October 31, 2012

Why I love October 11

What looks ironic in the eyes of the world is providence in the heart of the believer.  As I began to grow in my faith, I made friends whose families celebrated things like feastdays and baptismal anniversaries even more than birthdays and Halloween.  While that was not my experience as a child, I thought I would begin those practices and looked back to find out my baptismal date.
I had hypothesized that since I was born in the first week of September, it would be reasonable to estimate that I was baptized on the first Sunday in October.  In 1981, that was October 4, the feast of St. Francis.  I thought about how providential that would be in light of my love of Franciscan spirituality and hoped it would be true.

Much to my chagrin, I learned that I was baptized on October 11.  What was so great about October 11?  At that point in time, I could not even find a feastday celebrated on that date.  I felt a bit cheated and probably pouted, but God laughed.  There is a lot to this day that I would come to know in the future!
In the year 2000, October 11 became the feast of Blessed John XXIII.  That still meant nothing to me, but a few years later, I saw a movie and read a book on his life and realized that I had known him for a long time.  I put it together that he was the ‘smiling Pope’ whose picture hung on the wall at the house of my grandparent’s that  I looked at every time I slept over in my father’s childhood bedroom.  He quickly became my second favorite pope (just behind my patron) and I continue to enjoy learning about him and asking his intercession.  I was intrigued that his date of death was not assigned as his feast but that October 11 was chosen.  After further research, I found the explanation that since he was the catalyst for Vatican II, and that was by far his largest accomplishment, he was given the date of the opening of the Council: October 11, 1962.
Blessed John Paul II specifically chose the same date in 1992, thirty years since the Council, to promulgate the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The CCC, as it is affectionately abbreviated, was the source for me as I navigated Theology courses in college, endured a multiple choice/multiple answer exam on the entirety of its content, and then after graduation, began to work in Catechesis.  I don’t think I would be able to teach a lesson without it!  My CCC is well loved, highlighted, marked, bent, and even burned; a faithful companion in the trenches of Catholic education.
This year, our Holy Father has chosen October 11 to kick off the “Year of Faith” as we mark both the 50th anniversary of Vatican II and 20th anniversary of the Catechism,

As a lover of all things Catechetical and as one who loves the Church and her teachings, I can see the hand of God and the grace of my baptismal date.  October 11 connects me to a great Pope, a great Council, and the book that sustained me through college and my apostolates since then.  Now, it reminds me to open the ‘door of faith’ and to experience anew the grace that is mine since I was brought through that door in the waters of Baptism.
- Sister M. Karolyn, FSGM

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