Week 374

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Reading I
2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Reading II
Rom 16:25-27
Lk 1:26-38

The client was having his shoes shined before his holiday party when he eyed me and my second pair of unrepaired, unshined shoes and said, "You could use a shoe shine yourself. It's on us."

Not wanting to take advantage of a client, I attempted to decline his kind offer and said, "I'm okay."

"You're not okay-- I read those articles every week. You're pathetic-- and you'll never find a decent woman with shoes like that. Take a seat."

"Well, in that case-- I suppose I could."

"Jeeves, give him the best shine of the day. I'm tired of reading about his luckless, losing love life."

"Yes, sir!" said Jeeves.

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I drove on one of my usual highways and exited at an exit I had never used, figuring that it would lead me to a church I had never visited. Since I've visited only about half the churches in my area, this was not too tall an order, and after some wandering I managed to locate a suitable church. The parish web site indicates that the construction of the lower church was started in 1934, and the upper church was completed in 1961-- whatever that means exactly. This church looks more or less traditional on the outside, with a brown stone facade, and is in the shape of a cross. The inside is more or less traditional as well. The pews are arranged in four sections, with the side sections aganist the walls. The right transept has been reconfigured for a choir, and the area where the right side altar would normally be has been converted into a chapel with individual seats. Perhaps this was the location of the tabernacle for a time; I didn't see anything resembling an altar for daily Mass, and times have been changing back to where they were-- slowly-- but back to more traditional practices. The gold tabernacle currently is underneath the metal baldachino at the center of the sanctuary. The freestanding altar is in front of that and has a picture of a lamb on its front. Much of the altar rail remains. At the left is a high, circular, wooden ambo. The traditional crucifix, with red trim, hangs over the altar. Traditional, high, stained-glass windows depict various saints. The confessionals look mostly as they might have looked when the church opened many years ago. The choir loft remains, and the organist served from there despite the provisions in the front right. Racks in the pews hold copies of Music Issue from 2000, old Glory & Praise hymnals, and the large-type edition of Seasonal Missalette.

Mass began with the hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Three servers, two extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest participated in the entrance procession, which started in the sacristy, passed through the left side aisle, and returned through the center aisle. The blessing of the Advent wreath followed; a boy from the congregation lit the candles as an older man read a prayer. The boy was wearing a tie, dress shirt and slacks, and sneakers, which looked silly. We recited the Confiteor, and the Gloria was omitted for Advent.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor led the responsorial psalm for the day from the lectern. The reader gave the second reading, and then we sang the Alleluia and the cantor sang the verse before the Gospel. The priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo.

The priest remained at the ambo to preach the homily. He started by mentioning a girl who had been assigned the part of the Virgin Mary at a parish Christmas play but asked to switch with someone who was to be an angel instead, explaining, "Being an angel is easier than being the Mother of God." The priest approved the girl's insight and then started talking about "the worst kind of prayer," namely, when we try to get God to do what we want, and contrasted it with the "best kind of prayer," which is, "Thy will be done." Like King David, we have to be prepared to be told that what we want may not be part of God's plan. (The connection between the first reading and the Gospel is something I had not noticed before.) Finally, more important than the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem many centuries ago is that Jesus be born anew in each of our hearts.

We recited the Creed, and the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. She then gave a few brief announcements, including that the second collection would be for Christmas flowers. The offertory hymn was "Behold, A Virgin Bearing Him." Two collections were taken in succession using long-handled wicker baskets. Members of the congregation presented the gifts. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal. The congregation stood as the priest gave the Orate Fratres invitation instead of waiting for it to be complete.

We sang the Sanctus to what I believe was the "Danish Mass" setting based on what I found in my collection. The priest offered the third Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen to the Danish Mass setting.

We sang the Lord's Prayer; the congregation forgot to join hands. The sign of peace was short and reasonable. We sang the Agnus Dei to the Danish Mass setting.

At Holy Communion, an additional priest assisted the celebrant and two extraordinary ministers at four stations across the front. The chalice was not offered. The "dual-station" method was used. The Communion hymn was "Look Beyond." After only a verse or two of that, the cantor sang "Ave Maria" by herself.

After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. We sang one verse of "O Come, Divine Messiah" as the servers, extraordinary ministers, reader, and priest departed via the center aisle. I walked a bit around the church before I left, hoping some decent woman would appreciate this pair of shined shoes, but I guess they all prefer scuffed, battered, and beaten shoes in this town.

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In Morganfield, Kentucky, Mass is offered at St. Ann Church on South Church Street. Wherever you are, keep God in mind and be sure to look for a Catholic Mass.

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Same Sunday in 2004
Same Sunday in 2003
Same Sunday in 2000
Same Sunday in 1999
Same Sunday in 1998