Is 49:3, 5-6
Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Cor 1:1-3
I navigated the car through a densely populated urban area, across several bridges, and into a semi-rural area in the center of a neighboring state. I figured I'd catch a noon Mass, but by the time I stopped to look at the map and printed schedules around 11:45 AM, I discovered that my best shot was 12:30 PM. I was very early for that but decided simply to count my blessings and park the car. The schedule said that some Masses were in the "church" and others were in the "chapel" but I was unable to determine which was which by inspection. The original building is at one corner of the large property that has three parking lots, the church, the chapel, and the school. I looked for a cornerstone on that but couldn't find it, but Internet research reveals that it reads "1881." As I waited, I deduced that since the previous Mass (listed for the "chapel") had just finished in the newer building, and the following Mass was also scheduled for the same building, I would not get a chance to see the older building.
At about 12:15 I decided to enter the newer building, a/k/a the "chapel," which bears a 1979 cornerstone. I thought I would attempt to take advantage of one of the amenities typically found in newer buildings-- the rest room. (Itinerant worshippers have a hard time discounting the merits of such a useful architectural feature regardless of the merits of the building surrounding it.) However, the room had no windows and the lone fluorescent light was almost totally inoperative, so I decided to wait until later. Instead, I went inside and sat in one of the transepts of the T-shaped nave. The transepts are about as wide as the center section, so it's more like "in-the-round" than anything else. At the center is a semi-circular sanctuary with a freestanding white marble altar, ahead of the matching marble ambo. The rear wall of the sanctuary is white with a giant figure of Christ crucified attached to the wall from behind with two or three mounting points. A cross is carved into the wall behind the corpus. Beneath that is a circular tabernacle vault set into the wall. The wooden pews are grouped into six sections, two in each transept and two in the center section. The pews in the transepts are split unevenly, about one-third by the rear wall and two-thirds by the front wall. Racks in the pews hold copies of the large-type edition of OCP's Today's Missal and Music Issue. The building has little in the way of windows. A piano (not used today) and organ are at the right of the sanctuary along with a small cantor's lectern.
Mass began as the cantor instructed us to be sure that all pagers and cellular telephones were set to "silent." The church was about half full. The opening hymn was "Glory and Praise to Our God." Three servers and the priest passed through the center aisle in the entrance procession. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite, and then we recited the Gloria.
Reader I went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor led what appears to be Common Psalm 19 from the cantor's lectern. (Among others, 19 is listed in the missalette as an option for today). Then reader II went to the ambo and gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel. Two servers held candles at either side of the ambo while the priest proclaimed the Gospel. People continued to enter all through the Liturgy of the Word.
The priest began the homily by saying that some people thought he would shorten the homily so that folks could get home in time for the Eagles game, but they were wrong; he would "do what he wanted anyway." He explained that today he would differentiate between John the Evangelist and John the Baptist by referring to the latter as "the Baptist" and the former as simply "John." We heard mention of the television program Fear Factor, in which people are asked to do vile and disgusting things; one member of the congregation admitted to having watched it and was admonished by the priest, who then said that he often saw the Baptist portrayed as a sort of madman who would fit in well on such a program. We were told that, like the Baptist, we must be signposts pointing to Jesus. Chances are that the Baptist was not as nutty as he is often depicted; he was probably a pleasant, cheerful person. We too must be pleasant and cheerful or else we are not very good signposts to Christ. Evidence that the parishioners are good signposts abounds, according to the priest-- lots of money was donated to those affected by the tsunami, among other things.
We recited the Creed, and then reader I read the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. Two collections were taken in succession using handleless wicker baskets passed across the pews by those in the congregation. The offertory hymn was "Behold the Lamb," which the cantor described as "new" although it bears a 1984 copyright. We were told to sing the refrain unless we could pick up the verses as well. A giant metal ciborium held the hosts. A metal chalice was used, but a glass flagon overstayed its welcome by remaining on the altar throughout the second Eucharistic Prayer. At the Orate Fratres prayer, no one stood until the priest's invitation was complete. (In fairness, the parish plans to implement the latest liturgical changes beginning in Lent-- but why such a delay?) The Mass setting was Mass of Creation. The priest broke the large host during the consecration enough for the crack to be heard over the speaker system. A server sounded bells at the consecration. We recited the Lord's Prayer with only a smattering of orans and no hand holding. The sign of peace was simple and straightforward.
At Holy Communion, a strange procedure was used. I neglected to count the exact number of extraordinary ministers, but I'm sure at least seven were present. The flagon was removed from the altar and the Precious Blood was poured into smaller glass chalices in a back room, while a lay minister transferred the Hosts from the giant ciborium into smaller ciboriums on the altar. Then the lay ministers, holding the sacred vessels, stood behind the priest as he offered the "This is the Lamb of God..." acclamation. After they took their stations, we sang the offertory hymn, "Here I Am, Lord." About half of those in the section to my left departed immediately after Communion; perhaps they were late for the Eagles game.
After everyone else received Communion, the lay ministers formed lines and received from two of their number (this really gets complicated here). Then the tabernacle was closed and reader II gave a few brief announcements, incuding announcements of workshops for liturgical ministers and altar servers concerning the liturgical changes. The priest then offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing before departing via the center aisle to the hymn "I Sing the Mighty Power of God." Most of the congregation remained to the end. I then returned to the car for the hour and three-quarter trip home alone.
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Instead of gambling while in Las Vegas, Nevada, why not stop for Mass at St. Christopher Church on North Bruce Street? There and everywhere, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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