Week 111

First Sunday in Advent

It was a bit cold today, but at least it wasn't raining or snowing, so I decided to walk to the railroad station anyway and head for an 11:00 AM Mass in a small church not too far from another railroad station. I wanted to attend that Mass, as it is one of only two in the church there; the remainder are in the school auditorium, which has no kneelers. Further, that Mass is suspended for the summer, so today really was a good day for that one.

Once again, the conductor thought me invisible and did not make any attempt to sell me a ticket until halfway through the first train, when she saw someone else board and walked by me; I still had to wave my $5 bill to get her attention. Maybe that's why I'm still single; I'm actually invisible and no one even sees me. After all, who would want to marry the Invisible Man?

Priest: Do you take this ma--, er, wait a minute, ma'am-- where's the groom?

Bride: He's invisible-- but finding good Catholics is so tough these days. I can't be picky.

Priest: I have to check this in canon law. There may be an impediment for marrying an invisible person.

Disembodied Voice: I already looked. It's okay.

Priest: Even so, how will you find his hand at the Our Father? It just won't work...

Voice: I should have known it wouldn't be this easy to marry.

Bride: I knew I should have put "visible" in my personal ad after "tall, handsome, fit..."

Well, enough of that. The church bears a 1901 cornerstone and is fairly simple with a mostly white interior. I believe it was renovated in the late 1980's or early 1990's. It has two sets of wooden pews with an aisle through the middle and a break about halfway back along with side aisles. The square, stained-glass windows are light-colored and mostly abstract. The ceiling is flat but raised slightly at the center, where small paintings on the sides are captioned in Latin with some of the various titles of Our Lady. Columns run down the sides and fall slightly into the pews. The sanctuary has probably been pulled forward slightly; its rear wall is now plain with some blue-trimmed arches and a figure of the Risen Christ. The green, marble altar is at the center; a wooden ambo is at the left, and a small cantor's lectern is at the right, along with the celebrant's chair. The square, metal tabernacle is to the right in a small chapel at the rear.

I arrived a little before 10:55 AM; the church was almost full already, but I managed to locate an empty pew towards the rear and took a seat towards its center. After a few minutes, the priest went to the ambo and told everyone to be quiet as we are in God's house and we should be preparing quietly for Mass. I liked this fellow already. Part of the noise probably came from the families of three infants who were to be baptized. The priest announced the impending baptisms and further stated that no photographs were to be taken during the Mass. We can't say he didn't try-- that's for sure.

The Mass began with a verse of "O Come, O Come Immanuel" played softly on the organ with no singing as the candles for the Advent wreath were carried forward by some children. I think the priest, assisted by two servers, remained in the sanctuary; I don't recall seeing any other entrance procession. The penitential rite was omitted for some reason unknown to me; the Gloria was properly omitted as well, so the priest went directly into the opening prayer.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading, which, like the other readings, was not in the OCP Breaking Bread hymnal (found in the pews along with World Library Publications' Voices As One pamphlet). To piano accompaniment, the cantor led the psalm, which was based on the psalm for the day but actually was a folksy hymn in the hymnal. The reader then gave the second reading, and then the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel were sung to piano accompaniment.

After the priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo, he gave a good homily that focused on the Scripture readings for the day, with a heavy emphasis on sin and the need to be ready to face God at any time. One comment that remains in my mind is this: "The homily is not supposed to make you feel good. Politicians say things to make you feel good but the don't keep their promises anyway. Jesus preaches the Truth."

Next, we renewed our baptismal promises and recited the dialogue form of the Apostle's Creed. Then the infants were brought to the baptismal font at the break in the pews and baptized; after each baptism, the choir broke in with a vibrant chorus of "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia." Then the infants were anointed with chrism before being taken to the side altar at the left to be consecrated individually to Our Lady as the priest held them before the painting of Mary hanging there.

The Prayer of the Faithful followed and was more or less typical. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as the choir sang "On That Holy Mountain" on its own to piano accompaniment. I found this moving as I think it was basically the same hymn sung at the second parish of week 106 (slightly different title, though) and I shall always have fond memories of almost anything associated with the WIDOS MM Tour.

The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were sung to organ accompaniment and came from the Mass of Creation. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer and used a metal chalice and ciborium along with a glass flagon for additional wine. I think at the Our Father, some sentiment existed for joining hands, but it was not all-encompassing. Those near me remained level-headed and sensible.

At Communion, seven lay ministers assisted the priest in distribution; he gave them Communion before receiving it himself, but they waited to consume theirs until the priest had finished. The choir received first, at the break. Stations were located there and in the front for both forms of Communion. The Communion hymn was "Jesus, Come to Us," again with organ accompaniment.

After Communion, the priest offered the Prayer after Communion and imparted a Solemn Blessing. The closing hymn was "Let the King of Glory Come;" about a quarter of the congregation left before the one verse was concluded.

After I left, I took something from my pocket, checked the cornerstone, and then crossed the street. A few moments later, I performed a routine check to be sure I still had my railroad ticket for the return trip, but it was gone! I went back through the church and retraced my steps; fortunately, St. Anthony was with me, and I found the ticket, worth $2.75, on the front lawn of the church. I hadn't asked his intercession-- now, there's a saint for you!

Same Sunday Last Year

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