Week 67

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's parish is a 45-minute drive from where I live. Since the 9 AM Mass is the "family" Mass, I figured that the 10:30 AM Mass might be a choir Mass, so I decided to try that one. Unfortunately, I guessed wrong; the Mass had no choir, but it did have an organ-- good enough. Maybe a later Mass is a choir Mass. Perhaps some day more bulletins will carry this information.

The original church remains on the grounds, and some Masses are offered in it; it is now known as the "chapel." That one is very much traditional, and we won't discuss it beyond that. As the parish has grown rather large, however, that building became too small for the parish's needs, so some time in the 1980's or early 1990's a new building was constructed across the street. This new building is an interesting blend of both old and new. Essentially, it is a simple, squarish auditorium, but the details seem to insist that "yes, I really am a church." The sanctuary is in one corner, with six sections of wooden pews arranged in a semi-circle around it. It is raised rather high, with about four high steps leading to the level with the marble ambo and cantor's lectern (almost identical to one another) on opposite sides and the celebrant's chair on the right with a microphone on a stand. The marble altar is at the top of four or so more high steps carpeted in purple. A simple, metal, rectangular tabernacle is at the center of the sanctuary behind the altar. A ring is suspended over the altar, and a large cross with a tiny figure of an apparently Risen Christ is hung from the ring. The typical statues of Mary and Joseph are at opposite ends of the sanctuary. The sanctuary does have an altar rail (unusual for a church built in this era), and the servers sit just inside it. The building has no choir loft, so the organist serves from a point about halfway back in the pews, just after the long rows are split into smaller sections with auxiliary aisles. The walls are of varying shades of gray brick, and the ceiling is white with recessed lights and cylindrical chandeliers, while the high, narrow, stained-glass windows depict various scenes in a modern but not abstract way. Racks in the pews hold OCP's Music Issue and the large-type edition of Paluch's Seasonal Missalette.

I arrived at about 10:15 AM and took a seat at the center of the longest pew before the extra aisle starts. A children's choir leftover from the previous Mass was still rehearsing to a piano; the group sounded good but perhaps should have rehearsed elsewhere, as that encouraged loud talking among others present in the church. The leader of this group finally instructed the children to "leave quietly." By 10:30 AM, the church was only about a quarter full, which had me scratching my head, as no weather condition could account for that. Many late arrivals, though, brought the total to between a half and three-quarters full.

The cantor, wearing a leather jacket, announced the first hymn, "Gather Us In," of which one verse was sung. Three servers, a reader, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite with standard invocations. The Gloria was recited. After that, the reader gave the first reading from the ambo, and it matched that in the missalette. The cantor led the singing of the psalm for the day from the cantor's lectern; this was followed by the second reading, given by the reader. The cantor led the Alleluia verse before the Gospel, which the priest read from the ambo. His homily began by noting that people do not expect to see unclean spirits these days, except in horror movies, although they do exist. He reread quite a bit from the readings, finally concluding by saying that Jesus is the prophet described in the first reading.

The Creed was recited, and then the Prayer of the Faithful was led by the cantor, who recited the intentions and sung, "let us pray to the Lord" and the response that we all sang. A collection was then taken using wicker baskets with no handles; the ushers generally held onto them as they went. The organist played "In the Breaking of the Bread" as an interlude on his own during the preparation of the gifts. The chalice and ciboriums were all metal, but again, for some reason, four empty chalices were placed on the altar at this point even though they would not be filled until the Agnus Dei. (A glass flagon held the wine that would be used.)

The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from the "Sing Praise and Thanksgiving" setting by J. Michael Joncas; I have not heard it to my recollection, but I saw the cantor singing from the missalette, and that's the only one there that fits the music, so it must be the one. The priest used the second Eucharistic Prayer without any noticeable changes.

The Our Father was recited, and almost everyone managed to get through it without joining hands. The pastor and six lay ministers assisted in the distribution of Holy Communion. Stations for each form of Communion were located at the center aisle and the extreme side aisles, more or less like last week. The Communion hymn was "To Be Your Bread."

After Communion, the priest read several announcements before offering the Prayer after Communion and a simple blessing. The closing procession left via the center aisle to the hymn "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." About a quarter of those in the congregation left before the one verse was concluded, but most remained until the end.

Same Sunday Last Year

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