"Daddy, why does that house have that sign in front of it?"
"You mean, 'George Washington slept here?'"
"Yes, that one. Who cares where he slept?"
"Well, son, George Washington is an important figure in the history of our country-- our first President, in fact-- and legend has it that he slept in quite a few places. People would have been honored to have him as a guest, and they understandably would have been proud to let everyone know that such an important person stayed in their home or inn."
"Okay, Daddy. That makes sense. When we get home, can I get a book on President Washington?"
"Sure-- that's a very good idea. Lots of people wrote about him; it shouldn't be any trouble."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Today's parish is about an hour's drive from where I live, slightly off the beaten path. It bears a striking resemblance to the parish of week 31; so much so that I suspect that they were designed by the same architect. It also is of the same style as the parish of week 9, so perhaps that one was designed by that architect as well. All three probably date from about the same time; although I could not locate a cornerstone despite a diligent search, my guess is that it was built in the very late 1950's or early 1960's. It is colonial on the outside, with a cupola, a peaked front supported by four columns, and a red brick exterior.
Inside, the big difference between this one and the one of week 31 is that this one has no transepts (perhaps because the lot was insufficient for them). Even the white marble ambo at the left looks like a duplicate. The square, metal tabernacle is at the center of the sanctuary at the base of the facade of a colonial canopy with a green backing. The lower portion of the sanctuary wall is brown marble, but the rest of the walls are painted beige. A freestanding altar was covered at the top but had two narrow, dark marble supports. The smaller cantor's lectern is at the right. The celebrant's chair and two side chairs are directly in front of the tabernacle. A traditional crucifix hangs over the tabernacle. The ceiling is high and rounded.
The wooden pews are in four sections, with a center aisle, side aisles, and a break about halfway back. Each pew can hold about 16 people comfortably. The pews have book racks underneath them, but for some reason, those are not used; instead, the OCP Today's Missal/ Music Issue combination in the usual blue covers could be found stacked at the ends of the pews. The stained-glass windows are not quite intricate but still qualify as traditional (they're a bit brighter, too) and depict scenes from the Bible. A choir loft holds the organ but housed no choir today for some reason. (I figured that by now a choir would be back in season.)
I arrived at about 11:20 AM for the 11:30 AM Mass. (Other Masses are at 7:30 and 9:30.) I selected a seat at the right of center of a pew about two-thirds of the way back in the left front section. The first stirring was from a priest who I presume to be the pastor; he went to the cantor's lectern and apologized for running the air conditioning today but said that it was a bit humid out, and if the church got crowded (it was half full by the start), it would be needed. He also explained that the collection would now be taken "Protestant-style," as he put it, by passing the baskets across the pews, as the old baskets had "died" and had to be replaced-- but he thought that this was a better approach.
The cantor went to the lectern and pointed to the hymn board (from which I had copied the hymns), saying that we could use it to "get a jump" on finding the hymns in the hymnal. The opening hymn was "Glory and Praise to Our God." One server, five lay ministers of Holy Communion, a reader, a deacon, and the celebrant participated in the opening procession down the center aisle. Standing at the altar with the priest, the deacon led the invocations for Form C of the penitential rite, and after the priest said that we had a right to be joyful after receiving God's grace in that rite, we recited the Gloria. He then chanted the opening prayer.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor led the psalm for the day from the lectern, and the reader gave the second reading. After the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel were sung, the deacon proclaimed the Gospel. The priest then went to the ambo to give the homily.
The homily began with the story of a fellow who committed suicide despite having everything going for him. The priest saw a contradiction in this, and somehow connected this with the contradiction of the Cross, where Jesus insisted that He had to suffer and die in order to free us from our sins and brig us eternal happiness. He concluded the homily by taking out a small booklet and singing a short hymn on his own that underscored the message of the Gospel-- that of service.
We recited the Creed, and, again from behind the altar, the deacon led the intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful. The collection was taken as the pastor instructed; with so many gaps in the pews, it was kind of awkward, and the added distraction made singing the hymn, "Whatsoever You Do," even more difficult than with a simpler method of collection. The priest began the "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation..." prayers loudly even though the organist was still finishing a postlude to the hymn. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal.
The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen were from what may have been the same setting as last week [that article will yet appear], but I am unable to identify it. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. At the Our Father, which we recited, some folks joined hands, but most were too scattered to do so. The Agnus Dei was sung to the setting from David Isele's Holy Cross Mass.
At Communion, the deacon and lay ministers received after the priest. The Communion hymn was "Servant Song." The "dual-station" method was employed both at the front and at the break, and the chalice was not offered. That surprised me; I figured for certain that both forms of Communion would be offered, which would perhaps have been a more sensible way to employ so many ministers, paticularly as the church was not that full. Also, the deacon and priest both served the same line; usually, and especially in a situation such as this, ordained ministers are deployed in such a way as to give communicants the option of receiving from an ordained minister if they wish.
After Communion, the pastor, who did not assist in the distribution of Communion, went to the lectern to read the announcements, including a call for donations for a renovation of the parish center. The priest then offered the Prayer After Communion and imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." We sang one verse; most people remained until its conclusion.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"That church over there has a sign saying, 'Andrew worshipped here." I think I've seen lots of signs like that before. How come?"
"Well, son, legend has it that many years ago, a single Catholic named Andrew wandered about the country visiting different churches looking for interesting liturgy and single young ladies. Lots of folks didn't think much of the idea, so after they saw him leave, they would erect a sign like that one. Supposedly, according to the legend, he never would attend Mass at a church more than once, so just in case he forgot he'd been to that church, they'd have a sign like that, figuring that if he ever did return, he'd see the sign and go elsewhere."
"I guess he wasn't too popular."
"They say that a few parishes even cheated and posted the sign even though he'd never been there-- just to fool him in case he ever did come."
"All that just on account of one guy?"
"It is a legend, son, and it may be embellished somewhat, but I heard that he did actually write a book about it. The book is long lost, but the legend survives."
"I wish I could read that book, Daddy."
"Son, the book is gone, but the Church is still here. That's what counts most, I suppose. The Church will always survive, even to the end of time."
"Daddy, can we go to Mass there now? It's just starting-- everyone's going inside."
"Okay. I guess his spirit lives on too, then."