Memories of Sunday mornings in my earlier childhood involve going to Mass with my Dad at 7:00 in the morning, and since he was always ready early, it often involved a stop at Dunkin' Donuts for a Strawberry Cream Filled donut. He always got two of the cake donuts with handles to dunk in his coffee. He only drank coffee when he was out ... all other times it was a little tea with his milk and sugar.
We sat in the far back pew and that was the Mass without singing. I did that the entire time I was growing up until I was in high school. I joined the church choir at that time and I rode my bike to the 10:30 Mass every weekend. Dad continued going to 7:00, Mom went to noon at St. Patrick's and I went to 10:30 at St. Matt's. Not really sure why we never went to Mass as a family, but we didn't. It was what we did, so I didn't question it. Seems a little odd now. Oh well, we all got to Mass and that's important.
Our Sunday tradition at the Fazi house involves all of us going to 10:30 Mass at St. Rita. Michael is always working the soundboard with the choir, Kathryn often serves, I am a Lector and Eucharistic Minister some Sundays. We're very busy folks. I wonder how many people at St. Rita know that we have 4 kids? Sometimes the Hines family sits with us and adds another two kids who just intermingle with us in the front pew.
Speaking of the front pew ... there have been a lot of jokes and comedians over the years to talk about the folks coming in and 'their' pew has someone else sitting in it. Shocking. What is going on? Don't they know that is 'our' pew? We sit there every single week, at the same time, with this many people who FILL it, surely they realize there is no room for them in 'our' pew. Try as hard as I can to NOT be one of THOSE people... when I walk in and see MY pew occupied by someone else, it slightly irritates me. Sometimes I wonder if they do it on purpose? Sometimes I laugh at myself and say it's a test ... even as the feelings of aggravation are wafting over me, I am realizing how ridiculous it is that I'm upset.
Here's a funny story about 'our' front pew. When Father Paul first came to us, we could tell he had a sense of humor, he could take a joke, and he would play along with things ... so after he'd been there awhile, we noticed he would rest, reflect and have some quiet time right there in the front right pew of the church between the Masses. That is the Fazi Pew ... what was he thinking?
So, one Sunday, I walked up and sat down quietly behind him and told him I understood he was 'new' to the parish, so he didn't understand he was sitting in 'our' pew and he really needed to reconsider his selection of seats. Just as I predicted, he laughed, stood up and waved us in :) From that day on, he has, with his typical good nature, sat in the choir pew and done his reflecting there. The wee ones (Emily and Charlotte) are always wanting to run over and give him a hug, and he always seems glad to see them. I have to say, that I would NEVER have jokingly done anything like that to any other priest I've ever known, but our entire family just loves Father Paul, who is a wonderful example of what a Parish Priest should be...and we are so happy to have him with us.
The St. Rita Catholic Community is such a large part of our lives. The people, the school, the religious and lay folks, the whole feeling of being loved is so prevalent in our community. I have never, ever in my entire 42 years of being a Catholic felt the closeness and spiritual support I feel from this community. It's really something special, our little slice of heaven.
So, Sunday mornings are all about a big extended family for us, enjoying Deacon Tom's stories about growing up in New Jersey as one of many children, listening to Father Tony give happy sermons and laughing at his own jokes while he makes new and interesting points about stories we've heard many times and watching Father Paul preside over the Mass with reverence and love of the priesthood. God has a good family here and I'm so happy to be part of it.