Monday, November 9, 2009

Catherine LeDuke never misses a Sunday with the Lord. And He never misses a day with her.

Catherine Frazier Patty grew up and was baptized in the Chelsea Avenue Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. She attended services with her mother, Mary Reder Patty and several of her Aunts; the most religious of whom was Sally Swaine Reder. Aunt Sally taught Sunday School just about all of her life. In addition she taught the piano, most likely using a borrowed hymnal.

When Aunt Sally moved to the Tiptonville Nursing Home at the age of 99 she brought her worldly possessions in three boxes. These boxes contained teaching materials related to her Sunday School and Piano teaching. When anyone visited Aunt Sally they had to endure at least a half an hour of listening to her recite John; 3:16 or watch her pull out her cardboard piano keyboard and then listen to a lecture concerning the proper way to play.

I mention Aunt Sally not to belittle her, but to explain why I think Mother never used that kind of "hit'em over the head with religion" approach with her own kids or with those she taught in her own Sunday School Classes. I believe Mother was every bit as "Religious" as any of the members of her Church Going Family. However, just as she had a quiet, low key method of teaching in her High School Latin classes, so also did she demonstrate her considerable Faith in her dealings with others.

If ever there was a perfect example of how one should let their light shine brightly, and never let that light be hidden under a basket, that example surely would be Catherine LeDuke.

It has been mentioned that Mother used to write "Stuff" on a blackboard kept at the front of her class, and even though on occasion that "stuff" would be a bible verse, she would never preach a sermon using that verse. It would simply be there for all to look at and be meaningful only to those who might need that verse on that day.

Similarly, Catherine witnessed for the Lord by her actions. She could certainly quote scripture if the situation called for it, but she was not one to carry a soap box with her. She believed that a person should be presented with the tools to discover their own Faith. That the person with an inner religious struggle should be led gently to realize the Truth in their own way and time. In this way, she believed, their Faith would be made stronger and more durable for the long journey that most all true believers must travel.

I can honestly say that I do not believe that Catherine LeDuke has ever wavered from her deep faith in Christ. As Richard so accurately identified, a favorite Bible verse of Mother's (from Philippians 4:11) is and remains today: "in whatsoever state I am, there within to be content." This was not resignation of her inability to effect change of her circumstances, but rather her recognition of the acceptance of God's ultimate plan. She has faith in that Higher Power and believes she should dedicate her efforts to dealing with her circumstances for His glory.

Mother and Daddy were married in the Chelsea Avenue Presbyterian Church she knew as a child and young adult. When James Neville and Catherine returned to Tiptonville in 1938 they joined the Tiptonville Presbyterian Church. Our life growing up was centered around that church. I can't tell you how many pictures Mother has of all our various families gathered in front of that beautiful little church.

James Neville was the organist for many, many years. Mother became the first female Elder ordained there when the Presbyterian Church USA finally became a part of the 20th century. Christmas time always brings back special memories of a huge decorated tree that always reached to ceiling; Easter Egg Hunts on the grounds; Mother's day corsages of either white or red roses; Miss Marian Burnett singing the Old Rugged Cross; Daddy playing the organ with his shoes off and then struggling to find them.

Sue drops Mother off at 10:30 every Sunday morning at the Tiptonville Presbyterian Church. She may be frail but she was there yesterday and will be there next Sunday as well.

I am provided with a special memory every time I am in town. I get to take my Mother to church. And at the appropriate time, I get to watch her remove a blank check from her check book and drop it into the collection plate; unable to see well enough to fill it out or sign it, she leaves it to the current treasurer to do the honors. "And there within she is content."

Even today, Mother speaks to every person in attendance before we leave and I believe God clears her memory each Sunday so she knows exactly to whom she is talking.

Of course, she then takes my arm and says: "Okay, I guess it's time to go home, Richard."

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad Amanada and I were baptized in that church!