Random Thoughts

Lent. A time of reflection

... starting with Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter Sunday

by Betty Rossi


A reminder that we have come from dust, and to dust we shall return. While at a
recent Stringer meeting, we started reminiscing about growing up Catholic here in
Melrose. I can remember reading the book "The Song of Bernadette" and wanting to
become a Nun at around thirteen years of age. Fathers Gray, Bonner and Moran are
still very vivid in my memory. Every Saturday, we had to go to Confession to confess
our "sins", so that we could receive the Sacraments on Sunday mornings. At the
tender age of twelve or thirteen, you really didn't have many sins to confess...so
you would say that you disobeyed your mother or father, lied twenty or thirty times
and had impure thoughts. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we didn't know what impure
thoughts were, but we knew that we couldn't have them. My dear, dear friend Rita
Quinn Dietrich remembered that she would confess not saying her morning or evening
prayers a couple of times the previous week. You had to confess something! You would
say "The Stations of the Cross" with great humility. I can remember saving my money
to light a votive candle with it's glowing red glass downstairs in the lower church
and saving my pennies and change from errands and my allowance to put money into the
miter boxes to help feed the "starving children".

You also had to "give up something"...maybe eating chocolate, or chewing gum, or
fighting with your brothers or sisters for the whole forty days. Usually, good
intentions lasted about a week. You could never, ever eat meat on Friday. You had to
have fish. Saturdays were saved for franks and beans, if you were lucky.Girls always
wore hats in church and dressed up in their Sunday best because they were going into
God's house. Today, it is appalling to see the lack of respect shown with the
wearing of tee shirts, shorts and dungarees in church. I can remember when they
brought in Folk Masses, with the playing of guitars and the clapping of hands. I
thought that it was going to be the ruination of the Catholic Church. Then, along
came Father Little, the priest of the people. He would walk down the aisle shaking
people's hands and gave flowers to mothers on Mother's Day. He could make you laugh
out loud with his down to earth sermons and interpretation of the gospel. When he
was moved to another parish, the whole church wept.

We would anticipate Easter morning, when the Easter Bunny would hide colored eggs
for us to find. We would fill our Easter baskets with wonderfully colored hard
boiled eggs that we would be eating for at least a solid week! We would get Jax and
marbles and maybe a jump rope and maybe some jelly beans in our baskets if we were
lucky. Today the kids get Barbie Dolls and Monster trucks in pre-made baskets that
cost between $25.00 and $50.00 apiece. Stringer Don Norris said that he remembered
receiving baby rabbits one Easter that multiplied and multiplied. Baskets are still
filled with shredded green grass, colored eggs, which are now made of candy and
jelly beans.

Life was so much simpler growing up during the Age of Innocence. The passion of the
days gone by have faded to a memory that is pressed against my heart.


April 6, 2012


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