Wednesday, November 4, 2015


1. an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite. 
2. observance of set forms in public worship.
3. any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.

It's become a weekend ritual of sorts. 

On Saturday, we buy both the Winnipeg Free Press and our local paper, without any hope of reading them that day. But on Sunday... ah, glorious Sunday!  

Once our Mass obligations are taken care of, the children have been fed, and everyone is more or less occupied doing what kids do on a lazy Sunday morning, that's when we pull them out. Armed with a cup of coffee, my husband and I spread out on the kitchen table for an hour or so catching up on the news.

The time is not uninterrupted. There are snotty noses to wipe, diapers that need changing (some more urgent than others), and boo-boos that need kissing during that hour. But in the hectic pace of a household with four busy children, those things are minor. 

We sit in a comfortable, companionable silence that can only be perfected in years of marriage, each engrossed in our respectful sections. My husband will scour the local paper, reading all the interesting tidbits in a small city where odds are you're going to know someone in the paper today (hopefully for good reasons). He also likes the opinion pieces, and has a few that he reads religiously. I tend to scan the obituaries, hoping there's no one I know in it. I realize that it might be somewhat macabre to be doing this, but it's been a habit of mine for as long as I can remember. Rachael will often come request the colour comic section, to which we will happily oblige. She will sometimes join us at the table, and other times she will spread out on the living room floor, reading Baby Blues to her brother.
We will, on occasion, break our silence by reading an interesting tidbit out loud for the other. I'll start in on the puzzles, only to end up ranting and needing my husband to talk me down from either scrunching up the entire page in frustration or purposely jabbing holes through the newsprint with my pencil and/or eraser. LONGFELLOW is my nemesis. And I apparently have a bit a temper when it comes to doing cryptoquotes and crosswords. 

It is the comfort of ritual. How it marks time, people, places, and presence. Rituals become a sort of placeholder in our busy while mundane lives. 

It was Father Patrick Peyton that said, "The family that prays together, stays together." We are terrible at this. By "we", I mean my household. I think it's symptomatic, in part, of my personal frustration at the Church. We did so for many, many years with the kids, especially in the evening. It was ingrained as part of the bedtime ritual. But we struggle with it now.  *I* struggle with it now. 

Why does my family's weekend ritual come so easily, yet our prayer-time ritual is so fraught with inner turmoil

Is it I don't believe? For awhile, I started to suspect that was it. But now I doubt that's it, because I recently took up praying a daily rosary. The veracity of my belief growing out of that simple devotion has increased in a very short time. If there was a glimmer of doubt, I think it has been effectively erased for the time being. 

Is it because I don't think I should transfer my beliefs onto my children, such is the popular notion these days that children should "decide for themselves" what they believe? I can say with certainty that it's not that. I firmly believe that as a parent, I have a duty to transfer my beliefs and values to my children. Indeed, the Church teaches that we are the first and primary teachers of our children

Is it because of my own inner turmoil about the state of the Church, her direction, and her current rituals?

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I think we're on to something. 

About a year ago, I procured the book "The Latin Mass Explained" by Msgr. George Moorman. The book was originally published in 1920 under the title, "The Mass: The Eucharistic Service of the Catholic Church". The blurb at the back of the book promises that 
this easy-to-read book reveals the What, Why and How of the Traditional Latin Mass [...] Many will understand for the very first time the awesome dignity of the Catholic religion and the rich spiritual significance of every element of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.
I personally feel this was a bit of an understatement. 

I managed to get to page 23, then I had to put it down. Why? Because I was angry. What he describes is not the same thing that I see every Sunday down at my local parish. 

We often hear, in Catholic circles, of the idea of "hermeneutic of continuity". What does that mean exactly? Well, I'm still sort of vague on that, but it's generally accepted as being the idea that the pre-Conciliar Church and the post-Conciliar Church just kinda... flows. That the Church was the same before Vatican II as it was afterwards, in a fundamental sense. The opposite of hermeneutic of continuity is the "hermeneutic of rupture". 

I'm not sure how anyone can know anything about the Old rite vs. the New rite and say the words "hermeneutic of continuity" with a straight face.  

or that?
Not only has the rituals of the Church changed in a fundamental way, but the meaning behind those rituals have been stripped out. In only 23 pages, it was very clear to me that the language, the actions, the postures, nearly everything about the New Mass either downplays or ignores what was central in the Old.  

So my inner conflict. I have no illusions that the Church was perfect prior to the change - it's not like we should go back to some 1950's time warp where everything was warm and rosy and fuzzy and good. But the discordance is staggering. 

What do I teach my children? Do I teach them the traditional faith, the faith that has sustained us for nearly 2000 years, with the traditional beliefs and practices, only to have them confused when we go to Church?  How do I navigate the difference in attitude and ritual? 

In the end, I don't have an answer, so I end up doing nothing. I shut down. I am doing my children a disservice, I know that, but I don't want them to experience the same gut-wretching conflict that I do. Or maybe they should. This is the reality of the faith. Is it any good to shelter them from it?

Post Script
This post has been difficult to write. Confronting my own doubts and questions and putting them out there has required a great deal of self-reflection. Why do I feel like this? Is this a heart issue or a head issue? Am I being too picky? Am I making things unnecessarily difficult? Or should I be a good Catholic and just carry on?

In the end, I have no answers. My only solution right now is to fumble through the best I can. 

Please pray for us. 


  1. I pray that you have a personal and intimate encounter with our Lord that will propel you into seeking a deeper relationship with Him, and into seeing the undeniable value of encouraging your family's intimacy with God. Bless

  2. I too have struggled with the question of "tradition" or "ritual" and why we do what we do. I like colouring inside the lines in almost all areas of my life with my spiritual life being no different. In the Evangelical world the church is fast changing so as to be more relevant. While some of those changes may be for the better I cannot embrace them all. Much of our tradition is based in and on Scripture and as such is worth holding on too and passing down to my children. At the end of the day I want no less for them--a deepening of their personal relationship with Christ often strengthened and matured thru questioning but always grounded in Scripture. I know that while I greatly fall short in example and deed, I am responsible to teach and guide them as they grow. If I am honest, the thought of them navigating these questions and ideas on their own as they fast approach adulthood is frightening to say the least.
    I often hold onto Proverbs 22:6 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Their faith must become their own and am trusting that regardless of the direction church may go, they will be reminded if these things and that the Bible and He who inspired it is never changing.
    Forgive my long windedness... I really only wanted to say how much I felt and appreciated your struggle. Thank you for sharing. And yes I will be praying for you and your family!