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Ever since I found out that we were pregnant, I have been seriously thinking about religion, spirituality, and life, and how they each have affected and shaped my life. I don’t know if I would categorize myself as a good Catholic. Probably not. However, being raised Catholic by very traditional Mexican Catholics and also going to 12 years of Catholic School did have a very profound effect on my life, for the most part positive.

Catholicism gave me a set of beliefs, an internal compass; it gave me an identity, membership in a group, part of another family; it gave me scholarship and academia; it gave me traditions and rites to mark not only religious holidays, but important milestones in my life. It gave me the Sacrament of Marriage. All things that I still hold very dear in my life, even though for the most part, Catholicism is in the background. It comes and it goes but I always feel that I am welcome back no matter how long I’ve been away. And when I do come back, I feel the comfort of tradition, of the familiar.

Which brings me to fatherhood and our son. It is clear in my mind that I do want to pass down my Catholic religion and beliefs to our son. As he gets older and his mind develops, he can then choose for himself what he wants to believe in and whether to continue with Catholicism, just like I did when I became of age. I have discussed this with Mom2B and we are on the same page on this issue.

The most important thing to us is to make sure that our son will have a solid foundation of beliefs, values, traditions and myths that will help guide the child as he grows into a man and then to adulthood. For him not to be lost, so to speak, when confronted with the events of life (both good and bad), when facing ethical or moral questions, when having to make tough decisions. In short, I would like for my son to have an internal compass, a GPS device if you will, so that he can find his way no matter where he is at in life.

“The fourth function of traditional mythology is to carry the individual through the various stages and crises of life–that is, to help persons grasp the unfolding of life with integrity. This wholeness means that individuals will experience significant events, from birth to midlife to death, as in accord with, first, themselves, and secondly, with their culture, as well as thirdly, the universe, and lastly, with that mysterium tremendum beyond themselves and all things.”

–Joseph Campbell

I also remember all the “teaching tools” that my mom utilized in order to teach us the brand of Catholicism known as Mexican Catholicism.  Her Mexican Catholicism and beliefs were passed down to her by her parents, and probably for generations.  Praying El Rosario in espanol, praying to La Virgen de Guadalupe, reading La Sagrada Bibilia, going to La Iglesia, 12 years of Catholic School, and of course, seeing the many IMAGES of religion, were some of the tools used. 

One of the tools that my mom used were posters hung up on the walls in our house.  Kids learn from images.  Do any of you remember the classic “Dos Caminos” poster?  This is the poster where it shows a little guy at a crossroads—one road had all the vices: loose women, gambling dice, empty wine bottles, etc. and that road led to a fiery Hell.  The other road was paved with good works and of course, led to the great paradise that is Heaven.  The poster was supposed to be a visual aid in learning right from wrong, and choosing the “right” road to travel in life.

I found a version of the “Dos Caminos” poster online and here it is for your viewing pleasure.  However,  I don’t think it’s the same one that my mom had for us. 

Dos Caminos Poster

I look up to and respect one of my Comprades very much. He is a great husband, father and family man with two small children already.  Through this fatherhood journey, I have often sought his counsel and guidance.  Hard to believe, but we have been best of friends for 13 years now even though we don’t see each other often because of distance (he lives up in the NoCal).  Thank God for email, telephone, and our annual reunions.  Anyway, I asked my Compadre to share with me some Old-School Oraciones so that I can teach my child.  Here is what I got:

“I have two short ones.  When my sis and I would walk to school, and we were always afraid that several dogs (they run all over the place in Mexico City) would bite us or chase us.  So my Abuelita told us to say this prayer if we were ever afraid of a dog:  

“Perro en ti, Dios en mi, que la sangre de Cristo me libre de ti.”

And after every meal, before we left the table, we had to stand up, put our hands together, close our eyes, and say this one:

“Bendito sea, el padre eterno, que nos dio un pan de comer sin merecerlo. 

Gracias a la divina providencia.  Amen.”

It was our ticket to be out of the table.  I love this one too, because it says that we didn’t deserve to eat.  I love it.”