Thursday, February 05, 2009
More Secret's from a Catholic School Girl
(This is St. L.)
When you attended a Catholic school, regardless of religious affiliation, you went to Mass at least twice a week. Mass was held at noon everyday. Since the church was right across the street, two classes each day were marched over and attended with the local worshipers, which consisted of the elder generation, (such as my Nana, who followed us to KY in the mid-60’s. She sat in the back rows with her little toy terrier Pogo, hidden in the folds of her coat) (Pogo was given special dispensation by the Priest to attend Mass with Nana) (he vowed not to yap), retirees and the younger stay at home Mom’s with small children who whined and cried during the service. We waited patiently for the highlight and apex when one of them would escape and crawl under the seats and cause a ruckus.
We were marched into the front rows and were required to mumbled the Latin responses and sing at all the appropriate moments. Two of the older kids would be alter boys, usually pulled from the seventh and eighth grades. It was a great privilege to serve as an alter boy, not to mention getting out of class for the 20-25 minutes of a low
Mass. High Mass was different, because you sang a whole lot more, thereby making it much longer. These were only held on First Fridays, which somehow I think is a second class Holy Day of Obligation for us Catholic’s. I am certain there must be other differences for High and Low masses, but they escape me now. I was not a good Catholic girl, as I was too busy trying to trade holy cards and jockeying to see who got to kneel next to BKA .
On Friday’s all eight grades would march across the street and attend Mass. There must have been some bedlam involved trying to corral so many children. This was a long time ago, and there was no such thing as class helpers/monitors, only the usual two to three nuns and a couple of lay-teachers and some sharp eyes Mom’s attending mass that day. First graders needed to go to the bathroom, some kids got sick (because Mass was held before lunch), and rumbling stomachs made us all laugh, be it a swallowed laugh or snort, hidden behind a clenched fist, as you did not dare bust out laughing, as the Nun had full authority to box your ears. Nothing on this earth can raise a bile of panic as the sound of beads clacking and clicking against each other as a Nun rushes towards you! Somehow, with a lot of luck, you could sneak up into the balcony and “attend Mass”. High up, above everyone, maybe because one of the Nun’s was playing the organ (such a beautiful old instrument that was moved to the new church many years later) you might be able to sit, kneel and stand and sing and then receive communion and walk back up the crooked stair case to the holy ground of the balcony.
My best favorite memory of the balcony was when PGG got up there and got his head stuck in between the wooden slats of railing overlooking the church. How and why his head became lodged in the railing? I personally believe it was on a dare, once his head went through his ears prevented the return.
The older boys had to lay hold of a saw and cut him out.
It remains the highlight of all those years of mid-day Mass for me.