Week 22

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Over the protests of my mother, who insisted I drive, I walked an hour and a quarter to a nonterritorial Polish parish whose cornerstone bears the date September 6, 1926. Over the main entrance is a large steeple rising high over the rest of the building. On my way inside, a couple of people said "Good morning," which left me slightly surprised, since I was here but once a year or so ago, and I hardly expected anyone to know me, but I did manage to return the greeting, if somewhat weakly. (Maybe they have Internet access?)

The interior is very ornate, with columns down the side aisles and many paintings all over the walls and ceiling. The sanctuary has a large dome fully painted with a scene in which the Father and Son are crowning Our Lady in the presence of many angels in the heavens. The tabernacle remains in the center of the rear wall of the sanctuary, and side altars also remain. The lower portion of the walls is made of white marble. The altar is rather long and elaborate, with a color sculpture of the Last Supper in front illuminated by a flourescent light. It may perhaps be the original, pulled forward, but it wasn't obvious to me. The altar rail is mostly gone, although short sections remain in front of the side altars. The two groups of wooden pews, seating about ten across, are arranged conventionally with a center aisle and side aisles. A large, portable projection screen is found in front of the right side altar, and an overhead projector is used to display the words to the hymns (although they were in the missalette).

A lay minister, reader, and five servers assisted the priest at this 8:00 AM Mass, which was sparsely attended. (The neighborhood has changed significantly since 1926.) The organist, serving from the choir loft, apparently doubled as cantor. Form C of the Penitential Rite was used, recited by the priest. The reader did a decent job with the readings, although he read them from the Paluch missalette instead of the Lectionary, which must have been the old version as the priest's reading of the Gospel (either from the Lectionary or the Book of Gospels) did not match the version in the missalette (which is from the new Lectionary). The psalm was recited, although the verse before the Gospel was sung.

The homily was not bad, although the priest spent quite a bit of time simply restating the Gospel. He did, however, make an interesting point: In this Gospel, Jesus not only demonstrates His humanity as he shares the grief of Martha and Mary, but He also shows His divinity by resurrecting Lazarus. To see both in the same incident is rather instructive. His final point was that by following Jesus and obeying His commandments, we can follow both Him and Lazarus to eternal salvation.

Following the Creed and the Prayer of the Faithful, a collection was taken using long-handled baskets. The offertory hymn was "Take Up Your Cross," which was sung in a very unusual arrangement. The one with which I'm familar is much more triumphant and fluid; this one was rather subdued by comparison. The second Eucharistic Prayer was said; bells were used. The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation (II), Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were sung to settings I am unable to identify. The Our Father was also sung using what is probably the most common tune (based on my experience).

The Communion hymn was "Hosea" (Come Back to Me). The cup was not offered, and just the single lay minister (who was wearing a robe with a V-type trimming) assisted the priest in distribution. Two of the servers also assisted by holding patens, which led me to choose to receive on the tongue.

After Communion, several announcements were read, followed by the Prayer After Communion and the final blessing (Prayer Over the People form). I was happy to see these done in the usual order rather than the odd orders I've seen in recent weeks. The final hymn was "These Forty Days of Lent." All in all, this was basically a straight Mass without any undue intrusions.

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