Our Journey Toward Tradition

Let’s start with a simple fact: we are TLM loving Catholics. But it wasn’t always so. Indeed, we stumbled toward Tradition over several years. Like much of our life, our journey toward the TLM grew out of our adoption journey.

I was raised Catholic; HappyPilgrim was not. We met in college when we were both studying history, more specifically the history of the Middle Ages. We were both fascinated by a period of faith, such profound faith that it shaped people’s entire world view. It was a period so different from our own, a period where theology was written in the glass and stone of the great cathedrals as much as in the words of great men like Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine. Our love of history is what brought us together. Our geekiness made trips to libraries at other universities seem like “hot dates.” As the years went by, it seemed the most natural thing in the world that my Protestant fiancé who was studying ecclesiastical history for a PhD at The Catholic University of America and had a specialization in medieval canon law would convert for our wedding. It was so obvious, especially when it was his canon law professor that married us.

Still, we didn’t really understand how to integrate that faith into our daily lives in any kind of clear way. What was so beautiful and omnipresent in the sources we studied was quite abstract and unreal in our own world. As time went on, we drifted along in our faith, confused by a modern Catholic church that seemed so different from what it once was.

We began researching Russian culture as part of our preparation for adoption, something required by our agency. Along the way we happened onto the Orthodox practice of icon corners. It seemed like a lovely tradition. Neither of us had much experience with religious art at home. Oh, there was the odd crucifix on a wall, a copy of “The Last Supper” that once hung in a grandparent’s dining room, but nothing like an icon corner or deliberate prayer space. Did such a thing exist in a modern context?

We happened across a website: Fish Eaters. In what can only be described as an “ah ha!” moment, we had finally found something that looked and felt like the Catholicism of old.

Still we went to a church that looked like this:

With rock music, a choir up front, and a Father Cool Dude who wanted to be relevant to his flock.

What we dreamed of was this:

A church where one could actually almost imagine the angels surrounding the high altar singing praise to Our Lord as all the faithful knelt in adoration.

Clearly, we had some more researching to do. Vox and her wonderful website helped us once again. We learned that there were Latin Mass communities within about 90 minutes of us. We learned about the traditional calendar, the domestic church, traditional Catholic culture and how it helped to transmit the faith because it was once so all encompassing. Gradually, we began our first attempts at a home altar and daily prayer that was more than perfunctory. Baby steps took time. Remember, we had nobody near us to teach us any of this. We still struggle and have to work at creating that focus in our home. It is very much a conscious effort – every day. While we know more like minded families, we are all at different stages on this path.

Crazy, quixotic, perhaps disorganized . . . That’s what it feels like some days. But, we also begin to see the children take ownership of it. And that was our hope all along: to give them the gift of a vibrant, faith filled childhood.

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