Week 274

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Is 62:1-5
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
Reading II
1 Cor 12:4-11
Jn 2:1-11

Today was an awful day for driving with snow and rain mixed together. Since it was an even worse day for walking or a ferry trip, I drove an hour and a quarter to a parish located near a railroad line, a subway line, and several major highways. The cornerstone reads "1938" but my intuition tells me that things have changed since then. The basic design is interesting: a rectangular hall cut into the basement level of a building which also houses the parish school. The hall rises into the ground floor, so once one descends the long flight of steps (which reminded me of a subway exit) and is inside the building, the feeling of being in a basement (or "lower church") is absent. Perhaps this space was created within the existing school after an earlier building was destroyed; a history of this parish would be most interesting. In any case, what I saw inside definitely did not look like 1938.

The wide, arched stained-glass windows had 1960's-style renderings; not abstract, but somewhat modern. The tabernacle is in a separate chapel behind the sanctuary, which is flanked by individual upholstered seats. The left section was occupied by the lay ministers and servers; the right section was occupied by the choir and organist. The marble ambo is to the left, behind the altar. The altar is at the center of what looks like a pulled-forward sanctuary. It rests on four pillars and is large and square. Behind the altar is a large sculpture of a risen Christ. Entrances to the tabernacle's chapel appear to be at either side of the sanctuary. A small cantor's lectern is at the right. Niches for statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are at either side of the sanctuary. The wooden pews are in two sections with a center aisle and side aisles. A break is about a third of the way back, with a large baptismal font on the left. The pews are stocked with GIA's RitualSong hymnal.

Before Mass, the cantor and organist (wearing white robes) taught us a new hymn, "I Come With Joy." We used this as the opening hymn after an usher placed the processional cross near the altar and then removed it (the servers must have shown at the very last minute-- but couldn't one of the lay ministers have substituted if necessary?). Two servers, the reader, the choir (about a dozen people in green robes), five lay ministers, and the priest passed through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to Carroll Andrews' "New Mass for Congregations" setting (at least that's where the cantor directed us in the hymnal). The choir remained standing to the right of the sanctuary facing the congregation on a set of steps until after the responsorial psalm.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor and choir led the responsorial psalm for the day. The reader returned to the ambo and gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia to a setting I am unable to identify. The priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel, which was followed by another "Alleluia" instead of the usual response. His homily, also delivered from the ambo, basically focused on today being the start of Ordinary Time on Sundays (the first Sunday of Ordinary Time is always suppressed by the Baptism of the Lord). It started with a joke about a girl who was in a class with a teacher who asked if the students wanted to go with her to heaven. Everyone enthusiastically agreed except the one girl. When the teacher pressed her for an explanation, she said, "My mother told me to go straight home after school." This somehow led into a recap of the recent holy days-- Christmas, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord and a contrast of those with Ordinary Time followed by a suggestion to try to see God in the ordinary things of everyday life.

We recited the Creed; I caught a few people bowing at the appropriate point. The reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets. The offertory hymn was "How Great Thou Art." The hosts were in a large glass dish; the priest used a gray ceramic chalice and had additional wine in a glass flagon. The priest incensed the altar and the congregation during the preparation of the gifts. Since everyone stood to be incensed, we remained standing for the Orate Fratres prayer.

I am unable to identify the Mass setting used for the rest of the Masss. The priest used the fourth Eucharistic Prayer, stumbling as he attempted to convert all the instances of "man," "he," and "his" into "us," "we," and "our." This hapless prayer is so often an unwilling victim of tinkerers; what is the harm of just reading it as is printed in the Roman Missal?

We sang the Our Father to the usual setting; the church was only about half full for this 11:00 AM Mass, so joining hands was not a problem. After the Agnus Dei, which had several extra tropes added, everyone remained standing (ouch, but I wasn't surprised-- I heard all the kneelers go up before the Our Father) until just before Holy Communion was distributed, at which point everyone sat. A lay minister retrieved a traditional metal ciborium from the tabernacle. The priest and one lay minister distributed the Sacred Body from the center aisle, while a pair of lay ministers stood at either side with the Precious Blood (in gray ceramic chalices like the priest's). The choir received first, all from the priest, at the right. Afterward, the choir sang an anthem on its own, standing again on the steps and facing the congregation. When Communion was complete, a lay minister was blessed before bringing Communion to the sick.

After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a solemn blessing. The servers, reader, lay ministers, choir, and priest departed via the center aisle to the closing hymn, "In Christ There Is No East or West." An itinerant worshipper rose the steps and ventured into the heavy rain to return to his point of origin.

Same Sunday in 2000
Same Sunday in 1999


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