Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15
1 Cor 12:12-30 or
1 Cor 12:12-14, 27
Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
One of the nice things about Mass is that one need not remain in any one position for too long. We get to use almost every position except lying prostrate (and clerics even get to do that when they are ordained). Thus, as a Catholic advances in age, and certain body parts begin not to work as well as he might like, Mass can still be a source of relief from various aches and pains. Thus, today, despite an aching lower back caused by chipping away icy snow at my sister's house, I set forth on an hour and a half journey to a parish on the mainland. The car trip was barely bearable but good penance. (It was either that or hanging around railroad platforms in below-freezing weather and walking on ice-covered sidewalks left over from last Sunday's storm.) Arrival at the target parish was actually a joy, once I extracted myself from the car.
I couldn't see the cornerstone (I suspect it was hidden behind some bushes), but some Internet research reveals that construction on this building started in 1961 and the cornerstone was dedicated in 1963 (so it must have one, somewhere). It is a peaked building on a main street with an adjacent school. It has some character even though the sanctuary seems to be missing something on account of the square metal tabernacle having been moved to the side altar underneath the statue of Our Lady. The sanctuary is arched with a large, bronze, traditional crucifix on the rear wall. Some green plastic ivy or something covered the altar and the marble ambo at the right, ahead of the altar. I assumed that this was the design, but the announcements later suggested that I might be incorrect. The stained-glass windows are traditional and begin high over the side walls. The wooden pews are split into two sections without a break and probably hold about 16 across when full. The racks hold old copies of the hardcover RitualSong hymnal as well as current copies of the paperback Sunday's Word missalette. A choir loft is over the main entrance and was actually used today for a choir of about 15-20 people wearing red robes. The wall of the loft is highlighted by a large, circular, stained-glass window with circular depictions of the twelve apostles on its circumference and an image of the Blessed Mother at the center. A huge pipe organ is also located on this wall.
Mass began as those who vere visiting were welcomed (being specifically welcomed at so many parishes really is great!) and the opening hymn, "O Christ the Great Foundation," was announced. Four servers, six lay ministers of Holy Communion, two readers, the deacon, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. The lay ministers and readers sat in the front left pew, which had a sign marked "Reserved." The priest gave a brief introduction in which he tied together last week's second reading with this week's second reading ("one Spirit, one Lord, one God, one body"). The deacon led the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite, and then we sang the Gloria to the same setting I heard last week, oddly enough-- Carroll Andrews' "New Mass for Congregations."
One of the two readers approached the ambo and gave the first reading. Then the cantor crossed the sanctuary from the left and sang the responsorial psalm from the ambo; a musical setting of Psalm 19 from the RitualSong hymnal was used. The second reader replaced the cantor at the ambo and gave the short form of the second reading. We sang the Alleluia, and then the deacon proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo.
The homily, delivered from the head of the center aisle, began with a riddle in which the priest named various presidents beginning with George Washington and concluding with George Bush saying "he gave his in 2001," for example. I was guessing "State of the Union Address," until the last reference, but as usual I was only close; the priest was referring to their inaugural addresses. We heard various quotes from these addresses, including Frankin Roosevelt's famous, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," and John Kennedy's wonderful, "Ask what you can do for your country." This led into a comparison between these inaugural addresses and Jesus' dramatic proclamation in today's Gospel; the priest said that Jesus' speech today could be considered an "inaugural address," in which he lays bare very plainly and concisely who He is and what His mission is. Also, just as our leaders appealed to the poor and marginalized among us, so too does Jesus appeal to the weak and disenfranchised among His people.
We recited the Creed; noteworthy is that the priest and deacon as well as the woman to my left and many others bowed at the appropriate point. I was happy to stand, too-- sitting is the most uncomfortable position for me right now. The deacon read the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful, including long lists of names of the sick and deceased; a few of these were "the mother of X" or "the father of Y" which sounded a bit odd; surely these people have names of their own too. Two collections were taken in succession with baskets passed across the pews from one end to the other as we sang the offertory hymn, "You Are Mine." The chalice and ciboriums were of metal; a glass flagon held additional wine. At the Orate Fratres, no one stood until the congregation's response was complete.
The Mass of Creation setting was used for the remainder of the Mass. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. Kneeling was rather comfortable for me today, oddly enough. We recited the Our Father; no one was caught joining hands. A second priest emerged from the sacristy and retrieved additional ciboriums from the tabernacle (and actually knelt at the final elevation; I guess this is correct since he was not a concelebrant). Two stations for each form of Holy Communion were at the front and two were at the very rear; the choir had its own minister. The Communion hymn was "One Bread, One Body."
After the Communion hymn was complete and the choir had received Holy Communion, the choir sang an anthem on its own, "I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light." Then the celebrant offered the closing prayer, and priest who assisted with Communion gave a few short announcements, including one which said that the green stuff all over the sanctuary (I presume that is what he meant) was part of some decoration created by an artist and especially commissioned for a special Mass immediately following the 10:30 AM Mass I attended. Okay, if he says so. I'll have to return here another day and see what this sanctuary looks like on an ordinary day.
The priest imparted a simple blessing and then departed via the center aisle with all those who were in the entrance procession. The closing hymn was "Joyful, Joyful We Adore You." We sang two verses; only about a quarter of the congregation left before they were complete.
Outside, a bus marked A. S. Tours was parked at the curb in front of the main doors. I couldn't help but laugh-- and I wished I could get on that bus for the ride home instead of sitting uncomfortably in a car for another hour and a half!