Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review and Introductory Post: The Catholic Home

When I first started paying attention to the liturgical year (around the time I started teaching Catechism, so September of 2012), it was because I realized that there was a wealth of Catholic feasts and traditions that I didn't know about.  As a child, we only did the major holy days: All Saint's Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas.  Of course we observed Lent and Advent, but things like Michaelmas and Pentecost and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception were celebrated only by pre-Vatican II Catholics - the ones who still wore chapel veils and attended mass in Latin. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, trust me. I have developed a deep love of the doily-wearers and the beauty of Latin. I'm talking about me as a high school student who had no desire to be Confirmed. More on that later.)  But in preparation for my new role as a Catechist, I sought advice and information from the great thinkers of our day: Bloggers. I cruised the Internet looking for Catholic blogs, and found a treasure-trove. But the one that really got me going was Carrots for Michaelmas, and I discovered it from this post which I re-blogged here. Anyway, Carrots was a gateway blog for me. I kept reading and reading and Googling things and going into Wikipedia and black holes for hours digging up information.

From Barnes&
Eventually all of my searching led me to Amazon where I wanted a book that offered the basics on practicing Catholic traditions in the home. I knew how to do an Advent wreath, but I knew from my Internet reading that there was so much more. I finally stumbled upon this lovely little book, and ordered 3 copies - for my mother, myself, and the host mom of my Catechism class. While it is by no means completely comprehensive (and not nearly long or detailed enough), this little book offers a great beginner's guide.  It offers not only the historical context of many Catholic celebrations, but it explains a variety of ways to celebrate them. That was a big selling point to me. Not just what our traditions are, but how we can bring them into our modern lives on a daily basis.  It also has info on ways to celebrate the various sacraments as a family.

I also really like that it includes recipe ideas for what to eat and how to decorate. There's so much going on in this book, I love it. I've only had it for about 2 months and my copy is pretty well loved.

There are a few things I wish this book included, like more information on how to dress a home altar on different saints' days or how to observe some more obscure holy days (like Corpus Christi or the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), but it serves as an excellent base.  The appendices are also very helpful, including places to go seeking other information.

Other places I went:

Better Than Eden
Fish Eaters
Catholic Online (I especially like their A-Z Saints & Angels)
2013 Liturgical Calendar (*Note: This is a 43 page .pdf but totally worth the download and printout.)

So basically, there is tons of information available on Catholic home traditions and ways to celebrate feasts and holy days. Really, though, it's about realizing and acting upon the realization that our feast days are more than their commercial counterparts.

This post is acting as a spring board for a few new features on this blog.
- This Week in Liturgy, where I will keep you updated on what kinds of feasts/holy days/liturgical seasons we're celebrating
- This Week in Saints, where I will *TRY my hardest* to update weekly with saints' days and feasts of saints. This feature is primarily for my Confirmation students, who need to pick a saint, but I love researching and sharing about the heroes of our faith, so I'm generally really excited about it.
- The Little Blue Box. This feature is also primarily for my students. When they have questions (related to our faith or not) that are not immediately relevant to class discussion, rather than let them forget a probably-interesting question, I have them write it on a slip of paper and submit it to my Blue Box (I'll share a picture of it later). These can be anonymous or not, but I do my best to answer them at some point during the year. The ones I don't get to (or the ones I feel should be shared with all of you), get posted here.

That's all for now - post on Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ) on Sunday.