Week 94 Bonus

5:00 PM Vigil, Transfiguration

Everyone who wants to hear about my cousin's barbeque on Saturday afternoon say "aye!"

[sound of pin drop]

Everyone who wants to hear about the 5:00 PM Mass that was offered twenty minutes from there shout "aye!"

[all in unison] "AYE!"

Well, I kind of suspected that everyone would be more interested in an additional Mass, so during a break in the action, since no holy young ladies struck up a conversation with me, and needing a walk badly after having stuffed myself, I sneaked over to the parish I visited in week 77, which was a twenty-minute walk from the barbeque. The parish kind of owed me a Mass with music, as I had taken an IOU on that at the 7:30 AM Mass the day I was there last. This is the descriptive paragraph I wrote that day:

"The church, which bears a 1970 cornerstone, is of similar outside shape as last week's, but it lacks the wall that makes the other one triangular. It is also considerably brighter than last week's, with light brick walls and high, narrow, abstract stained-glass windows. The sanctuary extends into the seating area, which consists of light-grained wooden bench-type pews arranged in a squared "U" (no angled sections). An organ and several rows of individual seats for a choir are located to the right of the sanctuary. A red cross hangs over the sanctuary; yesterday, it had no figure of Jesus at all, leading me to believe that, for Lent, the figure either had been removed or was reversed so that the figure of Jesus faced away from the congregation. A brown marble altar is at the center of the sanctuary, and a mostly wooden ambo with a bit of a railing is to the left, ahead of the altar. The tabernacle is in a metal cabinet at the center of the rear wall of the sanctuary, in a sort of a niche with a low ceiling. The pews have shelves underneath that hold copies of OCP's Breaking Bread hymnal (which does not have the readings). Entrances to this church are at all four corners of the square, although signs forbid entrance through the two sets of doors nearest the sanctuary during Mass."

One thing has changed since week 77; the cross now has a figure of Christ on it, but rather an odd one, to be frank. It makes Jesus look as though he's slouched against a lamppost waiting for a bus or something. He doesn't look pained or triumphant; just strange. I guess it was, in fact, removed or reversed for Lent. That might have been a good time to substitute something more devotional-- maybe nobody would have noticed. I also noticed today that the Stations of the Cross are mounted on small brown plaques on the side walls. I was a bit more alert today, I guess.

I arrived at about three minutes to five, not quite sure if I wanted to stay, but the sound of the organ enticed me. The church was less than half-full, and many pews were entirely unoccupied; I selected a spot in the center of one of those, toward the rear. The opening hymn was "All The Ends of the Earth," introduced by the cantor at his small lectern at the right of the sanctuary. Two servers, the reader, six lay ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest formed the entrance procession through the center aisle. The priest led the recitation of the Confiteor, which was followed by the recitation of the Gloria.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading, which like the psalm and the second reading do not appear to be the ones that are supposed to be read today, as far as I could tell from the Breaking Bread hymnal and the NCCB web site. They seemed to be relevant, though, so perhaps they were from either Year A or Year C instead of Year B. I don't see any set of readings for a vigil Mass either. The cantor went to the cantor's lectern and led the singing of the psalm, and then the reader returned to the ambo to give the second reading. The Alleluia and verse before the Gospel were sung to what is probably my favorite setting, used in week four and also in my own parish for some time about ten years ago when we first moved there.

The priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel. He then gave a homily, the main point of which was that the Transfiguration was the first instance of a breach in the chasm between heaven and Earth, a way for us to see the reason we were created, which was not to spend eternity with Satan in hell, but rather to spend it in the presence of God and His angels and saints. The appearance of Elijah and Moses, persons from heaven, was an example of heavenly things being shown to Peter, James, and John. The word "eschatology" occurred in the homily; it means "the study of the end times."

The Creed was recited, and the usual Prayer of the Faithful was recited, with the invocations led by the reader, who by that time had made her way to the cantor's side of the sanctuary to use that lectern. Instead of an offertory hymn, the organist simply played soft background music as a collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets and the gifts were presented by a man alongside a woman wearing spaghetti straps. (And I thought that church would be a brief refuge from that sort of thing!) The chalice and ciborium were of metal, and a large flagon (metal, I think, but I'm not sure) was used for additional wine.

The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from the Mass of Creation. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer; notable is that as he elevated the elements at the Consecration, he sang "Jesus Is Lord" four times over each element. At the Our Father, which was recited, I saw only a few people joining hands, since most people were too scattered to do that. I noticed some hesitation on the part of the cantor as he watched the priest and the lay ministers as Communion was being prepared so that he could see how many verses (four in all) of the Agnus Dei were required to "cover" the Fraction at the altar.

Six lay ministers assisted the priest in the distribution of Holy Communion. They entered the sanctuary before the priest received Communion; perhaps word of the new Institutio Generalis has not reached this remote part of the world, where modern means of communication must be beyond the reach of common folks. I believe the chalices were offered at two of the seven stations, all located around the periphery of the sanctuary. The Communion hymn was "Christ Be Our Light." One lay minister returned the extra ciboriums to the tabernacle.

The priest offered the Prayer After Communion, and while everyone was standing, the reader gave several brief announcements from the cantor's lectern. The priest then imparted a simple blessing before going through the center aisle to the recessional hymn, "Sing to the Mountains." About three-quarters of the congregation had left by the time the one verse we sang was concluded. After that, fortified-- I hope-- with enough spritual strength to survive the remainder of the afternoon, I returned to the barbeque.

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