1 Kgs 19:4-8
Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Sitting with my drinking buddies, I was once again the subject of debate. This time I was not going to be let off the hook too easily.
"It's the shoes," was the consensus this time.
"But I already replaced the soles," I lamented. "It didn't help."
Then Scarecrow Tom, so called on account of his lanky frame, rose and made his point forcefully by slamming his glass on the counter. "Blast it, you fool!" he bellowed. "It's time you pulled out all the stops! Quit being cheap and get a whole new pair before they start shovelling dirt over you!"
When Scarecrow talked like that, no one dared disagree, especially when he had a few under his belt, so I finished my cranberry juice and headed to the nearest Internet cafe, knowing he'd be watching out the door. I plugged "oxford shoes" into a web browser and found some web sites that sold shoes. I had some difficulty deciding, so I clicked on the "Get Live Advice" link and asked the sales clerk for assistance.
"What shoes will attract holy ladies?" I typed into the chat window.
"My name is Frank," appeared one character at a time. "I give frank advice. Ha, ha."
"Be frank," I typed. "Tell me what shoes ladies like to see on a potential spouse."
"You should get brown oxfords. All holy ladies like them."
"Why not black?"
"They think you're a priest. No good. Unapproachable. Get brown."
Absolutely certain that this wise sales clerk was leading me in the right direction, I selected a pair of brown oxfords, clicked on the "add to cart" button and headed home, positive that life would be good from there forward.
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I left at 9:00 AM and drove toward the same area I visited two weeks ago, figuring that I'd do a bit better this time around and avoid 200-car frieight trains, if nothing else. As I drove, I kept my eyes open to see if any ladies were giving me admiring glances on account of the new shoes, but for some reason they just didn't notice. After an hour and a half, I looked at my printed schedule and saw a pair of 10:45 AM Masses off the same exit of the highway I was using. "Left or right?" I wondered. I decided to go left, to the sound of boos and hisses from the rightists in the audience and wild applause from the leftists. (Not to worry-- the other parish will have its day in the sun, someday.)
The church bears a 2001 cornerstone and looks very much modern. It is diamondish in shape (in-the round seating inside) and has a small bell tower rising above it. To gain entry, one passes through a small airlock and two ushers. Inside, the square metal tabernacle is at the far right on a pillar in a separate chapel that has large sliding glass doors (open today) and a separate outside entrance; my guess is that during the week, only the chapel is open. At the opposite side are three large stained-glass windows. One depicts the Last Supper; another depicts the Nativity; a third depicts a scene with lots of jugs, perhaps the wedding feast at Cana or the woman at the well, but I really am not sure. The organ is at the left, along with a cantor's lectern and some individual seats for a choir (I couldn't tell from where I sat if a choir served today). A marble altar is at the center. A marble ambo is at the right. The crucifix is mostly traditional but does show rather an alert figure of Christ with head raised. I think that over that is a circular stained glass window showing the Risen Christ (again, hard to see from where I sat). Reconciliation rooms were in the rear. The wooden pews are in four sections and have racks holding OCP's Today's Missal and Music Issue in the familiar plastic cover.
Before Mass, the cantor rehearsed the psalm, which was probably good because many of us might have fallen into the trap of trying to sing the tune of the similar hymn "Taste and See." The organist also played some music quietly, including "Faith of Our Fathers." After some silence, we sang the opening hymn, "Sing a New Song." Three altar servers, the reader, a deacon (wearing a chasuble), and the priest passed through the center aisle in the procession. We recited the Confiteor and then sang the Gloria to Owen Alstott's straight-through Heritage Mass setting (it happens to be the only one in Today's Missal, so I spotted it easily).
The reader gave the first reading, and then the cantor led the psalm from the cantor's lectern. After the reader gave the second reading, we sang the Alleluia to a setting I am unable to identify but which is familiar to me. The deacon proclaimed the Gospel and yielded the ambo to the priest, who began his homily by observing that today would be the feast day of St. Lawrence (if not a Sunday). He recalled the story of how St. Lawrence was in charge of the Church treasury; when asked to produce all the Church's treasures, he gathered a large group of poor people and said, "These are the Church's treasures," angering the despot of the time and resulting in St. Lawrence being burnt on a spit. St. Lawrence was so courageous that he joked, "Okay, I'm done on this side; you can turn me over now." St. Lawrence was able to do these things because he was constantly nourished by the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist. While the Eucharist is "not magic" it is of great help to us combined with a determined effort to reform our lives, as the second reading shows. The first reading shows that God will look after us, just as He looked after Elijah. I got the impression from the homily that the priest has a deep devotion to the Eucharist, and he seems like a straight shooter-- definitely likeable.
We recited the Creed, and I caught the priest and some other worshippers bowing at the appropriate time. The deacon led the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful, including the first, which was unusual and also likeable: "that those who are living together without the benefit of the Sacrament of Matrimony will hear the call of God to straighten out their lives..." The reader then went to the ambo and read three short announcements, including a reminder about the holyday of obligation (Assumption) on Friday. The ushers stubbornly refused to begin the collection until these announcements were complete, choosing instead to disrupt the offertory hymn, "Love One Another." (As I'm sure I've mentioned, I hate having to balance a hymnal in my lap, sing, and handle a basket all at once. The collection can certainly begin while the announcements are being read.) Handleless wicker baskets were passed across the pews from end to end.
At the Orate Fratres, nobody stood until after the response was complete. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal. My guess is that the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen were from the Heritage Mass, but it wasn't obvious to me. The priest offered the first Eucharistic Prayer, pausing slightly after he read the name of St. Lawrence.
We recited the Our Father, and only a few people joined hands. I'm not sure of the setting for the Agnus Dei, but the Heritage Mass looked like a strong possibility. A priest and a lay minister came to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion. The chalice was not offered; a notice in the bulletin suggests that this is the result of a shortage of lay ministers over the summer. Stations were located at the center and at either end of the nave. The Communion hymn was "Song of the Body of Christ." After Communion, the cantor led a hymn that sounded like "Surely Christ is Present in This Place;" it did not appear to be in either the hymnal or missalette and struck me as being a local custom that may be practiced every week (much like the "I Say 'Yes,' My Lord" refrain I found in week 53).
After Communion, the priest led the Prayer After Communion and imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "Sing to the Mountains." The priest, deacon, and servers left via the center aisle; more than half the congregation had left before the hymn was complete.
* * * * * * * * *
"Gertrude, did you get a look at that guy with the new shoes? No ring..."
"But Frederica, they were brown. That can mean only one thing."
"A Franciscan brother. They all wear brown."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. No sense getting mixed up with someone who already took vows."
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