Week 44

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

The hot, humid weather took a few days off, so some cool, dry weather filled in while the hot weather was away. This meant that conditions were ideal today for a nice, long walk. Never one to forego such an opportunity, I picked a parish with a 9:15 AM Mass and left at 7:20 AM; however, I failed to leave enough time to complete the journey and found that I would be unable to get to that Mass in time. After two hours heading for that church, I changed course and walked another forty-five minutes to a parish with a 10:30 AM Mass. This parish is in a wealthy part of town, so I figured that perhaps a wealthy young lady would notice me. I arrived at about 10:15 AM, but instead of the wealthy young lady, a large contingent of noisy folks took the entire pew behind me, a fellow with two young children grabbed the spot in front of me, another family with young children took the spot to my left, an older couple sat to my right, and another unrealistic fantasy was attacked, beaten, and subdued by reality.

The church bears a 1954 cornerstone on its brick exterior; the only acknowledgement of current trends appears to be the lack of an altar rail. I presume it was there originally, but no trace of it remains. Apart from that, it is rather splendid and fully detailed. The large, domed sanctuary features an impressive marble canopy over the original altar of green marble; the newer, freestanding altar is made of matching green marble. The cylindrical, domed metal tabernacle remains in the original location, and over it is a small metal crucifix that blends into the metal lattice background such that I almost did not notice it. Two large paintings are on the rear wall of the sanctuary; metal gates serve as doors to the sacristy. Plenty of statues are found throughout, as well as more green marble and stained-glass windows. The ambo is a balcony-style marble structure to the right; the presider's chair and cantor's lectern are to the left. Light-grained wooden pews (which felt most comfortable after a three-hour walk) holding about twelve people each are divided by a center aisle and a break about halfway back. Side aisles are also present. The main part of the church is also arched and mostly painted white. A choir loft is also in the usual location, and a lone organist served there today.

The cantor began by reading several announcements and then welcomed visitors (thanks!) and anyone attending Mass there for the first time. She then announced the opening hymn, "Lift Up Your Hearts." Three servers, a reader, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. I happen to know the priest from our monthly pro-life processions, so his appearance made me feel rather comfortable, and he did not disappoint me. Form C of the penitential rite was used, and the Gloria was recited.

The reader took the ambo and proclaimed the first reading as it appears in OCP's Today's Missal (combined under one plastic cover with Music Issue in the pews). The cantor then sang the psalm from the cantor's lectern. After that, the reader proclaimed the second reading, again serving well. The verse before the Gospel was also sung prior to the priest's Gospel reading. Two servers carried candles to the ambo as the priest carried the Book of Gospels, and they stood beside the ambo as the Gospel was read.

The homily focused on the last line of the Gospel, "Then Jesus strictly ordered them not to tell anyone about Him." Jesus did this because although Peter said all the right things, he did not fully understand the implications of what he had professed and was not ready to share this information until he did understand it as Jesus intended. As the priest noted, immediately after this is when Peter expressed shock that Jesus should have to suffer and is told, "Get behind me, Satan." He also compared Peter's profession to what people say in their marriage vows ("Who are you?" "I am your husband/wife.") or what someone might say when choosing a profession ("I am a stockbroker." "I am a milkman."). We make these statements not really knowing what they mean, but we learn a bit more about them each day as we go through life. Even Peter, the "Rock," did not have it right for some time, as he ran away with almost all of the other disciples as Jesus was crucified.

The Creed was recited; after this, the RCIA candidates were given a formal dismissal consisting of a prayer and blessing by the priest and a short verse of "Go Now in Peace" led by the cantor. A standard Prayer of the Faithful was recited. Then a collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as the offertory hymn, "Prayer of St. Francis," was sung. The gifts were brought to the altar after the hymn; the organist played background music as they were prepared. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal.

The Sanctus was sung to a familiar but unidentifiable setting. The second Eucharistic Prayer was used; the fourth Memorial Acclamation was sung, and the Great Amen was also sung to a setting that I am unable to identify. The Our Father was recited, and, from about the tenth row, I could see nobody attempt to join hands; even the "orans" posture was scarce.

The Agnus Dei was sung to a very familar setting (that "Laaaaamb of God" one) that I still cannot name. A priest and five lay ministers appeared to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion. The cup was not offered, and the method used was most irregular; three stations were across the front initially, and four were across the rear at the break. Communicants went to the nearest aisle and returned via the same aisle, which made things somewhat awkward. The couple next to me, for example, had to wait for my return before they could sit. After finishing distribution in the front, the celebrant did make the mistake of sitting while distribution continued in the rear and the tabernacle was still open; everyone else followed his example and sat too. The Communion hymn was "We Have Been Told."

Just before the tabernacle was closed, the celebrant asked us to recite the Memorare together. (It's one of my favorite prayers.) He then offered the usual Prayer After Communion and gave us a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "Lord, You Give the Great Commission." One verse was sung, and everyone I could see remained until the end as the priest, readers, and servers left via the center aisle. Participation in the singing was about average, meaning that nobody really sang particularly loud.

I then headed outside; no young ladies followed me, but a bus passed almost immediately after I left (which is not a small blessing on a Sunday where I live), so I was able to get right on. Unfortunately, my first fare card did not work-- but through skillful planning, I had two more fare cards with me, so I did not have to walk home. A second bus was waiting at the end of the first route, and left right away, so I guess I've depleted my good fortune for the week.

The bulletin is odd inasmuch as it was updated only once during the summer, on August 1. It also has a paragraph of boilerplate on the cover titled "The Right of Christian Initiation." A phone call is somewhat tempting here, but I shall hold my tongue. Meanwhile, keep following this series to see when I reattempt the long march to the first parish.

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