A two-fer for tonight; some thoughts on Catholic tradition

In other news, Violet started her faith formation class tonight, now that the play is done. It seems to be rather old school Catholic, at least compared to the way we normally do things at our parish. (This class is not affiliated with our parish, though they use our parish school to meet.) The normal instructors (homeschoolers, coincidentally!) were not there, so an elderly nun, in partial nun-dress, led the class, including leading the class through a rosary.

I was eager to hear what she thought about the class, so I took her out for a treat. (We also stopped at the yarn shop to pick up “hay” for the “manger” [in real life, a Clementine orange box].) I wondered what she would think of the nun, and the rosary, and the whole traditional Catholic scene. She liked it — she wasn’t jumping up and down, but she liked the nun, she enjoyed the class, and she wanted to do as the nun suggested and start doing the rosary daily so she could cover all the various mysteries on their assigned days.

As we sat at the table sharing a piece of cake she read the rosary booklet, with all the prayers she didn’t know, and descriptions of the mysteries, with very “holy card” illustrations. She spoke very practically about how the rosary was done, and how long it took, and we talked about the addition of the luminous mysteries, which makes perfect sense, and way to go John Paul II. Excellent idea. We talked about the repetition of the Hail Marys as a chant that helps you focus your mind for reflecting and meditating.

I was struck, as I often am, that the Catholic tradition is really a treasure trove of helps for ordinary people to approach God. Yes, yes, you don’t really “need” to pray the rosary. You don’t really “need” saints. You don’t really “need” special seasons of penitence or celebration. A person can be Christian and even a good Catholic without these things. But not this person. So much of being a person, to me, is the rhythm of seasons and daily life. It’s relationships with other people. It’s acknowledging that I’m a part of an interdependent web of other people. I don’t do this easily. I need help, concrete and practical help, and help that sometimes takes a shortcut past my ruminating mind and direct to the rest of me.

So bring out the rosary beads, the advent calendar, the incense, and the orange-crate manger with yarn-hay! We may get this Catholic thing right yet.

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3 Comments

Filed under I'm Catholic Why?, Oh Mother, Our Domestic Church, Schoolday Doings

3 responses to “A two-fer for tonight; some thoughts on Catholic tradition

  1. I’m so pleased Violet is enjoying her faith 🙂 I am by necessity taking the slooooow road here. I must agree with you, the Catholic Church is indeed an absolute treasure trove.

    As for the rosary, I have prayed several different things on the beads, but nothing beats a Hail Mary.

  2. Thank you.

    Violet sounds so grown up.

  3. You know, how you describe Catholicism is exactly how I think of it. My Methodist mother thinks of all the “Catholic stuff” as stupidly extraneous, but I think of it as the illumination on the manuscript. Yeah, yeah, the passage from Numbers would still be readable without the gilt and the monkish doodling, but would you want to read it so much? Actually, that is what drew me straight into all the most traditional Catholic business (via high-Catholic Anglicanism) — as a Methodist child, I longed inchoately for the “more” (in the way of church and God) that I felt ought to be out there somewhere. I find that my kids respond to traditional forms of piety — both my older children pray the Rosary daily on their own, for example. I didn’t ever make them, and we say it only sporadically as a family (right now we’re praying some hours of the Daily Office together, which we like to do), but they love it. Ditto with saints’ days, though I don’t go all-out to make elaborate feasts most of the time (usually I remember that it’s a given saint’s day around 4 pm of that day, so our dinners rarely have premeditated saintly themes, but I try to make dinner special somehow, and to emphasize that we’re thinking about Saint X that day).

    Anyway, yeah, I need all that. Realizing that I believed in the Real Presence, and that I needed for my children to grow up with that belief as a norm, was a great catalyst to our becoming Catholic; the traditional forms of piety keep us that way, because once you’re there, you’ve got to DO something to keep the whole show in the road . . .

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