Week 25

Second Sunday of Easter


Today's parish is a forty-five minute drive from where I live, very close to the water in an old fishing hamlet. It bears a 1984 cornerstone (no, this isn't a counterfeit message; I actually remembered this time) and sits on a hill such that part of the lower level is exposed but the main part of church is also at ground level. The building itself is squarish with a high, square dome topped by a cross. Inside is "in the round" seating separated into just four sections of light-grained wooden pews that are do not have full backs but just a high rail at the top. Some of the rear rows are quite long. It's very "earthy" overall; the floor is brown tile and the ceiling is dark wood. Long, high, horizontal stained-glass windows depict an abstract plain or meadow.

The sanctuary is a diagonal of one corner; at its rear is a medium-sized crucifix. The tabernacle is found in a separate but clearly visible chapel to one side of the sanctuary. The ambo is fairly substantial but-- to my surprise given the age of the building-- is placed ahead of the altar, a small but dignified table with three or four columns. A medium-sized baptismal font is at the left of the sanctuary, near the organ, seats for a choir (which serves a later Mass), and the cantor's lectern, which is almost hidden in one corner. (At least it appeared that way from where I sat, as I was close to it and faced the other direction.) Tiled candle stands-- including one for the Easter candle-- are apparently permanent. The ambry is near the organ side of the sanctuary. A banner of the Virgin Mary looking at a martyr (derived from the parish's name) is hung on the side of the sanctuary wall near the ambo.

I arrived at about 8:25 AM for the 8:30 AM Mass and selected a seat in an otherwise empty, long pew. The pews were probably about half full; dress seemed a bit more formal here than the general norm. A very cheerful, pleasant, but not overbearing woman served as cantor and introduced the priest and the opening hymn, "Water of Life." An adult acolyte bearing the cross, two young servers, two readers, the lay ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest processed through the center aisle. After the first verses of this were sung, the "Rite of Sprinkling Holy Water" was used instead of one of the usual forms of the Penitential Rite. Then more verses of the same hymn were sung. I don't recall if I ever saw this before, but it is definitely unusual. The Gloria was then recited.

The OCP missalettes in the pews did not have the readings, but they sounded as if they came from the new Lectionary. One reader proclaimed the first reading; the other handled the second reading; both served competently. In between, what must have been a seasonal psalm ("This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad") was sung by the cantor-- it wasn't the one in the missalette. (I think that was, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love is everlasting.") A short silence followed each reading and the psalm. Then the Alleluia was sung.

Following the Gospel, the priest gave a decent homily. He was engaging but did not go out of his way to be entertaining. He started with a story about how, three years ago, he had promised his nephew from the West Coast a trip here to see dinosaurs in a museum when he turns 12 three years from now, as the nephew is captivated by dinosaurs. Three years later, to the priest's surprise, the nephew still eagerly awaits this trip; this is an example of how an idea can captivate us. Similarly, the apostles were captivated by Jesus, and even 2000 years later, we are still captivated by the life of Jesus. The priest also defended St. Thomas, saying that being known as the "doubter" is somewhat unfair to him as he also said several good things in Scripture, such as, "Let us go to Jerusalem to die with him too," meaning, "Let's stand by our friend in his time of need." I don't know; I always interpreted that as a cynical remark, as in "Instead of being sensible and running the other way, let's just walk right into the hands of our executioners." Perhaps my impression has been colored by the notion of "doubting Thomas."

The Creed was recited, followed by an ordinary Prayer of the Faithful whose intentions were read by the first reader, who afterward announced the name of the family which would bring the gifts to the altar. The offertory hymn was "Now the Green Blade Rises." I don't recall ever having heard this hymn prior to today, but it seems nice enough. Oddly enough, during dinner, my father had on television a choir that was singing the same hymn. I missed it for 37 years and then get it twice in the same day! A collection was taken using baskets with no handles.

The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen were from Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation. The second Eucharistic Prayer was offered. The bells were used at the consecration. (My father was lamenting their loss last week; I had to tell him that unlike our own parish, lots of parishes still use them. He doesn't get around enough.) The Our Father was recited.

The Agnus Dei, sung in English, did not seem to be from the Mass of Creation, but it could have been a slightly different arrangement; it was unfamiliar to me. Six lay ministers, and the acolyte assisted the priest in distributing Holy Communion. The cup was offered. Two stations were in the center aisle and one station was located on either end of the church for each side section. The Communion hymn (started even before distribution of Communion had begun) was "Prayer of St. Francis."

After Communion and a short silence, a few short announcements were read by the second reader. The priest then offered the Prayer after Communion and a Solemn Blessing. He ended with, "The liturgy is ended; go in peace," which sounded odd to me somehow. The concluding hymn was "Sing of the Lord's Goodness," which I noted uses a very unusual 5/4 measure (at least that's what the hymnal says; not being well-versed in music, I have to trust that that's the way they played it). I liked the upbeat tempo as a final hymn, though.

In the bulletin, I saw the Pope's prayer intentions for April printed, although they are listed under the heading of "Apostleship of Prayer" and not identified as coming from the Pope. This is something that should be more common; I think we all should know exactly what "the Pope's intention" is in an era of instant global communication. We don't need to know his intention to pray for it, but it certainly can't hurt us.

Also in the bulletin is one of the articles from Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago. These have been printed in many parish bulletins around here; this one concerns the "Communion Song." In almost the same department as "impact" vs. "effect" we find a reference to a "worship aid." Come on, can't we just call it a hymnal or missalette?

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