I try to concentrate during Sunday Mass but more and more my mind often wanders. This morning's Easter celebration with all the kids in their finery, brought back a flood of memories which later triggered an enthusiastic conversation with friends over what we remember about Growing Up Catholic.
I shared my conviction that, despite being a girl, I was quite capable of distributing the Communion wafer, thank you very much, and I could prove it with the multiple packages of Necco Wafers I ceremoniously placed on my kid brother’s tongue. I think what I really was after was power as I insisted he kneel in front of me and hold a pie tin under his chin. That lad would do anything to get my Necco Wafers.
Childhood friends Joanie and Mary Lee attended the neighborhood Catholic school. They were masters (mistresses?) of the nun's habit that was de rigueur in the mid-50's. I, on the other hand, one of a handful of Catholic kids in the local public school, had only movies to guide me. So while Joan and Mary in habits pinned from old brown curtains would maintain order in their backyard classrooms of stuffed animals and dolls, I (still looking for power) entered our make believe school as Head of the Order, wrapped in white dishtowels, my mother's slip around my head. (I never could make Joanie and Mary Lee obey me; they just didn’t buy it.)
My favorite story, though, comes from Jay who grew up the only Lutheran in a Catholic neighborhood. "I went to church with my Catholic pals, impressed with the fancy stuff they got to do when they served as altar boys. I loved the Easter Sunday ritual where the priest walks up and down the aisles, blessing the congregation with his aspergillum dipped in holy water. I still wonder what the neighbors thought when they saw us solemnly process through the alley, blessing the trash cans with a sprig of soggy broccoli."
Maybe letting my mind wander isn't so bad after all when it brings back all these memories.