Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quirky Catholics

I rarely post anything of a religious nature on my blog, but we Catholics certainly have our quirky beliefs---steeped in thousands of years of tradition.

When we were little, we were taught Baltimore Catechism by memorization of a series of questions and answers. We discussed how we all still recite the same prayers we learned back then. The official definition: Baltimore Catechism was the de facto standard Catholic school text in the United States from 1885 to the late 1960s. It was the first such catechism written for Catholics in North America. The Baltimore Catechism remained in use in nearly all Catholic schools until many moved away from catechism-based education, though it is still used up to this day in some.

Father Gorzel would visit us in our classroom at St. Aloysius in north St. Louis and quiz us. One day, he asked, "Who is God?" To which we were to chant in unison, "God is a Supreme Being." The boy sitting next to me, Curtis, said, "God is a String Bean." That made me giggle---which probably lead to trouble. Nuns were really mean back then.

This, then reminded me of a story about my grandson, Mitchell, when he was in the first grade and had to memorize the "Our Father" prayer---the backbone of all prayers Catholic. He was supposed to say, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hollowed be thy name." Instead, this came out, "Our Father who art in Heaven, how do we know your name?" I'm sure the "hallowed" tripped him up. I don't think I've ever heard that word in it's original 3-syllable pronunciation---ever!

I'm bringing this up because last week while scrapbooking at the farm, one of my  bible studying friends, Nancy, found herself surrounded by Catholics. There's nothing new about that. We are mostly Catholics with an Episcopalian thrown in for good measure. Plus we couldn't have a circle of friends in the South without at least one Baptist. We Catholics are always trying to "debunk" the myths held about us---mainly that we pray to statues---divine intercession is not that hard to explain---pray to mom to get dad on your side!

Religious discussions are really not the norm, but we were watching Grantchester which lead us to speculate that the priest featured must be Episcopalian because: A. he dates---still a "no no" in the Catholic Church and B. we don't know any other clerics who wear priestly collars. 

I really don't remember how the conversation began, but we started talking about limbo and purgatory. Some times when trying to explain such things. it sounds sort of ridiculous. Me, "Limbo is the place for unbaptized babies. Since they have the stain of Original Sin on their souls, they are deprived of the presence of God, but not condemned to hell." I thought that just about covered it. I looked it up and it's nice to know that Limbo holds no place in the modern Church. It does seem pretty harsh. It remains unclear as to what really happens to those little babies.

That lead us to a discussion about purgatory. My recollection of my childhood Catholicism is that purgatory is really sort of like limbo except you have hope that you will eventually live in the presence of God. Unless you are saintly, everyone goes directly to purgatory before entering Heaven---kind of like a cross between prison and a halfway house. You cannot pray for yourself, but people on earth can pray for you to shorten your "sentence." Remember: novenas, indulgences, plenary indulgences (don't really know what a plenary is---have never heard that word used by anyone, anywhere, anytime), sacrifices, "offering it up"? All of these are methods used to help purgatorians get in to Heaven.

I came across this very interesting article. Approach it like this and we can send 1000's of souls off to Heaven:
1. Prior to clicking on the link---pray to yourself, "I am offering up reading this article for the souls of  all the faithful departed, amen." (that alone might send a thousand).
2. Read the article and the very brief prayer at the end and another 1000 people get to Heaven. 

Being the overachiever that I am, I said the prayer twice and sent over 2000 people to Heaven today.

Your turn.

I thought I'd share a few of my most prized Catholic possessions.
 The most important day in a little Catholic girl's life is her First Communion. Here's my prayer book---circa 1959.

 It has a little plastic crucifix on the inside cover.
And then, there's this. When you grow up in a large, Catholic family, nothing is really your own. Seems my little sister decided to lay claim to MY prayer book with a red crayon. I think they've outlawed those by now, haven't they?
Being the oldest (at least that's what I'm claiming)---I got mom's First Communion prizes including her rosary and scapular---circa 1939. So precious to me!!

Do you still have your First Communion prayer book? Send me pictures---I'd love to post them here!!

Have a blessed Sunday and send a few souls to Heaven!


  1. There was a first communion day last year at the big Catholic church near my old house - was very pretty to see all the little girls (and boys) dressed up in their finest having photos taken in the grounds.

  2. Having been raised Catholic, I enjoyed reading this post very much. I must get some of my old pictures out and scrap some pages as well. Having converted to Lutheranism after my marriage, I can tell you that we still teach the Catechism and our pastors do wear collars, although they are allowed to marry. All of which I think are a very good thing.

  3. Very interesting read - I'm not overly familiar with the Catholic faith . . . although I have heard all those myths! :) I have to admit that I did smile at the thought of someone else praying me into heaven & am so glad that I only have to rely on the blood Jesus already shed to get me there!


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