Here at lovely, excruciatingly hot Notre Dame, where I have been teaching Ritual Studies, I have continued to reflect on the Eucharistic Adoration consultation I had at St John’s in the cool spring. Contemporary ritual studies sees personal, private (family or small group), and public practices as closely connected to one another, especially in supporting one’s sense of identity. Juridically, a public liturgy alone may make me a Christian, but personally (and we hear this regularly from practicing Christians) I must continue to find myself in my religious practices.
We can make a nice timely comparison to the Fourth of July, actually: there are plenty of public actions that Americans do around this holiday, but for many of us, the tiny traditions that have familial relevance are our link to celebrating Independence Day. (For me, growing up, it was making fruit salad and eating baked beans. Not intrinsically patriotic!) Similarly, I find that the Triduum is inextricably linked for me with the baking of traditional Ukrainian Easter bread. I prepare the dough Thursday, because doing it on a fast day is too absurd even for my lively sense of irony. I bake it Holy Saturday before the Vigil and cut the first slices after the Vigil, after which it is served at every meal until it’s gone. At that point, depending on how early in the Octave it is, I might make more! This year, even though my husband was out of town at a funeral, I didn’t want to do without making the Easter bread. It’s part of Easter.
This has made me think of two questions, which I’ll ask together since they fit together:
1. Which faith practices are essential to who you are? Are they personal, private or familial, or public?
2. Do your personal or private practices contribute to participation in large liturgical rites? How?