Big Catholic Family — 40 to 50 Brothers and Sisters

There’s a show about a family with 19 kids or something like that. What’s the big deal? That used to be every Catholic family in my neighborhood. There were 40 or 50 kids in my family alone. Every day I meet someone new and say, “Wow, you look just like my brother.” They say, “I am your brother.”

Beating the Bounds App

Beating the Bounds

I came across an old picture from the early 1900s of a group of British kids hitting the side of a building with some long branches.

I found out it is an old British custom called “beating the bounds.” A group would walk the boundaries of a church parish to physically mark the boundaries, bless the area and pray for prosperity.

This was in the days before maps, and very few people could read and write. So priests, church elders and a group of boys all walked around with willow or birch trees, young and old, to mark the parish lands, so the knowledge could be handed down through the generations.

They hit the buildings, stones, streets and even each other with the branches.The idea was to ingrain the boundaries in people’s memories with a physical connection.

By hitting each other?

Sounds like a Catholic memory training technique.

“Matthew, recite your ABCs while I stand here with this birch branch. Good luck,” said Sister Terror.

“A, B, C,…C…C…F?

Whack! “Try again dear,” said Sister Terror, smiling.

Even with today’s smartphones, GPS and Google Maps, I still forget where things are—places I have been to several times.I need an app that will hit me with a willow branch to remind me where it is, a high-tech version of beating the bounds.

“Hey, did your phone just hit you with a stick?”

“Yeah, it’s a memory app. It helps you remember where things by creating a physical connection.”

“Couldn’t you just write it down?”

“Then I would have stickies everywhere. This is better.”

Should work, but be careful if your girlfriend likes that kind of thing.

“Joe, get out that app again. The one that spanks you with a branch,” she says.

“Spanks you? You mean the memory app?”

“Whatever you want to call it, honey.”