Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Blessing of the Bread

The Blessing of the Bread
It is Holy week.  My brother Robert and I are to take the basket of blessed bread to every home in the village.  We do it this year because it is our mother's turn to bake the bread.  She baked it in a large flat loaf in a mold in the shape of a lamb and one representing Jesus as a shepherd.  The top is golden brown.  It is full of anise seed and smells good.  Before distributing the bread we took it to the priest who blessed it.  Then in each home, each person takes a piece, makes the sign of the cross and eats it in silence.  This is our village communion and happens each year on good Friday.  One piece is kept in each home from one year to the next.  For luck some say, for protection from lightening, say others.  Our mother doesn't believe that it is for any of those things.  She says, “It is a symbol of God's goodness in giving us bread.’’

Rebecca Goethe DeVries
Translation: Rebecca Goethe DeVries
Copyright: Lucy DeVries Duffy, June 22, 2009, Brewster, MA 02631, USA

Easter Story - The Blessing of the House

The Blessing of the House
During Holy Week, it was the custom in our villages, to receive the blessing for our houses, our stables, our fields and ourselves.  So, the week before we polished the floor, the furniture, finally all in our simple home.  The bricks of the floor were rubbed with wax, red for the space which separated the bedroom from the kitchen, the rest spruced up with yellow wax. And we also, we were polished up!  With our white collars and our black aprons we stood up very straight, waiting for Monsieur le Curé Tépeigner. 
He entered with his two choir boys, one carrying a crucifix, the other the blessed water.  We stayed standing very serious, while the priest blessed us as well as the house, while murmuring a prayer in Latin.  One of the boys held the crucifix towards us so that we touched it with our lips then he wiped the cross with a white napkin.  What an angelic air these two boys had with their black and white surplices!  Nevertheless, these are the same who tease me while going to or coming from the school.
When all was blessed in the house, we went in the courtyard and Father Tépeigner threw a little holy water on the door of the stable and towards the field of wheat.  The priest is very old and he fumbled a little.  All was blessed and we gave him some eggs that he had me put carefully in his big black basket while saying to Maman…“Madame, I do not see you often at church and never at confession.’’
Ah, poor M le Curé.   This is not a thing to say to Maman who had at all once fury in her eyes.  The priest made his goodbyes quickly.  I believe that he was afraid of Maman who engaged herself willingly in discussion of the misdeeds of the nobility, vis à vis the third estate.  However, liberal thinker that Maman was, she would be very angry if the priest left out our home for the annual benediction.  While going out, the boys turned and made a face at me.  All the same, our house is protected for another year.

Rebecca Goethe DeVries
Translation and Copyright: Lucy DeVries Duffy, January 23, 2009, Brewster, MA 02631
Rebecca visiting her home in 1937, her first trip back since leaving in 1921
Rebecca’s photo album