Monday, May 14, 2012

Religious Childhood

My earliest memories of religion were at home with my parents, then at our small church, St. Mary's.
I remember one day, when I was maybe 4, my mother told me that Jesus was up there in the altar.  I knew that Jesus was dead.  I saw the crucifix.  I was mighty proud that, out of all the churches in the world, Jesus was buried in our altar.
It would be snowing gently as we came out of Christmas midnight mass.  I remember how mellow and secure I felt as people greeted each other and shook hands and hugged.  I knew this was where I belonged, where I would be cared for.
We walked to church, about two miles, on a path that went around the hill.  I started serving 7 AM weekday Mass after I made my first communion in the second grade.  I liked the idea of Jesus being inside of me.  To keep him there after recieving communion I would let the host stick to the roof of my mouth to see how far home I could get before it melted.  I had a sense that this might not be allowed, so I never told anybody.
We got a car in 1949.  As we drove to church, my father would pick up anybody that we saw walking to church until we had a carfull.  He would tell them to come to our car after Mass and we would drive them each to their homes, sometimes going a good bit out of our way.  Without anything being said, I learned early on that church and service to people went hand in hand.
The church in the picture is the first one that St. Damien built when he went to Hawaii.  It is even smaller than ours.

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