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Difficult Cases: 1941

Difficult Cases: 1941

January 1941. "Billboards on side of building in New Orleans, Louisiana." Medium format acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


The good old days

Mass was in Latin. The priest faced the altar, which was against the wall. If you wanted to receive Communion you went to confession the night before and got up for one of the early masses. In those days those communing had to fast from midnight until after Mass. Most folks couldn't go until afternoon without eating or drinking anything so they either went to the early Mass or skipped Communion. The later masses were often well attended by those who chose to sleep in and or who wanted breakfast. The last scheduled service was usually High Mass. This one was sung and chanted, usually with a choir and one or more clergy assisting as deacons, clouds of incense and candles. It could easily last an hour and a half, unlike the "low mass" which was typically in and out in 45 minutes or less. When Catholics start waxing nostalgic for the good old days, Latin High Mass is often one of the things they are thinking of.

St. Jude & Mom were tight.

If anyone in the family lost anything or were faced with an seemingly impossible problem her answer was always,"Say a Novena to Saint Jude. He solves most things."

For those not in the know, a novena is nine days of prayer. The Saint Jude Novena is prayed to ask him to intercede on behalf of requests that seem especially dire.

To me the odds were on her and St. Jude's side because after nine days a lost item usually shows up or the passage of time can make small problems out of big ones.

This logic never sank in on her. To Mom's dying day St. Jude was the greatest problem solver. If there is a heaven where one can casually meet your favorite saints I'm sure Mom gave him a big hug and thanked him for that $5 he sent back to her in the 1940s.

Mass ≠ Acceleration

I went to a church with a similar set up of masses, but it didn't mean the mass was shorter: we had an upstairs church and a downstairs church with five priests and overlapping services. And six confessionals, no waiting (visiting priests).

Mossy Motors

The Mossy family still owns car dealerships in New Orleans.


Looks like the streetlamp is still there, as well as some of the architecture.

Mass × Acceleration

I'm guessing the 11:30 Sunday Mass was the most popular. Only 45 minutes until the 12:15 means it was a quickie Mass. In Catholic terms that equates to popularity.

Ralphie's Old Man

"Some men are Baptists, others Catholics. My father was an Oldsmobile man."

Difficult Cases

I graduated from a parochial school, and evidently the nuns didn't have much of us. The patron saint of our class was St. Jude, patron of "hopeless cases". Must have worked, most of us turned out okay.

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