Week 315

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Wis 11:22-12:2
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
Reading II
2 Thess 1:11-2:2
Lk 19:1-10

Today's journey found me in a state new to this series. An attempt was made to prevent my entrance by surrounding the state with water on three sides, but I managed to gain entry via the one side without any aquatic barriers. After sneaking into the state under cover of darkness, I considered stopping in the home town of a noted Catholic philanthropist but decided to stay just outside a somewhat larger city now part of America's decaying industrial complex. I made my goal rather simple: I would drive into the heart of the city and attend Mass at the first big, old church that had Mass soon after I stopped in front of it.

Finding spires was difficult while I was driving on an expressway in a cut, but after I rode an elevated section and saw some tall ones, I exited and started the search. The first candidate looked very much like a Catholic church but had a sign indicating a newer denomination. The cornerstone betrayed its former life, though; I believe it was dedicated to St. Stanislaus by Polish immigrants no longer living in the area. Sold. Sigh.

The next candidate was a few blocks away. A big sign said "Historic St. X. Call for monthly Mass and special events." They can't bear to part with it, but it's not really needed. Sigh. I passed a few other similar churches and then came to one with an 1870 cornerstone. A big retail-type sign by the main road read "10:30 (Latin), 12:00 noon"-- they were advertising it. Latin? "Must mean Tridentine," I thought-- and it was 10:40 AM already. I wandered around a bit more and returned to this parish for the noon Mass after not finding anything else earlier. I entered at about 11:40 AM and noticed the priest exhorting the 40 or so people in the old, wooden pews to get more people interested in the Latin Mass. More interesting is that an inspection of the green program flyer reveals that this is a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin! I mentally slapped myself for my stupidity in assuming this to be Tridentine-- now here was something about which WIDOS readers would love to have read. Novus Ordo Latin Masses are even rarer than the Tridentine variety and a fascinating commentary on how Vatican II really envisioned the "new" Mass. If only I had awakened a bit earlier... if only I had done more research... if only I had planned better... sigh.

The church is described as being of "Gothic Revival" style and is highly ornate inside, as I had hoped to find. Like last week's church, everything is preserved more or less as it was originally, but unlike that church, it is still used, and no attempt was made to reconfigure the pews. A balcony-style ambo remains in the nave and perhaps was used for the Latin Mass. The tall, stained-glass windows are mostly abstract but two towards the front depict "The Death of St. Joseph" and "The Good Shepherd" (information courtesy of a blue flyer I took home with me). The wooden pews are in four sections, with the side sections abutting the walls, and massive stone pillars falling just to the inside of the side aisles.

I listened to the schola sing "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," and the Mass was ended. Afterward, benediction followed. Then I watched as the candles on the high altar were extinguished and a freestanding wooden altar was rolled from a side room into the center of the sanctuary and prepared for the noon Mass, which actually wasn't bad (though probably not nearly as good as the Latin Mass).

I sat for a few moments after benediction, and then the noon Mass started as the organist announced the opening hymn, "How Good the Name of Jesus Sounds." The reader and the priest passed through the center aisle towards the sanctuary as a different 40 or so people attempted to fill a church that could probably hold 1000 if full. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite, and then we sang the Gloria to David Hurd's "New Plainsong Mass" setting, information I obtained by contacting the director of music via e-mail after I was safely back in my home state. ("What? He never does that... must be a counterfeit article... better contact the authorities...") The priest chanted the opening prayer.

The reader gave the first reading from the smaller ambo in the sanctuary, and then we sang the psalm for the day. The reader gave the second reading, and then we sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel as the priest went to the smaller ambo to proclaim the Gospel.

In his homily, the priest took each reading in turn and underscored it a bit. He explained that God's mercy is shown very strongly here and noted that someone who had sinned seriously and was on the way to confession at the time of death would have his sins forgiven simply on account of his intention.

We recited the Creed, and then the reader 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, "Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All." The chalice and ciboriums were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, no one stood until after the congregation's response was complete.

The Mass setting for the remainder of the Mass was Richard Proulx' "Community Mass." The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. The reader sounded bells at the consecration. We recited the Our Father, but no one was close enough or inclined enough to join hands. The sign of peace was short and to the point, since almost everyone was scattered throughout the building.

At Holy Communion, the priest distributed by himself at the altar rail, with the reader holding a paten to collect fallen particles. The organist played a hymn on his own.

The priest chanted the Prayer after Communion and the imparted a simple blessing. We sang "The God of Abraham Praise" as the priest left via the sacristy. Most everyone remained until the end. Afterward, I slipped out of the state via an unguarded interstate highway and headed home.

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In Monterrey, Mexico, Mass is offered at El Rosario Church on Rio Tamesis. Across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.

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Same Sunday in 2003
Same Sunday in 1999