Kitchen Catechism: Words of Wisdom
Pass on the Faith.
With all the dreams and ambitions that filled my heart when I first became a mother none was more important than to pass on the faith. I wanted the very best for my child and I knew, even though I was very young, passing on my Catholic faith was the greatest gift that I could bestow upon my child.
With it’s promise of eternal life spent with God, ensuring my child was taught the faith was my first priority. The premise for this belief was my own life’s experiences up to that point and still today, all these many years later, having four more children, living through joys and sorrows, defeats and victories, as well as fighting the many battles life threw my way; I am more convinced than ever that if there is only one thing a mother can leave her child it is a strong belief in Jesus and His truths protected and contained in the Catholic Church.
The faith was passed on to me as a child by the sisters teaching in the Catholic schools. From Kindergarten through twelfth grade I spent only five years in Catholic school but that was enough time for the nuns to instill in me a deep love and devotion to Jesus and His Church. I was not the smartest girl in class, I was not the richest, I was probably one of the poorest and I was never the sister’s pet. Most of the nuns who taught me, I am sure, would not even remember having me in their class. Now most of them are in heaven and St. Peter probably greeted them with: “Enter - for the life you spent teaching children has earned you one of the highest places in Paradise.”
And I was one of those children they sacrificed their lives to teach. The mean, nasty, acerbic nuns often portrayed in the media are totally foreign to me. Every sister I knew, to various degrees, was dignified, cultured, loving, sensitive, intelligent and every one was completely dedicated to her vocation. Having them as role models and striving to accomplish the ideals and goals they set before me is one of the blessings of my life.
So with all of this in my background, I was very perplexed by a conversation I had with one of my sons during a family get-together over the holidays. He said he was shopping in a bookstore for gifts and saw on the ‘drastically discounted’ table a book titled “Hitler’s Pope”. The title intrigued him so for a few dollars he purchased it. I told him I had heard of the book and it was not accurate and in fact even contained fabrications. He agreed and cited the fact that he had read elsewhere accounts of events in the life of Pope Pius XII he knew to be accurate that the author of this book distorted.
The problem came when he went on to say that he did learn some interesting things about our religion he had never heard. To my inquiry: “Like What?” he replied, “The dual realms of darkness and light where the Godhead resides at the top and on the different levels, first the Virgin Mary, then the angels, etc and they're opposed by the powers of Satan”. Continuing, he talked of the forces of dark and light in the world, as related in the book, with the emphasis seeming to be placed on the dark or evil. I can’t remember exactly at what point, but he did say during the conversation, “How come I never learned this in Catholic school?” I told him I had never heard of realms of heaven with the Godhead at the top and very much doubted this was authentic Catholic teaching. This son is intelligent with a university degree and yet he didn’t have the foundation in his Catholic faith to discern whether or not there was a teaching about different levels or realms of heaven with the Godhead at the very top.
I asked him to bring me the book and the next time he came over he did. The paragraph about the realms and Godhead was pointed out and I read it. A quote from it is, “the Fatima cult in Pacelli’s thinking is its flavor of gnosticism", and while skimming through other parts of the book I found many similar type phrases. Wording like this presents a real problem for me and I have often found that authors who appear to be writing only to the intelligentsia couch their ideas in ‘big words’ that have ambivalent meanings and I never know whether what they are saying is true or not. This is so ironic when they are writing about matters of faith since Jesus, Himself, spoke and taught in a simple manner easily understandable to the most unsophisticated listener.
How sad that my children and maybe even my grandchildren, as well as those of other dedicated Catholics, have often not gotten a solid foundation in the doctrines, dogmas and teachings of the Catholic Church. I think it may be the reason young people today are so easily mislead by new age thinking and cults that tell them a convoluted, distorted view of the Catholic Church.
Thinking about all of this, Lois Donahue’s “Christmas Surprises” article came to mind . She relates the story of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. The lyrics always seemed so nonsensical to me and now I realize they were coded words to teach children the faith in a time of persecution. Those parents must have felt like I do, that it’s an ultimate responsibility to teach children their Catholic beliefs and they were risking their very lives to do it. For me, living in the wonderful freedom of America, I thought all I had to do was send my children to Catholic schools or CCD (Con fraternity of Christian Doctrine) and others would teach them what they needed to know. The times were so different when my children needed to learn their religion from the era I was in Catholic school and the result was it didn’t happen for them. They didn’t get the knowledge they needed to sustain and advance their beliefs.
Further lamenting will really not accomplish anything and taking a cue from the Bible where every chapter ends on an upbeat note, I want to look to the positive and examine what can be done today to rectify the past and ensure the future. This may seem rather ridiculous coming from me who must spend the majority of my time tending to my husband’s health needs but I see a lot of hope. I can make this an important subject in my prayer requests and though I personally can do little, with God all things are possible. Just look, God has given me the vehicle of CatholicWomen.com Web Site to make known my concerns, and if you have read this far, maybe you agree with me and you can make giant strides in passing on the faith or, like me, just pray and we know there is great power in prayer.