Seven Quick Takes: “Isn’t It Holy?” Edition

It’s so linky around here today, I can hardly stand it!   I’m doing Seven Quick Takes with Jen from Conversion Diary, and responding to a rare tagging from The Anchoress.

She lists her five favorite Catholic devotions, and she wants to know what mine (and yours) are.

Now, I’m in kind of a spot here.

On one hand, the last six months or so have seen me practicing Catholic devotions in the same way as my three-year-old has been practicing personal hygiene:  whining and screaming and making things so miserable for everyone that, more often than not, we just skip it and walk away disgusted.

On the other hand, whatever Lizzie wants, Lizzie gets.

Just to make things harder on myself, I’m going to list seven, not five, so I can do Seven Quick Takes.  Maybe the extra two will count as doing mortification.  That’s a devotional, right?

Seven Favorite Catholic Devotions



I think of novenas as spritual interventions — not “We pray for divine intervention,” but like:  “Well, do you think it might help if we held an intervention?”  A nine-step program, if you will.  You don’t set these things up for everyday problems.  Nobody enjoys it, and we’d all rather be somewhere else, but if this doesn’t work, then nothing will.  I kind of imagine the Holy Spirit slumping resignedly in a folding chair, drinking tepid coffee and willing at least to hear us out.



It’s been a long, long time.  I’ve made dozens of resolves to sign up again, but I keep putting it off.  But when we were going, my husband and I signed up as a couple, and each went on alternate weeks.  Just two hours a month each, but it Made A Difference.

Sometimes when you go into the chapel, you feel wonderful.  You feel like you’re coming home from a long and miserable trip, when everyone missed you terribly and is so glad to see you.

And sometimes you feel like a bored, itchy hypocrite who has no business taking up space in this weird, demanding religion.  But I heard someone compare Adoration to standing in the sun:  you may not notice it happening, but it will surely change you.


Scriptural Rosary

This is not so much a favorite devotion as an inescapable one.  It’s kind of like taking your vitamins:  it’s so easy, and it couldn’t hurt, so you might as well just do it every night.  Gulp.

My kids enjoy it (we only do one decade a night) because eventually they will get to lead us in praying The Ascension.  The little rats read “‘Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,'” and then they deliberately pause before continuing with “Hail Mary . . .” so they can make one or two inattentive people think we’re up to the Glory Be already.  They also like to trap house guests that way.  Isn’t that nice?  They’re wonderful children.


The Chaplet of Transition in Labor

When I’m in labor, I offer up the pain for people who suffer infertility.  That sounds a lot more pious than it really is.  Really, the only good thing about delivering babies is that, for once, you have something truly horrible to offer up–but, unlike other sacrifices, such as fasting or doing good works, you can’t get out of it.  So you might as well try and get something out of it (besides the baby, I mean).  Also “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world” is nice and rhythmic, and helps you breathe steadily.


ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו.‏

Ha ha, got you there!  When I was little, we used to say the Hebrew blessing before meals (later, I found out it was Hebrew with a Brooklyn accent), and then we’d say it in English:  “Blessed art Thou, o Lord our God, King of the universe, by Whose word all things exist.”  It has such a wonderful rhythm of certainty at the end:  “By Whose word All.  Things.  Exist.”  I don’t know how to read Hebrew (although I did once advise someone on whether or not her mezuzah was upside down, so I know that much), but here is a transliteration of the prayer: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha‑olam, she‑hakol nih’ye bidvaro; and here is  someone saying it.

There are actually several different prayers before meals, depending on what kind of food you will be eating.  This may very well be technically the wrong prayer to use every day, but, you know, there’s a New Covenant and all.  You’re covered.


Palming it Off On Someone Else

I thought it was hilarious when Mark Shea recently explained that he started posting prayer requests on his blog

largely because I feel inept as an intercessory pray-er, and so had a hope that maybe somebody out there in the audience might have the charism I lack when it comes to having a clue how to pray. I thought I was being very clever fobbing this off on others; but, of course, what I stupidly failed to foresee was that this would inevitably result in lots more prayer requests for everything under the sun. I continue to post them, along with my fumbling two cents in the courts of the Almighty, advising Him on how to proceed. I haven’t the slightest clue whether my prayers do a lick of good for the person making the prayer request. But I figure that if I mix my prayers in with others who are closer to the Throne, then maybe they’ll get lost in the pack and I will look like I know what I’m doing.

I’m lazy enough to pass along a prayer request before actually praying about it myself, but scrupulous enough to feel bad about it; so generally, the act of making it public is enough to help me to remember to say at least a quickie prayer myself.  Whereas if I only realize I should be praying for something, I’m all too prone to mistaking “I should pray about this” for actually praying.  Maybe God, in his generosity, accepts even good intentions as prayer, but I’m not counting on it.


Act of Contrition

I love the Church so much.  She knows that we’re so lame, so stupid, so weak and lazy that not only do we have to be required to go to confession once a year, but we  need help figuring out how to say “I’m sorry.”  Isn’t it great to have those words?  They say it all — everything you’re thinking, and everything you ought to be thinking — and it feels so good to say them.

O my god, I am truly sorry for having offended Thee.  I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

Whew. I mean, Amen.

Oh, wait!  Here’s a bonus one.


A Strange Child’s Prayer

When my oldest daughter was about four, she wrote a prayer of her own.   She understood the gerneral lingo, if nothing else.  I wish I could find the baby book for this General Act of Praying, but the ended with:  “Holy, holy, holy.  Isn’t it holy?”


Okay, so now I’m tagging Hallie from Betty Beguiles, Megan from  Sorta Crunchy, Lisa from Sweet Family Times, Kristen from St. Monica’s Bridge, and Becca from The Hollow.

And don’t forget to check out Conversion Diary for other Seven Quick Takes, and link up if you’re doing your own!



  1. so wonderful, i love your daughter’s prayer. i wish i’d thought of something that constructive to do with labour pains. i usually hum “behold, the Lord is my salvation, i will walk and will not afraid” when i know crowning is around the corner…

  2. When I’m in labor, I dissolve into Hail Marys.

    On other people’s prayer requests: The best advice I ever heard, and this works especially well for prayer requests that arrive in your email or that you see on somebody’s blog, is to IMMEDIATELY pray a short prayer. Don’t say you’ll pray and then maybe forget about it. Pray and then you can say “Yes, I prayed for you.”

    I think we all like to have this idea that if we say “yes, I will add you to my prayers” then we can imagine that it is wonderfully open-ended. We don’t have to admit that at some point we will spend our prayers on other things.

    My bare-minimum prayer is this: I make the sign of the cross and say: “I entrust N. to the enclosed garden of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” And I try do do this for every prayer request that I see. So, any Protestants that may ask me to pray for them, be warned. 🙂

  3. Aw, thanks for tagging me, S! I’ll do my best to come up with my 5 ALL-TIME favorite devotions.

    At the moment pretty much all I can do is lay my hugely pregnant body on the cold kitchen tile and moan, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy…” endlessly. 😉

  4. “When I’m in labor, I offer up the pain for people who suffer infertility.”

    That’s a really sweet thing to do.

    I’ve gradually come to think that one of the “charisms” of infertility is to remind the world what a miracle a child really is. Every time one of my friends has a baby, it feels like some kind of small victory.

  5. So, does this mean that I think like you, since I responded to the same tag (from a different person) in the same way? (Meaning with 7QT, not with a brilliant post like yours.) 🙂

  6. Yep, Hail Mary’s are a lifesaver during labor, along with crushing my huge, rather sharp miraculous medal ring into my hand so hard that it leaves a mark for days. Hey- better than hubby’s.

    I heard a great one from a friend that I’m planning to use this time- she offers up each contraction for someone; starting with her spouse and children, and moving onto relatives, friends, anyone she could think of, until she had to start over again… I thought that was a great way to make it a positive thing, focusing on the people/ intentions you’re helping, rather than just an ‘I have to get through this’ kind of thing.

  7. Oh, I’m such a pagan. All I think about during contractions is, “Where is that darn epidural??” If (ha ha… or I guess When) I get pregnant again, I will try to remember this much holier approach.

    About the Act of Contrition – I’ve always loved how honest it is. We’re given the words to say, but we’re allowed to include the part about being sorry because we’re getting in trouble. It’s like talking to kids. You can get a “sorry” out of them, but it’s pretty much only because they’re sorry to be in trouble. You just hope they eventually are sorry because they realize what they did was wrong.
    I’m just glad the priest doesn’t listen to my Act of Contrition and then say, “No – say it NICELY.”

  8. Not that I have been able to go to church for them in a loong time but I really like the stations of the cross. I like imagining how everyone involved felt and being in front of the Eucharist at the same time. I distract easily so multitasking is good.

    The Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary are also good. Christ’s fearful moments in the garden and all of the suffering mingled with love and hope for his precious children. I can relate to that on a very pathetic fallen woman kind of scale. I also like the Joyful mysteries but for sorrowful reasons, because all I can think about is how Mary must keep giving herself reality checks about the terrible and glorious future of her precious little baby. I have serious issues with the way rosaries were done at home when I was a kid so unfortunately it’s a devotion I tend to avoid doing with my family.

    I also have this really kitchy 4″ plastic nun holding a stack of dishes statuette that was part of a set my kids got for 10 cents at a church white elephant and she reminds me to pray while working and smile while I am cooking so they will bless my family. Not sure if the nun being involved makes that Catholic but it is prayerful in nature.

    Singing Catholic hymns. I think that counts as a devotion and some of them have really great contemplative lyrics, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” or “O Sacred Head Surrounded” that make you tear up (which is embarrassing).

  9. First thought – oh YAY! Haven’t been tagged for anything in ages.

    Second thought – Simcha, I’m not Catholic! What will I do? What will I doooooooo? *wringing hands*

    I love the blessing from #5. Love it. Will be incorporating it into blessings in our house.

  10. Thanks for the tag! I attempted to do it, in a scattered, long-winded kind of way.

    One thing that is weird about having c-sections (my first three were not) is not having any labor. I don’t have any thing to give up (except maybe my fear of the epidural, or whatever that is they jam down my spine.) I have to admit that it never even occurred to me, though, to say a prayer for anyone other than myself during my first three labors. It’s a beautiful idea.

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