The catechesis of a book fair

By Annie-Rose Keith

Connecting Faith and Life

With my Tweety Bird backpack in tow and the confidence of Nelson at Trafalgar, I marched into my elementary school knowing that my time had arrived. It was the beginning of book-fair week, and I was a part of a small team of trustworthy girls who would help Miss Gina with this auspicious occasion. Essentially, I would miss class for a few days; run the cash register; and fawn over the racks of junior cookbooks, World War II biographies, mandala coloring books, pastel-covered novels with chapters, and boxes of posters with cats, galaxies, and football players. This was my time to shine. I had arrived.

Flash forward about 22 years; the flier for our school’s book fair arrived and the feeling of nostalgia could not be ignored. I sounded the alert to fellow 90s kids who responded with requests for aforementioned galaxy posters, and if I could bottle up the smell of the racks of books and send it to them. The collective feelings of childhood and freedom were running high.

As the week went on, I noticed how much of a unifier an event like a book fair is for a school community. For example, every time I visited the gym, I was able to speak with other mothers who I had never gotten the chance to visit with, and speak with students that I only see, in passing, in the hallway. Can the same be said for the sacraments and weekend Mass?

I raise this point in solidarity because frequently, my family and I are so focused on our end goal that I forget to look up and, at least, give a friendly nod to the families we pass on the way to the technology room before Mass begins. We’re also rushing out after Mass because my son usually tries to make a run for it, but that’s only half the point I’m trying to make here. Should we not have the same feelings of comfort and peace when we walk into our church and/or receive the sacraments? Think of the community that could be formed if the entire parish went to the sacrament of reconciliation regularly! Rather than feeling ashamed, as some do, before going into the confessional, what if penitents were greeted with pats on the back and warm conversation from their fellow parishioners (while still recognizing the prayerful atmosphere of this sacrament, to be sure)?

God is inviting us into this type of relationship with Him. Our prayer lives should be lives of conversation with our oldest friend. Our relationship with God is the fulfillment that we long to have from earthly relationships and things, knowing that yearning can only be met on the other side in Heaven. The warmth and comfort of a childhood experience revisited should be felt every time we enter a church with Jesus in the tabernacle. There aren’t any posters of arguably dated images; but luckily, stained glass is timeless.