... the journal

The Guest
Refrigerator Door

From  my cousin Donna's   fridge

DG-THOU.jpg (21503 bytes)

She has refrigerator poetry magnets, so a lot of these magnets will be sayings she's made out of the magnets

* Discussion *

Talk about it here.


Deja Dead
Kathy Reichs

(not for the squeamish!)


West Wing

Pictures from the Cincinnati are now up at Steve's Club Photo page.

Pictures from our Family reunion are on my own Club Photo page.

That's it for today!


23 August 2001

It's a smell I remember well from my childhood. I went to a Catholic grammar school which was on the same plot of land as our parish church. St. Bridget's was a huge gothic-type church with arching ceilings and marble columns and wonderful stained glass windows. It always smelled of the polish that the parish ladies rubbed into the wooden pews and at the back of the church was the choir loft with a huge pipe organ which filled the church with wonderful music at the 9:30 Mass each Sunday.

Down each side aisle, mounted on the wall, were the white marble stations of the cross, tracing Jesus' last journey to Calvery. During Lent, the school children would be taken in groups to the church and we would pray the stations of the cross, while the priest stopped at each station and recited the ritual prayers.

There were small altars on either side of the huge main altar and statues of Jesus or Mary or various saints lining the side of the church.

In front of each altar or statue was always a bank of votive candles. In the late afternoon when the sun was setting and the light in the church was dim, I loved to enter the church, my footsteps echoing on the marble floor, the side altars illuminated by the flickering lights from the candles lit by other worshippers.

Many is the time when I would go into church after school to confer with St. Theresa about some problem. I would drop my quarter into the slot of the metal coin holder and listen to the sound of it hitting the metal sides as it joined the other quarters. Then I'd choose an unlit candle and set a match to the wick. I'd kneel in front of the statue while the smell of melting wax imbedded itself into my memory banks, to be recalled years later when I would get a whiff of the smell of melting wax.

My relationship with votive candles started in infancy when I was the beneficiary of a miracle. As my mother tells it, I was born with a growth on the side of my neck. The doctors told her that when I was old enough, they would have to operate to remove the growth, as it was pushing my head to the side as it grew larger.

My godmother, who was a very religious woman, asked my mother (who was not at that time a Catholic) if she could pray for me.

The women went into a church and my godmother carried me to the altar of Mary. She lit a votive candle and spent some time in prayer. She then handed me back to my mother.

My mother swears that the next morning when she woke up, the lump on my neck was gone. The doctors had no explanation for the sudden disappearance and it has always been accepted in our family that it was a miracle, brought on my my godmother's prayers as she knelt before the votive candles and prayed for a cure for me.

Years later we attended the ordination of a friend in Minnesota. He took us on a tour of the chapel on the seminary grounds and when we entered the building, I walked to the votive candle stand and lit a candle, kneeling to say a prayer.

"Women always do that," he said to Walt, rolling his eyes.

The years passed and I began to become dissatisfied with the Catholic church and eventually considered myself a "recovering Catholic." So it's been many years since I have entered a church to light a votive candle and pray to a statue.

This evening a friend called me, convulsed with laughter. He had been to his old parish church to attend a funeral. When the funeral was over, he decided he would go and light a candle and say a prayer for the deceased.

As he approached the votive candles, he thought to himself that they looked kind of odd. When he reached the stand, he saw that the candles were electric. There was a sign saying that a suggested donation was $1, after which the worshipper could push a button to turn the "candle" on.

Electric candles? Are they serious? Where is the warmth from the flames? Where is the smoke gently rising to the heavens? Where is the smell of melting wax? What will impressionable children remember when they are adults? Is an electric candle even kosher? I mean--do the saints pay attention to electric candles?

There's also the time factor. You knew if you lit a votive candle and put it in the candle holder that you were getting about 24 hours worth of prayers for your money. How much time do you get on your electric candle? Is it like a parking meter? Can you add more money to keep your candle burning longer?

What's next? An ATM machine so you can charge the candle donation? (Will it give change? Can you buy a candle and get money for the coke machine at the same time?)

How about eucharist on demand? Kind of a vending machine where you can get your own host without having to go to Mass.

Maybe substitute a coin-operated Wurlitzer for the pipe organ. If you want to hear a specific hymn, just choose from the list of tunes, put in some money and sit back to enjoy your selection.

I dunno. I think sometimes we go a little too far in modernization. I'm sure that electric candles are very efficient and nobody has to clean up melting wax, but I'm just not sure that Mary would work a miracle for someone who kneels down and pushes a button to turn on an electric light.

One Year Ago:

Some pictures from this journal
can be found at
Club Photo

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Created 8/23/01 by Bev Sykes