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Recovering a Catholic Culture

by Paul McLachlan

My experience of being Catholic, as with many other Catholics in the English- speaking world, is influenced by my Irish Catholic roots.

For people who come from those countries where Catholicism has traditionally been very strong (such as Ireland, Poland, Italy, South America) where almost everyone else is Catholic, the experience of one's faith becomes one's culture.

It used to be that you could walk into a Catholic home or talk to a Catholic and know immediately that they were Catholic. The picture of the Sacred Heart on the wall, the crucifix or scapular around the neck ... what some might these days call "the trappings" of the Faith.

The effect of this was that Catholicism has also become a cultural identity. How many people have not darkened the door of a church since their childhood, but still identify themselves as belonging to the Church? (...which, of course, they do! We just wish they'd come home to see hello to the rest of the family more often!)

This Catholic culture is so absolutely vital, in my opinion! From my own life, I know that the fondness I had for memories of my Catholic childhood and my Catholic identity were the trigger to Faith in adulthood. The culture must never replace or gazump the essentials of a strong Faith and Spiritual Life, but they can do so much to foster faith and devotion and to enforce that sense of identity and belonging, even amoung those who haven't called home for a while!

In the last thirty years, much of the cultural aspects of the faith have disappeared. My wife and I believe very strongly that they should be encouraged and restored wherever possible.

So, we're collecting a list of some of the things we (and others) do at home to build up our Catholic culture.

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