2 Kgs 4:42-44
Ps 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
I heard reports of impending rain, so I decided to take the car and head for an area not well served by mass transit. I came to a 10:30 AM Mass, but it was already 10:29, and it looked crowded, and I figured I'd probably be late, so I decided to continue the search. I headed for a Mass listed at 11:00 AM on my printed copy of the Mass Times schedule, but the sign read 11:30 AM and I couldn't see hanging around for 40 minutes. I headed for an 11:15 AM Mass, but at 11:13 AM a set of railroad crossing gates lowered in front of me and a 200-car freight train passed, killing all hope of reaching that Mass. I tried to get back to the 11:30 Mass, but it was too late. I then headed for a Mass listed at noon on my printed sheet, but at 11:45 AM everyone was leaving, and clearly the schedule there had been changed too. Finally I landed at a 12:30 PM Mass at a small shrine on the east coast of the United States.
The building is rectangular with a slight peak, built of painted concrete blocks and steel beams-- rather inexpensive construction. Full-height sliding glass doors were open on the sides, which, combined with a group of spinning ceiling fans, made the space comfortable even on this relatively warm, humid day. The light-grained wooden pews are split into two sections and are spaced well apart so that even with the kneelers lowered, one can easily walk through them. Racks hold copies of Paluch's Seasonal Missalette. A small room to the left of the sanctuary serves as a Eucharistic adoration chapel. At either side of the church, in the open, are screens separating two chairs with a kneeler on one side; these apparently are where confessions are heard. The usual statues of Mary and Joseph are at either side of the sanctuary, behind sets of electric candles. The celebrant's chair is to the right and looks like something donated by a local funeral home; the wooden ambo is to the left. A traditional crucifix is at the center of the sanctuary.
The priest began the Mass at the rear with a light remark about the "air conditioning" and led the opening hymn, "We Gather Together," which he jokingly described as "an old favorite." We sang two verses as he processed through the center aisle with two servers and a reader. No musical instruments were used; the organ at the front right was silent and unattended. The priest then noted the first appearance of one of the altar servers, said, "doesn't she look good?" and elicited a round of applause before suggesting that she take a bow. He used Form C of the penitential rite but did not use any invocations.
From the ambo, the reader gave the readings and recited the psalm without incident. The priest sang the Alleluia before the Gospel and then proclaimed the Gospel before moving to the center aisle with the wireless microphone to give the homily. Its main point was a story about a local merchant who made regular donations to a ministry the priest provided some years ago but would not accept any money from the priest. Finally, one day the priest left a $50 bill in the merchant's cash register, but the merchant chased after the priest and sternly warned him never to do that again, saying that he gave joyfully because "I give God crumbs, but he gives me cake in return!" This related to the readings, which show how God takes what little we have and turns it into a huge feast. The priest also made a quick note of how Jesus took a "supersized lunch" that a boy brought and used that as the raw material for the miracle, addressing young people directly saying, "Never think that you are too young or too little to do something important for God."
We recited the Creed, and a simple Prayer of the Faithful was led by the priest. As the priest prepared the gifts, a collection was taken using cloth baskets attached to long, metal handles. At the Orate Fratres, everyone stood after the people's response.
The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. Everything was recited, including the Our Father, which proceeded in normal fashion, although I had a few skipped heartbeats as the priest paused two or three times during the introduction and added extra phrases; I feared something about "hands" but those fears proved groundless.
Holy Communion was distributed at two stations in the front and one station in the middle of the church, even though the pews have no extra break in the middle-- but with the extra-wide spacing of all the pews, it was probably okay. The chalice was not offered.
After Communion, the priest gave the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing before diving right into "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" (a real old favorite) without even announcing it. We sang the first verse but the priest did not repeat the last two lines as is usual for that hymn, so it kind of faded there, though most everyone remained to that point. He left via the center aisle and greeted worsippers as they left.