Week 260

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Wis 7:7-11
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
Reading II
Heb 4:12-13
Gospel
Mk 10:17-30 or 10:17-27

I had developed a plan for a railroad trip via a brand-new station, but rain washed out that idea. Instead, I drove an hour and a half to the outskirts of a medium-sized city and located a suburban church with a cornerstone of 1961. It seems to have anticipated designs more common later in the decade (or perhaps it has been renovated somewhat). It is a simple rectangular structure with a peaked roof and wooden arches throughout. The wooden pews are split into two sections and hold about 16 across. The second edition of GIA's Gather and the third edition of Worship (old Lectionary), embossed with the name of the parish, are stacked at the ends of the pews. A large-print version of OCP's Today's Missal was also available in the narthex. The stained-glass windows are tall and narrow with blueish abstract designs. A single confessional is toward the center of the right-hand wall; over it is an arched plaque with various pictures and useful exhortations (such as "repent" and "be reconciled"). The door was left open; inside is a modern room with a screen and a kneeler for those who prefer an anonymous confession. For face-to-face, one simply walks around the screen.

I saw no evidence of a choir loft; the rear wall is full height and is mostly glass (making the narthex double as a cry room). Instead, the choir is located along with the organ to the right of the sanctuary. To the left of the sanctuary is a large bell. The usual statues of Mary and Joseph are on turret-like niches high on the left and right side walls. At the left of the rear wall of the sanctuary (which is dark, milled wood) we find large pipes for the organ. At the right is a small, square, metal tabernacle with a peaked top underneath a green cloth that forms sort of a canopy over it. Two strips of moulding run the entire height and length of this wall; a figure of Christ crucified is affixed directly to this moulding. A small altar is at the center of the sanctuary underneath an octagonal skylight. The wooden ambo is at the left.

I arrived at about 11:20 AM for the 11:30 AM Mass and selected a pew which I would have all to myself for the entire Mass; the church, which must hold between 700-1000 people, was less than half full. A choir of about a dozen people in brown robes took residence in the seats at the front along with the cantor and organist. After the reader introduced herself and the priest, we began with the opening hymn, "In Christ There Is No East or West." The hymn board had "Sing to the Mountains" listed alongside this; I presume that it was used at the 10:00 AM Mass. Two servers, four lay ministers of Holy Communion, the reader, and the priest passed through the center aisle as we sang all four verses. In a strange twist, two of the lay ministers sat in the sanctuary, in front of the choir, while the other two sat in the front row at the left. One possibility that comes to my mind is that these ministers were also part of the choir. I later noticed that the reader also served as a lay minister of Holy Communion, so perhaps they have some "doubling-up" at this parish (generally a discouraged practice). The cantor led the singing of the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to Owen Alstott's Heritage Mass setting.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The choir led a setting of Psalm 90 from the Gather hymnal but it didn't overlap much with the verses of Psalm 90 listed for today. The reader then gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia, and then the priest went to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel. His homily spent lots of time quoting today's Scripture as well as other Scriptures. He explained that Jesus came to perfect the Law, so when the man came and asked Jesus his question, he received a kind of "culture shock" as a devout man of his time when Jesus gave him an answer that went beyond what he had been taught of the Law. The priest also surmised that of the two, Jesus was sadder at the possible loss of one of his sheep than the man was at Jesus' answer; the priest recalled Jesus' teaching on the Eucharist which resulted in large numbers of disciples leaving and Peter's reply, "To whom shall we go?" when Jesus asked him if the apostles would leave too.

We recited the Creed, and the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang four verses of "Blest Are They." (No alternate was listed on the hymn board for this one.) An oddity was that the collection was combined into two dishes of some sort, and two of the ushers brought these to the front along with the other gifts, but instead of handing them to the priest or leaving them in the sanctuary as is rather common (along with combining them into a single large basket), they simply carried them back to the rear of the church. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal; a glass flagon held additional wine. At the Orate Fratres, no one stood until after the people's response was complete.

The Mass setting was familiar to me and may have been from the Heritage Mass, but I'm not sure. (Alstott worked for OCP, so that may be one reason his settings are not found in the GIA books, so I couldn't attempt to verify that.) The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer; just before he began, one of the altar servers struck the bell loudly with a baton several times.

We recited the Our Father without any attachments to one another, possibly since so much space was between small clusters of people. The reader and the four lay ministers assisted the priest in distributing Holy Communion using the "dual-station" method with four stations at the center aisle and two stations for the Precious Blood at the sides. Those in the choir formed a line at the right and received first; the other ministers waited until the choir was finished receiving to begin distributing to the general public. We sang "Unless a Grain of Wheat" as the Communion hymn.

The priest gave the closing prayer, and then the reader read several lengthy announcements, all of which appeared in the bulletin, while everyone remained standing. (Something is badly wrong when the same posture is accorded the Gospel and the announcements.) The priest then imparted a simple blessing. We sang two verses of "Now Thank We All Our God" as the closing hymn ("Sing a New Song" was listed as the alternate on the hymn board) while the servers, lay ministers, reader, and priest departed via the center aisle. About half the congregation had already left before the end of the hymn.

Same Sunday in 2000

Same Sunday in 1999

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