This New Testament belonged to my Dad. The pieces of paper are his notes from the class he took to become a Eucharistic Minister. I had seen both book and notes before, but I rediscovered them while cleaning out my parents’ house. I brought them home with me a few months ago and since then have been slowly reading the book; I constantly reread his notes.
I was brought up Catholic and remained very unquestioning so for years. In 7th grade I seriously contemplated entering the convent, though that could be attributed to the totally cool Sister Roberta more than my own religious fervor. (Who wouldn’t want to be like Sister Roberta?) I made some serious mistakes when I was in high school and to try to get myself back on the right path, I taught CCD – the Catholic Sunday School (I know you’re asking what CCD stands for. I had to look it up: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Clears that right up, doesn’t it?)
In college, when I began to question everything, I began my drift from the church. By the time I married, I would not even consider a religious ceremony. I did not baptize my children.
Still, this book means a lot to me, not just because it belonged to my father, but because he belonged to it. I mean, he was so devoted to his faith that he took the time, after working all day (my Dad held at least two jobs until he retired, when he cut back to just one) he took the time to attend this class, to do some independent reading and reflection, and to serve his parish.
I have long wanted to read the bible through. I grew up hearing readings in church, we read some in the parochial school I attended for 1st through 8th grade, and I occasionally picked up the big family bible that sat on a shelf at the head of my parents’ bed (loved that one, in part, because of the intriguing illustrations and because of the entries in the family history in the back). I’ve tried before to start from Genesis and work my way through, but I never made it too far. I like the simple wording of this New Testament. It may not have the poetry of the King James, but it’s easy to read. And, yes, of course, I like to think of my father reading this very book. What did he think about that proclamation against divorce when his children announced their separations? Did he relate to Mary’s sorrow when he lost his own son? Did he find comfort here?
I’m reading this New Testament because I want to remember the good teaching of my family’s church, even though I don’t expect to ever count myself a member again. This book is more a part of my childhood, and of the adult I became, than any other (except for that big family Bible, which I spent more time with as a child). The price printed on the cover amuses me. You can’t buy a book for $1.65 anymore. But you can’t put a price tag on this artifact of my life.