I just realized it's Holy Week. It doesn't really mean much to me, hasn't for over fifty years, but it does bring back memories. Not necessarily good or bad, just memories. Thinking about Saint George Church and School brings back a flood of them. I remember something called First Friday. It didn't have anything to do with Holy Week or Lent, it was something that happened the first Friday of every month when we were in school. I actually loved it. First Friday required you to go to Mass on Friday morning, and the nuns made an allowance for you to come to school late on that day. The Mass wasn't the most enjoyable part of First Friday, although it did allow me to sit and daydream for an hour. The thing is that the biggest part about going to that Mass was Communion. And the best part about going to Communion was that you couldn't eat breakfast until after. That meant that when we got to school, later than those who didn't go to Mass, breakfast was waiting for us. For me that meant a Boston crème filled Bismarck with chocolate frosting, and a carton of milk. That was the big payoff. That and eternal salvation, but to me it was really the Bismarck.
What I do remember about the Lenten season were the Stations of the Cross. I believe it was every Friday afternoon in Lent that the entire school had to walk over to the church and sit through the 'Stations'. Yes it was a couple of hours that we got out of class, but it was also participatory so I couldn't relax and maybe take a quick nap. There were prayers to be recited along with the priest, and then there was the constant sit, stand, kneel routine that the Catholic Church is so famous for. Just about every other religion you can just sit on your ass while the preacher gives a sermon, but not in a Catholic church. Sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel. It is just possible that aerobics was invented by a pope. What made the Stations of the Cross unbearable was the incense. It made me nauseous, and along with the stuffiness of the church it often gave me a headache. But that was going to school the Catholic way. First Fridays, Stations of the Cross, May Processions, religion classes. You would think that with all this time taken away from studying and learning school subjects I wouldn't have learned very much. You would be correct. When I was finally pulled out of Catholic School and sent to the public school, I was way behind the other kids. And worst of all, no Bismarck's on Fridays at Central School.