Name update: Molly’s name sign!

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception!! What a wonderful, holy day!! I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week! Advent has me scurrying around like a (very happily) busy bee … or elf … 😉 Also, I’m continuing to work away on the consultations for all those who took advantage of the Black Friday deal — I’m still on track to get them to you within the time frame I told you I would, but certainly feel free to email you if you’d like a status update!

I posted a birth announcement for our devoted reader Amy’s baby girl, Molly Victoria, back in July, and I’d previously posted a write-up Amy did on name signs for users of American Sign Language, so I was thrilled that she gave me permission to post this new information about Baby Molly’s name sign:

We have found Molly’s name sign. M hand shape twisting on the side of the jaw/cheek. M obviously for Molly ([big sister] Kristy’s uses a K, [big brother] Kane’s uses both M and K [his given name is Martin Kane]) and in the area for female signs. It mimics the sign for candy, or how you would put your finger to your cheek and twist to tell someone to smile (something my husband would do to me when we were dating, sort of a game with deep meaning/feelings because it’s how we knew we were falling in love). It also resembles the sign for sweet and/or sugar, which brushes off the cheek in that spot with a hand shape similar to M. This is because whenever anyone asks ‘how’s the baby?’ the answer always seems to be ‘so sweet.’ It describes her: always sweet, smiling, happy, delight.”

I love all the layers to Molly’s name sign! The “sweet”ness and the connection to Amy and her husband’s courtship is so wonderful! And I love that her name sign was “found” — such a cool thing to think of waiting and observing until it becomes obvious. Amy had said as much in her previous post where she explained,

Culturally, a name sign should only be given to you by a Deaf person (you can’t just make up your own) and they are also not always bestowed right away. Sometimes it can takes months or longer while you wait for the right one to come along … for the most part name signs are given based on a characteristic unique that person.”

Thanks to Amy for sharing this with all of us!! ❤

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So sorry for the blog silence!

My laptop is misbehaving! I dropped it over the summer, and ever since then it’s been funny sometimes, but this week it’s been awful and every time I open it up I try to do whatever I need to do really fast before it poops out on me. I’m hoping to get it fixed this weekend and be back to cracking next week!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this fun piece: do you know the blog Tea with Tolkien? One of you readers made sure I saw yesterday’s post, and I loved it: Tolkien-Inspired Baby Names. It’s a great add-on to our recent names-from-Catholic-literature conversation (here and here)! (Check out Francis on the list — new info to me!)

Happy Friday y’all! Have a great weekend!

Catholic literary names

Deciding to be an English major in college was a no brainer for this lifelong bookworm and writer — I love good writing and I love a good story, regardless of genre.

That said, more recently (in the past few years) I’ve been really interested in figuring out what makes good Catholic fiction. I’ve read some in the past that was more “Catholic” than “good” — I really don’t like stories that hit you over the head with rosaries and Mass while the story and characters feel too good to be true and/or not well written. (Full disclosure: my own attempts at fiction writing have tended toward this, so one of my reasons for trying to figure all this out is so that I can be a better writer myself.) I’d love to hear what you all know about this topic! Also, book recommendations! (The authors don’t have to be Catholic, nor the stories explicitly so, as long as the themes and/or any presentations of the faith reveal a real understanding and accurate representation of the the things we know to be true, as well as good vs. evil. Do you think that’s a fair definition?)

Anyway, I’m listing here a bunch of the books I’ve read in my quest to define “good Catholic fiction,” along with names associated with the books and authors that might be perfect for literary-minded parents who’d like a nod to the faith as well (this is by no means a comprehensive list, neither the titles nor the authors nor the characters’ names — please leave your additions in the comments! I’m really just listing the names I remember and/or the ones that stuck out at me).

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

  • Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte, Julia Flyte, Cordelia Flyte, as well’s as Waugh’s own first name — what do you think of Evelyn for a boy? Would you do it? Also, I’ve always found it hilarious that his first wife’s name was Evelyn as well!

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

  • Henry Miles and Sarah Miles (both first and last names), Maurice Bendrix, Graham

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (the entire thing in one volume is FREE on Kindle today! Follow that link!) (I also have to admit — I had a hard time getting through the books and vastly preferred the movies … 😔)

  • So! Many! Names! Frodo, Meriadoc/Merry, Peregrin/Pippin, Sam(wise), Rosie, Elanor, Arwen, Aragorn, Strider, the Riders of Rohan, Eowyn, Galadriel (I saw a birth announcement for a Galadriel years ago and thought it was SO cool!), and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien — any of those

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (I know, he wasn’t Catholic and the books aren’t Catholic but then again, they are, aren’t they?)

  • Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Caspian, Digory Kirke, Eustace (do any of you find this usable?), Jill, Gael, Rilian, I even think Nikabrik could be a super cute nickname for a little Nicholas. ☺ Also Clive and Lewis, for the author himself

The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz (I think this is technically horror, which has *never* been my cup of tea, but I LOVED these books — I felt like their representation of “reality,” as we know it, with the thin veil that separates, was spot on)

  • Odd Thomas, Stormy Llewellyn (Bronwen), Ozzie, Annamaria … I can’t remember others

Some stuff by G.K. Chesterton (I can’t remember exactly what … maybe The Man Who Was Thursday? And some Father Brown)

  • I really really want to like Chesterton, I know he’s amazing. Maybe his fiction just isn’t my thing? (Though I’ve enjoyed the BBC Father Brown recently.) I like Gilbert, Keith, and Chesterton as names, and I’ve seen parents just use his initials (a friend planned on Gemma Katharine if she’d had a girl — G.K. initials — and our reader JoAnna’s son is Gabriel Keith — for other reasons — but she and her hubs like the nod to Chesterton with his initials as well)

 The Fairy Tale Novels by Regina Doman (6 books)

  • A lot of great names, like Rose and Blanche Brier, Arthur/Bear, Benedict/Fish, Kateri, Alex, the twelve daughters of The Midnight Dancers (I can’t remember them all! There’s Rachel, Priscilla/Prisca, Deborah/Debbie, Miriam I think?, Tammy, Linette, Cheryl … [two families with six daughters each combine through the parents’ second marriage, hence the difference in name style])

Catholic Philosopher Chick Series by Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Regina Doman  (2 books)

  • Catelynn/Cate Frank, Portia, Danielle/Dani, Felicity, Sean, Hector/Che, Nathaniel/Nat, Bartholomew/Bart, Justin, Sr. Jane Frances

I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner (I just finished this today and am excited to read the three other books in the series — I was blown away by how good this was)

  • Margaret/Margo, Blake/Bane, Jonathan/Jon, Jane, Kyle, Peter, Mark

I have not yet read anything by Flannery O’Connor, which I intend to remedy soon. Also Oscar Wilde? Right? Who else? Do you know of any more current books, like the last three I listed here? Are there any names you chose for your baby/ies specifically because of their Catholic lit connection?


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Double middle names?

A reader was asking me about double middle names so I looked up all my posts on middle names and was surprised to see that I hadn’t written about them yet! Surprised because I feel like I do discuss them with some frequency in my email discussions with parents. It’s definitely time to post here and get your feedback!

My thought is that two middle names is fine. I have two brothers and three sisters, and one of my brothers and two of my sisters have two middle names, and I’ve never heard any of them complain about them. Even now, as adults, they include all their initials when they’re writing out their full names. I know my mom has told me that sometimes the second middle would get dropped (not enough room on forms, or a bureaucratic decision or misunderstanding by some official person to only include one middle), which irritated her as the mom, and she and Dad even hyphenated my youngest sister’s two middles to try to avoid that, but otherwise it hasn’t ruined anyone’s lives.

If you didn’t want the hassle (or didn’t want to saddle your child with the hassle) of two middles but you have two middle names you’d like to use, you could do what this mom did and only put one middle on the birth certificate — thus having his/her legal name be First Middle — but everywhere else in life (within the family, when you’re telling others, on the baptismal certificate, etc.) use First Middle Middle. I think this is such a great solution for certain families! And I think the idea of one’s “legal name” being different from one’s “real name” to be an interesting thing to muse on.

What do you all think about double middle names? Do you have two middle names? Do you like them? Hate them? Feel indifferent? Do you all feel like it’s an unnecessary burden for a child, or a reasonable way to work in all the names you want to use?

Honoring St. Rita

Are you all as much a fan of St. Rita as I am? Like St. Jude, she’s a patroness of desperate and impossible causes (among other things), and I’ve seen her intercession bring about some pretty amazing, nearly miraculous things, both for myself and for others.

In this consultation from July, the mama said she had a special devotion to St. Rita, to whom she attributed the conception of the baby the consultation was for. If the baby had been a girl, she intended to give her the middle name Pearl, as a nod to St. Rita, whose given name was actually Margherita — the Italian form of Margaret, which means “pearl.” I had another conversation more recently over email with a reader who was looking for ways to honor St. Rita for both girls and boys. So I thought doing a post with some ideas of how to do so would be fun! This is what I came up with for girls

Rita
Rita would be the most obvious way of honoring St. Rita — if you gave your daughter the name Rita for either a first or a middle, people who know about saints would think, “She must be named for St. Rita!”

Margaret, Magdalene
Since St. Rita’s given name was Margherita, and Rita a nickname for it, then any of the Margaret names can honor her. And after her husband and sons died, St. Rita joined the Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery, so Magdalene could work too.

Pearl
Like the mama in the July consultation I mentioned above, you could certainly use the name Pearl, since that’s what Margherita means.

Daisy
In addition to meaning “pearl,” the Italian Margaret variant Margherita is the name for the daisy flower in Italian, and the French Margaret variant Marguerite is the name for the daisy flower in Italian.

Cascia
St. Rita’s known as St. Rita of Cascia, and I think Cascia would be a pretty cool way to name a little girl after her. I say it KA-shuh, which is similar to established first names Kasia and Cassia.

Lotti
St. Rita’s full given name was Margherita Lotti, so Lotti could make a cute nod to her, especially since Lottie is a traditional nickname for Charlotte …

Charlotte
… which makes me think that even Charlotte itself could be an unexpected honor name for St. Rita.

For boys, I had a few ideas that I thought could work:

Garrett
I have loved and shared many times the story julianamama told of the family she knew who named their son Garrett after St. Margaret, and that would work for St. Rita as well.

John, James, Jacob
One of St. Rita’s sons was named Giangiacomo, which is a combination of two names—Gian (a short form of Giovanni=John) and Giacomo (James, Jacob). St. John the Baptist was one of her three patron saints, and when her cause for canonization was being pursued, her story was compiled by an Augustinian priest named Fr. Jacob Carelicci.

Paul
Her other son was Paolo, which makes Paul a good option.

Anthony
When I’m looking to honor a woman in a boy’s name, I often look to her dad’s name for inspiration. St. Rita’s dad was Antonio, so Anthony and its variants could work.

Urban
For those looking for something unusual, Pope Urban VIII beatified Rita — one of our regular readers has an Urban!

Leo
Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita, so a great idea there as well!

Augustine, Nicholas
Not only did St. Rita join the Augustinian nuns, but St. Augustine was one of her three patron saints, so Augustine would be a great possibility. St. Nicholas of Tolentino joined St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine as her third patron saint, so Nicholas works as well.

And those are my ideas! What about all of you? Can you think of any other names that could honor St. Rita?

FUS Households

Not only do I love baby names, but I love names for groups, organizations, businesses, and products as well. I know I’ve mentioned before, but when I worked in advertising we got to spend some time brainstorming name ideas for a couple of new products and services, and I loved doing it! More recently, I’ve also been able to help name a new business, as well as this project focused on women as mothers (whether they’ve given birth or not).

Anyway, I’ve always loved reading the shoutouts from alumni to others in their households in the Franciscan University of Steubenville alumni mags — the households always have the most incredible names! I discovered recently that they’re all listed online, and I had so much fun looking through them all. The women’s households are here, and the men’s are here. Such gorgeous, significant names!

If any of you went to FUS and have any insight as to how the household names are chosen, I’d love to hear about the process!

The legality of Confirmation names, and going by a different name than your legal name

I was going through some paperwork of my father-in-law’s yesterday and found the court order legally changing his last name from the consonant-heavy surname his father brought with him from Poland to an English surname that shares enough sounds with the original Polish surname to make sense of the change. Though my FIL died when my husband was small, we’ve always known that he and his siblings legally changed their surname, so that wasn’t a surprise — but what was a surprise was that, in the documents, I read that my FIL had been using this new English surname his whole life. He’d been registered under it in school and had it on his high school diploma, and according to the document, “All records of employment, registration under the Selective Service Act, and voting records” had already, always, been under the new English surname, despite the fact that he didn’t apply for the legal change until he was 25. So interesting, right?!

One question that my husband and I have had that wasn’t answered by this document, though, is when and how he took his Confirmation name as his legal middle name (he hadn’t been given a middle name at birth). This document has his full name as including the Confirmation-as-middle, but no mention of making it so legally, so I assume it had already been done. Or not? Maybe it didn’t need to be? This was back in the 50’s, and also, even now, in New York State anyway (which is where I am and where my FIL lived his whole life), you can go by any name you want without getting a legal name change. According to the New York State Unified Court System,

In New York State, you have the right to adopt any name you wish by using that name for everything in your life. This does not apply to children or prison inmates. But, it may be better to legally change your name because most government agencies will not accept your name change without a court order.

You can ask the court to legally change the name you were given at birth, adoption or marriage.”

And indeed, in my FIL’s application for legal name change, he wrote that having his surname legally changed to the surname he’d always used “will prevent confusion and possible legal difficulties for me in the future.” So I wonder if his usage of his Confirmation name as his middle name was just one of those things — he just started using it, and that was fine, and no one bothered about it, and it became so established as his middle name (or it was such a common practice for people to do that kind of thing) that he didn’t even feel the need to explicitly mention it in his application for his surname change? (In preparing to write this post this morning, I re-read this article I’d written for CatholicMom on middle names — I found it so interesting all over again! Haha!)

Anyway, that reminded me of something I read recently about Confirmation names actually having usage in real life that I’d wanted to share with you. This is from the Christian Names entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1911) on New Advent:

The practice of adopting a new name was not limited to baptism. Many medieval examples show that any notable change of condition, especially in the spiritual order, was often accompanied by the reception of a new name. In the eighth century the two Englishmen, Winfrith and Willibald, going on different occasions to Rome received from the reigning pontiff, along with a new commission to preach, the names respectively of Boniface and Clement. So again Emma of Normandy, when she married King Ethelred in 1002, took the name Ælfgifu; while, of course, the reception of a new name upon entering a religious order is almost universal even in our day. It is not strange, then, that at confirmation, in which the interposition of a godfather emphasizes the resemblance with baptism, it should have become customary to take a new name, though usually no great use is made of it. In one case, however, that of Henry III, King of France — who being the godson of our English Edward VI had been christened Edouard Alexandre in 1551 — the same French prince at confirmation received the name of Henri, and by this he afterwards reigned. Even in England the practice of adopting a new name at confirmation was remembered after the Reformation, for Sir Edward Coke declares that a man might validly buy land by his confirmation name, and he recalls the case of a Sir Francis Gawdye, late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, whose name of baptism was Thomas and his name of confirmation Francis (Co. Litt. 3a).”

I’d never heard a story like that about Confirmation names before!

You know I’m always interested in hearing personal, real-life, interesting name stories, so feel free to share!