Most of the time when and if you see these little relics of the past more often than not you notice them because some child was playing with it — kids notice everything.
From my perspective sitting next to my Mom and Dad in Corpus Christi Church on Long Island in the mid to late 50’s, my Dad’s hat would be securely snapped under the clip. I could sit on the kneeler and look down the long rows of clipped mens’ hats, all neatly arraigned. The women always wore a head covering of some sort be it a regular hat or something that looked just like a small kerchief. It was the respectful thing to do. When I was old enough to have my own hat, it was with great pride that I too got to hang my hat on one of those clips. A sign that I was older; I was emulating my Dad and all the men who attended church.
As a cradle Catholic, I see the process of going to Mass and attending my church as a thing of comfort. Think of living for a little bit back inside your box – it feels safe and warm there. My kids were raised as we were but their view of the church and the church’s customs and beliefs are like many peoples views, different from my own. Their church is not the church of their mother and father. Their church and their beliefs are diluted with the new age knowledge, of all the technological advancements, with all the uncertainty that all this worldly information has brought to us, making us less certain of today and tomorrow. In my church, in my wife’s church, sitting in the pews listening and participating, we are certain. The certainty is more than belief, more than hope, it is a knowledge inside my heart that defines description.
The church has problems trying to grow that feeling in today’s parish. Despite attendance at the Mass, despite the readings and participation in the church’s activities, there is less and less ownership of the religion. I own my religious beliefs. Monica owns and lives her religious beliefs. There is a difference in the type of belief we own that is almost palpable. Today’s church’s need that hook on the back of their pew. They need to be able to grow a faith so strong that it is such a part of the person that there is no difference between the person and their church. Like many things I have no answer on how to do that. I just think I might start wearing my hat to church again.