Week 14

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parish I selected for today's visit has a 10:30 AM "family" Mass after its 9:00 AM Mass, so I figured that the earlier Mass would probably be an ordinary organ Mass. In a light drizzle, I walked twenty minutes to the railroad station and took a 30-minute train ride to the general area. The church is a 20-minute walk from the station. The light drizzle continued until I arrived, when it started to get heavier. I did not take my umbrella because I didn't know how crowded the Mass would be, and it might have gotten in the way. (For daily Mass, I would definitely have taken an umbrella.) I did, however, wear an overcoat and rubbers.

The exterior of the building looks as though it was designed by an architect of office buildings who did churches on the side. It is basically a simple pair of boxes (flat roofs) joined by a lobby. The windows of the church side are continuous long narrow arches of stained glass, although one might not notice the stained glass from the outside. One would not suspect this of being a church without some sort of exterior markings or other identifying characteristics. It probably dates from the 1960's or maybe the early 1970's and may have been renovated in the 1980's or early 1990's.

After I entered at about 8:40, I looked for the tabernacle but had trouble finding it, although it wasn't really hidden. It was on a wooden partition that separates the pulled-out sanctuary from what must have been the original sanctuary, a recessed area that now seems to be a daily Mass chapel. I took a look afterward and saw what looked like another altar and ambo along with upholstered chairs, so that's probably the story. The tabernacle was a little hard to find because it is basically a wooden cabinet in the partition, and it just blends into the rest of the wooden partition a bit too well.

The partition is topped by a standard crucifix. The altar is a small, modern type, ahead of the ambo, which is directly in front of the cantor's lectern (somewhat unusual-- the cantor usually is found on the opposite side of the sanctuary). Two sections of wooden pews are on either side of the sanctuary at right angles to the main set of wooden pews, consisting of two long sections and two narrow side sections separated by five aisles. A large baptismal font suitable for total immersion is found near the main entrance. Overall, the interior is much more "church-like" than the exterior. One has to enter to see that, though.

After I found the tabernacle, I looked around and saw two guitarists preparing their instruments and decided to flee to the backup parish for the day, which had a 9:15 AM Mass. However, the rain was very heavy at this point and showed no signs of relenting. I walked towards the street and started thinking that maybe God was trying to say something to me in the only language I can understand. I walked about a quarter of a block and started imagining Fr. Osman [who in week 12 suggested that I should give a guitar Mass a try] chuckling if he could see me getting drenched on account of a couple of guitars. Another quarter of a block further, I think I heard God saying, "You're a stubborn man." I decided not to wait for the thunder and lightning bolts and returned to the church, figuring that by the time the Mass was over, the rain would be over as well.

It wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared; in fact, it was a reasonable Mass. The cantor appeared, and I guess she looked into the congregation and saw me. "Oh, it's him," she must have said to herself, so she went over to the organ and played a few bars on it just to humor those in the congregation who had hoped for an organ Mass. I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe it's a little of both," but the organ gathered dust for the remainder of the Mass. The opening hymn was "All the Earth Proclaim the Lord."

The priest was accompanied by two altar servers in the procession. I don't know if "bubbly" is a word we'd use to describe a man, but it was the first one that came to my mind to describe this priest. He seemed to have a deliberate style, which caused him to embellish some of the prayers but overall wasn't too bad and made it seem as though he cared about the liturgy. For example, about three or four times during the Mass, he asked us to bow our heads and pray. I guess I could say he's solemn but cheerful. The Gloria was recited, which disappointed me as I like to sing it, and I'd even have tried it with the guitars.

The readings differed slightly from what was in the OCP books, so they must have been from the new Lectionary. The psalm was not the one for the day but rather "If today you hear his voice, O harden not your hearts;" perhaps that's a seasonal psalm. The homily was okay, touching on next week's "Souper Bowl" (donation of a can of soup to feed the hungry) as well the readings and the second round of Renew 2000 small groups starting soon.

The offertory hymn was "We Are Many Parts." After the gifts were prepared, I noticed that the priest said, "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of God's name, for our good, and the good of all God's Church." (Emphasis mine.) The significance of that will be left as an exercise for the reader. The hosts for the Mass were in a large serving dish (china, maybe) like the kind one might use at home for dinner. That's one I never saw before. (I keep thinking I've seen it all, but...)

The Mass settings for the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation. (I suppose he has a ukelele accompaniment for that one stashed away somewhere too just in case.) The second Eucharistic prayer was used. The priest kept stressing unity through the Mass, and his style was making me almost positive that he'd ask us to join hands for the Our Father (recited) but he surprised me and didn't do that. I did notice that many people, including the cantor and two guitarists, joined hands on their own.

The Communion hymn was "Come to Me." Five lay ministers assisted the priest in distributing Holy Communion; the cup was not offered. In the center aisle, they used the "dual station" method that I dislike because it disrupts the line and makes things go too fast. (When you get to the front, you get a choice of two stations.) All five verses of the hymn were sung, which is nice in itself but left no time for quiet contemplation after Communion.

Two very brief announcements were read. The priest then added another few bits of encouragement about "Souper Bowl" Sunday and Renew 2000 and proceeded to omit the Prayer After Communion entirely. The closing hymn was "We Are the Light of the World." Two verses were sung, but almost everyone had started to leave after the first verse. Sigh.

Outside, the rain was still very heavy; more penance was afoot and no reward forthcoming for having remained at this Mass. I walked back to the railroad station and missed a train home by about five minutes, leaving me to wait twenty-five minutes in the deserted train station for the next train-- well, guess what? That's just enough time for a Rosary! I'll just count with my fingers. "I believe in God, the Father Almighty..."

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