Last week, 6th January being the Epiphany, we took the Christmas decorations down which had adorned our home.
As we did so, a new neighbour, whom we have only recently met, called to pick up a parcel which had been left for him at our home.
As I handed over the parcel we exchanged pleasantries on whether we had respectively enjoyed the Christmas festivities.
I said, we would ask you in for a drink and a longer chat, but we are just taking down the Christmas decorations, at which he said, “oh so you’re a traditionalist” ours were down last week after New Year.
I said “well yes, I suppose we are traditionalists”
Later, as I reflected on the brief exchange with our new neighbour, I wondered what it meant for me to be perceived as a traditionalist.
In the context of Christmas, I suppose he might have been insinuating that I was religious, or a christian, and in the absence of knowing us very well, this could have opened up in his mind a whole range of assumptions and opinions about us, some of which would be accurate and others inaccurate.
Of course, I do have a religious dimension to my life, I am a person of deep faith, I believe in Jesus Christ, but my relationship with God is not the same as my relationship with the church.
The church has been mis-managed to varying degrees over the centuries, by corrupt, criminal, authoritarian men, and also women, who have used their power to subjugate the faithful into obedience through fear and worse, abuse.
However, it has also been run over the same period of time, by men and women who love God, and through their faith in Jesus Christ, have brought healing and compassion and love to those in need, which is all of us, regardless of creed, colour, age, sex, orientation, or gender, in some cases devoting their whole lives to the poor, the lonely, the hungry and the sad.
I think being a traditionalist, defines me as a man who wants to keep the traditions and to be honest most of the teachings of the Catholic Church, but that should not preclude anyone from being made welcome to join the journey of faith.
My understanding of my faith and beliefs has evolved over time and sometimes I feel at odds with some aspects of what the church teaches but it does not mean that I want the teaching to change.
I want the accessibility of understanding it to change, and for me/us to be allowed to doubt, to be curious, to be confused, so that it becomes a welcomed part of my/our experience and expression of it.
My next blog will be: January Blues