Recent news stories about the feast day of Blessed (soon to be Saint) Kateri Tekakwitha started me down a Catholic nostalgia trip. Every time I hear her name, I remember reading her biography when I was in third grade. It was in a series called Vision Books. Through the wonder that is Google, I discovered that these are still available.
Once I started Googling, I had to look for a picture book called Little Nellie of Holy God. Here’s what I mostly remember: Her babysitter dropped her when she was a baby and she broke her back. She was in constant pain and never cried or complained. While she was lying in bed, Jesus in the form of the Infant of Prague would let her play catch with the cross-topped ball. I think I sort of knew that she had something to do with the age for first communion being lowered to seven. Oh yes, and I remembered the cover. This very cover.
I was the youngest of three. We all went to the same Catholic school. My maternal grandmother lived with us (and had an Infant of Prague statue on her dresser!). Mom and Grandma went to daily Mass and said the rosary every day. Catholic culture was simply part of our home. But here’s the thing: Even now I don’t know how much any of this influenced my adult faith. I probably know many things that I just take for granted because I learned them so young.
The important things stayed with me. But I had to leave and come back to discover what those important things were. I don’t want to go back to the incidentals, except in a nostalgic little peek into old memories. But are they the carriers of the deeper truth? I’m not sure I know the answer to that question.