I was going to take a train ride this morning, but a crowd of folks around the ticket vending machine and a lack of time prevented me from making the train I had planned to ride, so I simply continued driving for two hours until I reached a village more noted for its major highway interchange than its church. I arrived at 11:10 AM, well in advance of the 11:30 AM Mass. I had wondered how easily I might find the church, since my atlas doesn't cover this particular area in great detail, but as I was driving on the main road, the church leapt out at me and beckoned.
It is a barn-like rectangular peaked structure of redwood on the outside with no cornerstone I could see. This is a later building; the original is also on the grounds, though I didn't get to see it. The newer one may date from the 1960's or 1970's based on what I've seen in my own diocese. Inside it is rather plain, with a light wooden ceiling and mostly clear windows with some small designs of some sort. The pews are wooden with upholstery on the bottom and are split into two sections, probably holding twelve or so across. Racks hold copies of OCP's Today's Missal (large-type edition) and Music Issue in the usual blue binder. The square metal tabernacle is to the right on a pedastal. The organ, piano, and choir section are to the left; the choir (about half a dozen people today) directly faces the congregation. The square, dark-wooden ambo is to the right of the matching wooden altar. A large clear window above and behind the celebrant's chair allows a look at large trees behind the church. Over the altar hangs a larger-than life traditional crucifix. Side shrines to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph are at the left and right, respectively, but are along the side walls rather than in the more usual locations to either side of the sanctuary.
Before Mass, the choir practiced the hymns and service music for the day; the choir leader was pretty specific about what she wanted. Then she told us that she "found a new hymn" that would be used today and next week and later "inserted at different places in the Mass." Finally, we sang the opening hymn, "Gather Us In," as two servers, a reader, and the priest passed through the center aisle. (I didn't notice if the lay ministers of the Eucharist were in the procession.) The priest welcomed any visitors that may be present (thanks again!), invited us to be sorry "for anything we have done wrong," and chanted the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to Owen Alstott's Heritage Mass setting.
A reader went to the ambo, gave the first reading, and stepped to the side. The choir led the singing of the responsorial psalm, and then the reader returned to the ambo for the second reading. We sang the Alleluia before the Gospel. The priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo and then moved top the center of the sanctuary to give the homily. It consisted of three main points. First, he baptized his great-grand niece yesterday. She cried when he somehow managed to pour the water right over her face-- this is because she had no way of knowing that he was doing one of the best things he could ever do for her: claiming her as part of God's family. He linked this to Jesus' wiping spittle on the ear of the man in the Gospel; it was Jesus' way of saying that He cared and that Jesus and the man were linked in the same family
Second, the priest noted that he received a letter from the archdiocese inforning him of new liturgical directives that are to take effect November 1. Two of these are the bow of the head before receiving Holy Communion and the option to sit or kneel after receiving; the former he presented fairly well, explaining that it helps us to focus on what we are doing despite whatever distractions may be present. The latter he sort of described as a "whatever makes you more comfortable" thing, which I'm not sure is what was intended by our bishops.
Third, he made a pitch for some adult education classes that are starting this fall and said that pretty much everyone or anyone should attend and that we all need to grow more in our faith. He also mentioned the start of RCIA classes and invited anyone to attend but particularly converts and those not fully initiated into the sacraments.
We recited the Creed and then a second person gave the intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using handleless wicker baskets passed from one end of each pew to the other. The offertory hymn was "On Eagle's Wings." The chalice was of metal; I believe a metal, curved dish was used as a paten. An additional flagon held most of the wine to be consecrated. At the Orate Fratres, no one stood until after the people's response.
The setting for the remainder of the Mass was the Mass of Creation. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. At the Our Father, which we sang to the common chant without accompaniment, those in the choir joined hands but most in the congregation disregarded that example.
Communion was distributed under both forms. The priest stood at the center serving both lines while four lay ministers stood at either side to assist him. The Communion hymn was "Glory in the Cross." After Communion, the hymn the choir leader mentioned at the start was introduced as a "meditation" that we all sang.
The priest then gave the Prayer after Communion and imparted a solemn blessing (using the three invocations beginning "May the Lord bless you and keep you" but not pausing for the proper "Amen" after each invocation). The closing hymn was "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." The servers, an usher carrying the combined collection basket, and the priest left via the center aisle. Almost everyone remained to the end of the hymn. In the parking lot, I sat for a moment and scribbled notes on the homily; this gave time for the car ahead of me to leave, eliminating the need for me to use reverse gear to exit the parking lot, so I guess everything worked for the best.