As a product of the first wave of the Baby Boomer generation, I was formed in the rich (but often conflicted) cultural and spiritual Catholic environment that predated the reforms of Vatican II. It was not until my adult association with non-Catholic Christians that I realized the profoundly different eyes through which my ilk perceived reality. While the faith of my Protestant friends was no less intense, I noticed it was much more pragmatic and nearly devoid of the mysticism that my catechetical training had wired into my consciousness. Catholics of that era had a different gait in their faith walk: one foot in this world, the other in the next and the farther we advanced in our pursuit of holiness, the less distinct was the barrier between the two. We could as easily seek counsel from a Sainted figure living centuries ago as we could from contemporary peers. The Blessed Mother, Guardian Angels, and those patient souls in Purgatory were the subject, if not co-supplicants in most every prayer we uttered. The Communion of Saints, that great family of faithful believers that transcends the bounds of time and space was as real to us as children in the local playground, and due to their constant presence we were rarely alone. We had special intercessors who specialized in finding lost articles, future spouses, or relief from specific ailments. Preeminent among them all were Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, pillars of the Holy Family whose virtue we most sought to emulate. I can still remember anointing every written grade school assignment with the notation “J.M.J” (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph).
Thus, I make no apologies for the stories to follow; they are born of that unique experience. Those who can relate will need no explanation for behavior on the part of my characters that may seem foreign, even bizarre. For those uninitiated in the devotions, sacramentals, and terminology presented as fictional background (and this may include an entire generation of younger Catholics) I will attempt to provide a rudimentary introduction to some of the elements that frame the themes behind the stories. And if the peek into this world incites further interest, I highly recommend perusal of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, although published some time after the close of the Second Vatican Council, provides an excellent bridge between the traditional Catholicism presented here and the more recent effort to make the teachings of Jesus as handed down from the Apostles more accessible to modern sensibilities.
And so I present this Novena to you as my prayer, my gift to you the reader. May you be as blessed in the receiving as was I in the giving.
Grace and Peace,
July 12, 2011