Childhood Catholic Faith Memories

Jesus blesses the children.

Jesus blesses the children.

For those readers who have a bit of “experience of life”, and who were Catholic also as children, I wonder: What particular Catholic traditions do you remember observing as a child?

I’m thinking along the lines of:

  • Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
  • May Crowning of Our Lady
  • Lighting Candles
  • Attending Novena with Aunt Sally
  • Processions
  • …and so forth.

Please drop me a line, either in the comment box or via the blog contact form, and let me know! Feel free to share some detail. For example, if you fondly remember visits to the Blessed Sacrament, were there certain prayers that you said?

I am continually discovering new things along these lines – now-forgotten customs, or practices that maybe are starting to make a comeback – and I’m always looking for new ones to learn about! I think others will enjoy hearing about these things as well. Thanks!

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15 Responses to Childhood Catholic Faith Memories

  1. timefliers says:

    I remember a car pulling up to a house, the driver holding open the back door and a priest exiting the car, a black box held in his hands at chest level. People stopped their cars, honked their horns, flashed their headlights, pedestrians stopped on the sidewalk and knelt in the falling snow, crossing themselves – the priest was bringing Viaticum to someone. I knelt, too, and many years later converted to the Catholic faith.

    • Beautiful! I remember bringing Holy Communion to an elderly sick person once, and they had a candle lit and crucifix waiting for me. They were taught correctly at a young age.

      • timefliers says:

        My father was R.C., my mother Anglican, both were lapsed. I picked up my love of Mary and interest in the R.C. faith from the families of my friends in our neighbourhood. I lived in a post WW 2 immigrant neighbourhood where money was short but faith was strong, and my friend’s parents and grandparents were happy to teach me. My husband and I, together with our teenaged children, converted through R.C.I.A. 22 years ago. We, too, keep blessed candles on hand, blessed crucifixes on the wall over our door and bed. Also a bottle of holy water from the Easter Vigil. A person can be correctly taught at an early age, and/or the seeds of faith planted and faith grown as an adult. We were blessed to have always had priests who believed in the True Presence. May God bless you in your vocation, Father.

    • Bee says:

      My mother had (still has) a crucifix on the wall of her bedroom that has a sliding chamber that contains 2 blessed tapers, and a bottle for holy water. When the priest was coming to administer Extreme Unction, the crucifix could be laid on a table, and the corpus moved so you could place the candles in holes for them. There was a little instruction booklet for how to prepare for the priest to come. I think it included the candles, a small bowl of water, and some cotton pieces (I believe for the application of Holy Oil).

  2. Ladice says:

    My grandma used to bring me to Catholic Charismatic events and I always bring my grandma and my parents to Catholic Religious stores and by some religious articles. I love that and also the block Rosary wherein an image of the Blessed mother (O.L. Fatima) is being brought to a house for an overnight on which we pray the Rosary, sometimes you need to get in front of the procession are you wouldn’t be able to even enter the house. I

  3. Bob Boffa says:

    memories….. St Anne’s Fall River All the crutches, walkers on the wall…my dad in tears at the testimony of a Catholic lawyer in a IRON LUNG, on the Goodness of God. La Sallette everytime we visited. Sister William Joseph a young nun, who taught me in 6th grade to dance to Rock. An The Priests who loved me, who were there when dad wasn t. Who would sit near me when I me an hour early to Holy Mass to talk with Jesus. And the A’s in religion class in grammar school, and dad saying but why not Math>? Why not English,,,, WHY NOT ITalian? Enough? And I remember being 6-7 to enter Catholic school, being baptized by water and SALT! And I remember my Dad never going to Mass.

  4. Mona says:

    In Catholic elementary school, during Lent, we would walk across the street once a week to church for the Stations of the Cross. I just remember that all of us kids would show such reverence. Even the bad kids quieted down & seemed touched.

  5. Bee says:

    Oh Father! Oh, how many wonderful memories I have of the pre-Vatican II Church that was dashed to pieces when I was 9 years old:
    1) During May, the evening devotions to Our Lady of Fatima (Rosary, Litany of Loretto, then Benediction with the Divine Praises);
    2) The Stations of the Cross at 3pm during Lent in church, with the server using “clappers” (those wooden sticks to replace bells) to indicate when to genuflect and when to kneel. Singing the Stabat Mater accapella (At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.)– We adore you O Chirst, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”;
    3) Hearing the parish bells playing the Angelus in the evening from three blocks away, and stopping to listen, then to sing along quietly, wherever I was, as the organist in church played Immaculate Mary on the bells;
    4) First Holy Communion at a Latin Mass (1962). Sometimes now, at the parish I attend, they play and sing “O Sacrament Most Holy” during communion. Oh, how I loved that song! O Jesus we adore thee, our Victim and our Priest. Whose precious blood and body become our sacred feast. Wow. We kids were taught this for our First Holy Communion, and I never forgot it.;
    5) Hearing a beautiful voiced parishioner singing Panis Angelicus as a solo;
    6) The magnificent Alleluia on Easter Sunday morning, after no music or organ for all of Lent;
    7) Holy God We Praise Thy Name as a closing song (Infinite Thy vast domain, Everlasting is thy reign.) (As you can tell, the music was a big thing for me.) 🙂 ;
    8) The quietness and sanctity of the church. It was always open. When you entered from bright daylight, it was cool and dim inside. Usually Sister Sacresten (we had a parish school I attended that was run by the School Sisters of St. Francis) was usually quietly busy with something at the altar, maybe the confessional light was on so you would know Father was hearing confessions. It was hushed, and seemed to be filled with the presence of God. I can’t describe it, but it seemed as if His Spirit permeated you there.
    9) The framed picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that has hung on the wall of my mother’s kitchen for my whole life (She put it up when they moved here in 1950. It is still there, with palms from Palm Sunday stuck in behind the frame (changed each year!). Even as a child I sometimes would feel the same presence of God in our home as a child as I felt in church. Often I feel as if Jesus Himself is looking at me directly from that picture. When that happens, I speak to Him (sometimes in my heart, sometimes out loud), and I feel as if He is present in my mom’s home. She had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart, and completed the Nine First Fridays as a young woman before she got married.;
    10) Getting very dressed up (our very best clothes; suits for my Dad and the boys, fancy dresses for myself and my mother) to attend Mass on Sunday. The boys spent a lot of time on Saturday nights shining their good shoes!;
    11) My mother ironing surplices in the kitchen while my brothers memorized the Confideor in Latin so they could become altar servers;
    12) The holy and beautiful Sisters of St. Francis. These were great women, and I loved them all. They were extraordinarily kind, and so smart, and I loved the giant 15 decade rosaries that hung from the white cord around their waist, and the silver crucifix on the brown cord that hung around their neck, and their habit covering every piece of skin except their face and hands.;
    13) The little circular chapel veils we females would wear to Mass if we weren’t wearing some other kind of hat or head covering. Sometimes ladies would forget their chapel veil, and would pin a piece of white kleenex on top of their head as a substitute.;
    14) Men tipping their hats as they walked by a church on the sidewalk, as they walked passed the tabernacle inside.
    15) The smell of incense, the air cloudy with it, at the most sacred liturgies.
    I wish some of these pieties and devotions would return. I felt the whole world was mystical then, and God was ever present, even in times of sorrow. Now…well, you know.

  6. Sandy Wells says:

    Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church in Stratfield, CT would have one of the side altars draped with beautiful gold cloth & other appropriate decor on Good Friday -back then even the public schools were closed on Good Friday, so as a family we would go to pray at that altar some time between noon & 3pm.

  7. Marianne Mayer Wertz says:

    I attended a rural north Jersey parish during the ’60s in a small country church until a larger more modern one was built. In the Summers my parents took all of us kids to Monday night Novenas. We’d sing the same songs all the time, but at least we got to memorize them. The Rosary Auxiliary and us daughters would recite the rosary after some masses. Kneeling at the Communion rail and never ascending on the altar seemed very sacred and holy! Seemed like there was much more respect. One thing I am glad that’s changed, at least for me, is our kneelers were wood; cushioning/padding has been a positive addition!

  8. Anita Moore says:

    I have a sick call crucifix that was given to me by my grandmother — almost the last thing she ever gave me before she died. She chose it because it was a lot like the one that hung in her bedroom, which I used to spend a lot of time gazing at.

    One of the few oases of authentic Catholic devotion when I was in Catholic school in the ’70s was Stations of the Cross during Lent. They used hokey, kindergarten-level prayers, but the priest led them and walked the Stations with altar boys, and we sang “Stabat Mater” (in English). Then at the end, we had Benediction, and the priest would put on a cloth-of-gold cope and humeral veil, and incense the Host — all very special. Nowadays, priests seldom lead the Stations, and too many parishes use the idiotic “social justice” Stations where, instead of meditating on Our Lord’s Passion, we are lionizing leftist revolutionaries.

    Well. Our Elders and Betters tried to abolish all the old devotions that touched heathens and nurtured saints for centuries; it is up to us to bring them out again, unashamedly, and use them as candles to drive away the darkness.

  9. Mary Cameron says:

    I’m a little late to this, but I must second all the memories that “Bee” mentions. In addition to the hat-tipping by men, we always made the sign of the cross when passing a Catholic church. Also Anita Moore’s memories: my local parish also has the “social justice” Stations, led by a lay person. St Alphonsus Liguori’s and St Francis of Assisi’s are free on Kindle. I prefer to pray them by myself. My childhood memories are of St Alphonsus’ version.

    And don’t forget the holy water fonts in your home, in addition to your Sacred Heart picture and your statue of the Blessed Mother. (I still have these.)

    One other thing was that the Catholic high schools that I knew of did not elect “Prom Queens”. Our prom queen was Our Lady, and we had a May crowning at the prom. We sang “Mother Beloved” and “An Army of Youth” (by Fr. Daniel Lord). The very expensive Catholic schools where my children went had prom courts just like public schools. They also had class on Holy Days of Obligation! Unheard of in the pre-VII days!

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