Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 Thes 1:5c-10
As usual, I set forth on a long journey to a parish not particularly close to where I live. I drove about an hour and a half before I stopped and took out a printed schedule and a local Hagstrom map to determine my options. I picked a nearby parish but the road took me far away from it, so I pulled over again and selected another parish. This one is in a mountainous, heavily wooded, beautiful region with lakes-- the kind of place where an urban dweller might elect to have a summer cottage. I exited the main highway and followed a couple of winding roads to an intersection where a small green sign with the name of the parish awaited me. I turned and drove a short distance further before actually seeing the church in the middle of the woods. It seems to have grown over the years; on one side of the street is a small stone structure labeled "chapel;" this is probably the original church. On the opposite side of the street I found a large school with an auditorium that may have been the primary location for Masses for some time. To the left of that is a brand-new church and an older cemetery further left. The new church is, well, new.
I couldn't find a cornerstone, but the concrete around the new church looked fresh. The structure is mostly square on the outside, but a wall slices one corner off for a narthex. The entrance closest to the parking lots opens to a long corridor. I located a large, immaculate rest room here and thanked God that "new" has its value as I took advantage of the opportunity. Further along the corridor is the large narthex, which has doors opening out to a driveway where gentleman can discharge their families before parking their cars. Once inside the nave, we see a typical "new" arrangement, with the light-grained, circular wooden pews arranged around the sanctuary in the opposite corner. A cry room is in one corner, while an accordion-type partition closes off an overflow room that may have other purposes. A traditional crucifix is suspended over a large, white, freestanding marble altar. A matching ambo with a wooden top is to the right, and the tabernacle is slightly to the right of center of the altar on the rear wall. An ADA-type ramp leads to the sanctuary. A piano and organ are located at the left of the sanctuary. The ceiling forms a pyramid over the building and is supported by curved wooden arches. Racks in the pews hold copies of the Gather Comprehensive hymnal (without readings).
Before Mass, the organist/pianist rehearsed the closing hymn with us; it was on printed flyers that I did not see anywhere. Then the proceedings began in the back as an infant to be baptized was brought into the church and anointed by the priest. There was no opening hymn or penitential rite and we went straight into the Gloria (organ) as two servers, two readers, and the priest passed through the center aisle. I believe the Gloria may have been the Community Mass setting but I'm not sure, as it is one I don't have stashed on my hard drive to verify, and I can't find it anywhere on Internet.
One reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor led a psalm-sounding hymn (piano) from the ambo; it was notable for a cutesy high note on the word "cup" followed by a long pause. Then the other reader gave the second reading. We sang a folksy-sounding Alleluia (piano) as the priest went to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel. His homily was straightforward; it noted that the scribes and Pharisees have been trying to trick Jesus for several Sundays now, and finally He gives the two-commandment summary of the law and prophets. He then said that the two great commandments form the basis of Catholic social justice teaching and that we should look in the bulletin, which lists about eight different social justice ministries in which we could take an interest.
The priest took the infant and his entourage to the rear of the church for the baptism, which proceeded without incident; the parents and godparents responded reasonably loudly to the renewal of baptismal promises. The sung Alleluia was repeated afterward and then the infant received a round of applause. The priest returned to his chair and one of the readers led the recitation of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. At the end of this, we recited one of those prayers (e. g. the Renew 2000 prayer, the Stewardship prayer, and so on) that were all the rage at the turn of the century but have faded into oblivion. This one was for the success of the parish mission in two weeks. Two collections were taken in succession by having those in the congregation pass the wicker baskets around the pews as we sang to piano accompaniment "Lord, When You Came." The chalices and ciborium were of metal. I wasn't paying particular attention, but I believe that the four smaller chalices were filled immediately during the preparation. The congregation stood as soon as the priest began the Orate Fratres invitation.
The priest used a preface for children's Masses. We sang the Sanctus (organ) to the St. Louis Jesuits' setting. The congregation knelt for the consecration. The priest offered a Eucharistic Prayer for Masses with Children even though the majority in the congregation were adults. We sang the third Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen to the St. Louis Jesuits' setting (organ). At the Lord's Prayer, the priest asked us to join hands, but I had a pew to myself and was spared. We sang the Agnus Dei to a setting I can't recall.
A second priest and four extraordinary ministers entered the sanctuary to assist the priest in distributing Holy Communion; the second priest asked for two more ministers, but since only one stepped forward, the cantor was pressed into service. The stations were located in the center aisle and along the walls. The Communion hymn, played on the piano, was "We Are Many Parts."
After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer while he and the congregation remained seated. He then stood and read several announcements from the bulletin, which he had in his hand. He then blessed the parents of the infant and then the congregation and elicited a second round of applause for the infant and remarked that a hundred supporters was a good number. The closing hymn was "Over My Head, I Hear Music in the Air." Most of the congregation remained until the priest left the front of the center aisle at the beginning of the last verse, but after that almost everyone left. I returned home by a different route.
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In Hayfield, Minnesota, Mass is offered at Sacred Heart Church on Second Street. In Hayfield, across the nation, and around the world, you are rarely far from a Catholic Mass.
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