Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rites and Rituals

I don't mind some chaos in my life (including that in the Fly Lady sense: Can't Have Anyone Over). I'm a procrastinator by nature, disinclined in the Domestic Arts, have learned to appreciate clutter.

But I also crave routine. If I skip a step in my morning routine--or am interrupted by a phone call--I lose my stride. I falter. I become annoyed with the world in general and it can take awhile before my equilibrium returns.

Long ago I discovered that I actually enjoyed the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church. I can't imagine belonging to a religion without them. I know the seasons by the color of the priest's vestments. I know it's Sunday because I've gone to Mass. I enjoy the flow of the Mass, being carried along with the community in celebrating God's love for us. The Church has a rite for every major occasion of my life: birth, adulthood, marriage, death. I am fascinated by the way the priest washes his hands during the Offertory, praying, "Lord, wash away my inequities, cleanse me of my sins." The way the presider blesses the priest or deacon before they read the Gospel. The precise summary of the Catholic faith in the Nicene Creed.

I need these in my life.

Familial and cultural rituals are important to me, too. It's not Christmas without an Advent Calendar. It's not Easter without baskets. The Fall Holiday Season literally kicks off with the Cal-Stanford Big Game. Eagle Courts of Honor must be held at Camp Herms. First-Day-of-School means a picture at the front door. Last weekend was the Ligue Henri IV banquet. My great-grandfather belonged to the Ligue, as did my father, my brothers, and now DS#1 (DS#2 is eligible for membership when he turns 18 in a few months). My brothers and my sons do not speak French. No matter; it's a family thing and explains why we eat lamb with lots of garlic and eat our salad last.

Rites and rituals are my anchors. I don't have to think about what to wear to a funeral or a banquet--family ritual tells me. I don't have to worry about what to say at a funeral or a wedding (although weddings are easier)--the rites tell me. Rites and rituals provide structure to my chaos.

And I'm passing them on to my children. DD#2 knows what to wear to funeral. DD#1 knows what to wear to a banquet. Junior Prom is around the corner and DS#2 and I are discussing the details, including finding out the color of his date's dress so he can coordinate his tuxedo vest and tie and the corsage. ("Oh, that's a good idea," he said today.)

I'm not adverse to change. As long as I have my rites and rituals to fall back on!