I am a six-year-old little girl with a folded piece of Kleenex bobby-pinned to the top of my head, sitting in my family church pew. I always forget to bring my chapel veil. My father gets us up every Sunday to attend 9:00 Mass. I wear a dress, and my brothers wear suits and ties that fit little boys. We always sit in the same pew. My father sits on the pew’s aisle side, and my three brothers sit next to him. This is in case he has to reach over and pinch any of them when they whisper or giggle. I sit next to my mother at the end of the row.
The priest walks out, and we stand up. He has his back to us as he faces the altar. He begins the Mass in Latin. The homily is the only part of the Catholic Mass spoken by the priest in English. My father nods off in the middle of Mass and wakes up sometime around communion.
I haven’t made my first communion yet, so my brothers and I wait in the pew for our parents to return. I see my friend in the next pew and wave to her before my parents return. We kneel on the leather kneeler until my parents finish their prayers, and then we proceed to sit down on the pew bench together.
The Mass ends, we file out, waiting for families in the pews ahead of us to go first. We exit the church. The priest stands outside and shakes hands with the parishioners. My parents stand around and talk to their friends, and we run and play with ours.
We stop at the donut shop and get two-three dozen donuts. As soon as we arrive home, friends begin to appear at our house for coffee and donuts.
Growing up a Catholic gave me a sense of belonging.
We are approaching Easter Sunday in no less than seven days. I want to share my memories of Lent and Easter.
My Lenten Childhood
This is what I remember of my Lenten Childhood from 1960–1970.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.
Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance when Christians confess their sins and profess their devotion to God. Ashes symbolize penance and the dust from which God made people. Priests mark our foreheads with the ashes. “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” recites the priest.