A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Lost Arts

Posted on: May 20, 2013

I know that sending less paper mail is good for the environment, but I admit that I enjoy receiving cards in the mail with handwritten messages, and I remember eagerly waiting for letters from my Australian pen pal to arrive.

I also enjoy making greeting cards and hope people enjoy receiving them because of the love and time I put into them. From mid-May to mid-June, there are lots of occasions to celebrate in my family: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, several anniversaries and half a dozen birthdays. And so I find myself sending out a lot of cards.

As I write messages of good wishes, I see that my handwriting is not as neat as it once was. I notice the same thing when I write cheques or sign forms. And my son and his classmates seem to print more than they use cursive writing. Handwriting is becoming a lost art.

But something I hope will not become a lost art is the handing down of our faith to the next generation.

I’m happy to say my parish often has baptisms, and we’ve had new people join through RCIA over the past couple of years (including me). There are plenty of children in church and many celebrated First Eucharist this year. And our Catholic Women’s League membership is growing. I know, though, that other parishes aren’t so fortunate and see their numbers dwindling.

With my parents’ generation and my own, church attendance has fallen. Is it the faster pace of life or a belief that we don’t need to have faith? Have people moved away from the Church because of scandals or the lure of spiritual movements? I could only guess.

For my great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ generations, faith and involvement in parish activities were part of life. Even though Nan was a shut-in, she still watched church services on her black-and-white TV. She would send me Christian greeting cards and write things like “God bless you” in her shaky handwriting. And Nanny was actively involved in her parish over the years, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir and helping with activities run by the ladies’ auxiliary.

a woman of faith

My great-grandmother, a woman of faith

While we do need to have our own faith since no one can have faith for us, it certainly helps to have good examples of how to live in the faith—family and friends who model how a Christian should live and who share their faith story with us. I think of the apostle Paul’s comment to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you” (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition).

Trying to live out our faith doesn’t guarantee our families will share that faith. Many families these days include non-practising Christians, agnostics, and even some who claim to be atheists. In the Bible, the books of 1 and 2 Kings give us examples of children who didn’t follow in their fathers’ faithful footsteps. But these same books also give examples of children who came to faith in spite of the things their parents had done, and the book of Acts shows us that living in faith can help us lead others to Christ.

I pray that, by the way we live and the way we explain the reasons for our faith, we would draw our family members and others (back) to the Church.


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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