Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REMEMBERING CHAUNCEY STREET 5.The Catholic Faith by Pat Aronica

This anecdote is not intended to be educational, but to make you aware of the significance of our Catholic faith. 

Mom (front left) with her family in 1917.
Mom's mother died the following year.
My mother, Aunt Dot, Uncle Fred, and Uncle Gil were left motherless by the Spanish flu epidemic. Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald Merrill was taken away from her husband and children in 1918. My mother was only seven, and Aunt Dot was not much older. Some of the aunts and uncles that aided our grandfather, “Pup”, in raising his children were Protestants. Nonetheless, Mom and Aunt Dot stayed true to their Catholic faith.

Unless you attended Mass with my mother or Aunt Dot, you would never understand the devotion and love of the faith these two sisters had. I was not more than 5 or 6 when I realized the importance of the Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord. You just had to look into the face of my mother, and you too would believe.

Sometimes my mother would go the earliest Mass (6:30 or 7:00 am) because she didn’t have shoes and had to go in slippers. Most of the time she would say the first up was the best dressed. We had to wear hats to church. As the attendees at the first service came home, the next group going to church would take the hats off the first group. I would be safe in saying that a particular hat may have attended three Masses on any given Sunday.

Me (Patsy) and Mary, c. 1945
Many a night I would observe my mother on her knees saying her prayers next to her bed. Should anyone dare to say a “bad” word in the presence of my mother, my father would throw them bodily from the house. I can safely say that I never witnessed my parents say anything unkind to each other.

Dad and Mom, c. 1955
My father was a convert. He was raised a Lutheran and converted to Catholicism during the early years of their marriage. He didn’t always attend Sunday Mass. It was well understood, however, that we would attend.

Sundays were always special. Dinner was cooked and prepared to the sounds of my mother’s Irish records. Mom and Dad cooked and prepared the meal like a well-organized ballet. The bar and grills didn’t open until the last Mass was let out, and many of their friends would drop by to see what was on our table. One very special friend of my father’s would very often reach over us and pick up a piece of roast, just to hold him over ‘til his own meal was prepared at home. That was Joe Hagen. Many Sundays were standing room only in our dining room.

My father was a choir member in his early days, and he had a good singing voice. I don’t know what happened to that talent, as I don’t think any of my siblings, like my mother, can carry a note. I can still hear my father singing “I’ll take you home again Kathleen”, or “Mary was a grand old name”, or “Peg of my heart.” I think that is why I have a daughter called Kathleen and a baby called Peggy.

© 2013, Patricia Aronica

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