life now. You become dependent and incapable of many thing you used to do.

So if this is what eventually awaits my parents…and me…what will I do in the meantime? Averaging it out I have 60-70 years before I get too old for a lot of big things. Because yes, though not everyone does, I will probably get too old for traveling to Europe, adopting children, and other things I would like to do.

Cliche as it is, I’m faced with the reality that you’re only young once (though that once is actually quite long) and someday I’ll be at the end of this journey called life looking back at where I’ve trod.

Will I have blazed a trail? Taken the road less traveled by?

So now I find myself reexamining my life’s goals. The truth is I want to do something great. We’re all made for greatness after all. My aspirations right now may seem small and simple. However, if Heaven is my true end then becoming secretary of education or backpacking around Ireland or publishing a book–well they pale in comparison.

My life is laid out in front of me with so many paths I could take. Usually, I hate that. I just want to know what I’m supposed to do. But really, it’s a gift. It’s the gift of being young that I have so much possibility. When I’m older the path will be chosen and walked and I won’t be able to undo that. Now, most of my life is in front of me rather than behind and I have the choice to make of how I will live it.

Time is precious, so I’m glad that life is long.

July Goals

Where has time gone?!

I haven’t written monthly goals since…mm March. Wow. That’s bad.  It’s now July and the year is half over. Well it’s time to jump back in!

So, we’ve reached the midway point of the year. As a reminder here are my 2014 Goals which includes A Year of Blogging Well. So far, I haven’t been doing all that hot. But that’s why I need to get back to it!

 2014 Goals--July

July Goals

1) Write 5 blog posts
I’ve been really slacking on blogging this summer. Frankly, there’s not much time. But I’ve also been struggling with being inspired and I just need to find a few topics that work and write. This is actually a low number considering my goal of 100 posts this year (this is number 31 so far. eek. ).

2) Compile my summer reading list
Okay, so summer is half over…but I’m still going to make this. It’ll just be really, really, short.

3) Read: Finish “A Christmas Carol” and one other book
I’m reading Dickens for a class I’m taking in the Fall. I’m not sure what the other book will be but I’ve got quite a few I haven’t read yet.

4) Make a summer budget (spending limit)
It may be summer but that trip to the mall a week ago taught me a couple things, one being that I shouldn’t shop when I’m having a bad week unless I have a set limit. Budgets in general are just a good idea for me when I go shopping.

5) Get ready for the new school year
This goal contains a lot, mainly: prepare for another year working with campus ministry (finish planning usher and lector training, and plan the first bulletin of the year) and prepare for the semester (maybe start on semester goals, think about classes and books and such).

6) Compile my road trip playlist take 2
Last August when a friend and I road-tripped back to Kansas for our pre-year campus ministry retreat we each made a playlist. Now we’re doing the same thing again this August! Complete with playlists 🙂

So there are my July goals. It looks like a lot when matched with working 40 hours a week and still trying to have fun and be social with my roommate. But we’ll see what happens. Check back at the end of the month to see how I did!