Week 10

Holy Family

I continued my tour of local parishes with a stop in a parish 40 minutes by automobile from where I live. This appeared to be a 1950's or maybe early 1960's building. It was a simple rectangular design, possibly expanded on the sides at some point as evidenced by large columns on either side and side sections with a much lower roof. The crucifix depicted the Risen Christ and hung over the sanctuary. The sanctuary appears to have been modified, as it looks as though it has been pulled into where pews might have been at one time. The wall behind the sanctuary has a large recessed arch which I suspect held the original altar and may now be the sacristy. In front of the arch is a large wall that just doesn't look right somehow-- it's obviously permanent but seems intrusive as if it were a temporary partition randomly dropped into place by a passing airplane. The tabernacle is off to one corner so that it can also be seen from a daily Mass chapel that might be the original sacristy or perhaps was added. I'd love to see how this church originally looked; I suspect that something got lost in the renovation.

This Mass featured a nice choir which performed from the front of one of the side areas under the lower roof. (I saw no choir loft; perhaps that was removed.) Two servers assisted a priest and a deacon and processed from the front of one side of the church all the way to the rear and then through the center aisle. The hymns, of course, were traditional Christmas carols as is appropriate (and popular) during the Christmas season. The Gloria was sung with a Christmas setting (the refrain "Gloria in excelsis Deo" from "Angels We Have Heard on High"). I don't know if anyone actually was a cantor, but one woman stepped forward from the choir and sung the responsorial psalm from the ambo. The rest of the singing was led from the choir section. The psalm was not the one from the Holy Family liturgy but rather the one from the Christmas Mass during the day. (Perhaps that qualifies as a "seasonal psalm.") I was able to sing as loud as I wanted to sing, as the choir gave me cover.

I was surprised to see that the complete reading from Colossians was given. The new Lectionary makes optional verses 18-21, which includes the "wives be subordinate" passage (formerly "wives be submissive"). I thought that pastors would drop that passage like a hot potato the moment it became optional, but maybe I'm wrong. Give whoever made that decision credit for having nerve. When people complain now, the pastor has to say something more than, "it's not optional" as a justification.

The deacon served as lector and also preached the homily. I wasn't quite certain what point he was trying to make; among other things, he mentioned that he had placed his mother in a nursing home some years ago and seemed guilt-ridden about it but didn't apologize for it or say it was wrong either. The pastor's column in the bulletin is just as confusing; it talks about the "wives be subordinate" passage but calls it "offensive," says that it "quite properly enrages many women," and kind of knocks it and the rest of the Bible to pieces. (The column probably isn't as bad as that makes it sound and may have some useful thoughts, but again, it left me scratching my head.)

The third Eucharistic prayer was used, and once more, the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation. Does this guy have a good publicist or what? The Our Father was also sung.

Ten lay ministers assisted the deacon and priest in distributing Holy Communion in a way typical for distribution under both kinds. Two hymns were sung during Communion. After the final prayer, the priest announced funerals scheduled for early this week but made no other announcements. All in all, it was a worthwhile Mass almost as good as the one in my own parish, with some reservations.

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