Week 4

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week I continued my tour of local parishes, walking an hour and ten minutes to a small parish with an 8:45 AM Mass. I figured that that one was "safe" because the following Mass is listed as the folk Mass. Well, I was half right. Someone either above or below must be having a chuckle at my expense, as we shall see.

I'll start by noting something I found in the bulletin afterward. It made reference to the year "70 C. E." Now, I can accept this in normal public discourse directed toward a general audience, but in a Catholic church bulletin, intended for Catholic Christians and presumably read by Catholics, what on earth is the need for this? Why do we need to be ashamed to say "in the year of our Lord" (A. D. 70) amongst ourselves?

The church is kind of small; perhaps "intimate" is appropriate. It has four sections of pews separated by three aisles. The side sections abut the walls, so each row is a dead-end (something I kind of dislike, but it's unimportant). Each row is rather short, holding only four or five people comfortably. Perhaps six or seven could be squeezed in for Christmas, Passion Sunday, and Easter. The tabernacle is in the traditional location underneath a small, bedroom-size crucifix. Above that is a large stained-glass window depicting Christ crucified.

The priest was somewhat elderly, perhaps just short of retirement age or just past it. He gave what seemed like a rather long introduction to the Mass, although I didn't realize that his homily was to be pre-empted by a lay speaker. Perhaps that's why he squeezed some remarks before the penitential rite and gave a lengthy introduction to the Our Father. The readings were by the book except that the cantor used a different psalm (a seasonal psalm, maybe) than the ordinary one for the day. She announced it on "page 171" but the pages of the OCP hymnal (Music Issue) aren't numbered and the first hymn is number 300 or 400 or something, so I was lost for a verse or two until I looked over someone's shoulder to see that it was number 550 or so. Maybe the cantor's book is different and included the verses to that psalm (the hymnals in the pews don't), but I had to wonder about all that.

The cantor redeemed herself, though, when she sung a setting of the Alleluia that I haven't heard in over seven years. It is one of my favorites, and I really wish I knew its name. It was the one we sung at my current parish when we first moved here over eight years ago, and I sing it often to myself when I want a spiritual lift. The only difference is that Sunday it was sung with only three "Alleluias" each time whereas I think we used to milk it for six.

The priest peppered his reading of the Gospel with lots of "and's." Some folks do that for some reason; I don't know why. He seemed like a decent sort, though, and I'm sorry that I didn't get to hear him preach. Instead, he made way for a lay man to give a talk on "talent" as part of the "Time, Talent, and Treasure" program on stewardship. Apparently, last week's homily was omitted in favor of a talk also because the speaker made reference to the previous week's speaker.

As you may recall, the primary purpose of this tour is to escape a "greeting" at the beginning of Sunday Mass at my parish. This is why I say that someone got a good chuckle, because instead of escaping I got a double dose. The speaker began with some lame "how are you" type remarks, and then asked us to rise and greet those sitting around us. Then he talked about a parish out west, "about the same size" as the parish I attended Sunday, whose collection is $70,000 a week. (The priest later said that that parish must be in Fort Knox; this parish's collection is only in the low $10,000 range.) Later, the speaker asked us to sing another Alleluia (a different setting was used) and explained that this is part of our talent. He also told a story about a fellow who never told his father that he loved him (or was it the other way around?). Finally, he concluded by asking us to rise again, exclaiming, "Turn to the person next to you! Say 'I love you!' HUG ONE ANOTHER!" and so on and so forth. He really went to town there, and then he pointed to the stained-glass window over the tabernacle and asked us all to tell Jesus that we love Him.

My only comment on this will be to cite canon law, Canon 767: "1. Among the forms of preaching the homily is preeminent; it is a part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian living are to be expounded from the sacred text throughout the course of the liturgical year. 2. Whenever a congregation is present a homily is to be given at all Sunday Masses and at Masses celebrated on holy days of obligation; it cannot be omitted without a serious reason. 3. If a sufficient number of people are present it is strongly recommended that a homily also be given at Masses celebrated during the week, especially during Advent or Lent or on the occasion of some feast day or time of mourning. 4. It is the duty of the pastor or the rector of a church to see to it that these prescriptions are conscientiously observed."

Moving away from all that, I was so bothered by the non-homily that I don't recall which Eucharistic Prayer was used, although it must have been II or III (otherwise, I'd have noticed). The priest did all right from here to the end of Mass. The chalice and paten were traditional. The cantor and organist appeared to be mixing Mass settings for some strange reason; the Sanctus was from Janco's "Mass of the Angels and Saints;" the fourth Memorial Acclamation was one I'd never heard; the Great Amen and the Agnus Dei seemed to be from Haugen's "Mass of Creation." I thought that one big purpose of a "mass setting" was to be consistent; why mix and match?

Only two EM's assisted the celebrant and another priest, so not all was bad. The cup was not offered to the congregation, which as I said earlier greatly reduces the need for EM's.

The closing hymn was "City of God," which like the opening hymn "Here I Am, Lord," and the others was of recent origin.

As I walked out the door, I heard a gentleman discussing the speaker with someone else. "Man, was he good!" he exclaimed. "He brought tears to my eyes!" I kind of felt the same way. :(

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