Chapters 3–6

After the death of their daughter, Frank McCourt's impoverished immigrant parents decide to return to Ireland. With humor and tenderness, this Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir tells the story of his early life there.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. incense
    a substance that produces a fragrant odor when burned
    It’s warm in the church and sweet with flowers and incense and candles.
  2. catechism
    an elementary book summarizing the principles of a religion
    The master says it’s time to prepare for First Confession and First Communion, to know and remember all the questions and answers in the catechism, to become good Catholics, to know the difference between right and wrong, to die for the Faith if called on.
  3. glorious
    characterized by grandeur
    The master says it’s a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it’s a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there’s anyone in the world who would like us to live.
  4. confirmation
    sacrament admitting a person to participation in the church
    Older boys in the fifth class have the thick Confirmation catechism with the red cover and that costs sixpence.
  5. sacrament
    a formal religious ceremony conferring a specific grace
    Seven Virtues, Divine and Moral, the Seven Sacraments, the Seven Deadly Sins.
  6. contrition
    sorrow for sin arising from fear of damnation
    We have to know by heart all the prayers, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Confiteor, the Apostles’ Creed, the Act of Contrition, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  7. creed
    the written body of teachings of a religious group
    We have to know by heart all the prayers, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Confiteor, the Apostles’ Creed, the Act of Contrition, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  8. Litany
    a prayer consisting of a series of invocations by the priest with responses from the congregation
    We have to know by heart all the prayers, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Confiteor, the Apostles’ Creed, the Act of Contrition, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  9. martyr
    one who voluntarily suffers death
    It’s the Latin the martyrs prayed in when the barbarians pulled out their nails and cut their skin off inch by inch.
  10. pagan
    a person following a polytheistic or pre-Christian religion
    Will they think of those little pagans doomed forever for lack of baptism and knowledge of the True Faith?
  11. mystical
    relating to a belief in communion with an ultimate reality
    Little black babies denied knowledge of the Mystical Body of Christ?
  12. ineffable
    too sacred to be uttered
    Limbo is packed with little black babies flying around and crying for their mothers because they’ll never be admitted to the ineffable presence of Our Lord and the glorious company of saints, martyrs, virgins.
  13. adultery
    extramarital sexual relations
    Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  14. adoration
    the worship given to God alone
    He shows us how to stick out the tongue, receive the bit of paper, hold it a moment, draw in the tongue, fold your hands in prayer, look toward heaven, close your eyes in adoration, wait for the paper to melt in your mouth, swallow it, and thank God for the gift, the Sanctifying Grace wafting in on the odor of sanctity.
  15. sanctity
    the quality of being holy
    He shows us how to stick out the tongue, receive the bit of paper, hold it a moment, draw in the tongue, fold your hands in prayer, look toward heaven, close your eyes in adoration, wait for the paper to melt in your mouth, swallow it, and thank God for the gift, the Sanctifying Grace wafting in on the odor of sanctity.
  16. rite
    an established ceremony prescribed by a religion
    Some boys giggle and he roars at them that if the giggling doesn’t stop it’s not Holy Communion they’ll be getting but the Last Rites and what is that sacrament called, McCourt?
  17. unction
    anointing as part of a religious ceremony or healing ritual
    Extreme Unction, sir.
    Extreme Unction is when a Catholic priest anoints a dying person with oil and prays for salvation.
  18. relic
    an antiquity that has survived from the distant past
    He tells us that next to a relic of the True Cross the Communion wafer is the holiest thing in the world and our First Communion is the holiest moment in our lives.
  19. sacrilege
    blasphemous behavior
    That’s why they have different sins, the sacrilege, the mortal sin, the venial sin.
  20. venial
    warranting only temporal punishment
    That’s why they have different sins, the sacrilege, the mortal sin, the venial sin.
    Because a venial sin is "easily excused or forgiven," it would, according to Catholic doctrine, result in a temporary punishment; a mortal sin, however, would result in eternal damnation.
  21. penance
    voluntary self-punishment in order to atone for something
    For your penance say three Hail Marys, three Our Fathers, and say a special prayer for me.
  22. chalice
    a bowl-shaped drinking vessel
    We arrived at the church just in time to see the last of the boys leaving the altar rail where the priest stood with the chalice and the host, glaring at me.
  23. devotion
    religious zeal; the willingness to serve God
    Her devotion to the Sacred Heart is known up and down the lane and in lanes beyond.
  24. abomination
    an action that arouses disgust or abhorrence
    ...but even if dancing is an abomination I sinned by taking my mother’s sixpence and lying...
  25. benediction
    a ceremonial prayer invoking divine protection
    There is Benediction and hymn singing in English, Irish and Latin and best of all the big powerful sermon Redemptorist priests are famous for.
  26. heathen
    not acknowledging the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam
    It’s the sermon that saves millions of Chinese and other heathens from winding up in hell with the Protestants.
  27. consecration
    sanctification of something by dedicating it to God
    ...pouring water over the priest’s hands, ringing the bell at Consecration, kneeling, bowing...
  28. indulgence
    remission by the pope of temporal punishment in purgatory
    Fintan and his mother live on Catherine Street and Mrs. Slattery’s neighbors call her Mrs. Offer-It-Up because no matter what happens, a broken leg, a spilled cup of tea, a disappeared husband, she says, Well, now, I’ll offer that up and I’ll have no end of Indulgences to get me into heaven.
  29. immaculate
    free from stain or blemish
    Fintan’s flat is like a chapel. There are two pictures, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  30. patron
    someone who supports or champions something
    That’s your patron, St. Francis of Assisi, and do you know what today is?
Created on March 20, 2013 (updated November 1, 2018)

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