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Siri Kirpal
05-31-2014, 10:18 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

So in my current wip, I've got a scene where a guy raised Presbyterian is going to meet the parents of his Italian Catholic girl. What would be in their apartment that wouldn't be in his house? And where in their apartment would it be? I'm thinking here of a tray of votive candles I saw once in the entry hall of a friend. Time is 1914. Place is fictional Western Oregon.

He's planning on marrying this girl, and her family insists he become Catholic to do so, which he does. Besides the problems with his family (which is part of the point of the book), what will he have problems with both in terms of learning it and conceptually?

Thanks for any and all help.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Maze Runner
05-31-2014, 10:29 PM
I grew up in a neighborhood that was 90% Catholic, 50% Italian. I'm half Italian, but we were different, and it wasn't 1914 Oregon, but a couple of things I remember: Furniture covered in plastic. A statuette of the Madonna. Kitchens stocked with olive oil, all different kinds of pasta, ricotta cheese, bread in the oven and tomato sauce bubbling on the stove.

If were talking mannerisms, emotion! We speak with our hands because our words can't keep up with our emotions. We don't hide from our emotion or anger, we go through it. It's a celebration of life. There's a bit of egotism.

Patriarchal on the surface, but mother's quietly rule. Women are revered.

Dreity
05-31-2014, 10:53 PM
As far as potential conflicts, a lot of it will depend on the character and how convicted he is about Presbyterianism. Here's a link to an Orthodox Presbyterian describing the differences between the two denominations (http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=79). It's a long read, but he covers pretty much all the major differences: how they view communion, salvation as an ongoing process vs salvation as a thing that can't be taken away, the authority of the clergy vs. the authority of Scripture, and praying with, or, as he puts it, "to" Mary and the saints.

As an example, if your guy has very strong feelings about his particular faith tradition, then no doubt he's going to have issues with The Rite of Reconcilation in particular, ie, "confession". The way he sees it, he doesn't need to go through a priest to receive God's forgiveness, because he won't feel that he needs a mediator between himself and God. The thing is, you have to go through that Rite before you can be confirmed.

Maze Runner
05-31-2014, 11:00 PM
Just a funny aside: Wasn't it in Hannah and her Sisters where Woody Allen, convinced he was dying, decides to convert to Catholicism?

Might pick up a thing or two while getting a few laughs.

King Neptune
05-31-2014, 11:01 PM
Religious things probably would have only been a few religious paintings and a crucifix on the wall somewhere. I will confess that I am not Italian, but I was brought up Catholic.

The process of conversion probably is easier now that a hundred years ago, but not much easier and the basics are the same. The book is available online http://www.catholic.com/documents/how-to-become-a-catholic
Most of the details of Christianity are common among the various sects, but there are details that split Christianity up, so some people have difficulties with those. If you need more information about the process of conversion process, then call a local Catholic Church, and explain what you want, and you may get some cooperation, or they may try to convert you.

benbenberi
05-31-2014, 11:19 PM
In 1914 Catholic rites were all still in Latin, I believe. That might be a challenge for him.

Chase
05-31-2014, 11:22 PM
Siri,

One minor detail from my Catholic family in Montana was a crucifix in every room, including the bathroom. :D

I thought it was a familial quirk until I moved to here Oregon, where my girlfriend's family in Harrisburg, Lebanon, Aumsville, Dallas, and Albany does the same thing--and has since the 1800s.

Maze Runner
05-31-2014, 11:33 PM
I don't know how much humor you want in this thing, but there's a thing called the Italian Horn, or Cornicello, that Southern Italians used to put great stock in; and you might consider what part of Italy they come from. Nearly all American Italians are of Southern Italian descent. Geography is important as is region. There are distinct differences. I'm Napolitano, (Napoli), wine, women, and song. If you want it to read true to Italians, most of whom have a stronger connection than I do you should consider regional, cultural differences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornicello

When I was on a bad run as a 17 yr old, one "bad break" after another, running a crew of door to door salesmen, my boss, a Calabrese, had an old woman (don't know what they call these people) perform a ritual on my behalf that I believe included pouring oil into water. If the water boils, you got serious problems paisan. The word came back that this woman, in all her years, had never seen such a boiling. It was for sure, someone had put the evil eye on me, (the malucchio- other Italians will correct my spelling) and I would have to wear the horn. I did so, a nice 14k, tasteful one. A week or so later I was in a car accident. I came out unscathed, very little damage to the car, but the horn I'd later find had a definitive, oval shaped dent in it. I'm sure it was from the collision of my chest into the steering wheel, but at the time, pretty spooky stuff.

frimble3
06-01-2014, 12:02 AM
Most of the Catholic homes I've been in were northern European, and not Italian, but I'll bet that in addition of the cruxifixes and statuettes of the Madonna, there'd by at least one picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and one of those pictures of a Guardian Angel apparently trying to 'protect' a couple of small children who are crossing the world's ricketiest bridge. (Always in a forest, always a boy and a girl, and the angel never seemed to do anything but look on in horror.):)

ULTRAGOTHA
06-01-2014, 01:32 AM
Where in Western Oregon? Rural or Urban? Coastal or inland?

Historical sketches of the Catholic Church in Oregon and the Northwest (https://archive.org/details/cihm_97293) (late 1800s)

The Jesuits In Old Oregon 1840-1940 (https://archive.org/stream/jesuitsinoldoreg008294mbp/jesuitsinoldoreg008294mbp_djvu.txt)

The centennial history of Oregon, 1811-1912 (https://archive.org/details/centennialhistor03gast) Volume III, illustrated

This doesn't appear to have anything re Catholics in it but it might be useful in other ways: Letters from the Oregon Boys in France (https://archive.org/details/lettersfromorego00wmef), 1917

Siri Kirpal
06-01-2014, 02:21 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wow! Thanks so much! I'll be looking into all those links.

I did find the info on how conversion is done online. And it looked like since he'd already been baptized, it would be much faster and easier than if he had not.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Siri Kirpal
06-01-2014, 02:29 AM
Where in Western Oregon? Rural or Urban? Coastal or inland?

Historical sketches of the Catholic Church in Oregon and the Northwest (https://archive.org/details/cihm_97293) (late 1800s)

The Jesuits In Old Oregon 1840-1940 (https://archive.org/stream/jesuitsinoldoreg008294mbp/jesuitsinoldoreg008294mbp_djvu.txt)

The centennial history of Oregon, 1811-1912 (https://archive.org/details/centennialhistor03gast) Volume III, illustrated

This doesn't appear to have anything re Catholics in it but it might be useful in other ways: Letters from the Oregon Boys in France (https://archive.org/details/lettersfromorego00wmef), 1917

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks for those links!

A pair of small cities/towns (think Albany or Astoria) on the eastern side of the Willamette Valley, roughly due east of Albany. In the fictional county of Kalipuya.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

maryland
06-01-2014, 09:24 PM
On the back of the front door (or their flat door, if they were in an apartment) there was always a metal badge of the Sacred Heart, stuck just above the letterbox. It said, round its circular edge, "I will bless every place where a picture of my heart is exposed and honoured."
I have my grandparents' one.
The bedrooms each had a small holy water stoup hanging at the side of the door, by the electric switch (!) Of course, in 1914 it would have been gas light, so no switches.
Black, morocco-bound prayerbooks kept in the sideboard drawer ready for Sundays.

Siri Kirpal
06-01-2014, 10:07 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Orianna2000
06-01-2014, 10:32 PM
Of course, in 1914 it would have been gas light, so no switches.

Why gas lights and not electricity? Electric lights have been around since the 1880s. It would have taken a few years for them to catch on, but surely by the mid-teens, most places would have had power. Unless we're talking someplace very rural?

Siri Kirpal
06-02-2014, 02:37 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

That's one issue I haven't completely resolved. Electricity was slower getting to the west coast. Also older buildings might not have yet been retrofitted. So I'm debating the gaslight vs electric light issue...not that it's going to matter much to the story.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

c.e.lawson
06-02-2014, 10:20 AM
I'm Italian-Catholic, and I remember my grandparents' house having cream colored crocheted doilies on the furniture (my grandmother crocheted them - looked like this - http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/thing?id=60474860), crucifixes on the walls, rosary beads on the doily on the bedside table, and a small, stone, homemade grotto in the back yard with a white statue of the Virgin Mary inside of it.

Siri Kirpal
06-02-2014, 11:47 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks!

I think doilies were pretty common throughout the era, my Protestant turned New Age grandmother had them too.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

CynHolt
06-03-2014, 03:33 AM
If you are setting the story in Oregon you might want to look into the history of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel. My aunt was a converted Catholic and lived in that part of Oregon most of the years I was growing up. The convent has some good historical records and they might be a good resource for background. http://www.benedictine-srs.org/

The biggest differences between Presbyterians and Catholics - the worship of the Madonna, transubstantiation, and the Presbyterians saw the Catholics as cult like with the robes, incense, rings on the priests. Basically the Presbyterians thought they were all going to hell because they worshiped money, a very interesting dynamic for the period.

ETA: and although both families would of had crosses throughout the house, the Presbyterian crosses would be plain wood and the Catholic crosses ornate.

WeaselFire
06-03-2014, 06:58 AM
So in my current wip, I've got a scene where a guy raised Presbyterian is going to meet the parents of his Italian Catholic girl. What would be in their apartment that wouldn't be in his house?

Catholic:


Crucifix, on a wall in the bedroom and often in the hallway
Crucifixion statue. Generally in a dining/living area
Madonna statue and/or Madonna with child. See Michelangelo's Madonna of Bruges as a common example.
Virgin Mary grotto on the lawn or in the garden.
Votive candles in a bedroom, living room and entry way/hallway.
Often, a small altar area with a portrait of Christ or crucifix, ivory was popular for a while at the turn of the century era you mention.
Portrait of Christ the Teacher where kids do homework
Prayer cards and Saint cards. Might be a little newer than your era, they were like baseball cards of saints
Olive tree/branch/relic. This is also Italian.
Family Bible. With genealogy.

Italian


Pasta rollers/machine/tools
Tomato garden, usually with basil, peppers, possibly onions, usually heirloom varieties
Sausage making equipment, grinder, press
Large dining room and table, often imported from the old country
Linens. Lots of linens.
Chickens
Relics of the Old World. Depends on where in Italy they are from, tintypes of Sicily were common. Pottery, sometimes bas-relief carvings and a family headboard in the master bedroom.
Family tree on the wall.
Ceramic pear. Never knew why but saw it in every Italian kitchen.
Garlic. Hanging in the kitchen

Keep in mind that many of these items might be common in any home of that era as well. Also, Oregon was not a hotbed of Italian Catholic immigrants in the way Eastern cities were. Tight-knit local communities may be very common in that area at the time.

Jeff

Siri Kirpal
06-03-2014, 07:00 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks. I'm familiar with the Benedictine sisters. I've spoken with several of them. But it's good to be reminded of them. I also attended Marylhurst College, which has a convent on campus, so I've met several Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary too.

Good to mention that the Presbyterians would have had crosses in their houses too. That's a detail I wasn't sure of. I am planning on one of the more devout households having embroidered scriptural passages.

I do know what the differences are between the two religions. What I'm really looking for are what isn't easy for someone who's made the transition.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Siri Kirpal
06-03-2014, 07:05 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Cross-posted with you, WF. Thanks so much for all the detail!

The Italian family will be living in an apartment over their restaurant, so I won't be able to use garden details. I'm debating whether they will take their own meals in their apartment or in the restaurant.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

CynHolt
06-03-2014, 10:07 AM
What I'm really looking for are what isn't easy for someone who's made the transition.

I'm assuming you mean the transition from Pres to Catholic? Then you picked some really good stuff. Today it wouldn't matter much, but in 1914 it could easily have caused an inner turmoil, especially after a child was born. It's one thing to lose your own soul, it's another to be responsible for another's.

The main conflicts would have been with:
1) the "sinful" opulence of the Catholic Church. Presbyers were known for their frugal ways and were related to Puritans. (think uptight, snobbish Boston). I'm not certain, but at that time they probably weren't allowed to dance. It's a common no-no in Calvinist churches. Catholics love to dance and Italian dances would have been wild and exotic. They also weren't allowed to drink any kind of alcohol. Italian Catholics would of had wine with lunch and dinner (maybe even breakfast)
2)A convert would also have problems with the authority of the Pope, since Presbyterian churches were always run by a group of elders. I'm not familiar with any Papal edicts of the time, but those could have caused all sorts of trouble.
3)Confession was/is usually welcomed. There is/was the phrase Catholic guilt, but it was always released during confession. Presbyterians were also full of guilt, but never really got rid of it. They just buried it.

To convert to Catholicism you would have to take catechism. I think you still do. But it would have been a big deal back then. Since this is in Oregon, unless the setting is Portland, the church would have been small and they may of had to study with the 9 year-olds preparing for their first communion. Speaking of which, that would also be different.

shakeysix
06-03-2014, 10:57 AM
I was raised Catholic and, although I am not of Italian descent, I went to college with many Italian Catholic kids. Our grandparents would have been kids in 1914. We used to tell funny stories about our Catholic grandparents-- Holy water fountains by each door and don't forget the dried palm leaves. After Palm Sunday the old palm fronds were burned and new ones decked around the house, especially behind the pictures of the dead.

Oh, yeah-- Portraits of dead people--some in caskets-- hung on the walls. My fifth grade classroom in a Catholic school had pictures of kids who had died while students. Not in caskets but big framed portraits taken while they were alive. The nuns knew the stories about each of them--and they were all better behaved than we were. Probably because they were dead and we weren't.

A friend's Italian grandmother had a framed portrait of a daughter who died at age 14. The girl was in a casket, dressed in her First Communion dress and veil. Her arms were crossed. She was holding a rosary and she looked very dead--as my friend described her--heebie jeebie dead. The picture hung over the sofa in the living room.

My own family is Czech. There were pictures of the dead in every room. A big oval portrait of my great grandmother's little brother, who died in World War 1, in the Argonne, hung in our dining room. I felt like he was a guest at every family dinner. He was dressed in his uniform, a couple of dried palm fronds tucked behind the carved frame. My grandmother had 7 sisters and each of my great aunts had the same portrait in her living or dining room.

My other grandmother had a grim picture of my great-great grandparents in her living room. The picture was in a big, black, oval frame. It was of an old couple dressed in black old fashioned clothes, very immigrant. They were living when the picture was taken. As old people went, they were not smilers. They died in a tornado in 1902. They had been caught while driving their buggy home from...of course, church! So they were lucky enough to go straight to heaven. Lucky ducks! My grandmother--a real downer--was one of the first on the scene. My great grandmother was found hanging in a tree. Her neck was broken. Grandma loved to tell the story, especially during tornado season. My mom finally had to tell her to stop talking about it because it scared the Bee-Jeesus out of us kids. I think my mom actually said Bee-Jeesus to Grandma. They didn't get along.

Grandma was an Extreme Unction addict. She was constantly summoning the family to her deathbeds. I remember them well--holy candles burning,rosary beads jiggling, a priest at her bedside. Well, at least for a while. Then the priest, Father Sheedy, told her there was only one Extreme Unction per customer and she had used up hers and more. She was pretty pissed off about it and conducted the Last Rites without benefit of a priest after that. She had this little Handy Dandy Do -It -Yourself -Dying- Catholic Kit that was kept in a hollow, wooden cross. It had candles, holy water, oil and prayers. Just in case.

My mother was a Methodist for a while. My grandmother married a Methodist and had to leave the Catholic church--this was in about 1927. My great grand parents did not turn her from the family but that was unusual in those days. It was more common to cut contact completely. Families often divided over out of faith marriages, even in the fifties when I was growing up.

After a few years my maternal grandparents divorced and my grandmother married my grandfather and re-joined the Church. Lots of paper work and an interview with the bishop involved in this. Grandpa wasn't religious (His family owned a local pool hall and he always said he belonged to the Church of the Billiard Green-Missouri Synod). He was kind of scandalous but converted for Grandma and went to church every Sunday after that. My mother joined the church when she married my dad. Methodists said the most awful things about Catholics and Catholics said the same about Methodists. It wasn't easy because we had both in our family. Those were some harsh times. --s6

Siri Kirpal
06-03-2014, 11:57 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks, everyone!

Cyn, my family is part Presbyterian (as in I'm descended from the parents of John Knox), and dancing was allowed as long as no liquor of any sort was present. I had that from my grandmother who was born in 1890. A dance, at least in Missouri, was sometimes called a "Play Party" to differentiate it from the sort were alcohol was rampant.

I will keep the alcohol thing in mind, though; that's a good point.

The current requirements for entry into the Catholic Church for someone who is already baptized looks as if it's highly streamlined. No catechism with children. No first communion with children either. Not sure if those were true then or not.

Also, frugality is in the eye of the beholder. Old Presbyterian Churches here in Oregon have plenty of stained glass, for instance. The issue was important historically, but probably not for a wealthy person of the Presbyterian persuasion who's marrying a poor Catholic, and converting in order to do it. :)

S6, those are amazing stories!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

CynHolt
06-04-2014, 04:23 AM
Good to know about the dance, Play Party. I'll add that to my list of weird facts. I went to seminary with a bunch of Presbyterians and they never seemed as uptight as many of the other denominations. I was always impressed with their strict standards for clergy. A lot of other churches should take note. They attended the school because it was built by the Presbyterian church and was under their control for the first three years. Now, it's considered ecumenical and I studied with Buddhist nuns, Catholic nuns, high priestesses, and clergy from multiple Christian denominations. I, of course, was still considered strange. :)

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the subject. You've chosen an interesting combination, ripe with tension, and set for adventure.

Siri Kirpal
06-04-2014, 07:30 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing what I do with it too. :)

About Play Party: that wouldn't just be a Presbyterian term; it was prevalent in the Ozarks and, I think, also in Appalachia. (I studied folk music after I decided I wasn't going to be an opera star when I grew up.)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal