(With gratuitous pictures of my kid for your viewing pleasure)
I have been fascinated by the blog shalomsweethome dot com, for many reasons, but one of which is how Jessa and her husband are living their Christian faith in Israel where the most prevalent faiths are not Christianity and the traditions of these faiths (primarily Judaism and Islam) affect Jessa and her husband and the people around them every day. It doesn't matter if you're not Jewish, if you live in Israel, you cannot avoid the effects of the Jewish faith. Jessa and her husband have to walk to church on Saturday, because (a) Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, and their city comes to a halt and (b) because Saturday is the Sabbath, then Sunday is a work day, so Jessa's husband has to work and cannot attend Mass on Sunday with Jessa.
There are codes of dress, such as orthodoxy women having to wear skirts that have affected Jessa when she has accidentally walked through an orthodox neighborhood and received looks of disapproval from the people in the neighborhood, simply for wearing pants.
Another blogger, who I've been following, has mentioned that her father currently resides in a country (sorry, I forgot which one) where the national religion is Islam. Her father, although atheist himself, has something like a really loud blow horn outside of his apartment window that is used to call the muslims to prayer five times a day... the first call to prayer being before sunrise. It doesn't matter if this man could care less about the faith, he is affected every day by the faith being practiced around him.
And then it got me thinking, how completely unaffected we are in America.
(Excuse the generalizations to come, if you disagree, let me know, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments or via e-mail).
I would venture to say, that the most we Americans are affected by faith in this country is that we cannot go to Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-a on Sunday because they are closed (and, in full transparency here, I gripe about that on occasion). Or, depending on where you live, you get stuck in "Sunday traffic" because you ventured out of your house when the mega-church down the road is letting services out.
Something about this seems very wrong to me. Shouldn't our faith affect every area of our lives?
I once read about some monks who set their watches to beep every hour so that they were constantly reminded to keep their thoughts on our Lord and to pray without ceasing. When I want to, I can seem to find time to check Facebook, or Pinterest, or blogs, or e-mail, or texts, or voice messages every hour and yet I struggle to lift my heart in prayer any more than grace before mealtimes, and sometimes I forget that.
I love the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. I've tried harder this year to implement traditional practices. For example, Matthan and I took flowers to a friend on the Feast of the Assumption. The actual tradition is donating flower arrangements to your church or nursing homes, I think, but hey, I have to start somewhere. The more common practices we're known for is no meat on Fridays during Lent and mass every Sunday.
If I practice even the minimal recommendations or obligations for the American Catholic, my faith affects my life... and by extension, the lives of those around me.
What a witness this can be.
Think about it. If we went back to the days where everything was closed on Sundays, how would that affect us? Think about that for a moment. If everything was closed on Sunday...
-we would have to grocery shop on another day of the week
-we'd have to carefully make out our food plan or just make do because there would be no last minute run to the grocery store for that forgotten item
-waiters and waitresses would get a break and other employees would be able to be with their families and actually go to church with their families, because their bosses wouldn't ever ask them to take a shift on Sunday
-people might hate Monday's less because they actually got refreshed on Sunday
-businessmen would have to do something with themselves (hopefully with their families) because no one anywhere would be in the office doing anything
-the list could go on and on...
But if this were the case, think about how it would affect those that do not practice the Christian faith. If every Sunday, life came to a screeching halt, then all the "inconveniences" of everything being closed would maybe make non-Christians think, even for a moment, even subconsciously...why.
That is the point of all the little practices that I have in my faith.
When I don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent...
...I think about God's incredible sacrifice of coming to earth so he could die for my sins on that Holy Friday so long ago
When I get myself and my family to mass every Sunday...
---I think about that my God is different because He resurrected from death on Holy Sunday and that I can look forward to the resurrection of the body and life everlasting
When I continue to celebrate Christmas for the 12 days following Christmas (when "Christmas and good cheer" cease to exist, it seems)...
....I think about God humbling himself and coming as an innocent baby and how he wasn't welcomed and celebrated by all
When I see the crucifix on my family alter...
...I think to lift my heart up in prayer and thanksgiving, and that I'm called to take up my cross daily and follow him.
The point is, that our faith should affect us. In America, I think we need to be a little more affected.
"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35