Monday, March 2, 2009


                                                           Donny               Me
                                     June 16,1940--First Communion

I was raised in a Catholic family.  As long as I can remember we always went to church.  We lived 10 miles from three Catholic churches.  Minnespolis, Delp0hos, and Meredith which was a small country church.  We kids liked to go to Meredith because it was small and there were a lot of other farm kids there.  The church would hold about 50 or 60 people.  I think the pews were homemade.  They were made out of 1X12 boards about 10 feet long.  4 or 5 people could sit in them easy.  I remember you had to watch it when you sat down because the pews were not fastened to the floor.  The floor was slick and the pews were light.  When you sat down  they would scoot out from under you if you weren't careful.  The kneelers were the same way so if you didn't watch it when you knelt down they would scoot away or turn over.  So you can see, we kids would have fun watching things happen and we would laugh when they happened to us.  
We went to Minneapolis for catechism.  They only had it two times for country kids that I can remember--once before 1st communion and once before confirmation.  They were two weeks each.  

I remember we would go to confession on Saturday night and that meant you could not eat anything after midnight.  We thought we were going to die!!  Saturday night was a big thing during the summer because you didn't go to town during the week and if the folks went to Salina we didn't get to town for two weeks.  On Saturday nights farm families would gather in town to shop and visit with each other.  They would visit until after midnight so on the way home we would want something to eat but that was a no-no because if you broke your fast you couldn't take communion Sunday morning.

When Lent came around it was time to get out the rosary.  Ash Wednesday was the start.  This was the only time I can remember going to church during the week except for mid-night mass on Christmas eve.  We would go to the Ash Wednesday service and get the ashes put on our forehead and NO washing them off the rest of the day.  The ashes were from Palm Sunday palms that had been burned and they symbolized repentance and sorrow for sin.

Every night at bedtime we would kneel by our beds and say the rosary.  Mom would lead us until we got older.  When my sister Donna got older she would lead us.  We all got our turn leading the rosary.  I remember we would be saying the rosary and fall asleep and someone would poke us to wake us up.  I thought we did it for hours but it was only 15 minutes or so.  We got pretty good, we could mumble the responses in our sleep.  It was a serious thing to our mom. We didn't understand that until later years.  

Lent is the time for reconciliation with the Father and His Son Jesus so fasting was a big part of Lent.  I remember we would give something up for Lent.  Mom would ask us "What are you going to give up for Lent this year?"  We would answer with some smart aleck answer like watermelon, washing dishes or going to school.  Mom would say "That won't work!"  We would give up something like candy, ice cream or one of the meals each day.  We would do this to show Jesus that we loved Him.  In later years we realized He was more interested in our heart (our inside rather that our outside).  I knew ABOUT God but I didn't KNOW HIM.

Joel 2:12-13----"Even now, " declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning."  Rend your hearts and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God , for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.  NIV

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