Zep 2:3; 3:12-13
Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
1 Cor 1:26-31
One car in our collection hadn't been used in some time, and one of its headlights was replaced yesterday, so I decided that it needed a long trip. I took it an hour and three quarters to a part of the mainland that I haven't visited much so far. I made my first selection from my printed list but then realized that instead of an address the sheet said "see directions." Unfortunately, I hadn't printed the directions and was unable to stumble upon the church in the ten minutes I had to make the 10:30 AM Mass, despite having a detailed map of the area and taking an educated guess that it might be near the town hall and library, for which signs were posted. I stopped and took another look at the list and was delighted to see that the neighboring hamlet had a 10:45 AM Mass that I probably could make with no trouble. I pointed the car in that direction and engaged.
I arrived in plenty of time for the Mass and selected a seat towards the rear. The 1972 church is roundish, with six sections of straight, wooden pews arranged in a semi-circle around the sanctuary, with two additional areas of pews jutting at angles from either side. These two sections can be closed off by dividers and each have two sections of pews with a center aisle and side aisles. The center of the dark ceiling rises to a high point with a small skylight. The metal tabernacle is at the left, where a side altar might have been in an earlier building. On the opposite side, where the other side altar might have been, is a cross with the figures of the four evangelists in its quadrants. Another set of seedy-looking dividers separates the sanctuary from something, but I can only guess that it may have been a perpetual adoration "pavilion" that was mentioned several times. A freestanding altar is at the center of the sanctuary. A traditional crucifix is mounted over the dividers and at the center of a large painting of the angel Gabriel speaking to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Stations of the Cross are depicted by small carvings high on the side walls of the nave. A wooden ambo is at the left, while a smaller cantor's lectern is at the right (with a Jubilee 2000 banner hung on its front). Racks in the pews hold copies of Today's Missal and Music Issue from OCP.
Mass began as the cantor went to the lectern and announced the opening hymn, "Gather Us In." A reader, a deacon, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. A tiny altar server appeared later in the Mass and may actually have been present at the start but too small for me to see from my seat towards the rear. The deacon wore his stole underneath what appeared to be a chasuble-- but don't quote me as I only just now learned the difference between a dalmatic and a chasuble through Internet research. The vast majority of deacons I've seen wear the stole over the alb with no dalmatic, except perhaps at a most solemn liturgy. The priest started to introduce the Mass and wandered astray, forgetting to make the Sign of the Cross in the process. (It really should be the very first thing done, before "good morning" (dispensible) or anything else precisely because it is so important and should not be overlooked.) The deacon led the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria from Christopher Walker's Celtic Mass. This is interesting as the Celtic Alleluia is very popular but the rest of the Celtic Mass seems to be disused. The priest sat and said "Let us be attentive to the Word of God." I'll be happy to oblige, though it can be tough when people keep streaming in all through the readings. (The two entrances closest to the parking lots are on either side of the sanctuary; that doesn't help, either.)
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor went to the cantor's lectern and led the choir (to the right front) in a psalm that was not the psalm of the day and didn't even have a refrain I could learn by the end of the psalm. It wasn't announced as being anywhere in the hymnal, either, so I was left to admire the choir as it sang the refrain pretty much on its own. The reader then gave the second reading. We sang the Celtic Alleluia. The deacon went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel.
The pastor (not the celebrant) then went to the ambo and apologized for not having a homily for today but said that the Gospel more or less spoke for itself and serves as a blueprint for Christian living. (But even if it didn't...) Then he explained that this talk was postponed from last week because of the storm that obliterated last week's collection. In short, the collection is down 18% even though parish enrollment is strong. Having spent over $3 million to renovate and repair parish buildings, the pastor is in a tight spot. He asked that each family donate an extra dollar a week to the parish; for a family making a $5 weekly donation, that would actually be a 20% increase and would help very much. He hated asking for money, but since today was supposed to be the deacons' day to preach, and when he asked them if they would do it, they said, "forget it," he had to do it himself. The pastor also mentioned that the homily next week would be replaced by a talk about the diocesan annual appeal.
We recited the Creed, and the priest omitted the word "men" in "For us men and our salvation." I saw some bowing at "by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man." The deacon led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from his chair next to the celebrant (in front of the seedy partition). A woman and a young child brought the gifts from the rear to the sanctuary as the choir on its own sang an unannounced hymn that I believe had the first line "Our souls are yearning to gaze on Your face." The chalice and ciborium were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, the congregation stood as soon as the priest began the invitation. This is as the bulletin states should be done from now on as was recently introduced in the parish, but the bulletin and parish are incorrect. Sigh. What disunity we now have where unity once prevailed.
We sang the Sanctus, again to the Celtic Mass setting as would continue through the remainder of the Mass. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the second Memorial Acclamation. Someone sounded bells at the consecration. When the priest (possibly from another diocese or order) came to the second part of the Eucharistic Prayer, he said, "make us grow in love, together with John Paul our Pope, our bishop here, and all the clergy."
We recited the Lord's Prayer without any hand-holding, though orans was in evidence. We sang the Agnus Dei. Two extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion assisted the priest and deacon (the pastor did not reappear); they entered the sanctuary at the last possible moment, after the priest had consumed the Sacred Species. Two stations were at the center aisle and two were at the sides; those in the rear sections also were directed to the front after the front sections were finished. The Communion hymn was "Blest Are They."
After Communion, the choir sang an unannounced hymn with a first line that sounded like, "How Shall I Come Before the Lord?" The deacon gave a few brief announcements. The priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. The server, reader, deacon, and priest left via the center aisle as we sang the closing hymn, "Lead Me, Lord" to piano accompaniment and tambourines (the organ had prevailed earlier). Almost the entire congregation had left before the second verse was complete.
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"Good morning, Bishop Here."
"Will you stop! You must be the twentieth person today to pull that line on me. Why do so many nutty people read that Internet column, anyway?"
"Sorry, Your Excellency. It was too good to resist."
"When I retire-- soon, I hope-- I'm going to move someplace where they haven't heard of that silly itinerant worshipper. Things will be so much better there."
"I guess you'll be Bishop There, then."
"Now, look-- if you don't get serious, I'm leaving now. I could be bishop anywhere in the world but here!"
"Okay, Bishop Anywhere. Anything you say."
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In Lakeport, New Hampshire, Mass is offered at Our Lady of the Lakes Church on Washington Street. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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