Good Friday

It was 1958, and as I recall, it was an unseasonably warm day for San Francisco. The Bay Area was typically much cooler for that time of year. Our local parish Church, St. Thomas the Apostle, was packed for the Good Friday services, and since this was before the Second Vatican Council, the somber proceedings were conducted in Latin, which lent a timeless and mysterious air to the theater.

All of us from 1st through 8th Grade at the adjacent Catholic School, coincidentally named St. Thomas the Apostle, were forced to attend the 3-4 hour long holy ritual commemorating the passion and death of Jesus Christ. This involved squeezing into narrow pews, and then kneeling, standing up, then kneeling again repeatedly as the various droning litanies were recited and requisite prayers offered up to the invisible Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and the numerous saints and blessed ones.

As a highlight to the ceremonies, Fr. Barron the Pastor (formerly an army chaplain) led the congregation through the Stations of the Cross –also known as the Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis — a consecutive series of painted images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion, as things went from bad to worse for him, culminating in his famous death.

There were 14 of these pictures lining the Church walls, and Fr. Barron, accompanied by a costumed retinue of altar boys and various clerical functionaries, stopped in front of each picture of Jesus for far too long, it seemed to us, in order to recite tedious and incoherent prayers, while an obnoxious incense was being waved back and forth by a smirking altar boy, nearly smoking out the people who happened to be in the adjacent pews as each station was attended by the formal crew.

The ordeal began at 12 Noon, and ran at least through 3PM, the time God was finally killed on the cross. I began the event feeling a lot of sympathy for the poor guy, but by the end of the production, I just wanted them to finish him off so I could get the hell out of that building. Is this what I had to go through every year, just to get some stupid Easter basket filled with a lot of fake colored grass and stale candy?

In any case, it must have been a combination of stinking incense, the endless moaning chants, the tragic story being played out at each station, the crush of kneeling bodies crammed together in the pews, and the exceedingly stuffy atmosphere, but at around Station #12, I fainted. I remember feeling increasingly dizzy, and then suddenly it was lights out.

Sometime later I was groggily coming to outside on the Church steps, and a nun was staring down at me with a mean look, accusing me of faking it. I assured her that was not the case, but she thought that she had me figured out, and so pulled me up by my sweater and marched me back inside. The rest of the assembled parishioners, including my classmates, were either appalled or amused, and I recall a blur of funny looks and whispers as I was summarily shoved back into my pew.

Fortunately, I had missed the actual crucifixion, so that was one upside to the debacle, and now I only had to sit through another hour of Mass and Communion in order to complete the ritual and finally get released. My initial religious sentiments had long since been replaced by some serious questions regarding the sanity of what I had been forced to endure, as well as the rationale behind the event. As I walked slowly down the hill and home that day, I had a lot to ponder.


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Good Friday

  1. marcelvuijst says:

    Hmm, you’d almost start to think they put you through hell just so one arouses the feeling of needing to be saved. Why not make religion a bit more fun, or is fun the Devil’s work?

    Ah well, at least now we can rest and enjoy the garden.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Many systems of belief devised by the human persona postulate that suffering is good for the soul, and that one must be miserable in order to reach some spiritual attainment. The nuns told me that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. That started me thinking that time must not be linear.

  2. marcelvuijst says:

    Haha, smart boy, I wouldn’t have made that connection.
    When I was young I told my mom often that In the future I would like to be reborn in the 17th century instead of the “future”. She was confused for a moment and then smiled.

    I used to punish myself physically as a teenager, but it brought me joy, so nothing spiritual happened, haha.

    My mom was raised apostolic, she wasn’t allowed to be mad at home, can you imagine (you could) living with 5 brothers and sisters and not allowing to be mad? It was all give and forgive, I can see the residue of those times in her patterns of mind. Now the desire to be free is the new prison, we build our own prison of beliefs all of the time, even Atheists.

    It’s fun to wake up in the morning, and for 20 seconds there is no notion of what you are, or what the world is or is not, completely nameless and unobjectified, and then the character gets up and plays his part in the movie, first of feeding the cats, taking a piss and smelling the coffee.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      “Is it possible to reincarnate backwards in time? You are already doing it. You are simply not aware of your Self within the past and the future in this now moment. The moment you are, you would be there experiencing that as your present moment. Yet you are doing all this simultaneously, and it is only the human persona you are playing which is not presently aware of its past and future Selves, for if it were aware, it would not be able to play the persona it was presently creating for its Self.” ~Sparrow

  3. marcelvuijst says:

    I said the very same thing when I was young, but they send me to the doc, told me I should be careful with imagining things and I needed to stop smoking weed. So I did and got myself a job and even a girlfriend and lead a live socially accepted. It’s part of the comedy I guess, observing the play but not identifying to the role is becoming like breathing, I keep forgetting more and more of the script but even that’s part of the story. You must have a good sense of humour to appreciate the Spirit of this. I’m writing a story about pebbles now, sitting here with coffee staring mindlessly for hours with nowhere to really place a gaze, and occassionally the fingers move and garble up some words.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Ah, the joys of writing!

      “I would like to be an expert writer with unblocked mind profoundly expressing all the words I want to say clearly and deeply. But I’m afraid that when one has paper, there is no ink, and when there is ink, there is no paper. When one has both paper and ink, there are no words. We are constantly putting books in and taking them out of shelves, endlessly trying to pick up good words as a chicken pecks at live worms. Finally, we find the right words but cannot construct metaphors that flow. After choosing the proper metaphors, we find the syntax is wrong. When the editor, with prideful paranoia, corrects the syntax and completely changes the meaning, we cannot find a publisher. If we find a publisher, the text is open to misunderstanding due to the numerous preconceptions of numerous neurotic minds. Instead of benefit, this creates problems, attachment and rejection, high blood pressure, hysteria, confusion, and suffering. So maybe I’d better try to stay in ordinary mind without a typewriter.

      ~ Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
      from the book “Gypsy Gossip and Other Advice”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s