Updated: Jan 17
When I was a girl some of my fondest memories involved being together as a family or with neighbors to celebrate Christmas, Easter, or the summer heat with a big bucket of crawfish & a game on in the background. There was something about the tradition, the routine, and the way my dad poured out his heart into hosting that brought me a sense of belonging and joy. I now see that it's no wonder I enjoy event planning and hosting, I love to see other people feel happy and taken care of. Sometimes I can vividly recall, even in my senses, the days my dad would get up on the house to hang our Christmas lights or the way my mom would so very intentionally and beautifully decorate our home for the holidays. We had a gorgeous cherry wood china cabinet that so regally displayed my grandmother's ruby red china set. In the bottom drawers of that cabinet we stored our nice holiday table settings and candles that we used for special occasions, and I can truly still smell the aroma from those candles when I think about opening its drawers. I also really enjoyed the family routine of landscaping, there was never a shirt that went without my dad cutting off the sleeves, the smell of fresh cut grass, the hot Texas air on my face, and the hopefulness of getting to ride on the lawn mower. Sometimes things in life will trigger these memories and I will catch a whiff of the china cabinet drawer, feel the softness of a shirt that reminds me of the cut off sleeves, or pause in the hot still air and shed a tear.
As I got older and life began to change, as it realistically does, those traditions inevitably began to evolve until one day they seemed to almost entirely disappear. It was then that I realized we had traditions and routines in our family that were good, they brought happiness, but they weren't rooted in valuing tradition nor were they centered on Christ. I was not raised in a Catholic household, so it only naturally follows that our traditions were based on other things, like family routine, major holidays, & things we enjoyed together. I reached an awareness out of my personal love for Christ and the Church that maybe our traditions were being lost because they weren't built on the right foundation, the Sacraments. I tried to institute weekly family dinner, monthly game nights, prayer before meals, but it didn't stick. I realized that I was barely out of my teen years and I was attempting to establish something within a family that was already set in its ways. It's very hard to carry out traditions alone but as the years went by I learned, studied theology, researched varying traditions, and created little ones for myself. Along the way I met a lot of great Catholic friends and a wonderful Catholic guy, all of whom came from families that had their own traditions, most of them centered around the faith. I was invited in on these things sometimes with friends but as my boyfriend and I got more serious I became a part of many of their traditions.
I remember facing a real spiritual obstacle at this point, I was finally a part of the Catholic traditions that I had been longing for so you would think I'd be over the moon, but really my heart was irritated. I was so, so internally mad because I felt out of place, these aren't my traditions, this isn't my family, this wasn't the way that I wanted it. I pushed back from God and the great gift of the village that He was providing to me. This was actually an answered prayer, all these people and their hospitality were drops of grace on a wound. I prayed often and stubbornly, like a petulant child, for God to help me accept what would become a new life of tradition for me. This was, after all, what I wanted for my own life and my own future family, and you know what God did? He answered yet another prayer!
A handful of years went by with getting used to celebrating and learning new traditions with my boyfriend's family which we eventually took into our engagement, and marriage. I was gifted with a husband, a family of my own to celebrate the life of the Church with. We have had many conversations about which traditions we wanted to continue and new ones that spoke to our faith as a married couple. While I didn't know the term "liturgical living" this is essentially what we were doing and had been doing for years. We were celebrating feast days, solemnities, saints, and the life of Christ as a community and we thrived off of that. They have become an extension of living out the sacraments, an opportunity for fun in the monotony of daily life, and a constant reminder for spiritual growth. This has been one of the highlights of our first year of marriage which people don't often truthfully tell you comes with many challenges! I found more joy than I can express in carrying out cultural and familial traditions with my husband.
Tradition, liturgical living, is for everyone and for the good of your faith & family.
Peace & Good,