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Discussion Guide for The Catholic Home Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day by Meredith Gould, Ph.D.The Value of Tradition Throughout The Catholic Home, author Meredith Gould writes about the impact of growing up Jewish with lots of home-based religious celebrations. And so: Which home-based customs and traditions did your family celebrate when you were growing up? In your family growing up who, if anyone, was in charge of the “domestic church”? If this was part of your family’s culture, how did you feel about it being that way when you were growing up? How do you feel about it now? What would you say has been the impact of not growing up in a home where any religious customs and traditions were celebrated? Why do you think knowledgeable observers say suburbanization is responsible for the decline of ethnic churches? How would someone visiting your home today know you’re a Catholic Christian? What would you have to add – or remove – so your home strengthens the presence of Christ?In addition, the author is a strong advocate for following the liturgical calendar. Andso: How might your understanding of faith change by organizing your life around the liturgical calendar? How might your appreciation of Catholicism change by organizing your life around the liturgical calendar? 1
Are special religious events (e.g., the day you/your children were baptized) included on the calendar you keep for birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations? How does the liturgical calendar provide a way to understand the life of Jesus the Christ? What is the spiritual value of observing Holy Days of Obligation?Advent and Christmas Why does the liturgical (church) calendar begin with Advent? How would celebrating Advent as a separate season rather than a “pre- Christmas” shopping spree change Christmas for you and your family? How might you persuade your family to focus on Advent during Advent? Which home-based Advent customs and traditions do you already celebrate? Which home-based Advent customs and traditions appeal to you the most and why? While you were growing up, was Christmas more of a holiday or a holy day? Which home-based Christmas customs and traditions do you already celebrate? Which home-based Christmas customs and traditions appeal to you the most and why? Where and how does Santa Claus feature in your Christmas celebrations? When do you put up your Christmas tree and when do you take it down?Ordinary Time How has your understanding of Ordinary Time changed as a result of reading The Catholic Home? What could you do to make Ordinary Time(Winter) become extraordinary for you and your loved ones? What could you do to make Ordinary Time (Summer and Fall) become extraordinary for you and your loved ones?Lent and Easter How do you prepare your home and family for Lent? The author asks readers to think more carefully and critically about “giving up” things for Lent, what do you think? 2
Ash Wednesday, which is not a Holy Day of Obligation, is a time when many people who do not otherwise go to church, receive ashes at church. Why? Which home-based Lenten customs and traditions do you already celebrate? Which home-based Lenten customs and traditions appeal to you the most and why? Easter breakfast or Easter dinner? Which home-based Easter customs and traditions do you already celebrate? Which home-based Easter customs and traditions appeal to you the most and why? What is the significance of all the candle lighting ceremonies for church and home? How would observing these at home make a difference for you and your loved ones? Where and how does the Easter Bunny feature in your Easter celebrations?Daily Devotions Which home-based daily devotions do you already observe? Which home-based daily devotions appeal to you the most and why? How would you make a case for observing daily devotions as a family? Crucifix or Cross? How many copies of Holy Scripture do you have in your home? Where are they kept? Which translation(s) do you like the most and why? Did you grow up praying the Rosary as a family? If so, what impact did that have on you? If not, what might you have missed? How would you make a case for praying the Rosary on a regular basis? What do praying the Rosary, gazing at icons, and practicing lectio divina have in common? Did you grow up praying grace before meals? If so, what impact did that have on you? If not, is that something you do – or would like to start doing – today? How would your home and spiritual life change if you instituted the “Great Silence” at your house? The author writes, “Blessings are sacramentals that bring liturgical life to the home front.” What does she mean by this? If you had to choose one traditional devotion that you consider the most heart-opening, soul-nourishing, and spirit-lifting, what would it be? 3
Honoring the Sacraments Thinking about how the “domestic church” might extend the grace of each sacrament in daily life, discuss home-based activities that would support: Baptism Confirmation First Eucharist and Communion in general Reconciliation and Penance Anointing of the Sick Holy Matrimony Holy Orders How do you imagine the sacraments of initiation might be different for those who receive them during adulthood? How and why did your parents choose your baptismal name? If you have a Confirmation name, what influenced your choice? How has being confirmed in the Catholic Church shaped your attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about the Church? What do you remember most about your First Holy Communion? What about the sacrament of Reconciliation do you find comforting? Off- putting? Central to Ignatian spirituality is a daily Examination of Conscience. How might this practice enhance your spirituality? If you had to create your own Penance, what would it be? If you’re married and had a church wedding, what helped you realize Holy Matrimony is a sacrament?Mary Holy Mary, Mother of God and lots of other titles! Which ones appeal to you the most? Which ones make the most sense to you? Which ones seem quirky or downright weird?Essential Prayers Of the prayers included in Appendix D, which do you already know “by heart” and which one(s) do you rely upon the most during personal times of prayer? 4
And… Thinking about your life so far, when have you been the most proud of being Roman Catholic? If you were called upon to explain why you’re Roman Catholic, what would you say? What’s the one thing you can do right now to embrace and celebrate your Roman Catholic identity and faith? Faith is a treasure of life, which is enriched by being shared. Catechism of the Catholic Church 949 If you enjoyed The Catholic Home, you’ll also enjoy:Come to the Table:A Passover Seder for Parish Use Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship 5