The incense always made me this close to passing out because 1. incense 2. no air conditioning in the church 3. locked knees. Bad combination. On the days we didn't go to church we had church music class where we learned & practiced the songs for Mass. I loved, loved, loved the songs. Morning Has Broken, Be Not Afraid, and all the Hosanna's were my favorites. Except I can't really sing. Like, at all. You can ask Holly if you doubt this. So I lip-synched my way through music class. I was called on it once by my friend standing next to me (Hi Bridget!), I did what any good Catholic girl would do and denied it.
I was a cheerleader for the St. Joseph's Saints (I'm in the very last row on the right, I was tall then!) As cheerleaders, we wore sweaters and longish skirts sewn by nuns because I went to school in 1953. Every day in 6th grade we had to play kickball at recess. Every. Single. Day. Somehow the girls would sneak out of this occasionally and play games in the locker room where we would try to levitate our friends with just two fingers (Light as a feather, stiff as a board.) I'm pretty sure this would have been frowned upon had we been caught. Another thing that was frowned upon was the field trip our 7th grade class took to the Horse Cave Theater for a performance of Othello. On the way we stopped at the Buffalo Park in Cave City (which is now open to public and called Kentucky Down Under.) Apparently our class broke several park rules by jumping in the buffalo pens and chasing them and each other. We weren't aware of how serious (or dangerous) an infraction this was until midway through Othello when the owners of the park interrupted the play to drag us all out to the lobby for a stern talking to. Then we knew we had to go back to school for a stern talking to by our principal, Sister Amelia. I have never been so frightened in my entire life. This wild buffalo chase did not make Sister Amelia a happy nun, people. The things that I most remember about my early education were the amazing teachers that I had and the wonderful education that I received. The friends that I had at that school I still have to this day.
I love the ritual of the Catholic Church; the holy water, the statuary, the vestments, Mary, Lent, Midnight Mass, the fact that I can and will always be able to recite the standard part of the Mass. The Church is like a warm, gooey bowl of mashed potatoes for me. Comfort. After the attacks on Sept. 11 this is where I went to sit and think and pray; where I went to get away from the news, the scrolling names of the dead or missing, and the constant discussions of everyone around me.
Maybe I have a unique idea of religion, because although I miss a lot of good "stuff" about the Church, I have some pretty big bones of contention with it as well. And these are things that I just can't overlook. Maybe someday I will be able to. I am Catholic and will always be, so it's not like I can become another religion, or join another church. It makes me a girl without a home.