As teenagers growing up, we were encouraged to join groups in our church. Perhaps there was a move towards the development of youth coming from our confirmation teacher which we heeded, or perhaps there was the possibility of the unknown which was calling us. On a practical note, it was a very good reason to get out of the house, as being involved in these activities did not require money or parental approval. Once you received approval to join an activity it was understood that this would become a weekly routine not requiring continuous approval. Clothes were carefully rotated to ensure that the same outfit did not get worn twice consecutively so there was little reason for the activity to be disallowed on the grounds of additional expense or no clothes.
Life at that time was simple in that there was no need to do things for the benefit of graces or as penance or for any reason at all. Perhaps the underlying element which was taking hold was to build character, in that an act could become a habit, and if habits could become behaviour if there was enough practice and there would be patterns of behaviour to fall back on at some point in time. So there was Junior Society of St Vincent de Paul with attendance at meetings and visits to various person's homes, Junior Legion of Mary with visits to the sick, which carried over to secondary school as it meant a bit of coming home late and visits to the Belmont Orphange usually at the end of the term.
As the years passed, membership in these Societies or groups ceased partly because of leaving school, changing parishes, moving to other areas for different lengths of time.
Did all of those activities build character? Well, nowadays I help with some activities of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. This is purely because it allows for activity which requires no commitment and carries no label of member or helper. I am less inclined to pray the Rosary but I love the other prayers of the Legion of Mary and can recite them when I am in a group. I lose more chaplets than I can keep, some through bursting or some just get misplaced, still I buy them. Recently I purchased some medals which I have inserted at various points on one set of keys which I keep and used to use frequently. The placement of the medals as well as the saints which are represented are purely private and will be removed when the keys are returned, however they are meant to provide a sense of comfort and when my mind can unravel the reason for the behaviour, I will be able to move on with grace.
St Jude: St. Jude is most commonly known as the patron saint of lost causes. His medal is worn to give guidance and comfort when all seems lost and life is at its darkest hour. Usually given to patients of terminal illnesses or family members during difficult times.
Copyright Jennifer Bailey