Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes {Take 71} 7 things I remember from growing up Catholic, edition...

Morning all! I'm feeling a bit better today, though still on the mend. My nose seems to not be trying to kill me anymore, so I'll take it.  In thinking about what to write today, my mind drifted back to Lent. Catholic stuff, hum... It's Friday of the first week of Lent, and we're all very heavily immersed in our Lenten promises and meat-free meals. I have a completely different perspective on all things Catholic as an adult than I did as a child. I *love* hearing conversion stories, and I think it's because I'm not a convert. I was raised Catholic, so it's fascinating for me to read about what causes a person to choose to be Catholic. Now, in a sense, I chose it too, but let's circle back to that. I'll tell you a little about my story and you can leave yours in the comments. :) So. What are 7 things I remember from my cradle Catholic childhood?

-1- Mass is boring :0

Oh baby. :) Other cradle Catholics out there, you felt this way too, right? When you're raised as part of something, it takes on a feeling of being pretty ordinary, yes? I did not enjoy going to Mass as a child, and the reason is that I did not understand exactly what was going on there, and why we were doing this. I felt like I was forced to go by my mom, and I'm certain that Henry feels this exact same way about his current situation. :) I did not understand that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, and that the liturgy is taken from Scripture and has eternal meaning. I just knew that we had to go silently sit on these uncomfortable pews for 45 minutes and I did not like it. When we got to the Our Father, I'd get all excited because I knew that meant that we were about 75% of the way through. I had it calculated. :0

-2- But religious education classes? WORSE

Lord, *help*, but those classes were painful. I remember tromping there every Tuesday afternoon, jealous of my classmates who simply got to go home an hour early from school. Yes, I grew up in Niagara Falls, a very Catholic city, and the public schools actually dismissed early on Tuesdays so that the Catholic children could attend religious education. Odd, but true. I never enjoyed those classes, because I didn't understand why I had to go. We didn't go to Mass every Sunday, so why the emphasis on these classes and making the sacraments? At this point in time, my dad wasn't Catholic, so that was certainly a factor in the mix. The classes seemed trite and unimportant to me. I didn't connect them to any larger moral and religious worldview.

-3- God though? Always there

Although I didn't really understand my Catholic identity very well, I was raised with a firm belief in God, and that has never failed me. I remember being about 4 years old and "seeing" Jesus one night when I was alone in my room and frightened about something. I don't know if that was simply a dream or not, but I don't consider that detail all that important. The important thing was that my belief in Him comforted and soothed me, and I never doubted His presence and love for me.

-4- First Communion is such a fond milestone of Catholic childhood

Even though I didn't understand the Eucharist until I was an adult (I'm certain I was told about it, in those much maligned religious education classes :) but I was never paying attention; I am the QUEEN of mind wandering) I remember being excited about making my First Communion. In fact, I remember the morning quite vividly, and given how long ago that was (doing public math, hum... just over 30 years ago; great, now I feel old) it's fairly significant that it still stands out in my mind. It was a beautiful spring day, with a cloudless blue sky, and I remember putting on my dress and veil and being SO EXCITED to process into the church with my class. I kind of wish I had a photo to share, but, nah. It was the early 80's, let's not go back there, shall we? I'm pretty sure my dress had puffy sleeves and *pleats*.


-5- Confirmation? At least it's cool to pick a new name

Yes, the ambivalence continued, I'm afraid. In our diocese, Confirmation takes place in 10th grade, and at that point I felt no connection to my faith whatsoever. I chose St. Cecilia as my patron simply because I liked her name. I remember being annoyed that the girl ahead of me in the line up to the bishop had also chosen Cecilia as her name, which makes no sense, but there you have it. After that, I thought no more of Confirmation other than that it meant that I no longer had to go to religious education classes. Victory!

-6- But those graces? They're sneaky :)

Well hello there, college. Despite you being of the Catholic persuasion, you're not exactly a hotbed of devout activity. But...

By now, my dad was Catholic. And I had been attending a Marian prayer group with my mom for several years, at first simply because they served snacks. :) But I kept going because of the fellowship, and all that praying, as well as accumulated sacramental graces, had a lasting impact. There was a beautiful chapel on campus, and one day in my freshman year I had a bunch of time between classes, so I stopped in. Daily Mass was ongoing, and what's this?

Once you go to daily Mass, you're done. That is the sign of imminent conversion of heart. I went as often as I could throughout college, though that waned a bit more towards the end of my time there.

-7- Ultimately, I become a "vert"

I remember reading once that there are three ways that Catholics can describe themselves:

(1) A convert - came into the Church from a different faith, or no faith at all;

(2) A revert - raised Catholic, actively left the Church, and formally returned; or

(3) A "vert" - never left the Church, but didn't form a full Catholic identity until sometime past early childhood, when the person embraces their faith by taking the time to truly understand it.

Granted, baptism makes a person Catholic, even if they receive it as an infant, as I did. But ultimately, you do have to choose to be Catholic if you're going to continue your faith as an adult. Otherwise, the seed will wither and not take root. Although I went through some bad times after college, during which I stopped going to Mass and made some terrible choices, my heart was once again moved to seek Him out (lurking sacramental graces once again saving my undeserving self). And when I went back to daily Mass? Boom, I was done. :) Haven't looked back since.

I enjoyed this little trip down memory lane! Maybe next week I'll write about the things that really changed my heart about my faith once I studied and examined them during graduate school. But I digress. What is your story? Do tell me all about it, I love faith stories! And don't forget to check out other 7 Quick Takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum. :)


  1. I'd never heard the term "vert" before. Thank you for this relatable post.

  2. Funny, I adored religious education -- my mom was one of the teachers, so I knew ALL the answers, I always had my hand up. And it was the most "schoolish" thing I did because I was homeschooled.

    But somehow in all that, I did not know what the Eucharist was supposed to be! My mom swears it was in the curriculum, but I wonder if my teacher skipped it? Or I was way too distracted with the bread-and-wine practice? No clue.

    At any rate, when I found out, at the age of 12, and heard that whoever eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself ... well, I was floored and very upset. I think I came up with some kind of crazy penance to do to atone for all those communions I received without knowing what it was.


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