St. Michael Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do, thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell satan and all of the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Memories of First Communion, Confession, Catholic School, and the Nuns - Part 1

As a cradle Catholic, by the age of 6 I was well schooled in learning how to please God.  Every morning I would pray, “I offer you all of my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day.”  I trusted that God would be with me, and He would bless me and protect me.   I attended Catholic School, and Sister Mary Claudia was my teacher.  I know it was she who blessed me with Fear of the Lord.  I looked at Sister as she taught.  She had to be more than 14 feet tall!

Sister drilled us well in the Baltimore Catechism, and we had to review the day’s lesson with our parents at home. 

“What is the purpose of your life?”  she would intone.
In our sing song voices we would reply, “Our purpose in life is to know God, to serve God in this world and in the next.” 

We would say this with sincere hearts and souls, even as poked the kid in front of us, not that I  ever poked or pushed anyone! 

We attended Mass as a school once a week. We were expected to behave in a manner that would not embarrass our teachers or our parents.  We were expected to genuflect with heads bowed when we entered our pew.  We were expected to be quiet in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  We were expected to sit, stand, and kneel at the proper times in the Mass.  We were expected to focus on the Mass without allowing distractions to enter into our time at Mass.  If these things did not happen, our parents received the dreaded phone call about our behavior. 

I can’t explain this, but there were times, for no reason, my best friend would dissolve into tears of laughter, unable to stop, because we knew we had to be quiet.  I had to sit with Sister Mary Claudia many times during Mass, and, each time I did, the phone rang at my house!  The school year ended, and we  returned the next year as 2nd graders. 

We were much more mature, at least we 2nd graders thought so.  We began our preparation for the Sacraments of Confession and our First Reception of the Eucharist.  We agreed with our teachers who reminded us  that we had to set the example for the younger students.  We did our best, but I was still escorted to join Sister Mary Claudia in her pew.  Sister had been moved up to teach 2nd grade that year.  Yes, the phone continued to ring at my house. 

In spite of these trials of learning not to laugh at the wrong times, Sister taught us well.  We learned about the love of Jesus and how our living and true God would come to us when we received our First Communion.  This was serious now.  We were becoming true Catholics,  almost adults.  Sister taught us well.  We learned that we would not  be able to receive Holy Communion if we were in the state of mortal sin.  The thought of mortal sin made me guIp, so I tried harder not dissolve into laughter when my best friend and I looked at each other at Mass. I did not want to commit a mortal sin.  I wasn’t sure if that was a mortal sin, so better safe than sorry.

My efforts were a penance.  I was told to “offer up this sacrifice up to God so that I might become a better person and more worthy to receive Jesus on the day of our First Communion.  Our efforts were hopeless. My best friend and I were not allowed to sit near other.  Sister Mary Claudia no longer needed to escort me back to sit with her.  It was just easier to sit with her and be done with it!  I did not want to commit a mortal sin!

Our preparation continued through 2nd grade.  We were so near the day of our First Communion and our First Confession.  Sister taught us what we should say when the door on our side of the confessional would open.  “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  This is my first confession.”  Later, Sister told us, we would say, “It’s been 2 weeks, or however long it’s been, since our last confession.”  We were also told to whisper since we did not want anyone else to hear our sins.  We were taught the Act of Contrition.  We were reminded that we needed to say the penance we were given immediately after we left the confessional.  There was no way we would ever forget what we were taught.  I could say it in my sleep, and I did on occasion.

My mother had bought my beautiful, white dress and veil for first communion.  She said that if I did not laugh during Mass, yes, it was still an issue, she would have a candy bar ready for me to eat after Mass.  This was in the days when we had to fast 24 hours before receiving Holy Communion.  The day was nearing.  We were so excited, but first we had to go to confession.

By now, I was walking with Sister Mary Claudia when we left the classroom to go to church.  She had begun to encourage me to sit with my friends.  I knew it was still easier to sit with her.  I’d be asked, during Mass,  to sit with her, anyway. 

Part 2:: Stay Tuned, tomorrow.

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