Friday, December 25, 2015

Serving Mass on Christmas Day - Dave’s Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s.

Serving Mass on Christmas Day

Growing up during the 50’s in a German Catholic community meant that we were encouraged to become mass servers. Recall this period was before Vatican II, so the altar faced the opposite direction with the priest having his back to the parishioners while praying the entire mass in Latin. So the training to become a mass server was quite an ordeal, having to learn the Latin and fully understand the order of the mass. The training took place at the church rectory adjacent to school during lunchtime. Our priest, Father Raterman, was very patient and an outstanding teacher who helped us comprehend the fundamental meaning of the Latin phrases rather than just memorizing the strange words. This training and subsequent duty as a mass server really deepened my understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith that still lives with me to this day. The highlight of my mass serving career was to serve Christmas mass. For this special celebration, the mass servers wore red cassocks in place of the usual black. The Latin Christmas carols sung by the choir were something to behold. And Father Raterman always had a nice gift for all the servers afterwards.

This deep Catholic faith learned at a young age as a mass server, along with much encouragement from my mother, lead me to attend the seminary at age 14 to study to become a priest. The seminary was in Canton, Ohio, so that meant leaving home to attend. It was a real sacrifice for my parents to afford to send me there, plus it meant their oldest son was not able to help around the farm, leaving those duties to my three sisters as my only brother was too young at the time. My family would come to visit me, leaving early in the morning after milking the cows, driving three hours to Canton, enjoying a nice lunch at a restaurant (literally the only time we ever ate out while growing up), then rushing back to do the evening milking. My brother recalls being so tired during the trip that he would crawl up in the back deck behind the rear seat of the car and sleep there; a very unsafe but not uncommon practice in those days before seat belts and airbags. I really learned a lot at the seminary; the education provided by the priest professors was top notch. Being taught to read and understand Latin by studying Julius Caesar, the Odyssey and Iliad, and works by Virgil and Homer were most memorable. As a result, I knew what Carpe Diem meant long before the Robin Williams movie! And the science and math professors were outstanding, which laid the foundation for my eventual degree and career in engineering. But ironically, the German language class was the most difficult, even though my parents and especially my grandparents would speak a dialect of low German around the house. Also, the exposure to a variety of sports was fantastic. It’s there that I learned to play volleyball, tennis, soccer, swimming, hockey, foosball and chess while also refining my skills in football, basketball and baseball. And being away from family meant gaining experience at being independent and self sufficient. All-in-all it was a great experience that unfortunately for my mother who so desperately wanted a priest in the family came to an end during the summer hiatus between my sophomore and junior years when I discovered girls!

Merry Christmas, Fish Report readers!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search Blog Archives

Follow by Email