I am in NYC for one more cold day and then I will continue with my book. Happy 2018 and stay warm. We had no intention of watching the ball drop from Times Square last night. How those people stood out in the cold from 8am until midnight is beyond my understanding of the term fun times in NYC!!!
It has been hard to write lately with all that goes on during the holiday season. With my dad coming out of the hospital and me being back home to help, other activities have over taken the season. I will be heading to NYC to bring in the NEW YEAR and then I will continue with The Teacher’s View from the Back Pew.
HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY SEASON! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2018 HERE WE COME
Religion is a business. If you do not agree with this then you must not go to church very often, you do not go to church related activities, and you just keep passing the basket past you each weekend at the Catholic mass.
Look, I know that everything costs money. NOTHING is free. I used to work at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. People from all over come to go through the museum and of course they end up in the museum store. You cannot believe the comments from people informing me at the register how expensive the HOF items were. My response was always, “Nothing is free from the NFL.” Its the same at any church. If you want to go to a church that is comfortable and has working air conditioning and heat then it takes money. One thing that makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame and any religious institution seem like peas in a pod is their non-profit status. What does this mean? Basically it means that they have no true owners so the people who head the non-profit institution are not making a profit. So now that I see this one attribute that connects the Catholic Church and the Pro Football HOF. Where does all the money go? I know that the Catholic Church helps many people with donations and with services so their money collection and where it goes makes sense most of the time. Now the Pro Football HOF is another question and my next book! That will probably be called Touch Down Jesus II.
The Catholic Church as a whole has 271,602 churches worldwide with 20,000 of these churches in the United States. There are 70,412,021 registered Catholics in the U.S. That actually means that there are most likely 72,000,000 million Catholics in the United States. The extra two million are the unregistered Catholics that appear at Christmas and Easter and are the sitters in the main church who arrive an hour before mass to sit with every member of their family thus making my family sit in the adjacent building for church overflow. I have never sat in the main church for either of these masses because I choose not to put myself in the position of fighting for any pews to sit in whether they be in the back or in the front. We always sit in the other building and guess what other people who show up twice a year? We get out before you because our communion line is shorter!
As I now look at these numbers I have solved the Catholic Church’s problem in attaining money. It simply needs to ask every registered Catholic to send in one dollar and there is $70,412,021.00 yearly. I think that everyone would donate their dollar easily every year. Why haven’t they thought of this yet? Is is too simple to ask? They could ask for that one dollar but I know that there would be the Harvard economics whiz on the church board who would then add that we might as well ask for any other monetary donation that the tither would see fit to give. Man, the Harvard whiz just killed my one dollar idea and now as is common in most Catholic churches, you give what you can and what your heart and conscious tells you to give. I still like the one dollar yearly for a starter fund.
So if you are not Catholic let’s tell you all about how the Catholic Church collects money. First they collect weekly at all of the weekend masses. If you are registered at the church where you always attend they will send you mass collection envelopes that are highly decorated. Some are decorated so that you can clearly see that the envelope with the Christmas poinsettia is for the Christmas mass. Some envelopes have scenes on them though that really confuse the giver and some envelopes I have noticed are for the extra giving days that may have a missionary from another country and or group that is also asking for money for their efforts of help. When your monthly envelope pack comes in the mail for a two month cycle it should have about 10 envelopes correct? Mine has about 25. I will be honest I look through the envelopes and decide which I will be using. I wonder if there is anyone out there that always uses all of their envelopes? Please get in touch with me if you do!
So the church collects at each mass and they do this with baskets that are passed down the row and each person either drops their church envelope into the basket or they may choose to drop loose bills into that basket for collection. It is kind of like the hot potato game in that if you do not add to the collection when the basket comes your way you pass the basket on quite quickly. If you are making an offering then you can take 2-4 seconds longer to place that offering in the basket making sure that you allow everyone to know that yes I’m giving this Sunday, are you? As you read this you should also realize that if you do attend a Catholic mass you do watch who puts in on that day and who doesn’t, you are tracking that basket. Next time that you go to mass try not to watch, its a hard job.
When I was a kid the ushers had baskets on a stick. They would go to each pew and would slide the basket down so that if you were giving money you just dropped it in as the basket on a stick went on by you. I always was waiting for an usher to hit someone in the head with the basket on a stick move. I’m sure it had to happen at some time. Sadly I never got to see that spectacle. The baskets on a stick were replaced by regular baskets and the collision basket happening was taken from ever being checked off on my personal bucket list.
Another money collection activity has been added in addition to the basket pass it down collection at weekend masses. When the baskets are being passed to the adults, the smaller children are given money to personally take up onto the altar in front of the priest who is serving that mass. The kids wander up, they usually give the priest a hug, they throw the money into that basket and then they try to find their way back to their parents. I have seen kids get lost and their parents have to retrieve them. The kids are cute going up to the altar and the best is when the animated kid jumps off of those altar stairs to return to their pew. I’m waiting for a kid to get hurt doing this and then this form of money collection will be stopped. Well, it will either be stopped or collection helmets will be sold. There is another money collection idea!
When you are a kid and the money basket goes by you, you cannot help yourself at looking into the basket to see how much money has been collected. I remember looking at how much money was collected as I sat in the middle pews with my family, to me it was a lot. Now that I write this, I can only imagine how much money was in the basket as it hit that back pew! I wonder of it ever overflowed and had to be emptied before everyone gave? I will never know this unless I can find a chronic back row kid sitter from St. Joan of Arc.
My favorite collection story is from my friend who lives in Findlay, Ohio and goes to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. Dana’s youngest child Abby was always inquisitive and was ahead of her time when it came to understanding and in thinking beyond her years. I remember being at their house before Christmas when Abby was about 5 years old. I wanted gift ideas from Abby so that I could get her a Christmas present that she would really want. I asked her and her answer was, “I want boobies for Christmas.” We all laughed because we all were sure that Abby was just being funny. “NOPE!”, came the comment from Dana, “thats all she has really been asking for!.” I tell this story to lay the way of how this curly red headed girl reacted to situations. I told you, she was ahead of her age group. Abby was always a character and this attitude was also maintained in the church environment. Dana tells the story of how Abby, while sitting on her dad’s lap while he had fallen asleep in church was waiving her hand in front of his face to check for life. With everyone looking, Abby kept on testing her dad. Is he sleeping? Let me put my hand in front of his face. No movement. Let me put my fingers under his nose. Yep, we’ve got air movement. So now that you know Abby, you can envision her bouncy walk up to the altar to give money for a Sunday kids collection. One Sunday Dana gave her a five dollar bill to take to the altar collection basket. Dana remembers Abby looking at the five as though they were allowing her to give their entire lunch money savings for this weeks offering. Five dollars even ten years ago was a lot of money to a five year old. Abby went up to the altar, its a straight shot down the aisle at St. Michaels, and Dana sees her up there with the other kids. Abby returns to their pew without the usage of a map or GPS and Dana tells Abby that she did a good thing giving money to Jesus. Abby responds with a hand out and says, “Here, I got you change!”. She handed Dana 2 ones and a quarter. She was used to her mom giving her one dollar to take up. Abby was also good at math and counting money at her age!
Money. You go to church and they collect it. They put it to good use. Then you go and work in a Catholic school and your whole conception of money collection processes takes a sharp right turn.
I never attended a Catholic school so I was not used to all of the money collection opportunities given when you are part of a Catholic school. There are your regular fund raising opportunities that all schools have. Who out there never sold wrapping paper or popcorn to raise money for their school? We all at some point were asked to sell items and then we could have a chance of being the high seller and then we won a prize of the cheapest local pizza to share with our friends who sold nothing. I’ll admit it. I never sold anything other than the items that my own parents bought. Once again, just ask each student’s parents to chip in maybe five dollars and we wouldn’t have had to send kids out to peddle wrapping paper.
In the Catholic School setting I do not think that one week of school goes by where some sort of money collection is not in the mix of the actual learning at school. At the schools in which I have taught they had T-shirt sales for special days like the Halloween festival, the parents volleyball tournament, the 8th grade students special t-shirt, the Christmas pageant shirt, and the field day t-shirt. I have a lot of t-shirts! Then we also threw in days where the kids paid to not wear their uniforms. Untuck for a Buck! Ok so you bring in one dollar and its a day free of plaid. Good way to raise money but that title is a trick! It’s not just a buck to untuck your uniform shirt, no! You can pay another buck to wear a non-uniform shirt. Another buck allows you to wear crazy socks. White daily socks ARE boring. No belt for the day, add another buck. Want to wear jeans? Hold on to your wallets, that costs five bucks. I have helped collect for this Untuck for a Buck day which happens maybe once a month. Kids bring in baggies of money. They follow the “buck list” to a T. As teachers we had the job of making sure that what the student had on and if the student paid that they had the right clothes on or if they were still in their uniform. Do you think that I had the time for this? No, I wasn’t going to pay to go to work to get paid. Really, read that last sentence to yourself again. It does make sense.
The best money maker during the school year in the diocese where I worked in the Houston area is the Steps for Students money drive. The money that is collected is to go to each school that participates. Students sign up people who will donate to them for their school when they run or walk a 5K. This sort of collection is common for a lot of places that want to raise money. Last year they raised over one million dollars. People are very giving and they are very giving of their money towards Catholic education. Here is the best part of when you sign up for Steps for Students. I will say that someone creative is in the mix to get to that million dollar goal. First as a teacher I had to sign up and to do this I had to pay ten dollars. Ok, so I work for them and I would collect for this event but first I myself who was part of the collection had to donate ten dollars. Second, the event is held on a Saturday morning, early morning that is and you have the choice to “Hit a Snooze button” when you signed up if you were going to collect money to “run or walk” the 5K but knew that you were going to actually get up to go the distance to collect money from your donators who truly thought that you had it in you to run and or walk a 5K. Genius idea I tell you! Tell people that you are going to push yourself to go the distance for education and then just hit that button to snooze your Saturday away but you still get the donations. Go fund me!!!!!
The Catholic Church is said to be one of the wealthiest churches in our world. They want to have Catholic schools to spread our beliefs. I have worked in a Catholic school and believe me when I say that I did not work there for the amount of salary that I was given and that is fine. I did not choose to work in a Catholic school setting to become a millionaire. My one problem is that the Catholic Church wants to have schools, parents pay tuition but still there is never enough money to properly equip the school. Collect that dollar from all of the registered Catholics and maybe we could have that money go to purchasing up to date books and technology like the public schools and other private schools out there have. I do not understand wanting a school and or a business and then not having the money to build and maintain your investment. Its like the NFL. Owners own the team and then expect citizens fo build the stadium for them. (Can you tell that I am a Cleveland Browns fan?) I really need to come up with my business plan where everyone gives me money to build my dream. Maybe I should start a collection?!
So as a back pew seater in school masses I have stated that we are in the back pew during these masses. We are obviously put there for two, no three main reasons. I have already told you about the main jobs that were assigned to me but lets look at my job and its my assignment that takes place in that hour that mass takes place.
The main two reasons that us seven teachers are in that back pew are for security reasons and for being puke catchers. Security because we live in a world that is at unrest and even a church is not entirely secure from weird occurances. Being located in an inner city, St. Rose of Lima in Houston, Texas is not immune from attracting wanderers to the church. We have had our times when people looking for shelter and or a place to relieve themselves have shown up. Like the man who decided to pee pee in front of the church when the kids were being picked up from the end of the school day. Of course I saw him doing this and sent someone to tell him that maybe that was not the best area in which to water the roses.
Seven teachers who do not have homerooms sit in those back pews during the school mass and remember that I am not a back pew sitter. I have been groomed to sit in the middle section. So my positioning in St. Rose of Lima is in the left side back pew in front of the room of all rooms. Yes! I sit in the back row directly in front of the Cry Room! BINGO! Believe me, when a Catholic yells Bingo, its for the big win!!!
The second reason for the back row positioning is to take care of any student that may get ill during mass. How many students may have to go to the bathroom at 8am in the morning you may ask? Let me tell you, a lot! We just all had a good breakfast so bathroom travelers are chaperoned by us back row sitters. At one mass I actually logged 3,000 steps during one mass. This is still a record breaking mass walking log.
We also take care of any kids that may get sick. It makes perfect sense in Houston, Texas for boys and girls in middles school to have to wear a wool vest over their usual shirt or blouse on mass days. The average temperature especially in August is at least 90 degrees and I will tell you that the average middle schooler does not eat the breakfast that most think that they would or should eat. There have been times where half way through mass a middle school student has become overheated from the wool vest that is trapping all their body heat to their middle torso section and the fainting has occurred during the strenuous kneeling regiment of the Catholic mass. I am five foot two and I have girls and boys that tower over me. We revive them and walk them to the school nurse and I am sure we look like we are dragging the dead out of that church at times. Once again I make sure that they are able to walk and of course I ask if they are feeling like they may throw up because once again I will end up throwing up right with them.
The third reason that I believe that us homeroomless teachers were put into the back pews is to put a funk into the daily back row mass sitters church going experience especially if they are over the age of 65. I’ve said this before, we all have our church sitting spots. We have sat in that same row for 40 years or more. Do you think that these sitters are going to move on weekly mass days? Well yes, you will have to move a row up on Thursday mornings or you can join in apprehending the intruder with us or you can choose to clean up the throw up from the third grader who had Fruity Pebbles for breakfast or you can help with the passer outer who either cannot stand that wool vest or who has decided to wear a coat into a church that does not turn on the air conditioning until it is filled to capacity in 90 degree, 60% humidity weather. Guess what? They choose to give up that back pew when I give them these options. They may not smile but they sure do move quick for their age.
In my empowering back row positioning for the weekly school masses I have developed a tic. I no longer can just sit and listen to a mass. I am now on patrol.
There are three doors that a person can enter St. Rose of Lima Church. One main doorway at the middles aisle and two doors to either side of the back pews. One of these doors leads to the left side parking lot and the right side door leads to the church hall. As I sit in my back patrol pew, I have developed a neck turning tic whenever I hear or see one of these three doors open. Left tic, older person left side sitter, back tic completely over my right shoulder, family that home schools, right side 45 degree tic, 5 minutes after mass has started, older lady and her husband who also serves communion. My tic turns are exact and I know everyone who enters and where they will position themselves. Oh help me Lord, I have turned into a church going nutcase.
Where does this neck turning tic lead to? It leads to my best ever Cry Room Story. This story is called The Everything Else but the Cry Room Saga.
As I have stated, during school masses I am positioned in the Back Pew right in front of the Cry Room. We will now use these abbreviations for these positions, LOL. *BP = Back Pew and *CR = Cry Room.
During school weekday masses, other people join us. Older retired people, daily mass goers, visitors, and parents of the students. On a crisp cool Thursday in February, my right neck tic turn kept picking up a fidgety family of four. A mom and her three kids ranging form 2-8 years old were seated to my right. Hmmmm, visitors on vacation? No, I have seen them before. Why aren’t the older kids in school themselves? My teacher senses pick up the vibe of a homeschooling situation. Homeschooling is fine. Its not for me and my kids and it doesn’t pay my salary but still its ok. Its not ok when the kids cannot sit and the mom decides to move the kids. Does she take them to the CR behind me? Of course she doesn’t, she takes them into the room behind the right section back pew teacher sitters into the Chapel. This room is used for smaller prayer groups for reciting the rosary or for personal mass times. It contains the nice cushioned chairs but these chairs do not face the main altar because this room is NOT the CR. My right neck tic turn continues as the Homeschooled family is having a hay day in the Chapel. The mom is facing the altar while the older boy is laying across the seats, the little girl is circling the mini altar at the back, and the two year old is hanging and pulling on a wall fixture.
My neck tic gets me out of my BP positioning and makes me walk for a better viewing of what is going on in that Chapel. Because I am a CR Believer, I suggest to the mom that maybe it would be better for her and her active kids to go into the CR over in my left pew territory. She responds to me that she is allergic to flowers so she cannot possibly go into the CR. What I ask myself does that have to do with going into the correct room with moving kids? I take her word that she has heard my suggestion and I walk back to my now cooled off back pew seat. My neck tic picks up motion and I turn to see the mom and her kids moving towards the isolation room, the CR! Yes, I have persuaded someone to finally use that room for its full potential. That occupancy lasts for about a total of 5 minutes. The mom comes out and lets me know that she cannot stand the flowers and that she will be reporting me to the principal. Wait , report me? For what? I then glance back into the now lit CR and it is chalk full of flowers of every carnation funeral color. There are flowers and greenery everywhere. There is not a place to sit. I had no idea that the flowers for a funeral scheduled for after the school mass were being staged in the CR behind me. I do not check the CR every Thursday. I’m too busy looking for intruders and pukers!
The mom takes my name off of my nameplate and I am pretty sure that this will be the lunchroom story of the day. Better yet I was correct. This mom was a homeschooler, oh and her dad is on of the deacons at St. Rose. Oops! Shouldn’t she know in which room to go into even if it is highly decorated?
After this event, myself and my back pew teacher sitters who sit in my section have decided to turn on the light in the CR so that parents can see that it is available to enter instead of walking into the Chapel that is always lit. We are really proud of our proactive decision making until about three weeks later, I had sat down late to mass, no activity was taking place and all was well until after communion I whispered to my teaching back pew friend that we had forgot to turn on the light in the CR that week. She whispered back that the reason that she did not turn it on was because there was a deceased body in a casket in the CR. What? I turned around and lo and behold there was a beautiful cherry casket that was in my beloved CR. They have really thought of good uses for the CR that hardly anyone takes advantage of! I guess the Cry Room voidness has been put to good use for funerals.
I teach middle school science and I do not have a homeroom so I am one of the teachers who has been positioned to sit in the back pew during school masses. Why the back pew? You have to understand that as a teacher in any school year you will never get “free time” when a school function is at hand. I’m sure that the “scheduler” noticed that the studentless teachers would be attending mass to take part in that mass and that this would not seem fair and correct to the other teachers who have to sit with their students. So what should we do with the seven teachers who do not have students to watch at mass time? Give them jobs! Let’s position them and tell them that they are our eyes and ears during weekly mass to serve and to protect!
We are actually given a seating chart and I notice that I am now a Thursday Back Pew Seater. OK, I think I can do this. I am fine with this seating plan until I hear all about my new mass job description. No, let me clarify that , all of my new job description(s). I do not just have the job of watching for bathroom goers from the back but I also have to be on the lookout for the madman or madwoman who will come into mass to disrupt the mass and our future lives.
This may sound like I am making more of this than I should but in this day of age when schools are being attacked and we all are shown these horrible pictures, we have been trained that this is going to inevitably happen at St. Rose. We are shown a video on how to be vigilant about an intruder. I’ve seen this particular video three times now. I have watched it with intent the first time but after that initial viewing, I now have devised my own way out if ever I have to face an intruder. Lets go through my steps of survival. Most of these steps are what I have planned for myself, some are told to me to do if this ever happens. I hope and pray that you can pick out my common sense strategies and the strategies suggested to me by my CIA principal.
I walk to mass ahead of most of the classes. Remember, I do not have a homeroom so I am free to go to the restroom, to grab a swig of my morning drink, to grab a mint and then to head off to mass. I almost forgot, I need to grab my student mass songbook and my BFB, the Barf Prevention Bag. The mass songbook looks good to have though I rarely have time to sing with all of my seat patrolling and bathroom mass strolling. The Barf Prevention Bag consists of gloves, a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of spray disinfectant. This bag has magical powers. Before it was put together by my teaching partner I was usually the teacher who was signaled to clean up the puke or the pee pee that may have occurred during mass. Think this through. You may ask yourself, “Why doesn’t the teacher who is sitting near that particular kid just walk back, get some towels, clean up the mess and then hand the sick or soiled student over to the seven back seat pew teacher vigilantes?”. They can’t because either they are young teachers who are not yet parents or they truly have read over their mass teacher duties and this has NOT been included in their mass job description. I usually take the initiative to clean the mess up in front of the entire congregation. Yes I do come up for breathes of fresh air. You see, one of my classroom rules in middle school is: If you puke, I puke, we all puke together, so run out of my room if you feel sick. I’m sorry, my own kids I could clean up after, but anyone else and that gag reflex is making a showing.
Now I have told you the Barf Prevention Bag has magical powers. Once I was given this bag to carry to mass, not one kid puked or peed for the remainder of that school year. This bag was truly a Christmas miracle given to me by my thoughtful teaching partner Beth. Beth, you’ve been given a point to heaven for this bag idea. I have actually forgotten this bag on the way to mass and could not carry on without going back to get it. I deep down knew that the mass day in which I did not take it would be the puke festival mass of the year. You ate all welcome, I saved us all form that occurrence.
As I enter the church for mass with my two pieces of equipment I have been also told to sweep the women’s and men’s bathrooms for intruders. (If your dinger went off that this is not my idea, then you are a winner!) . I am supposed to go into each bathroom to check for the Green Goblin or for Cat Woman. When told this I nod OK, but do you really think that I am going to walk into the bathrooms like Walker Texas Ranger to clear the church of possible intruders/villains? Nope! First of all , wonder if there is a man going pee pee in the open urinal as I make my pass through to clear the church of all harm? What would I possibly say to that man? “Oh sorry sir, I’m just a 5’2” woman looking in the church bathroom to save the day. Lets just say that I accept this job but do not do it. I’m pretty sure anyway that the bad intruder would hide in the confessional room that is right next to my back view sitting position. Don’t worry, I have my eyes on that hiding spot for most of my mass time to serve and protect.
During the actual mass the back pew security teacher crew is told to watch for any person who may come in to the church and who may not seem like they are there just to take part in the mass. As I sit and watch the people come into church I am always thinking about what I would do if an intruder came in to church who I knew was there to cause a commotion or to cause potential harm. Believe me, I have made sure that I sit at the far section of the back pew so that if someone came into the door to my direct left from the church parking lot that I would make everyone aware in church and then my plan is to marine shimmy down the aisle to safety. Oh and I have been told that the code words that I am to yell is “Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming!”. Guess which part of this scenario is not of my choosing. I watched the video three times and I am pretty sure that yelling with this code is not to my advantage of taking care of an intruder invasion. My plan is to be spontaneous and to yell whatever comes out of my mouth. I’m pretty sure that Jesus is coming is not going to be the phrase that will vocally be heard from me.
My actual plan is to take the Barf Prevention Bag, use an arcing swing, hurl it at the intruder hoping that the disinfectant spray will give it enough heft to hit the intruder while I dive down the aisle in my marine shimmy away and hidden from the said intruder. As I am shimmying down that aisle I am yelling for everyone to get down and to duck into their pews. I have a plan but I hope that this scenario never takes place for us or for anyone anywhere.
I will be traveling today so my next chapter will be published tomorrow because I will not have an internet connection. The more important news is that my title will now be That Teacher View from the Back Pew since my other title was already taken! I guess great minds think alike. Who would have thought that my first hurdle would be my title. Have a Great Day!
Chapter 2 – Cry Room 101
If you go into most Catholic churches you will find statues of Mary, Joseph and Jesus on the Cross. You may also see other statues and or stained glass windows that depict stories from the Bible. I have noticed that you rarely see children depicted in any of these scenes. Did children not exist back then? As a child at mass I would always wonder, where are the children?
Occasionally you will see Jesus depicted as a child. I’ve seen him in the arms of his mother Mary and I’ve seen him preaching to adults on the steps of churches but I have never seen him depicted as a child doing childlike things. Why do we skip going from him as a baby in a manger to an adult on his way to preaching and his crucifixion?
Go into most Catholic churches and the church has devised a way to also hide children. It’s called the Cry Room. Its basically a confined glassed in room that is sound proof to the outsiders but has piped in music and reception of what is being said up on the altar. Its an isolation booth like the one that they use when someone is put to death. I know that this sounds morbid, but that is what I always relate it to.
As the late Whitney Houston sang, “I believe the children are our future”. Sure they are, but until they stop crying and fidgeting, put them in an isolation room. I have been to masses where kids cry and cry and cry and their parents will not go to that given room. I have also been to masses where the priest asks you to take your child there. The best church that I have recently been to has a paper in the pew that asks you to move to the front with your kids so that they can see everything that is taking place at mass because kids are our future and they need to see what they are hearing instead of a back pew view of the cry room that looks interesting to them. Everyone has their interpretation of this room but it has different meanings to different people. Its like your dining room in your house. You buy a house and insist that you need a fancy dining room and then you only use it twice a year although it is very useful for piling and storing those items that you just need to put somewhere.
My mom tells a story of my dad taking me to Easter mass on his own. My mom at the time was not Catholic yet and she was going to stay home with my brother who is fourteen months younger than me. At two years old she dressed me in a darling dress with patent leather shoes and the white laced roll down socks. She says that I was just darling. The story goes that my dad lasted about ten minutes with me. He came home sweating, dropped me off, and went to the next scheduled mass. Why didn’t he take me into the Cry Room? This I have always wondered about.
St. Joan of Arc is designed with three aisles that form a cross. The long main part of the church makes the long part of the cross, while the two side aisles make the cross bars of the cross. The Cry Room is situated at the back of the East aisle side. Easter is always at full capacity and my dad had me in the safe confines of the back main aisle section. Obviously, I didn’t agree with this section of the church. Why didn’t he take me to the infamous Cry Room I once again ask?
Let’s skip ahead a few years. As a kid, I always wanted to go into the Cry Room to sit for mass. I never remember being taken into that room. I think that my parents believed that in that room was where the bad undisciplined children were taken by their parents. My brother and sister and I were trained to sit quietly in the main section. I know that there were times when we just wanted to go into that Cry Room for that experience. Nope. We can sit perfectly fine in the main section.
Well I am not sure about us being fine because you see my brother Bill was a nonsitter. He was an active kid. Hello mom and dad, do you not remember how he always came to life when we sat down to dinner in our own house? I remember many times when I would wonder why oh why couldn’t he just come to dinner, eat our good meal, and then head out the door to play? So knowing this, don’t you think that maybe we should sit in the Cry Room? Not going to happen!
My brother Bill would be just as active during mass at church. I cannot really tell you what he did during mass, but I know that he must have did something when after mass and once we were in the car my dad would turn around and spank us. US! I honestly do not remember doing anything wrong. We never sat next to each other, our parents would sit between us but I guess that I was also a hellion during mass. Maybe looking back on this I was possessed and forgot my involvement? During this time period when we were probably about 4 and 5, why didn’t they just take us to the Cry Room and let us grow into sitting through mass viewing through bullet proof glass? (If it is sound proof, its probably also bullet proof to a 5 year old!)
I always wanted to sit in the Cry Room because it seemed like a freer place in church. I believed that in there I could move a little, maybe swing my feet while listening at the same time of course! That Cry Room just seemed to me to have a better environment. Fresher air, piped in sound, cushioned chairs! Who wouldn’t want to sit in that luxury other than on those hard wooden pews? Look, someone has built a room to comfort kids, so take them on in.
As we grew older and passed the “I cannot sit for that hour” time in our lives, the Cry Room was not even thought of as a choice of entrance. I remember just slipping in there on the way into church or after mass to just breathe in that smell of a room where no one occupied. It truly was like a mystery room to me.
When I had my own kids, the church that I went to had the audacity to not even have a Cry Room. In my plans in taking my own kids to church I was set on using that Cry Room. St. Paul’s Church in North Canton, Ohio is void of this room. How could they deny me this choice seating for my own kids?
Taking young kids to church is a chore and a learning experience for not only the kid to learn how to act in a church setting but for the parent to also figure out how their child is going to react. Newborns are easy, take them, hold them, feed them Cheerios, and they are usually fine. Were Cheerios in existence when I was two? The ages from 1 to 3 are the ringer years. Once your kid walks then the fun begins.
I was fine at St. Paul’s until I had two kids both at the walking age of 2 and 3. I made my choice to go to church alone leaving them at home with their dad. Sometimes I would take one or the other and then both when we all went but this was not the easiest way to listen to an entire mass. I’m better than this I used to think to myself. I can take them both all of the time because I did my motherly duty and I found another nearby Catholic Church with, ta-da, a Cry Room!!! So off to Little Flower Church we all went.
That Cry Room at Little Flower Church was perfect. Piped in air conditioning, a clear view to the altar, comfortable chairs, but one item bothered us all. The families who let their kids run and actually play while mass was going on. My kids were fine. They would just stare at the wild and free kids. Even as an adult, I would catch myself watching the kid show instead of listening to mass. Was this the reason why I was never taken into the Holy Cry Room? I may have found the answer.
I have taught in a Catholic School for six years. As a Catholic school teacher, the entire school goes to a weekly mass. Sometimes I sit in astonishment as students from Pre-K to 8th grade sit quietly during mass. We do have the occasional student who is not used to going to mass and has to be taken out or has to sit by a teacher until they realize that not going to mass is not an option. Once again the Cry Room is overlooked to remedy this restlessness.
I teach science and do not have a homeroom so I am one of the teachers who has been positioned to sit in the back pew during school masses. We are there for security reasons and to catch the morning mass pukers. I am positioned directly in front of the Cry Room at St. Rose of Lima School and that Cry Room not only beckons to me each time that I sit in front of it but it has its own stories that have become some of my best beer stories when someone is listening to my time in that back pew. Hold on to your hats, the following chapters will have you looking at mass time in a way that may change your point of view of what really takes place at a school mass with me sitting in that back pew.
I am writing this book with the insight from my teaching experience in public and most recently in the private Catholic school system. I have learned that you have to love what you do and if you can laugh while you do it, that is all the better. Enjoy and I would love your feedback.
CHAPTER 1 – Born this way
Being Catholic all of my life, I have gone to church every Sunday. All good Catholics of course will always say this, but I will admit that I have taken some Sundays off. Well now I may have to confess this at true confession since I have made this truth available. Growing up, if we ever dared ask of we HAD to go to church, well let’s say I never chose to take that step. Since kids cannot drive and we lived not a walking distance from our church, St. Joan of Arc, we were at our dad’s call for when we were going to attend weekly mass. My dad usually chose that we went to Saturday evening mass. Growing up in Ohio, this was a good call in the winter. We wanted to get out of the house when it was cold and snowy, but then came spring and summer. We loved playing outside so when 4:00 came around, the 4:30 Saturday mass was calling. We were usually in the middle of a baseball game or a tennis match. We had three to five good hours of sunlight left. Do we have to go tonight? Can’t we go on Sunday morning? Nope. I look back on this now and it never occurred to me until now why my dad chose Saturday nights to go to mass. First, what do people want to do after mass? Eat! In the Catholic church you are to refrain from eating approximately an hour before you go to communion before you receive communion. So if you have not eaten anything before mass and you are only offered the wafer and a sip of wine you are usually famished after mass. God forbid if anyone go without food for two whole hours! So as I stated, we were always “starving” after mass and my dad loved to take us to restaurants to eat a good and good priced family meal. I’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dog. I go to mass and then I am famished. Secondly, we went to mass on Saturday evening because my dad was a workout fanatic and he had to go to his Sunday morning workout. Why did he have to go on Sunday morning when he had the entire day off? He liked to go in the mornings on Sunday because my mom made a large Sunday meal that we ate when he returned from his workout! It’s all so clear to me now, I had to give up my “workout” time on Saturday afternoons so that he could do his Sunday workout in the morning. He worked out all week after his long work hours, we kids went to school all week and our Saturdays, until 4:00, was our day off. Would I suggest today to do this differently? No, first I would still never suggest when I wanted to go to church with my dad, he still has a schedule at 85 years old and he is pretty set in his way and secondly, I loved those meals!
Religion is a habit. All habits are not bad. Habits can be good. Our Saturday habit of interrupting my outside time used to really irk me. I wanted to stay outside. I wanted to skip church just one time. Of course, once I chickened out to protest to going on Saturday, I was content in church and after I was starving so off we all went to dinner. Also I didn’t want to take that chance that if I did not go to mass every weekend I would end up in the Fires of Hell. That place is a real place in the church going life of a true Catholic.
What do you think is the largest habit in church? The Catholic Church contains many good habits. We genuflect always before sitting down to habitually kneeling to say a prayer before we actually sit before the mass begins. Our masses follow a repetitive manner. As a young person it was almost hypnotic to me at times.
What is really the biggest habit that all church goers adhere to? We sit in the same section of church week after week after week. At St. Joan of Arc we always sat as a family in the east section of the cross shaped church. We always chose a middle row. We never sat in the very front row and God forbid if we dared to try to sit in the last row. It was never said out loud but the front row was for showy people who wanted to proclaim, “Hey look, we are here at church in the front row. We need to sit closer so that we can be seen and see everything clearly. Oh and look at our clothes that we chose to wear to church!”. Ok, so this is my own self thinking of what the front row sitters are thinking. To this day I think this when I am at mass. Confession for that thought!! When I now go back to Ohio and I go to church with my dad who still chooses at what time we will attend mass, we now sit in the front row! First “we” now choose to go on Sunday mornings because we no longer workout on Sunday mornings. Retirement did that, workouts can happen at leisure now. We now have to sit in the front row because the church acoustics are not good. It truly has nothing to do with the need to always wear our hearing aides. Oh, and the priest talks too fast or the priest has an accent and that accent does not carry well past that front row.
Sitting in that front row is excruciating for me. What are the people thinking as we boldly walk all the way up to the front of the church to take our front row pew seats? Are they looking at my clothes that I chose to wear? Is this what a catwalk feels like? Is everyone up on that altar looking at us?
There is one thing that is good about sitting in the front row. Actually now that I think about it, there are two good things. First, you get to see everyone’s shoes clearly. You can see everyone’s shoes up on the altar and you get to view the shoe parade during communion. Go to communion, communion prayer, shoe parade. Do you know that a lot of priests wear *tennis shoes and or sandals during mass? As kids we always had to wear our good shoes to church. I always believed that God didn’t care about your shoeage. He was glad to simply see your presence in his church. See I was right. The priests know this.
The second good thing that I realized about the accolades of sitting in the Front Pew is that at communion if you choose to drink from the chalice to receive the Blood of Christ, you get to drink first before everyone in that church drinks from that same cup. If you are in the front during flu season being the first cup receiver is a win. I’m sorry that this concept of drinking after EVERY person attending mass has always stopped me from drinking the wine that is now the Blood of Christ. I’m really not a germaphobe, but I couldn’t and still cannot follow all of the drinkers drinking out of that one cup. Just so you know, I haven’t had the flu for at least twenty years so I am correct on how those flu viruses are truly moving through populations every season. I know what you are now thinking. Its not foregoing drinking the wine at mass that is preventing me from getting the flu but she must get the yearly flu shot. Nope. Nada. No. The only two years that I did get the flu shot did I succumb to the flu virus. My thesis is correct. The flu virus is spread by sharing the same drinking cup with many people who you are not related to who go to church even when they have the flu. These people have to go to mass even though they are sick to make sure that they will not be punished in those fires of hell. So now we have learned that the front row has some perks. Also if you do sit in the front pew you can now receive and also be healthy.
*Tennis shoes are what we in Northeast Ohio call what you in the South call sneakers and or gym shoes. Does everyone in NE Ohio play tennis? I did,but now that I think about calling my Nikes this all of the time seems silly. I have played basketball, dodge ball, and even tag in those so called TENNIS shoes. You learn things everywhere you may go!
Got all of my Christmas shopping today so tomorrow, Tuesday December 5th I will start publishing my chapters from my book, The View from the Back Pew.
Movie alert: Go and see LadyBird. Saoirse Ronan is in this coming of age movie about a teenage girl who attends Catholic high school in Sacramento, California in the 80s. Great movie.
I just finished The Bat by Joe Nesbo and let me tell you that finishing it brought on symptoms of anxiety to get to the end of it. Like I stated in my Book of the Week section, I did give this book the 100 page reading rule. Problem was that after the 100 pages I thought that I really “accepted” that I was going to enjoy figuring out who the killer was. I liked the Australian folklore, I liked the little facts about some Australian animals, but the way that they story progressed and twisted with the stories of other characters and the unvoice of the female characters who ended up ALL dieing I could not wait to finish this book. ( As you read this, yes I made up the word unvoice.) I have read through other people’s comments on Litsy that this series gets better at book number four. As I said on my review on Litsy, “if this book series takes off at book #4, then I may have to miss that flight”. I have to say that I do like the main character Harry Hole. I particularly love that you do not pronounce his name like the opening in an object, you pronounce it like Hoo-leh. So now I know this and as I read I still pronounce his name in my head like HOLE. His name is like Hermoine Granger, I think I have heard her name pronounced 10 different ways. I think we read and pronounce as we wish, especially with names. Thank goodness, Saoirse Ronan is an actress and not a character in a book.
I finished The Bat and then came the worst time for me. What do I read next? What type of book am I in the mood for? I am trying to find a book for every member of my family for this Christmas so I have some books from the library that I am “testing” to make sure that I think that my book receiver will like my choice for them. This test reading does not count as reading for me! I deep down know that some of my family would hate the books that I like. Christmas giving is terribly hard! My choice when I decide will always be on my Book of the Week selection. It will be up there soon. I cannot stand to be bookless for too long after I have finished a book.
Tomorrow I will start publishing my book on here that I am currently writing called The View from the Back Pew. I have four chapters completed and I will be adding the chapters on here as I get them written. I recently got nixed from the Catholic School System by a superintendent that was less than accommodating to teachers who actually teach. I find it hard to believe that she mysteriously is not in her position as of August of this year. That last sentence should be taken as a joke. By the way, her disappearance is still a mystery. Joe Nesbo, you need to get in touch with me, your next Harry Hole book can be named The Rat!