Week 287

Divine Mercy Sunday

Reading I
Acts 5:12-16
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Reading II
Rv 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
Jn 20:19-31

A correspondent requested that I visit a particular parish within driving distance of where I live, so I decided to head in that direction this morning. Unfortunately I wasn't able to arrive in time for the 10 AM Mass at the small church, but I peeked inside to see if it was worth returning. I heard an organ, the tabernacle was still at the center of a beautifully decorated sanctuary, I saw no signs reading "NO ITINERANT WORSHIPPERS," and no one chased me away, so I'll try again perhaps next week or the following week. Meanwhile, I checked my printed list and located an 11:30 AM Mass within half an hour of where I was, so I headed that way and actually arrived in time.

The church is a square, with a small square bell tower at the front, and a higher square atrium-type tower over the sanctuary. The ceiling otherwise is peaked with a parking garage-style waffle roof painted dark brown. The walls are of red brick. A large wooden crucifix is hung on the rear wall of the sanctuary; today, large abstract banners were hung on either side of it and formed a backdrop of sorts. The celebrant's chair is at the right. The freestanding altar is at the center, while the green-yellow marble ambo is at the left and further back than the altar. A tiny cantor's lectern is to the left of the sanctuary and in front of the organ. I didn't see a separate section for a choir; perhaps choirsters simply sit in one of the sections to the left. The wooden pews are arranged in six sections, two on each of the three open sides of the square sanctuary. No attempt was made to force the pews round; each section is straight back and the corners are mostly empty. A baptismal font is in one corner; I didn't notice what the other corner held. Small bronze plaques on the walls depict the Stations of the Cross. A small cry room and a restroom are in the rear; entrances are at the corners. Racks in the pews hold copies of the large-print version of Today's Missal from OCP along with the companion Music Issue, but without the usual blue plastic binder. The square, metal tabernacle is at the center of the rear wall of the sanctuary; an ambry is to the right, near the celebrant's chair.

Mass began as the cantor welcomed us and noted the day. The opening hymn was "Alleluia, Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise." Three servers, a reader, the deacon, and the priest passed through the center aisle. The deacon fooled me as I originally took him for a priest on account of the priest-like trimming on his robe, but he functioned as a deacon throughout the Mass, and later I noticed his stole showing through the robe, and it was fastened as a deacon would have it, over the left shoulder and tied on the right side. Instead of the penitential rite, we had the Rite of Sprinkling, and we were blessed with holy water as the organist played soft background music. The priest simply walked around the perimeter of the sanctuary rather than passing all through the nave as might more commonly be done. We sang the Gloria to the Mass of Creation setting (which is often not used for the Gloria in many parishes).

A reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor led us in singing the refrain to the responsorial psalm for the day, but the reader recited the verses. The reader then gave the second reading. The deacon then went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel. The priest gave his homily from the ambo; it basically consisted of some thoughts about Revelation, which was described as a fascinating book designed to give comfort to those in the early Church plauged by martyrdom and persecution, and the observation that the we live in a difficult world today, much in need of God's mercy, the reason for what the priest named as simply "Mercy Sunday." Even though I was paying reasonably close attention today, even immediately after the homily that was about all I could recall.

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; the ushers passed through the three center aisles and then went to the front of the side aisles and started back towards the rear. The offertory hymn was "Ye Sons and Daughters." We skipped the first three verses and started with verse four. The paten and chalice were of metal; instead of a glass flagon or other typical vessel for the wine, the priest used a chalice noticeably large enough for all the wine (which was later poured into two smaller chalices). I have to wonder why this can't be done elsewhere instead of the glass flagons or multiple chalices (which ruin the symbolism of "one cup"). 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 third Eucharistic Prayer; notable is that the deacon knelt for the consecration, which is unusual in my experience. We sang the Our Father to a setting that I believe is common at folk Masses (though we used the organ). Few joined hands, although the church was only about half-full anyway (it might hold 700-1000 when full). The organist played straight through the "Deliver us, O Lord" prayer into the embolism after the Our Father.

At Holy Communion, three lay ministers assisted. The Sacred Body was offered from metal patens at three stations, one at each center aisle (by alternating between two lines) while ministers stood at the two corners of the sanctuary with the chalices holding the Precious Blood. The servers held patens underneath the communicants to catch falling particles, but this was done in such a way as to be probably ineffective if the need actually arose, as they were holding the patens probably about at waist level or below. (This is likely on account of trying to avoid bumping into the hands of those receiving in the hand.) The Communion hymn was "Prayer of St. Francis."

After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a solemn blessing. The servers, reader, deacon, and priest exited via the center aisle as we sang "Jesus Is Risen." Most people remained to the end. As I left, I saw a small plaque commemorating the dedication of the church by the cardinal in 1969; I also saw the current cornerstone, which read "1968," and what must have been the cornerstone from an earlier building; it read "1871." That kind of compensates for the weeks where I couldn't find the cornersone, I guess.

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If you should find yourself travelling through Buffalo, Iowa, you can stop for Mass at St. Peter Church on Fourth Street. No matter where in the nation or around the world you might happen to be, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.

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Same Sunday in 2000
Same Sunday in 1999


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