The temptation to despair when pondering the state of Holy Mother Church is all too great at the moment, especially when we see that those on whom we should be able to rely are sacrificing the Faith on the altar of humanism. It is easy to forget that we are not in fact helpless.
We as laity can neither undo Vatican II nor tell our priests how to celebrate the Mass, nor avoid strange looks and eye-rolls if we kneel for Communion, nor make our church buildings beautiful and traditional again (even if we volunteer our efforts). However, we can increase our efforts in preserving and even restoring Catholic traditions in our day-to-day life.
Bad times! Troublesome times! This is what people are saying. Let our lives be good and the times will be good. For we make our own times. Such as we are, such are the times.
–St Augustine of Hippo
As an example, we can start making a bigger deal of name days. Have a party for your saint day just as you would for your birthday, and send cards to friends and family members on theirs. Certain saints are also associated with certain foods (there is a tradition of eating goose on St Martin’s Day, for instance). Children are always happy to receive sweets in their shoes on St Nicholas’s Day. If you fancy celebrating All Saints’ Day in an autumnal way, why not invite people round for pumpkin curry and apple pie? These are all ways in which we can feast with the Church.
Making a point of having more silence in our homes during Lent, eating thin vegetable soup instead of fish and chips on Fridays, going to Confession more regularly, and perhaps only drinking water on some days are examples of how we can fast with the Church.
Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds.
–St. Teresa of Avila
Christian holidays that have been hijacked and renamed in order to avoid offending people need to be reclaimed, at the very least within our own social circles. A policy of sending only religious Christmas cards and listening to a good number of carols, rather than just Slade and John Lennon, can help with this.
Concerning public witness specifically, we can pray before meals in public, go on rosary walks, even carry big wooden crosses to shrines during holy week. Of course people will jeer. Some people, though, are genuinely intrigued and want to know more about these pilgrimages. Miraculous medals worn on chains around our necks sometimes get people asking questions, aside from the graces they bring when we show devotion to Our Lady.
The Church hierarchy may often spend too much time focusing on social justice and not enough on God, but that does not mean we may forget almsgiving. It is an important part of sharing our faith, as people will recognize the good fruits it bears.
Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.
–St. Gregory Nazianzen
Something I have found helpful in the last six weeks is praying with my housemates: waking each other early in the morning to pray the Angelus and Lauds, dragging each other to Confession on a Saturday morning and having breakfast together afterward, and praying Compline before bed. We learn to be less selfish and more obedient. A communal prayer routine gives us a taste of monasticism.
Obedience to a good spiritual director is a great interior mortification, and obedience in our everyday lives – performing all our duties as best we can – helps us to stay grounded, instead of thinking our own ideas are better than the tasks we need to perform.
A nightly examination of conscience is another extremely important way to remain humble and see in which areas of our lives we need the most grace.
You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud.
–St. Vincent de Paul
An elderly couple from Church kindly take my friend and me to the nearest Latin Mass once a month. This sort of charity from car-owning adults makes such a difference to the younger faithful who are otherwise deprived of the traditional liturgy.
Some of us might be confined to hideous 1960s-style church buildings, but what’s to stop us making space for beauty in our own homes? I have included some images of what I have in my bedroom to give an idea of what you can do with a few postcards, small wooden icons, and candles – on a student budget, too.
It’s not worth comparing this to a half-decent church building, but it acts as a constant reminder to pray, provides a designated place to do so, and allows you look at quality religious art rather than a flying figure of Jesus in the place of a crucifix or cartoon figures holding hands on an altar cloth. Also note that placing this in a position that makes it visible from your bed can help with that 6:00 A.M. start for the Angelus!
When facing specific struggles in life, making a Holy Hour and praying Lectio Divina often provide answers; consolation; and sometimes sudden, unexpected solutions.
Most importantly, we must keep our interior lives in good condition. Keeping close to the sacraments, confessing regularly (before we fall into mortal sin), praying the rosary, reading the Bible, meditating on psalms, and doing penance will keep us close to God. And God will strengthen us.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
–2 Corinthians 12:9
Excellent recommendations Jenny. We should all do as you recommend while keeping our distance from Church activities that weaken our faith.
I wonder how anyone still cannot see that the true Catholics are already in the catacombs.
And have been for a long time.
Like 55 years.
Very good ideas Jenny. I would add for those of us with our own home or a family, in addition to an altar area, to put a sacred Image in a prominent place in the living room. This will make a lasting impression on those who frequent the room, whether family or guests.
Also at work, have a coffee mug with a Holy Image.
In your Parish ask your priest if you can leave rosary leaflets etc in the foyer. Something i have been the last couple of years here in pagan northern Germany is to leave Rosary pamphlets at a nearby Lourdes grotto. You can reach hundreds without having to say a word.
I will add, Place a holy water font at every entrance to your home so that your family can bless themselves when coming and going. Find a Catholic priest willing to bless some water and salt for you using the traditional blessings of rituale romanum.
Leave scauplars as well. the brown scapular is a powerful devotion to our lady and weapon against satan.
Also get the entire family enrolled in the Brown Scapular. Set a good example for the children by dressing modestly (gents –
no tight slacks, shorts; ladies – skirts at least 8 inches below the knee as per St. Padre Pio). Most people don’t know that the first requirement for the Sabbatine privilege is observing chastity as per the 6th & 9th Commandments).
These are wonderful ideas. I like all the icons in your prayer corner! I recently inherited a gorgeous Spanish wood-paste Madonna plaque from my parents. It hung for years over their living room sofa, and now it hangs in a prominent spot in my living room. She is my patron saint, so my siblings kindly let me have her!
As for the spiritual director, my son and I have been trying to find one for years, with no success.
Very good article that lifted my spirits this morning! Here’s a suggestion along the same lines for married men like me: do that chore around the house (e.g. make the beds) before your wife gets a chance to, or even before she has the opportunity to plead with you to do it. If she does suggest something, do it without comment, do it well, and do it IMMEDIATELY, and be sure to offer up a short prayer telling Jesus you are doing this for him. Stifle all domestic complaints, even those where you’re sure you are in your rights. In other words, turn your home into a tiny monastery where you are the most compliant monk.
You are a prince among husbands. Your wife is truly blessed.
Thank you, Margaret, but I’m the truly blessed one. As I say to her on occasion, what would I do without her?
Beautiful! A post like this every so often, in the midst of all the bad news, will go far to encourage us.
We had the same idea in the late 60’s and have kept it up. Lots of people did. Newsflash: it helps the home, and that’s all. The clergy need to be converted.
In times of tribulation it is in the home where the Church survives.
I read this today from “Breaking in the Habit’ blog by a future Franciscan priest of the Holy Name province. I believe he’ll be ordained next year. I’m still wondering what he means by: ” It is with this perspective, this overview of the way that certain things change while other things stay the same—that some things that are old are important while others were just mistakes—that the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council may continue to feel jarring for some, but they appear inauthentic to none.”
…..Here is History of the Eucharist:
For many, the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council was a jarring experience. Even for those who favored them, the changes were so great in some places that it was difficult to reconcile what they were presently doing with what they had been doing. The new was a rupture from the past, and that was either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one’s perspective.
Even today this perspective prevails. As we’ve become entrenched in our camps, very few have a satisfying perspective for me. Either the Tridentine Mass was the true Mass and the reforms were heretical or the Tridentine Mass was oppressive and the reforms brought us back to true worship. There is no harmony in the story. There is no sense that it was the same Church that promulgated the Tridentine Mass as it was that promulgated Sacrosanctum Concilium (Second Vatican Council liturgical document that offered principles of reform). No, for most people, one is right and the other is wrong.
I struggle with this perspective.
Too often with progress we want to forget the steps and people and decisions that came before us and dismiss people of the past as outdated or backward. They didn’t have the same sensibilities that we do. They weren’t as enlightened as us. Um… duh? Isn’t that the point of progress? We would not be where we are without the journey of those who came before us, and they with the people before them, and so on. What’s often lost in the discussion is that sometimes the people in the past, although outdated (by definition…) today, were progressive and pastoral and faithful in their time too. When we look at the Council of Trent in its context we understand that it’s perspective was both necessary and pastoral.
On the other hand, too often we romanticize the past, look to those who have gone before us as having some undeniable gift that we do not have. Sometimes we look at things that are old and give them tremendous respect and reverence simply because they are old and traditional. But guess what. Even the oldest and most traditional things all started out as new. At some point in every tradition’s life it started as a break from what was traditional before it. It is only over a long period of time when the initial memory is forgotten and new memories are made that something becomes traditional and romanticized and immune to change. As important as the vision for the Church of the Council of Trent was in the 16th century, it would have been seen as ridiculous in the 5th century and wasn’t what the Church needed in the 20th century.
In the history of the Church, a history that has spanned almost two thousands years, both of these perspectives are always at play. As the living and true faith, we as Christians are constantly growing and adapting. As we change, so does the Church and our approach to the world. And as an institution founded on a memory and an ancient identity, we are always trying to hold on to the past, maintaining and conserving what inspired us from the past.
It is with that that I present this week’s Catholicism in Focus, “The History of the Eucharist.” In six minutes, using Henri De Lubac, S.J. as a guide, I try to offer a general overview of the ways in which the Catholic Church’s liturgical life as been in a constant state of changing preservation. We are always growing. We are always trying to hold on to the traditions of the past. It is with this perspective, this overview of the way that certain things change while other things stay the same—that some things that are old are important while others were just mistakes—that the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council may continue to feel jarring for some, but they appear inauthentic to none. What happened in the Church following the council was not a betrayal of tradition but the continuation of the complex, ever-growing, ever-changing life of the Church.
This “future Franciscan priest” embraces relativism here, a fact that his bombast cannot hide.
It makes me so happy to read of young people like this.
This scapular is not like others [it is not based on a religious habit] but merely two holy images on a single piece of material. Therefore, no special formula is required to bless it or enroll someone in its use. It suffices that it be blessed by a Catholic priest and worn by the one whom we desire to benefit by Our Lady’s intercession. If, on the other hand, the person is unable, or even unwilling, to wear it or carry it, it may even be slipped, unknown to them, into their clothes, possessions, home or work environments, etc. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1f45c332d9ed3a2dc47f4d708411f5bd43950786c74116eebff892596d5c86bb.jpg
The Efficacy of Sacramental’s.
If someone is unwilling to receive the green scapular, paste the green scapular inside the spine of a book and then give them the book as a present. They will never find it there mwahahahahahaha.
Or make a quilt with the green scapular, miraculous medal, St Philomena’s cord and the St Benedict’s medal all sewn into it. You could also print St Anthony’s brief on cloth and sew that in too. Or sew them into a thick cushion or a child’s toy
That’s fantastic! ????????
thank you for posting about this scapular as so many of us have obstinate people we want to help.
You are very welcome. Yes, “wise as serpents, cunning as doves” is
one way to describe action with this sacramental, one is EXPECTED to
say the RELEVANT prayers for our loved one or neighbor who may be
obstinate, (in tandem with placement of scapular).
Every Catholic home was supposed to have a home altar (technically a home shrine). While these are still common among older Catholics, it seems a lot of the younger Catholics, which the exception of the especially devout, don’t have one as often. But a Catholic home is intrinsically different than a Protestant or any other home, isn’t it? A home altar is a sign of that, with a tradition going way back in Catholic history (to the early church in fact).
I put together a home shrine last year. It brings me comfort just to look at it! It also reminds me to pray … and forbids me to put off Confession when I should go! Besides, it’s very beautiful if I do say so myself.
I’m trying to find a kneeler (prie Dieu) because I can’t kneel for long periods of time. I used to be able to pray my rosary on my knees but can’t do it unless I’m kneeling in church (and even then I have to sit at some point). The ones I see online are very expensive, though.
I had knee replacement surgery on my left leg over a year ago. I still cannot kneel on it and now my right knee is going bad. I hate not being able to kneel in church! Even the kneeler hurts. At least I can still genuflect, but I have to pull myself up with both hands to a standing position afterwards. Old age is a trial, Lord, but it beats the alternative!
Oh you’re a brave soul. I’m sure the Poor Souls appreciate the sufferings you offered up for them. (Tomorrow is All Souls Day on the Latin calendar,
but you knew that already. ????)
In the meantime a sturdy cushion will do.
Thank you! ????
Yes, we did that years ago, too! Consecration of the home and family to the Sacred Heart, consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort, Consecration of the whole human Race on Christ the King, blessing of the house with blessed chalk and Three Kings Water on Epiphany, visiting cemeteries and praying for the deceased, St. John’s bonfires, St, Martin’s day processions, silent Ignatian retreats by orthodox priests for the older children, brown scapulars, blessing of herbs and flowers on the Assumption, and on and on……..
Yes, good Catholics integrate their faith in everyday life.
Where I come from (Poland) name days are extremely popular (maybe little less in the millennial generation but still). Even though they don’t usually carry much religious context (eg. some people aren’t named after saints) it’s still a great occasion to meet with (mostly) family and some friends. Some people actually prefer them much to birthdays because they’d feel a little uncomfortable if their age was so exposed as it happens with birthday. I think name days are fantastic idea, even when little religious context is present because they are sort of cultural revolution à rebours.
Reclaiming holidays is also something that should be treated seriously – semantics matter. I’m not a native English speaker but it annoys me very much when somebody (person, company or other institution) wishes “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. I see no point in this – apart from removing Christianity from Christian feast. There’s virtually no difference in length and the secular version is far less informative than the proper one. If someone feels offended by “Merry Christmas” it’s his problem. Unless we’re in Saudi Arabia or some other place like it…
“Happy Holidays” was invented by commercial interests simply to include the minority religions such as Judaism that also have major feasts around the same time as Christmas. I wish a joyful Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and Merry Christmas to the Christians. Don’t know what to do with the atheists, ha ha.
For spiritual direction during my Cursillo weekend, I met with our chaplain. He asked me, “If someone walked into your apartment right now, would they be able to tell that you’re Catholic?” I chuckled a bit.
I’ve loved the lifelong practice of keeping sacred images — statues, pictures, paintings, and icons — around my home that I learned from my paternal grandparents. Their home was notable for small but prominently-placed images of the Blessed Mother, Jesus, and the Holy Family, and crucifixes in the living room and each bedroom.
My dresser in childhood was home to my rosary and statues — a precious bisque Lefton China “Infant of Prague” (that I still have) and the plaster “Our Lady of Grace” — that those same grandparents had given me when I was a little girl.
The right idea! Love God and know that all these traditions help us keep focused on Him. When I had my third conversion 30 years ago,that is exactly what we did-name-days and their celebrations, finding the best liturgy we could, confession, apostolate in front of the abortion mill. I also wrote letters to the bishop about abuses and even talked face to face with him. Unfortunately, he was not willing to stand up for Christ and was already compromised before being ordained a bishop. He was outed on TV for having abused seminarians! So we chickens were bringing our concerns to the fox and asking him to protect and watch over the other chickens. So we have learned to judge the fruit of a person rather than just with their words. I always test and listen and look before I trust any priest or bishop. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. We continue to go to the best liturgy we can find. It is all worth any sacrifice to go to a properly celebrated Holy Mass. During the week, we can go only to a new Mass. There we give witness to the Real Presence of Jesus. The children all practice and have brought lost sheep into their marriages. Beauty sustains us through it all!
Even better, choose a family feast day. In Croatian and Serbian tradition families gave a feast day. Often it is based on the day that a family converted to Christianity. My paternal family celebrates St Martin of Tours, while the remaining families celebrate All Saints, St Nicholas and St George. Sadly, these customs are being forgotten
As for the home altar, it shouldn’t be cluttered or asymmetrical. Candles, incense burner, holy water, and at most three images/statues. Anything more I’ve found looks weird and obsessive, especially if it is lopsided and asymmetric.