Musings + Essays


By: Jen Shoop

Introíbo ad altáre Dei,

Ad Deum, qui lætíficat iuventútem meam.


I sat with my sister’s baby,

Fresh-faced and burbling,

In my lap,

The moment a tender sprout of happiness,

An echo of the Nativity, or the Presentation, or some other joyful mystery,

Then watched my five year old mirror my movements:

Cradling him in her hands, still pudgy and toddler-like themselves,

Not flinching when her cousin explored her face with his uncoordinated fingers,

Just smiling, and cooing, and, once, tugging down the hem of his shirt,

In a movement belying her youth.

I watched, too, my daughter shriek with laughter across the Easter table at her older cousin’s whispered joke,

Almost breathless with glee,

And beamed when she proudly raced her way through the blessing before dinner:

“Bless o Lode in dees I gifs which bout to seeve from bounty through Cries our Lode –“

And my son yelled:


At Easter Mass that morning, I had felt snug in the embrace of a tradition I love, with my family flanking me, my son burying his face in my skirt, ensconced in the very parish in which I was Baptized 37 years ago,

Its wooden pews since serving as a homecoming,

Both from New York and adventures prior,

And from the long parch and parsimony of COVID.

Over brunch later that morning, I wiped away a tear when my father faltered in rare farklemptness while reading a family blessing that has come to be a rite in gratitude, and a spiritual right-sizing in the face of the profound gifts with which we have been bestowed.

This, all, my missa cantata

The benedictions of a 37 year old woman acutely aware that life is rarely this good, but determined to hold it while I may:

Introíbo ad altáre Dei (I will go in unto the altar of God)
Ad Deum, qui lætíficat iuventútem meam
(To God who giveth joy to my youth.)


+In praise of a normal day.

+Long days of parenting.

+On incorporating prayer into my daily life.

+On not being great at prayer.

+A personal kind of beatitude.

Shopping Break.

+Mille vibes for $55.

+The Company Store is offering up to 30% off sitewide (20% off all orders, 30% off orders $300+) and they have such fun comforters for kiddos! I love the star print for the guest room bunks.

+On the subject of bedding: love this affordable bed blanket from Target. Such great stripes!

+And on the subject of Target: ordering this blouse in the white. Reminds me of something from Doen or Sezane!

+FUN pink top for a birthday or bachelorette.

+Chic pair of vases.

+Great pair of white jeans, under $100. More great Gap finds here.

+My next beach read.

+I just added this white top and the matching white shorts to my cart but keep going back to switch for the blue color? Which do I want? Love the idea of this set as a cover-up for a beach day.

+These fisherman sandals are in my cart right now. I really want the Freda Salvador ones (or the Gabriela Hearst ones — swoon) but keep wondering if I am going to outgrow the trend in a matter of weeks, and worried it’s not worth the splurge? I feel like these will look so chic with a simple dress in white or black.

+Adore this easy throw-on-and-go dress in the indigo floral pattern.

+This woven bag is SO cute. LOVE the color.

+Matte jellies for your mini at a great price. More cute shoes for little ones here.

+Fab under-$80 caftan. Love it in the sage green.

+While we’re talking Everlane: also love this midi skirt.

+Have lusted over a Pippa Holt caftan forever. Love this one in the blue.

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6 thoughts on “Benedictions.

  1. “Its wooden pews since serving as a homecoming” is such a beautiful line. I too am a Catholic and often feel the same way about my home parish. So many of my life’s major events, both good and bad, have happened within those four walls that I often walk in and feel breathless remembering it all.

    1. Yes — so true, especially the note on “good and bad.” There are many positive memories in Churches but also sad ones, including not only funerals but moments of self-doubt and regret where I was seeking solace.


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