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19 April 2003

It's been a lot of years since I observed Good Friday.

When you grow up in the Catholic church, the whole Lenten season takes over your life for six weeks. In the years when I was growing up, Catholics still didn't eat meat on Friday and when you got to a certain age (I don't remember what it was now), you were required to fast during Lent--that is only to eat one full meal a day, with two snacks.

Of course you also "gave up" something for Lent (technically there was some sort of sacrifice you were making in the spirit of the Lenten season, but for kids, it generally meant giving up candy for six weeks. My father always gave up booze to prove that he wasn't an alcoholic. How he loved those gin fizzes first thing Easter morning.)

It seems to me that in grammar school we also attended mass during the week throughout Lent, and there were the stations of the cross on Fridays. My school was part of a huge gothic church complex in San Francisco (the church is still there, but it's been closed for years because they could no longer afford the cost of keeping it running and earthquake safe).

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St. Brigid's Church

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Looking toward the front altar
(oh how many processions I made up that aisle!)

On Fridays we would file over to the church, all 8 grades of us, and whichever parishioners happened to be in the church at the time, and the priest, along with his altar boys, would go from station to station, the 13 figures which lined the walls of the church, between the stained glass windows.

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The figures depict the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, from his being condemned to death up to his removal from the cross. At each station the priest would first say: "we adore you O Christ and praise you" and we would respond "because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world" (amazing how this stuff comes back to you). Then there would be a meditation and prayers, and lots of bobbing up and down for kneeling and what have you.

But we kids always liked Good Friday because we got out of school early. We were supposed to do something "holy" for the "three hours" (noon to three), the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross.

The big thing was keeping silent, out of respect. My small group of friends used to play on a hill near the flat where we lived. There's a huge apartment building there now, but in the 1940/50s it was a lovely "mountain," rocky enough for us to have a good time climbing and picking dandelions and doing whatever magical things children do at that age.

For the three hours, we would go to the hill and the idea was that we would spend three hours without any food or water and without speaking to each other.

Naturally by 12:03 we were starving and dying of thirst and by 12:10 we had to struggle to keep from giggling. I'm not sure how "holy" any of us was, or how much glory went to God...or how much sacrifice we made during those Good Fridays on the hill, but I remember them as being a very special time.

I didn't "keep the 3 hours" today.  I was at work and then I was joining the masses at a shopping mall in Sacramento, though, oddly enough, I didn't eat anything and I don't believe I talked to anyone (and I didn't even get the giggles.)

Quote of the Day

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

~ G. K. Chesterton

Today's Photo

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One Year Ago
Big Brother is Listening
(Cell Phones, Security Checks)

Two Years Ago
Slacker Routine
(My Day:  pre Dr. G!)

Three Years Ago
Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Dean?
(Jimmy Dean Memorial)

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