Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

A Virgin a Day
December 1, 2011


December first already. The time seems to fly by. I’ve been looking forward to December as I want to participate in ”A Virgin a Day”. This exercise is in respectful recognition of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness to the Americas. Her Feast Day is celebrated on December 12th each year. The mission of this Virgin Business is to post photos, stories and admiration for the many faces of The Blessed Virgin Mary. A link can be found at Rebecca’s recuerda mi corazon blog where you can find out how to participate or just enjoy the photos and stories.
These posts will run daily starting today and end on December 12th. For those of you that might think this is a Catholic thing or it is an expression and attempt to force my religion down your throat, consider instead the prospect that it is an informative, educational, artistic, whimsical and cultural glimpse into tolerance, acceptance and peace. This is far better expressed by the creator of A Virginn a Day, Rebecca, who states: 

                         calling all virgins...
enchanting, traditional, contemporary, 
exotic, edgy, campy, irreverent, irresistible,
unusual, joyful, rapturous, lovely,
glorious, ordinary, astounding,
simply
 bring her on!

I will start today with my childhood. I lived in a close-in suburb of Chicago called Melrose Park. Melrose had a very ethnic presence. There were 26 homes on the two sides of the street where we lived, 22nd Avenue. 19 of them had Italian surnames. Almost all were Catholic. The nearest Catholic church was Our Lady of Mount Carmel, just South about a half mile.
Statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our custom was to attend church services every Sunday. Of course my mother wanted us to attend Catholic school but my dad said, “No”. It was expensive and he didn’t want to pay for it. This meant that if we were to get the teachings and sacraments of the Catholic religion, we went to weekly mass and attended catechism classes.
I look back and what seemed to me as a child growing up to be a boring time to have to spend that hour per week in the oaken pew standing, sitting, kneeling, praying and listening to the choir singing in Latin along with the extra hour learning what being a Catholic is in a stuffy classroom, was actually a very cool and beautiful place. 
Interior of the old Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Melrose Park, IL

You see, the art work that I never paid heed to as a youngster turned out to be the most beautiful as I’ve seen in any church anywhere. The pomp of a high mass celebrated at Noon on Sunday could have been entertaining and I’d love to have the experience of the singing and prayers narrated in Latin, just as I loved attending a full gospel baptist service down in South Carolina when I went there to visit the family of a fallen soldier friend from Vietnam.
I’ve posted a photo of a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and a photo of the inside of the church as It was in the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up. My sister was married there and her children baptized. Each Summer in mid July a great celebration ensued with rides, games and the best Italian food anywhere. Our Lady of Mount Carmel has her Feast Day on July 16th. The Feast, as it was called, attracted people far and wide and lasted almost a full week in the hot and sultry Midwest Summer. The celebration still thrives today, and although I haven’t attended in over ten years, the prospect of trying to make it this next Summer might be a good idea as I am remembering the food.
When I look back at that interior photo, I see the cracks in the plaster and remember reading the words painted in gold leaf on the ceiling along with the images of that faith. Since they were in Latin, I always tried to pronounce them and wondered what they meant. Now, I know. It must have rubbed off as I use it as my sign-off on every letter and post I write.
Pax Vobiscum

23 comments:

Jeannie said...

I attended many Catholic services as a kid because my best friend was Catholic. Their church was not overly ornate though, and they did not celebrate the Virgin so much. hmmm

The Woodwife said...

Beautiful!!

rebecca said...

good morning spadoman!
i love and look forward to your mary posts. the stories from your youth are as rich and beautiful as the inside of your beloved community chapel. i am drawn to the old old churches. when i was young and worked on the QEII traveling around the world i sought out the oldest of churches and cathedrals to sit quietly in...all around the world.
thank you for taking me into the heart of yours.

Meri said...

I'm so thrilled you're joining in -- that you're so enthusiastic that you got in first.

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Wonderful photos and fond memories expressed so well ~ I became a Catholic later in life and have many fond memories and devotion to Our Lady ~ no longer an active Catholic ~ see 'Her' in everyone and everywhere ~~ thanks, namaste, Carol (A Creative Harbor)

Vintage Green said...

So beautiful......I hope you make it back this summer.......

TheRosaryLady said...

Lovely post, thanks for sharing!

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I just love your Mary story about Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the photos of her statue and the interior of your church in your growing up years. It triggers memories of my own although I was raised Baptist and converted to Catholicism at 21. I'm an Episcopal now, which I refer to as Catholic Lite. I adore churchs and visit them often.

priti.lisa said...

I related to this story.
Beautiful pictures...
Peace♥♥♥

Dawn Elliott said...

Hi Spadoman,
I'm glad to see that you're participating in this most delightful 'Virgin a Day' experinece! I am not a Catholic, but it's the first thing people ask me about when they see my work.
I do find Catholicism facinating, however, and love learning all about it. I enjoyed reading about your early days in the church. How typical it is that we don't appreciate things as children, and then realize how fortunate we were to have had those very experiences!
I'm off to Northern California tomorrow, so I'm going to miss way too many Virgins...but I'll be sure to check back in when I get home! Keep healing!

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

Loved your post and story. I was blessed to go to a Catholic school for 12 years and took so much joy in the Latin songs and Latin of the Mass. I missed it so much when Vatican II changed everything around. A beautiful church so similar to my childhood one St. Dominic. Will enjoy following this special celebration.
QMM

Noelle Renee said...

Hi Spadoman,
Wow, your stories take me back to my days in Catholic school and church. I can remember May Day and celebrating the feast of Our Lady. We used to make flower crowns in school for the statue for that special day. It was a very big occasion for little girls particularly. I think that growing up in an ethnic neighborhood is a very different experience and there are many families who grow up in the church and connect socially with one another. The fact that your sister was married in that church, that you recall all the feast days of Mary celebrated there and the good food and that it was in your neighborhood shows what a central part of your life it was. Thank you for sharing it with us. So glad you are here!
Pax Vobiscum et amplexus,
Noelle

Paula Scott said...

OMG!!!!! The interior of that church is just like ours! We had to recreate our altar as it got removed in the 60's for 'remodeling' A bunch of men recreated it from photos and I had already planned to post that for one of my 12 posts! Except our ceiling is not painted like yours (wish it were).
Anyway, it is a happy sight to see your name in the roster of links!

peggy gatto said...

Thank you for your words and photos.

gma said...

Beautiful post.

Peacefully*Chaotic said...

Hello!I so enjoyed reading your post!Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!=-)
I look forward to reading your posts for the next 12 days!
Love & light
Carly

Her Speak said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I'm so glad to have joined the party! Many blessings. <3

Cheryl said...

Hello Joe. You are always so informative. I appreciate that about you. I have always been curious about Catholicism. I was raised a Baptist.

foxysue said...

Your stories remind me of my dad's stories, always so alive, living out the scenes through your eyes and words is a wondrous thing. The other similarity is your mother love, this touches my heart so in this Mary Season.

Ms foxy

Hettienne said...

Thank you for sharing the blessings of the Great Mother with us - She remains our Mother regardless of what we call her and regardless our traditions! Ave Maria

Mel said...

(-:

Definitely not a Catholic, nor do I see any of this Virgin Business as a jamming down my throat deal. I have a sister who converted and I love to hear the ins and outs of the rites and rituals. I'm not threatened by other's beliefs--I find it intriguing and it makes me happy! How weird is that?! LOL

Definitely a beauty of a church that a youngster just wouldn't see. Ain't it great that we get around to actually seeing it though? And the idea of returning for the festival in July (yeah....good food...LOL) is a fun one!
What a lucky person to recall your childhood so brilliantly.

*jean* said...

so beautiful...

moXieantiques said...

very nice posting.. thanks for sharing...