Who planted the legacy of the Catholic faith in your
life? For me, it was my mother. Mom came
from a long line of family members with Protestant roots, mostly Baptist or
Pentecostal. While the family religious
background was basically Protestant, Black parents knew the value of education. When they were able, many enrolled their
kids in the neighborhood Catholic parish schools that many religious orders
established in Black neighborhoods. My
mom attended St. Joseph Catholic School and eventually, as a teenager, she was
baptized into the Catholic faith and later insisted on raising her family in
the Catholic tradition. So my roots in the legacy of the Catholic faith were
planted with my baptism as an infant in 1951 and my relationship with the bible
was planted during my early childhood.
For as long as I can remember, there had always been a bible
in the living room. The one that I most remember growing up with was a large
print, huge bible that included a section in the back with stories of the lives
of the saints. As a child, I liked to read the stories about the saints but often
wondered why these friends of God seemed to be disliked or often killed. I outgrew this childish thinking about God
during my youth. However, as a young
adult, I distanced myself from the institutional Church for about 10 years. When I returned to practicing my faith, I
wanted to buy a nice bible to, perhaps, symbolize this renewed relationship
The bible I found was beautiful. The cover was a rose color with silver
lettering on the cover and pages with silver gilding around the edges. However, after I had meticulously put on
bible book tabs, I decided to give the bible to my mother as a gift and to buy a different bible with study notes for me. Over the
years, I did not necessarily see this bible again when I would visit mom, but
there was always a bible in her living room.
Over 20 plus years had passed before I saw this rose covered
bible again. I was packing up my mother’s belonging when she was no longer able
to live alone because of dementia. The
bible was in a clear plastic bag and literally coming apart. The cover was worn. The pages were marked and dog eared. There were notes in the margins and in empty
spaces on various pages. Some of the books in the bible near the end were
separating from the binding. This was clearly a bible that had been used for studying,
praying—and in general—living.
Recently, I sat reflecting with this bible some five years
after rediscovering it. I thought about
all that has transpired in my mom’s life since I gave it to her many years ago.
I thought about the comfort and wisdom it must have provided to her over the
years. I thought about the deep relationship with her God which she had
developed throughout her life that spilled out over these worn pages of God’s
Word and promises to us. These thoughts led me to clearly see the deep
faithfulness that God has shown in her life.
Mom has been faithful in her relationship with God over the
years and God has been faithful to her. Even as she has lost much of her mental
capacity and memories to dementia, God has continued to be faithful to her.
Being in a place where she is being well cared for and close by where I can
visit is, to me, a tangible sign of God’s continued faithfulness to mom—even though she does not know where she is or even how
God has been a consistent part of her life.
This worn bible has helped me to reflect on the truth of
God’s faithfulness to both my mom and to me. God is faithful to all of us. This is a deep truth of our faith and is
revealed over and over again in the Word.
While my own bible is important to me, this worn, marked bible is,
indeed, very special to me. You see, in
looking at some of the marked passages, I learned that Psalm 27 was a favorite
psalm for both of us. We even marked
some of the same lines within it.
Do you have a special bible? What story does it tell about
you and your relationship with God? More
importantly, is your relationship with God, perhaps, calling you to consider
the possibility of a vocation to religious life?