Our Customs Can Lead Us To God
Teaching religion was forbidden in Poland… yet religion thrived. Why? Because it was a daily experience. It was a daily part of their lives, woven into every action and thought. The traditions and customs of Poland were woven into the daily fiber of life giving that life meaning and purpose. Those traditions and customs gave a foundation of faith and meaning to daily life.
There are so many beautiful Polish customs that gave a foundation of faith and meaning to daily life. There are so many beautiful Polish customs that lead us to God and remind us that we always walk with God. For example:
– When we cut a new loaf of bread, it is the custom, before making the first cut, to a take a knife and sign the loaf with a cross.
– When a piece of bread is dropped on the floor, it is reverently picked up and kissed because bread is a gift from God, “to dar Boze.”
– Holy water is always kept in the house and at a font at the door and at the household shrine where the family gathers for prayer. The house is sprinkled with holy water in a time of sickness and storm and the bed is sprinkled before retiring.
– Family prayer is essential. Gathering together a family for evening prayer and offering grace before and after meals is a way of including God in our daily activities.
– Every home should have a “Holy Corner”, that is, a family shrine that becomes the focus of daily devotions and a constant visual reminder of God’s presence.
– The Easter custom called Swieconka/Wigilia.
– Consecrating our homes with blessed chalk by writing the monograms of the Three kings….KMB….over the main entrance to our home.
– Name’s Day – celebrating the saints’ day as our own special feast day.
– Decorating our homes and churches with greens for Pentecost Sunday.
– Eucharistic Processions with the traditional four altars for Corpus Christi.
– Visiting the graves of our loved ones and lighting candles for All Souls Day.
– Etc…. etc….etc…
These traditions, and many others are small in themselves…but like a few drops of water on a seed they can help our faith to grow….little by little!!! And little by little deep roots are formed to drink from the rich heritage and Faith of the Polish people.
There are so many beautiful Polish customs in daily life to remind us and our families of our loving God and of the protective presence of God in our lives if we use them to sanctify our time and environment.
So to with us… We live in an environment that has become increasingly hostile to our Faith and increasingly intolerant of our Polish culture. True, the Holy Spirit sends His guidance via the Church and our priests, but if we do not make use of the gifts of our heritage and if God is not part of our every day life….as it was for our Grandparents then the seed of faith can’t grow and the stability of our families and nation are undermined!
What can we do? We can begin to revive some of these old tradition…or even make new ones to simply remind ourselves daily of the existence of God in our lives. We need reminders that will be constant reminders of the love of God. We need to constantly plant seeds that will grow strong roots.
By Rev. Charles Jan DiMascola
Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Turners Falls, MA