I was raised in the Catholic church and attended a private Catholic school from 1st- 8th grades. Since we lived one block from the school, the church, and the adjacent convent, much of my childhood was spent in one of those three places.
My mother was very devout and took her religion seriously. She used to read her bible regularly and participate in seminars and retreats at San Damiano Retreat, a beautiful 55 acre wooded retreat overlooking our valley in Contra Costa County.
On Saturday mornings mom often sent me to the convent to help the nuns with housekeeping chores. I remember making the trek with both curiosity and dread: I was curious about the nuns and excited to get a peek into their home, but also a bit resentful of having to spend time cleaning there after my required housework in our own home. But Mom insisted we help them on a weekly basis as well as donate things for their daily needs.
The times I most enjoyed in my church were centered around music. Since I played guitar and loved to sing, when I was in 7th-12th grades I participated in the folk group that sang at mass each Sunday morning at 9 A.M. Folk music was big back then and we’d find ways to match popular music to the homilies and readings. Songs from musicals such as Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar were also present in the weekly song sheets that were dittoed for the parishioners. I still remember the purplish tint and distinctive smell of the ditto fluid on those pages.
Mom’s faith got her through difficult days and was such an integral part of her day to day living. One of her writings from the 1980’s is about faith. Since Alzheimer’s has stolen so much from my mother, I wonder if she even remembers this part of her life.
…the radiant tool that fashions my life with the wonder and awe of God’s love for me.
…the mystery that takes me through the sorrowing times of my life.
…the well-spring of a love so intense, so personal, that to dwell on it brings a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes.
…the certainty that God is with me even when I am not with God.
…the gift that fills my life with peace.