Sunday, June 04, 2006

Faith of our Fathers

My parents joined the LDS church when I was three. Their families are not members, so I grew up with many of the traditions of my parents' former faiths. We celebrate Hanukkah and Passover with the Jewish side of the family, and we still participate whenever we can in the Festa do Espirito Santo with the Portuguese side on Pentecost. My husband was Catholic before he joined the church, and we still recite the Hail Marys and Our Fathers at the rosary.

A lot of ethnic Mormons (i.e. those for whom Mormonism is their culture as well as their religion) think this is sort of blasphemous and view this sort of behavior as a sign that we're not truly converted. But for us, we see it as more of a celebration or a transition. The faith of our fathers was important to our fathers, and so by extension, to us as well. While they did not have all the truth of the fullness of the Gospel available to them, they still understood many things about God and His relationship to our lives that we would do well to emulate.

So I light a menorah and prepare a seder plate. I bury a St. Joseph statue in my yard when my house is up for sale. I light a St. Jude candle when it's still not selling (St. Jude being the patron saint of lost causes). And when I go out for a long trip that I'm afraid to take, I recite (although I will butcher the spelling) "Nossa Senhora da Guia, vaia nos acompania". To me, it is the hearts of the children turning to their fathers. These things meant something to my ancestors, and by extension they mean something to me. It is an expression of the fact that I draw on their faith in God as a source of strength for my faith in God. I expect that these rituals will mean less and less as the generations pass, until there is someday a generation of my descendants that is ethnically LDS and would scoff at my superstitious ways. But the ancestors I knew are a part of me, and I cannot deny their share in my beliefs.