Some Old-School “Good Friday” Musings. I May Be Lapsed–But I’m Still a Good “Catholic” Girl!

Alright, I’ll put it out there. I haven’t been to Mass in a while. While in the process of divorce, I was still attending Mass regularly until a visiting priest gave a homily at St. Ann’s, the Parish in Lawrenceville, NJ, that I belonged to AND taught CCD. In his homily he damned people like me who were divorced. Not one to take his comments lightly, I stood up in the middle of Mass, grabbed two of my children and said. “We’re leaving. I had enough of this crap”. I didn’t leave quietly.

I’m sure any of the parents whose children were in my CCD class ran to the rectory immediately after Mass ended and demanded a refund from Father Vince because I was a modern-day Mary Magdalene.


Mary Magdelene–A Saint I could relate to–but her hair is better!

A few years later, after I moved to the Philly suburbs, Oona and I attended Mass at St. Isaac Jogues in Chesterbrook. Upon receiving my Communion wafer with the wrong hand, the priest reprimanded me as I received the Body of Christ. In front of the entire congregation!

Oh. And I also forgot to mention this big one. The priest who married my ex-husband and me, Msgr. Woolsey, went to jail for embezzlement of funds from his Parish in NYC. I wrote a letter to the Archdiocese of New York requesting a free Annulment because the priest that married me was convicted of a crime, so I should not be treated like the sinner I am.

I never received an answer. I swear to god, this is stuff that you cannot make up. I’m not a good liar!

But it brings me to this—lapsed Catholic or not, I’m still a Catholic.

Nun doll

Every good Catholic girl has a nun doll. I still have mine and it is still out in the open on display on the bookshelf!

roaries in cras

I hang my rosary beads on my car mirror. Granted, Bonaparte takes them off when he uses my car, but I always put them back where they belong.

More growing up Catholic book cover

Not only did I read THIS book, but I also read the original “Growing Up Catholic”


In Catholic School, this was my bible and…


To this day, I picture my soul as a bottle filled with dark chocolate milk–or maybe chocolate ganache! Oh wait!!! The dark one is EMPTY! Can you imagine? All these years I thought it was chocolate milk!

In fact, I’m extremely happy that Pope Francis is the head of the Church. This man is the true essence of Christianity. I may have been expelled from the Church, but it doesn’t stop me from having memories of old-school Good Fridays.


Francis–He’s the man!!!! The true essence of good in this world!

I remember being a student at St. Patrick’s in Bay Shore during the early through late sixties. On Good Friday grades One through Four would have the day off from school. The students in the Fifth through Eighth Grade would have to go to school for a half day. Guess where that half-day was spent?

St Pats postcard

Half a day in this church on Good Friday. I’m sure we all sinned because we were thinking of other things–like the candy we would receive in our Easter Baskets!

That’s right—the nuns, in their frightening habits would march us across Clinton Avenue, from the school over to the Church and we would attend all sorts of Good Friday services. From Mass to Benediction to Stations.


The Sorority of Sisters of Mercy. I’ll be they are smiling because they know they are able to torture us with those infamous clickers!

We would kneel, sit, and stand, not from commands imbedded in our Catholic memory, but from the nuns standing in the aisle with little unseen clickers. Anyone remember them?


Did the clickers that the nuns used look like this????

As weird as it may sound, I actually miss those days. I can close my eyes and smell the incense that was distributed in a cloud of smoke. To this day it is one of my favorite smells.


The incense is still one of my favorite church memories.

old school altar boys

…and why can’t “Altar” servers of today wear the old-school altar boy attire. It’s so much prettier than those ugly albs the kids wear now. Ugh!

 There was something just so grand and elaborate and beautiful about the rites and the solemn tone of it all.

I remember hearing, year after year, about Jesus being crucified and being brought to tears. How could that happen to Jesus?


As a child–this is just so sad. As an adult–it’s just barbaric.

The story was so sad that I could never understand why the day was called “Good” Friday! Shouldn’t it have been called “Sinful” Friday? Or “Mort Friday”? What’s so good about nailing some guy to a cross? It’s barbaric!!! Maybe “Barbaric” Friday would have been the best name.

pic from dad's missal

Illustration from my dad’s missal.

Girls. Do you remember going to church, not just on Good Friday, but any Sunday and not having a mantilla on your head? No hat. No mantilla. What to do?


Jackie Kennedy rocked both the white mantilla and the….


Black mantilla. Either she’s that happy going to Mass or she heard a joke about a priest going into a bar……

A tissue and a bobby pin! Yes. I’m not kidding! My mother always had tissues and bobby pins in her purse—just in case we happened to stop and light a candle. I’m sure my mother was not above throwing a wrinkly used tissue in my frizzy hair from time to time—but at least I wasn’t sinful!

Tissue and bobby pin on the head

DIY Mantilla. Tissue and a Bobby Pin.  What do think the reaction would be if I walked into a church now with this get up on my head?

When we were growing up, my parents had a strict “Good Friday” rule. We weren’t allowed to go out. Cross my heart, it’s true. We had to stay home on Good Friday—only allowed out to go to school and church. I often wonder—were we the only ones??


Not only no meat, but no fun either!

My dad, on his time off from his police work, could always be found in Church on his free time during Holy Week. My parents really were very much into their faith. I’m lucky because one of the items I have from my dad is his small missal and prayer book. It was given to him by our cousin, Sr. Raphael, a Sister of Mercy. She sent it to him from Ireland. Every now and then I open it up and read and try to visualize my dad. It’s a nice thing to have.

I still take it out and read it

My dad’s favorite possession. A Missal from our cousin, Sr. Raphael.

From Raphael

I love reading this little note in the missal. He loved this so much!

I think the Irish only had two days of obligation because they wre always at Mass anyway!

I’ll take the Irish Holy Days of Obligation–only two. That’s because the Irish are ALWAYS at Mass anyway! Oh shit! I read it wrong. Those two days are in addition to…figures!

Would Jesus have made me stay home if he was aware of this? Not my Jesus. By the time I reached high school, Jesus morphed into a hippie…and Good Friday’s at church were a more “cheerful” experience with those “Catholic Folk Songs” and “Folk Groups”. Personally, I would much rather listen to the chants in Latin!


Is it sinful for me to have been crushin’ on Jesus when I was a young teen? I mean come on. I’ve never seen a Jesus who wasn’t spectacularly gifted in the genetics department!

We also had to fast on Good Friday. No breakfast. No lunch. Just fish sticks without the obligatory spaghetti for dinner!


This little fishy is swimming all the way to Mrs. Paul’s!

But with that came a sort-of personal discipline that is definitely missing these days. I remember giving up sugar in my tea during Lent when I was in fourth grade. To this day, I cannot stand sugar in my tea. Who knew that my Lenten sacrifice would make me just a tad healthier???

In fact, I’m very proud of my daughter, Oona. She has given up Starbucks’ Latte’s for Lent this year and she kept to her Lenten duty! She kept to her word. I’m so proud of her! Giving up any Starbucks item is a sacrifice and she did well!


No Starbuck’s Lattes during Lent isn’t just a sacrifice. It is an exercise in self-discipline! Proud of my daughter!

My modern-day vision of Jesus is that of a Hipster. And he would live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and distribute artisanal baguettes and Chilean Sea Bass for his loaves and fishes. He would turn water into the best red-wine you could imagine. But mostly, he would be appalled at the way humankind treats each other! He wouldn’t have to be crucified because we’ve done that to ourselves.

So let’s think back on times before we became jaded and snarky and we were just too innocent to hate! Let’s really make this a truly “Good” Friday and be kind—even if just for the day. Let’s be kind!

Since I’m talkin’ old school Catholic today, here are some great fun movies about growing up Catholic:

“The Trouble With Angels” based on the book “Life With the Mother Superior”. I read the book and I have the movie—which I’m going to watch after I post this. I wanted to attend St. Francis Academy after seeing this movie—then I got really depressed when I found it was fiction based on fact.


My Aunt Terry took me to see this movie when it opened in Manhattan. I was ten years old. For almost 50 years, it is still one of my faves!


I wanted so much to attend St. Francis Academy!

“Heaven Help Us” is another great Catholic school film.

Heaven Help us

…and Mc Dreamy stars in this!


I need to watch this again too!

Both films are funny, touching, sad at times but will bring back memories—good or not.

On this Good Friday, the most beautiful chant of all “Tantum Ergo”. I remember this so well.

Peace and Kindness and Have a Wonderful Easter Weekend—or just a wonderful weekend! XOXOXOXOXOXO

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Baltimore Cathecism, Being Raised a Catholic, Good Friday, Lent, Lynyrd Skynyrd "That Smell", Nuns, St. Patrick's Bay Shore, Tantum Ergo. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Some Old-School “Good Friday” Musings. I May Be Lapsed–But I’m Still a Good “Catholic” Girl!

  1. stacieflint says:

    Cathy — Love your musings about growing up Catholic and am glad to have shared some of it with you! Thanks for closing with this beautiful chant.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Stacie!

      I’m so happy you like my writings–especially the ones about growing up Catholic! Do you remember that chant from Good Fridays? I’m pretty sure we sang it to a slightly different tune, but nevertheless, it’s really beautiful!

  2. Jane says:

    Hi Cathy, This is the one I remember from grade school. I think it might be the one you are remembering.

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