Now, I know I promised something really special for this week, but as usual, my Plan A fell through. I just did too much meandering and tarrying to make the original plan a reality. I'm postponing Plan A until Wednesday. Meanwhile, though, we still have something interesting to relate for today.
The day started with a fifteen-minute drive to a Tridentine Low Mass at 7 AM in the local cathedral. Built in 1893, it has been altered somewhat but retains much of its original character. The outside is red brick. My guess is that the original front steps have been removed-- a ramp for the handicapped is at the left, while a matching set of steps is at the right. Inside, the original reredo remains, but a wooden panel with a small arch has been placed across the lower portion, apparently to obscure the old tabernacle, since a freestanding silver metal one is at the left niche. A wooden ambo is at the left, and a freestanding altar is at the center of the sanctuary, which has been pulled forward slightly. A few rows of seats are facing the altar at the left, while a piano is at the right. A traditional crucifix is actually a part of the reredo; it also has figures of the Blessed Mother and St. John at Jesus' feet along with two others. A portable wooden altar was placed in front of the reredo for the Tridentine Mass. Since the altar rail was removed, several portable kneelers were also placed at the front for distribution of Holy Communion. The wooden pews are divided into four sections by three aisles; the side sections are very short and abut the walls.
I arrived in time for the opening hymn, "To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King." A wonderful choir, as good as the one in my own parish, served from the choir loft. Most of those present were reading either from their own missals or from a red one, following along with the Mass.
The red ones (I neglected to obtain one, as usual) were handed out at the back of the Church for all who do not have their own. They have both the Latin and English. Additionally a "supplement" is handed out with the days readings, (gradual, epistle, etc.) so that one can silently participate. The priest was assisted by two servers. The priest read the Epistle, the Gradual, and the Gospel in Latin and then repeated them in English. After that, he made a few announcements before giving a homily which dealt with the nature of Christ's kingship, as today is the feast of Christ the King in the Tridentine calendar.
Among the points made were that Christ's sacrifice on the cross bridges the great abyss that was created between God and man with the sin of Adam and Eve; that Christ is one Person with both a human and divine nature (the hypostatic union, which is what bridges that abyss); and that perhaps instead of James and John, the one to sit at Jesus' right should be his mother Mary. The homily did take a considerable amount of time, and I'm probably only scratching the surface here.
The offertory hymn was "Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All!" The remainder of the Mass, including the Eucharistic Prayer, was recited inaudibly by the priest; the silence was punctuated only briefly by the bells sounded at the consecration. Holy Communion was distributed by the priest alone at the makeshift altar rail; it did take a considerable amount of time, as perhaps 200 to 300 people were present, but it may be time well-spent. The Communion hymns were "Ecce Panis Angelorum" and "Panis Angelicus." The choir sang Dixit Maria on its own.
After the final blessing, the priest recited an act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in English. The closing hymn was "Crown Him with Many Crowns." Most people left after the first verse, perhaps because it was followed by an instrumental verse, but the choir sang all three verses.
Next, I visited another parish where I was told that a baby I knew would be baptized today at the 9:15 AM Mass. I needed to see that, so I arrived there in time for the psalm and witnessed the remainder of that Mass from behind a glass wall in the rear. This church, built in 1955, is unusual in that its wooden pews are elevated theater-style. Otherwise, it is red brick both inside and out. The tabernacle has been moved to the niche on the left; the statue of Mary now shares the right niche with that of St. Joseph. A marble ambo is at the left; the choir serves from the right. The celebrant's chair is to the left of the choir, towards the front. The canopy at the rear of the sanctuary remains; underneath that is a large, traditional crucifix. The arched, stained-glass windows are mostly frosted leaves but have some small colored details. The choir loft remains and seems to have an organ, but I don't know how much either is used. The wooden pews are divided into two sections by a center aisle and are lined with side aisles.
The hymn board shows that the Gloria was an arrangement by Judy Hylton. The psalm was based upon Psalm 19 instead of the psalm for the day, 126. It was sung by a folk group whose guitarist was not too prominent; a flutist and the pianist were the predominant sounds. The reader gave the second reading, and then the choir led the Alleluia verse before the priest (who reminded me of the television personality Bob Vila) proclaimed the Gospel. His homily was supposed to be on stewardship, so he told us a bit about his conversion story, which led him to see that life wasn't about him but about God. It involved Medjugorje, as I recall. He felt like Bartimaeus, the blind man, when he realized how far off he was.
Next, the infant was brought forward to be baptized in the usual way at the baptismal font toward the rear of the sanctuary; she was well-behaved and quiet throughout. The parents and godparents did well, were properly dressed, and looked as though they will do a good job of fulfilling the mandate that God has entrusted to them. The infant and family were applauded as a way of welcoming her to the parish.
The Creed was omitted; the Prayer of the Faithful was rather quick. A collection was taken using handleless wicker baskets passed across the pews; the choir sang another hymn at this time. The paten was a glass dish, the chalice was of metal, and a glass flagon was used for additional wine.
The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from the Mass of Creation. At the Our Father, which was recited, it looked as though almost everyone was joining hands, including the ushers. I, fortunately, was safe in the vestibule.
At Communion, five lay ministers assisted the celebrant in the distribution of Holy Communion; a concelebrating priest sat and did not assist. The dual-station method was in use for the Sacred Body, while two additional ministers distributed the Precious Blood. The choir received first and afterward sang "On God's Holy Mountain."
After Communion, everyone stood as the priest offered the Prayer After Communion. Then a long series of announcements was made by the reader at the ambo while everyone remained standing, and the children were all called forward for a special blessing, apparently given individually, which took at least five minutes as they all moved forward and returned. Then the priest imparted a simple blessing and left via the center aisle with the two servers, five lay ministers, reader, and concelebrating priest. After the final hymn, those remaining offered a round of applause.
I later returned to the cathedral to peek at the 11:30 AM Mass; the portable altar was gone, and a small children's choir playing a guitar was handling the psalm. I hate to pick on children, but this just sounded awful. How things change in just a few hours...