Lifestyle Blog from the Philippines

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Revisiting My Catholic Side

One of the things that I was obsessed with when I was younger was learning about the saints — Catholic saints, in particular. I loved learning about them and wondered how they lived. It was a thing for me as a child that I sort of forgot as I got older.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic, with a mother, grandmother, and aunts who have trained every child in the family early on about daily prayers, hearing mass, and all the other traditions and beliefs that any good Catholic should know. So even before the religion classes in grade school taught me about the rosary or pray the Angelus, I could recite the whole thing by heart. Yes, we were that kind of family. The kind people called in Tagalog as “sarado katoliko.” The direct translation of that is closed Catholic, but technically it means we are a strict Catholic kind of family.

Back when I was in grade school, I remember getting a book on the lives of Catholic saints from A to Z. A thick book that was about the lives of the saints and what they represented or were patrons of, as well as their feast days. As the book was called an A-to-Z guide, it was alphabetical from A to Z, using their first names. I would not remember all their names now if you asked me, but I have surprised myself recently by discovering that I have retained some knowledge of what I learned from that book. 

One evening as I was talking to my niece, we moved to the topic of saints. I’m really not sure how the conversation started and how we got to that topic, but I just started telling her the story of Saint Agnes. I surprised myself that I remembered the entire thing when I have not so much as looked at any reference material since I was a child. I honestly cannot believe I retained all that in my mind! Even my mother, who does not think that I have it in me to share a story like that since I am a non-practicing Catholic, was surprised to hear me tell that story. I guess there are some things that you just tend to keep with you and that story happened to be one of them for me.

Image by DEZALB from Pixabay

That whole conversation made me remember one thing that I used to collect when I was younger: stampitas. They were these small pieces of paper shaped like a card with photos of the saints on them. They were basically the Catholic version of trading cards for me when I was a kid. I remember some of them had stories of the saint featured written at the back, or prayers to that saint. 

From what I can remember, I had a large collection of these stampitas when I was in grade school because the relatives who knew of my collection fully supported it (of course). They would give me new ones whenever they would go out to add to my collection. I remember having this shoebox where I put all these cards in. 

Sadly, decades later, I do not remember what happened to those stampitas. I am sure that my mother would not have thrown them away, but I have lost them somewhere along the way. I hope that wherever they ended up, that those stampitas may have become useful. It would have been nice if I had kept my collection to pass on to my niece or nephews.

The thought of those stampitas made me wonder if those things are still being sold today. I looked it up online and I realized that they still are and are mostly functioning as prayer cards and are used as a way to encourage kids to pray. I have to wonder how successful they are with that as I have all but forgotten about it until today.

I may not be an actively practicing Catholic these days, but I do believe in God and I have respect for the saints who have lived their lives in ways true to their faith. It is nice to remember how much I embraced the religion as a child. In times like this, remembering people who held strong with their faith could serve as a good example of how much we can handle the challenges we are currently facing if we had faith. 

We could all use a little bit more faith, right?


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