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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

An "Ethnic" Catholic is Shocked to Find It All MEANS Something To Her

Raise your kids Catholic.
Talk about your Church to other people.
Be kind and welcoming to children not your own at Church and in all places.
Show them, use, display "Catholic things."
Make "Catholic gestures."
Hum "Catholic melodies."
Use "Catholic words" and expressions.
Say grace in restaurants, bless people, stop in your tracks at noon and six for a Marian devotional quickie, never fail to reverence the Blessed sacrament even when you are just passing by a church on the sidewalk.

Be visibly and audibly and tangibly Catholic.

Be Catholic in front of other people, especially young people.

Do not slack off because "children can't really understand it yet anyway."
Do not weep if adult children seem for a time to reject the Faith.

What you do will have effect, you don't know when, you don't even know on whom, but it will.
Someone will be caught,
with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to...wander to the ends of the world, and still [be brought] back with a twitch upon the thread.
Exhibit A for all you who fret:
last I checked, I was a generic New Agey feminist who loosely observed the pagan festivals and was obsessed with achieving mindfulness.
When our first daughter was born in 2011, Tim and I decided that the Earth was what mattered most to us.....
I was baptized Catholic as a young girl.... no one made me go to Mass as a child, I grew up thinking that being Catholic was mostly an ethnic identity: it meant being Irish, swearing a lot, feeling haunted by guilt at weird times, drinking at Easter, having a superiority complex, having a strangely light sense of humor about death. It meant family members fighting one moment and laughing heartily the next, it meant hearing stories of  ...[hers, yes, but I recognize it, don't I just...) our family.
I was content to consider myself ethnically Catholic. And then I had a hard year, a year in which my deep reverence for the Earth was not enough to see me through.
So by many twists and turns, I was led to Christianity. The beautiful Christian-based seasonal festivals celebrated at my daughters Waldorf School certainly held my imagination. From there my interest was fueled by several stunning works of historical fiction, by a desire to fully participate in whatever still existed of the culture surrounding me, a need to share my faith with people outside of my own living room, and to learn the sweet art of forgiveness, for myself and for others. There was also the hope that the faith tradition of my ancestors might have something to offer me after all.
Thus, on a random and unremarkable Sunday, I found myself at Mass. I was greatly disturbed by how much I enjoyed it: the candles, incense, the priests in their vestments shaking holy water over the crowds, the kneeling, the rosaries, the veneration of Mary the Holy Queen, the intercession of the Saints.
I remember feeling a bit terrified: how could I possibly be enjoying myself? Certainly the Catholic Church is corrupt, authoritarian, condemning to women and their experiences. There is The Scandal, or as my Jewish friend laughed, “Which scandal?” If I allowed myself to enjoy Mass, the sheer volume of spiritual and ethical hurdles I would have to jump seemed nothing short of insurmountable.
And yet jump she did.
She goes on to tell how she wore, shudder of discreet horror, a veil.
In her hands, or rather, on her head, it becomes almost hipster, and a sign of paradox - she defiantly submits.
Go read it, Chelsea Clarkson's a terrific writer.

And remember what I said.

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