"How can we sustain our unique Catholic identity, an identity that is as cultural as it is religious?
"For many of today's Catholics, the ethnic customs that celebrate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Christ have been lost, forgotten, or abandoned for the sake of assimilation. And while folk traditions are neither a substitute for faith nor compelling evidence for reverence, they do help to stimulate and sustain awareness. We have to start somewhere.
"I believe that celebrating Catholic customs in the domestic church can serve to reenliven Catholic identity in ways that Mass attendance cannot..."
So states Meredith Gould in the preface to her updated book, The Catholic Home. I couldn't agree with her more. While the various traditions associated with feast days is not a substitute for reverence or faith, they serve to create a deep and lasting bond that cannot be broken. They create a deep impression upon the human soul that resonates, "this is who you are... this is who you are."
I should know. It happened to me.
Although I left the Catholic faith for another denomination for 10 years, I felt this indescribable pull in my heart for my "home," even when it made no sense to me. Certain seasons and feast days would cause this hunger for the Mass to come to the surface, and no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, I simply could not escape the reality that "Catholic" defined who I was -- and who I am -- both spiritually and culturally.
I cannot thank God enough for that gift.
With that in mind, I highly recommend the book The Catholic Home.
In this book Meredith Gould (a convert from Judaism, who understands full well the importance of tradition in one's spiritual life) brings forth wonderful ways to celebrate the various feast days. She presents short, "do-able," and fun ways to mark the days and live our lives according to the liturgical year, from Advent wreaths, Jesse Trees and O Antiphons to making a King Cake for the Feast of Christ the King. She doesn't overwhelm busy moms of small children with grandiose ideas, but instead marks the small ways that we can incorporate the liturgical year into our domestic church.
If that weren't enough, she has a second section of the book dedicated to daily devotions, honoring the Sacraments, and appendices on marking time, the Rosary, Mary, essential prayers, and resources. I was impressed with how much information she covered in this section, from Lectio Divina, artwork in the home, family altars, and the Creed to answering door-to-door missionaries and preparing for the sacraments.
Meredith Gould did a fine job in communicating her enthusiasm for the Faith and in sharing wonderful ideas to incorporate into our family lives.
If you are looking for a "do-able" way to start working on family traditions, you might want to give this book a try.