Week 264

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Reading I
Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
Reading II
1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17
Jn 2:13-22

I drove to the mainland this morning for Mass and started looking for a church around quarter to eleven. Despite being in an area with dozens of parishes, almost none had an 11 AM Mass; they almost all were either 10, 10:30, or noon. I somehow managed to find one parish with an 11:30 AM Mass, somehow managed to find a parking spot, although it was about six blocks away, and somehow managed to hustle enough to arrive at about 11:28 AM or so-- although the Mass did not start until 11:35 AM at the earliest.

The church is rectangular without transepts and appears to have been renovated slightly. The 16 main stained-glass windows are tall and arched with various intricate depictions on them. The Stations of the Cross are painted sculptures. The lower part of the side walls is of light wood (about to normal ceiling height); from to the very slightly peaked ceiling there the walls are painted white. The domed sanctuary has a wooden ambo at the left and a freestanding altar behind it in the center. The rear wall has a wooden backdrop that more or less matches the side walls; I suspect that the original altar and reredo (if any) were removed and replaced with this backdrop. Above that is a traditional crucifix and three small, circular stained-glass windows. The tabernacle is at the right; even though I genuflected as I entered, I really did not notice the tabernacle until after Mass had begun, probably because the white cloth covering it made it blend with the walls. (Someday I'll get in the habit of searching for the red tabernacle light.) An organ is at the far left. The wooden pews are divided into four sections by a center aisle and a break about halfway back. Copies of WLP's We Celebrate separate missalette and hymnal are found in racks in the pews.

A contingent of about 30 or 40 school children (undoubtedly from the religious education program) were seated towards the left front, with some others towards the right front. Another hundred or so people were scattered throughout the rest of the church, which probably holds 600-800 when full. Mass began as the organist (again doubling as cantor, and assisted by four or five choirsters) announced the first hymn, "Here I Am, Lord." I noticed that this hymn and several other popular modern hymns (two others of which we sang today) are found in the very back of the hymnal in a short section titled "Appendix" as opposed to other titles like "Peace," "Funeral," "Mission," that might be found in this and other hymnals. I guess that as with a human appendix, this makes removing them and disposing of them rather easy at some point. A server, a reader, a cleric who I suspect to be a deacon (even though it was hard to tell from his vestments, which had priest-like trimming) and the priest participated in the entrace procession through the center aisle. After the priest introduced the Mass and explained the significance of the feast, he welcomed those of us who were attending Mass at the parish for the first time (must remember the mustache and dark glasses next week) and said that we'd have time for "chit-chat" outside church after Mass. The deacon led the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite, and then we recited the Gloria.

The reader gave the first reading (as indicated above; these are the readings printed in the missalette and listed on the USCCB web site for today, but the missalette has a note saying that any readings from the Lectionary for the dedication of a church may be used) from the ambo. The organist led the singing of the refrain of the psalm for the day but the reader read the verses. After the reader gave the second reading, we sang the Alleluia before the deacon proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo.

After this, the priest came and stood at the head of the center aisle and gave a long homily about the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, starting with a joke of some sort that I cannot recall. He gave a detailed history of the basilica, describing it as the mother church of all of Christianity; one point he made that I can recall is that this basilica was not simply the opening of another church building-- it was a statement that Christianity was now free to express itself in the open (thus the location atop one of Rome's seven hills). In the end, this all led to a comparison of "shares in the kingdom of God" to shares in the stock market and a pitch for the parish International Food Festival to be held in two weeks and an exhortation to participate more in parish activities, as those "shareholders" who neglect their duties to the "company" will lose ownership to others who are more active.

We recited the Creed, and then the deacon led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "Amazing Grace." The chalice and ciboriums were of metal. At the Oratre Fratres, no one stood until after the congregation's response was complete.

We sang the remainder of the Mass to the Mass of Creation setting. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. At the consecration, the server rang bells for the entire time the paten and chalice were elevated (maybeten to fifteen seconds each). We recited the Our Father after a pause while a dozen or so of the children (but not all-- I have no idea why) entered the sanctuary to join hands with the priest. The rest of the congregation was too spread around the church to care. At the Sign of Peace, the organist began the Agnus Dei so quickly that not too many had a chance to offer a sign even if they were closer to one another.

A second priest and a lay minister assisted the deacon and celebrant in the distribution of Holy Communion at four stations across the front of the sanctuary as we sang "Be Not Afraid." The chalice was not offered.

The priest then offered the Prayer After Communion and imparted a solemn blessing before departing via the center aisle to the hymn "City of God." Most of those in the congregation remained until its completion. Afterward, I exited via a side door adjacent to a small chapel where the iconoclasts seem to have attempted to hide all the statues and candles that must have been in the nave at some point. This may have been the location of the tabernacle at some point as well after a renovation and before someone with other ideas returned the tabernacle to the nave-- but this is all speculation.


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