Week 1

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

As I mentioned in another section, my parish started instructing us to introduce ourselves to one another just before Sunday Mass, which is like torture for someone like me, so I elected to attend Sunday Mass elsewhere until the storm passes. For those interested, I thought I'd share my impressions of the parish where I attended Mass yesterday.

The church is an L-shape, obviously expanded at some point. The most clever thing I saw was the location of the cry room-- right at the corner of the L, which put it very close to the sanctuary. Most cry rooms are all the way in the back, which can be a bit demeaning, I suppose. I'd like to have seen some people using this well-situated cry room, but it appeared to be totally vacant. A larger-than-life, traditional crucifix hung on the wall behind the altar. Figures of Mary and John stood at the foot of the cross. The tabernacle was off to the side, but not particularly hard to find (sometimes they get really buried).

One thing I liked is that the candles were not lit with a barbecue lighter (in another thread I lamented that has happened too often lately). The organist was quite chatty before the Mass (he may work in radio or TV) and rehearsed the psalm response and the closing hymn before introducing the cantor. My impression of that is that the cantor should have been doing all the talking and singing, and it looked as though he was usurping her position.

I looked around a bit to see if anyone who might be single was there, but this group looked to be of similar composition as my own parish. Lots of families and older folks were in evidence, but no single people were to be seen. I'm beginning to think that the Church has a secret rite for single people and no one has told me about it yet for some strange reason.

A deacon, an adult acolyte (perhaps a seminarian in his pastoral year-- typical, but I don't know), and three altar servers assisted at the Mass. I had to wonder why three altar servers were required in addition to the acolyte (and the deacon). They had to wind around both sides of the L as they entered; I guess everyone is sensitive and they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not passing through one part of the church. (At another L parish, I noticed that the entrance procession alternated each week between sides of the L.)

The first hymn probably would have annoyed most COL members; it was chock full of "we's." It probably fit well with the "community weekend" that they were observing, though. On the other hand, the long entrance procession gave us plenty of time to sing the whole thing, something I'd like to see more often.

The readings were by the book (OCP missalette and hymnals), which is definitely a plus these days. We really didn't get a homily on account of "community weekend." Instead, the priest just spent a few minutes introducing the "roll call" of parish organizations that the deacon was about to read. This introduction sounded quite a bit like "how great we art." As the deacon named each organization or ministry, from A to Z, those who belonged were asked to stand and remain standing. At the end, he added some really general categories, like "anyone who didn't steal from the poor box," so everyone was able to stand. Then everyone was invited to come forward to receive a certificate. After this, pastoral reasons must have left absolutely no time for the Creed, so it was omitted. (In fairness, the Creed is not used at daily Mass, so the priest could have simply forgotten it from force of habit.)

The second Eucharistic Prayer was used, but it sounded fairly straight. The priest elevated the Host and the chalice for at least thirty to forty-five seconds, which seemed kind of reverent. The Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen were from Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation. I was somewhat apprehensive that we might be instructed to hold hands during the Our Father, but I was thankful that the moment of tension passed without that happening.

A big negative was that the priest sat while the deacon, acolyte, and lay ministers distributed Holy Communion. Making this more offensive is that the priest helped distribute the certificates earlier in the Mass, so even in all charity, I could not think of a legitimate reason why he might not have been able to distribute Communion. Never having been there before, I don't know if that happens regularly, and I hope it was some sort of misunderstanding, but proper scheduling and instruction of extraordinary ministers of Communion should prevent that sort of thing.

After Communion, the deacon invited us to recite the "beautiful Renew 2000 prayer." At least it didn't replace the Prayer After Communion as it has in my parish, or replace the end of the Prayer of the Faithful that the priest is supposed to say as I saw at another parish. Then the lay ministers of Communion to the sick were called forward for a blessing. We did that in our parish for a few weeks but for some reason it didn't last, which I thought was a shame; I kind of liked that practice.

The final hymn hit one of my pet peeves. It wasn't in the hymnal! When a hymnal has a couple of hundred hymns in it, picking one not in the book is simply ridiculous and almost inexcusable. (If it's one everyone knows, it might pass muster, but the Church is so fragmented today that I wonder if very many hymns could fit that description.)

Overall, it was a not-too-bad Mass, but not one I'd go out of my way to attend regularly unless it was the only way I could receive Jesus in the Eucharist; I needed an hour and twenty-five minutes to walk home. Next week, I'll probably try somewhere else.

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