Childhood Memories

Blog Published: October 4, 2007
By Sister Julie

I’ve been reading Saint Teresa of Avila … re-reading to be more accurate since I’ve returned again and again to her writing for many years. I’m reading The Book of Her Life (click here for the entire online book) in which Teresa (a Carmelite nun) writes about the interior life and the gifts of God. Throughout the book are wonderful little autobiographic details. In Chapter 1 Teresa writes of her childhood. She tells of a time when she was 7 and her brother was 11. After having read the lives of the saints, they decided that martyrdom was the quickest and easiest way to get to heaven.

We settled to go together to the country of the Moors, begging our way for the love of God, that we might be there beheaded; and our Lord, I believe, had given us courage enough, even at so tender an age, if we could have found the means to proceed; but our greatest difficulty seemed to be our father and mother.

The footnotes indicate that the two children set out on their journey but shortly after leaving they were met by one of their uncles who brought them back to their mother. Teresa herself says that she really wasn’t motivated by love of God but by the thought of quickly getting to heaven to enjoy the wonderful things she had read about!Teresa goes on:

As soon as I saw it was impossible to go to any place where people would put me to death for the sake of God, my brother and I set about becoming hermits; and in an orchard belonging to the house we contrived, as well as we could, to build hermitages, by piling up small stones one on the other, which fell down immediately; and so it came to pass that we found no means of accomplishing our wish. Even now, I have a feeling of devotion when I consider how God gave me in my early youth what I lost by my own fault. I gave alms as I could—and I could but little. I contrived to be alone, for the sake of saying my prayers—and they were many—especially the Rosary, to which my mother had a great devotion, and had made us also in this like herself. I used to delight exceedingly, when playing with other children, in the building of monasteries, as if we were nuns; and I think I wished to be a nun, though not so much as I did to be a martyr or a hermit.

What are some things you remember from your childhood? (like playing “priest” with Ritz crackers and grape juice) What little “devotions” or ideas did you have?

Archived Comments

Brigid October 4, 2007 at 2:12 pm

I can remember saying the stations of the cross in my room using Nancy Drew books for each station.

Tom Cloutier, SFO October 4, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Well, everyone knows (everyone from New England, anyway) that the only proper forms for childhood eucharistic liturgy are Necco waffers and Welch’s grape juice! However, the Sisters of the Precious Blood have a monastery near where I grew up (although that process is still ongoing). I remember clearly the smell of their chapel: beeswax candles and the faint remnant of incense. There remains in that chapel a graphic statue of Jesus at the pillar. As a child, and even now, I did not find it off-putting in the least. Rather than fear, it instilled in me a sense of wonder, compassion and love that remains to this day. Necco waffers and beeswax candles … a great title for a memoir, methinks!

Another Sister Julie, CSSF October 4, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Actually, we saved the white Necco wafer candies for playing Mass. I also remember “elevating” the angel food cake before dinner once. Oh my!

Also, I was never picked to be May Queen (I didn’t fit the dress!), so I made my own little crown of aluminum foil for Mom’s statue, and crowned Mary every night in May, followed by a how-fast-can-I-get-this-over-with? Rosary. It seems my devotion lasted as long as my short attention span!

And did anyone else do this? We couldn’t receive Communion at the Mass before school started, but we still had to attend (Our Communion service was held every day at 11:50AM instead). So, as the adults went to Communion, we knelt backwards on the kneeler, spread out our holy cards on the seat of the pew, and traded with our classmates. When Communion time was over, we’d collect our cards, cross out the names of the previous owners, then sign our own name. I once had a card with six different names on it!

Tom Cloutier, SFO October 5, 2007 at 5:42 am

Me again. I do remember, in the last days of a pre-Vatican II Church, that women wore veils while at mass. In fourth grade, when we went to mass and a girl did NOT bring her veil, our teacher would hand out Kleenex from a small package to the offender. I’m not sure if the good Lord looked upon this and smiled or sighed

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