2 Macc 7:1-2, 9-14
Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
2 Thess 2:16-3:5
Lk 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38
I considered my options for today and decided that driving through New York City would be a bad idea on account of the New York City Marathon. Instead, I boarded a railroad train figuring I would visit a parish with an 11:45 AM Mass. Unfortunately, the marathon route stood between me and the target parish, and I saw no evidence that anyone was being allowed to cross, even to attend Sunday Mass just across the street. With my freedom of worship abridged, I consulted with my mother via cellular telephone and determined the location of a parish with a 12:30 PM Mass. Having attended daily Mass there on occasion, I wasn't too thrilled with this parish, but at least I knew where it is, I could get there in time, I had never been there for Sunday Mass, and beggars can't be choosers that late in the day.
The church is one of the newest in the area, bearing a 1967 cornerstone. It looks its age, as it is basically a large auditorium with a flat ceiling, the design of which could have been stolen from the blueprint of a parking garage. The outside is dark grey brick, and the inside is much the same. The wooden bench-type pews are placed in six sections, with two side sections at a 90-degree angle to the sanctuary to give the effect of "in-the-round." Racks hold copies of OCP's Today's Missal and Music Issue. A freestanding altar is at the center of the sanctuary, while a wooden ambo is at the left. To the left of that is the music area, which has a piano and organ along with seats for a choir. To the right of the sanctuary, underneath a metal canopy with four posts, is the metal tabernacle. On the rear wall is a traditional wooden crucifix. The Stations of the Cross are arranged in a row on the wall by the entrance. A shrine to the Blessed Mother is on one side wall, underneath a small, square skylight. Another small skylight in the shape of a cross is over the sanctuary.
Mass began as the organist/cantor, clad in a red robe, took his place at the organ and announced the entrance hymn, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." The reader and the priest processed from the sacristy at the right of the sanctuary, down the side aisle, and then through the center aisle. The priest chanted Form C of the penitential rite with assistance from the organist for the responses, and then we sang the Gloria to the Mass of Creation setting. The priest chanted the regular opening prayer (as opposed to the "alternative opening prayer").
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. Then the organist led us in singing the psalm for the day. The reader returned to the ambo and gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel as the priest went to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel.
The priest gave his homily from the ambo. It started with a joke in which the priest and his pastor went into a restaurant that advertised "Breakfast served at any time." The pastor proceeded to ask the waitress for "French Toast, from the Renaissance period." The congregation did not laugh enough, so the priest made some further light remarks and attempted to relate the joke to the theme of time in the Gospel. Then he strayed far afield and started preaching about what he wanted to preach rather than what was actually in the readings. He went into a long discourse about how the church doesn't change teachings but develops and builds upon them. I had a feeling that sooner or later he would have his foot in his mouth, and eventually he proved me right. He made some sort of remark about how Pope Pius XI made five assertions about women, four of which have been changed. One supposedly was that women are not of equal dignity as men. "Stuff and nonsense," I thought to myself. "I don't buy it." I felt like asking for proof of this absurd assertion, but I'm too reserved to do such a thing, even after Mass, and I'd have been late for the train home. When I got home, I quickly located an article on Internet that states quite the contrary, and takes Pius XI's Casti Connubii and John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio and shows how they actually complement one another. I just don't understand where priests (or laity) get this stuff. Then he said that the fifth assertion was that women cannot be ordained. "Now, I'm not making a plug for anything in particular," he continued, "but we don't know where things will take us." Why do I get bad feelings about this priest? This priest probably confused almost the entire congregation, instead of making God's Word clearer. Sigh.
We recited the Creed, and the priest noticeably said, "For us and our salvation He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became human." Why, why? The reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful, and then a collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring." Two women presented the gifts, and the priest prepared the gifts alone, as no servers were present. The chalice, paten, and ciboriums were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, the priest raised his arms and waited, so everyone stood even before he gave the invitation.
I believe the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen may have come from the "Sing Praise and Thanksgiving" setting by Michael Joncas. It had a triple "hosanna" and that's the first one that shows in an Internet search. It's also the one in WLP missalettes, so it isn't exactly obscure. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. The organist sounded a chime at each consecration. The Our Father was recited in a straightforward way, and the sign of peace was also straightforward.
We sang the Agnus Dei to David Isele's Holy Cross Mass setting. At Holy Communion, three extraordinary ministers assisted the priest in distribution. Two stations were on the center aisle, and one was in each corner. The chalice was not offered. The organist played "Ode to Joy" on his own during Communion.
After Communion, the priest chanted the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. He almost forgot to give a short announcement but then remembered. The clolsing hymn was "How Firm a Foundation." This was listed in the third position on the hymn board; fourth was "Shepherd Me, O God," but that was not used at all. The reader and priest passed through the center aisle; most people remained to the end. Then I managed to slip past the priest and pastor (who appeared at the very end) without getting my own foot in my mouth and quickly walked back to the railroad station for the trip home.
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In the US Virgin Islands, Mass is offered at St. Patrick Church on Custom House Street. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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