Chasing Grace: Reflections of a Catholic Girl, Grown Up by Martha Manning

By Martha Manning

From the writer of the "absolutely soaking up" (USA this present day) memoir Undercurrents comes an unforgettable portrait of formative years, relations and neighborhood. The eldest baby of a religious Irish-American Catholic relatives, Martha Manning weaves her tale round the seven holy sacraments: baptism, penance, communion, affirmation, holy orders, marriage and final rites. She remembers her formative years pratfalls, adolescent yearnings and front into motherhood with knowledge, wit and memorable honesty. right away poignant and laugh-out-loud humorous, Chasing Grace is a unconditionally unique story of friends and family, satisfied occasions and hard ones -- and thepainful, joyous trip from early life to maturity.

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He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake…” Second grade was also my first exposure to a particular kind of Catholic sin: nun sin. While pissing off a nun was not technically on any sin list, the displeasure and the consequences of transgressing one of the many rules within the nuns’ classroom kingdom seemed much worse than any other kind of hell. Sister Miriam Jerome must have taken years to finesse her list of rules. They were pronounced as if she were reading from a tablet personally presented to her on Mount Sinai.

I prepared for the sacraments on Sunday mornings with Sister Miriam Jerome. She was a little bulldog of a woman, solid and tough, with the voice of a New Jersey trucker. She paced up and down the aisles swinging her long rosary beads with an authority that suggested she could pick off a misbehaving student with them in a split second. It took some getting used to after first grade with Sister Mary Ambrose, who gave us old candy and holy cards that portrayed a Caucasian, hippie-looking Jesus happily surrounded by little children.

My presence redeemed my father in the eyes of some relatives who had been exceedingly disappointed when he abandoned his quest for Catholic priesthood and married my mother. Even the ones who hadn’t spoken to him now had something to say, at least to me, and by association, to him. We returned to Illinois, where my father lived the life of a tremendously overworked FBI agent and my mother took care of me and advanced in her second pregnancy. She remained a faithful diarist on my behalf, and in her writing she begins to acknowledge a growing separateness between us.

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