Growing up as a Catholic, I learned many things not by study but, by custom or ritual. We did things because our parents said so. We didn't like it, but we did it. Every Sunday, even if we felt bad, and even without my father, we went to mass with my mother. We were late every single mass. We always rushed in, splashing our fingers in the tiny holy water fonts at the entrance of the church and scrambled over to the left side of the church. We never sat at the front (maybe this was out of my mother's shame of being late--I don't really know why, we just did what we were told). We sat in the middle or towards the back, in two pews (because there were always a minimum of 5 of us and the pews were small).
I remember sitting, and standing, and kneeling and sitting again, and wondering what exactly the priest was saying way up front. I could never hear a thing he said (I would just stare up at the high arches in the church and stained glass windows). But, I do remember a sense of silence and calm in church. My mom wasn't angry, hurt, or stressed there. She was herself, she was calm, and beautiful. Until of course, one of the kids started up. Then, all the serenity was over. The 10 seconds that I got to see my mom relax every Sunday were over. She was back to guiding and correcting all over again. And I knew it would be another hectic week until I got to see my mom rest for 10 more seconds on Sunday. Only now do I understand why she went and why she showed us how to practice the faith.
It is funny that when I had children, I knew I had to raise them in my Catholic faith. I just didn't know that it would be so similar to the way my mother raised us. I didn't realize that I would struggle to get up the courage on Sunday to tell my kids we are going to mass.
I must vent here: My kids are Catholic and have been since before they were even born. And they always act like it is some great surprise that we are going to mass when I announce that it is time to get ready. Then the whining and the dragging the feet begins. We didn't like going to church as kids , either. (I get it- I would have preferred to stay home and watch re runs of Kung-Fu movies or The Three Stooges too.) But we were respectful and we did what we were told. Granted, I discipline differently than my parents did but, regardless. It irks me.
Anyhow, back to our Sunday custom. I promptly announce we are getting ready for mass at 9:30. Eventually, everyone is dressed and prepared for mass. We get to mass usually about 5 minutes before it starts (which is a HUGE accomplishment in my opinion). I walk in, bless myself, and walk directly to the left of the church. I lead the family to a pew in the middle or the back but, never the front. I watch my kids, who are very well behaved in church, stare up at the ceiling and at the stained glass windows. I am sure they have no idea what the priest is saying.
Where do you sit? What did you inherit from your parents? What do you do differently? What do you think you will pass down to your kids?