Ex 16:2-4, 12-15
Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54
Eph 4:17, 20-24
Again, it looked as though it might rain hard this morning, so I figured I'd best take the car. I drove an hour and a half to a major city located near a large body of water. First I saw a 10:00 AM Mass but figured I was too late for that anyway. (I later learned that it was a Spanish Mass.) I stopped the car and took out my printed Mass Times schedule for the city and discovered a 10:30 AM Mass fewer than ten minutes away. I immediately went there, parked the car, and went inside. (I didn't feel like meandering around like last week if at all possible.)
The traditional church bears a 1931 cornerstone and is mostly as it was originally built. It is stone on the outside and has a fairly high, arched ceiling inside. At eye level, stained-glass windows typical of the time depict various mysteries of the Rosary; in between those are carved, painted Stations of the Cross with Italian captions. Towards the ceiling, in eyebrow-type arches are smaller stained-glass windows that depict various saints. Another series of arches around the circular sanctuary hold more stained-glass, including a depiction of the Crucifixion at the center. Beneath those is the orignal reredo, tabernacle, and altar, including figures of two trumpeting angels at either side. A newer freestanding altar of matching marble is in front of the original. A modest wood and marble ambo is at the left; side altars remain with shortened altar rails. The oddest innovation was the pairs of individual, large, upholstered seats at either side of the nave; these clearly were not part of the original design and must have replaced short sections of wooden pews (like the rest of the pews I saw today) that abutted the side walls. These interlopers had no kneelers (although they were on industrial carpet, unlike the regular pews, which stand on an old wooden plank floor), so I chose to sit in one of the proper pews about halfway back. A choir loft is above the narthex, but it probably is not used any more, since an organ (also not used today) is located to the right of the sanctuary. Hat hooks in the pews harken to a more formal era; the combination of OCP's Today's Missal and Music Issue (without the common blue plastic cover) were at the ends of the pews and on racks at the centers.
About 80 to 100 worshippers gathered by the time someone who I would describe as a commentator (he was neither the reader nor was he the cantor) introduced himself by name and also read the names of all the other ministers. The opening hymn was "Glory and Praise to Our God." We sang two verses to keyboard accompaniment which the keyboard operator kept rather low. An adult crossbearer in an alb and the priest-- wearing a black biretta!-- processed through the center aisle; the priest incensed the altar while we were singing. He then led us in the recitation of the Confiteor and the Gloria before chanting the opening prayer.
A reader gave both readings and read the responsorial psalm and did well. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel. After the priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo, he gave a homily that focused on the Gospel. He recalled the words of St. Augustine: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee." He explained that this does not mean that we are condemned to be restless until our dying breath; rather, we are called to place our hearts in God's care here and now; then, we really can be at peace even in this life. The priest further explained that since Holy Communion is in fact Jesus Himself, if we receive Communion we should really be at peace and be fulfilled, because we have what should be the object of our desires. It's one of those observations that makes perfect sense to me intellectually but with which I have lots of difficulty spiritually and emotionally. The final point that remains with me from the homily is that we should take all our insecurities, frustrations, discomfort, and restlessness (the priest specifically mentioned the humidity in the non-air-conditioned church cooled only by electric fans mounted on the columns) and hand them over to Jesus.
We recited the Creed, and the commentator read the intentions of the prayer of the faithful. During the Preparation of the Gifts, we sang two verses of "You are Near." A collection was taken using long-handled metal baskets. The priest used a ciborium and three chalices (his own and two smaller ones) of metal; he then incensed the gifts. We stood after the response of the Orate Fratres rather than before; it seems to be the way things are done in this diocese.
The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen were sung to a single setting that I am unable to identify. The priest offered the third Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the Our Father to the usual setting without accompaniment. A few people joined hands, but the church was not full enough for any more of that sort of thing. We sang the Agnus Dei to the setting from the Mass of Creation.
The keyboard operator played music on her own during Holy Communion, distributed at two stations at the head of the center aisle, with the Precious Blood offered at the sides. After Communion, we sang "Gift of Finest Wheat." A second collection was taken in the same manner as the first. We stood for the Prayer after Communion, which the priest chanted, but the commentator asked us to be seated for two or three brief announcements. Then we stood for a simple blessing imparted by the priest. The closing hymn was "I Am the Bread of Life." We sang two verses, and even though the priest was at the rear of the church before the first verse was complete, almost everyone remained for the second verse. That left a warm feeling in my heart as I headed back home.