I can't remember too many details of that mass. It must have been a solemn high mass, with glorious singing (most of it in Latin). That was in the pre-Vatican II era, so the congregation didn't participate much. Interaction between the celebrant and the altar boys would have been in Latin. The Gloria and Credo would have been sung in Latin, as would the Preface, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei.
I was terrified when I approached the altar rail at communion time. The thought of the living Jesus coming into my mouth in the form of unleavened bread was almost as much as I could take. I thought I would faint or die or maybe rise up into the air (no kidding!). I'm sure other kids were also confused, and in some cases scared. My cousin Tommy Fitzpatrick (who died in Vietnam 13 years later) didn't (or couldn't) swallow the host that day.
After the Communion we had a family party (all our friends were actually relatives, so we were related to everyone at the party). My grandparents and aunts and uncles came to our little house on East 266 Street, and as they arrived, they gave me a card. Inside was a dollar, sometimes two. At the end of the party, I counted up all my loot. I had $18, more money than I had ever seen. At the party the kids drank "Little Toms" and played baseball in the yard. The adults drank beer (a little wine was also available--Tommy and I sampled it), smoked their cigarettes, laughed and told stories.
That was my big day, 58 years ago today. The happiest day of my life.
|May 1958--Denny's First Communion. Euclid, Ohio.|