Week 276

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Jer 1:4-5, 17-19
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
Reading II
1 Cor 12:31--13:13 or
1 Cor 13:4-13
Gospel
Lk 4:21-30

Today I visited a parish an hour and a quarter from home. The current building, with a 1992 cornerstone, is a square building forced round on the inside. It apparently replaced an earlier rectangular building that now is labelled "parish hall and gym." That happened recently in two parishes in my own diocese, so I suppose it is part of a trend. Perhaps the earlier building wasn't much cause to write home, as it appeared from the outside to date from 1955-1965, a particularly barren time in church architecture, but then again I suspect it was merely caught in the current fad against rectangular churches.

Inside are six sections of wooden pews arranged in a semi-circle. A large baptismal font is located on the floor by the narthex. The sanctuary is a semi-circle, with a brown marble altar and matching ambo (at the left and further back). A traditional crucifix is suspended over the altar. The celebrant's chair is directly behind the altar; the servers' chairs are at either side. A large, circular, somewhat abstract stained-glass window is at the top of the rear wall of the sanctuary; the other windows are of similar style. Small wooden plaques depict the Stations of the Cross. The metal tabernacle is at the front left in a small niche. A section for the piano, organ, and choir (today, about two dozen people of various ages) is at the front right; the seats directly face the congregation. The pews are stocked with copies of the current Gather hymnal (green, without readings).

Mass began as the organist, who sounded like Santa Anita racetrack announcer Trevor Denman, introduced the opening hymn, "Lift Up Your Hearts," which we sang to organ accompaniment. One server, the reader, nine lay ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest processed through the center aisle, delaying their start noticeably until after the second verse of three was finished. The priest, an enthusiastic sort, gave a brief introduction to the Mass by way of the closing line of today's second reading and then used Form C of the penitential rite.We recited the Gloria.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. Then, in place of the responsorial psalm for the day, we sang to piano accompaniment the hymn "Center of My Life," which is based upon psalm 16. Perhaps it qualifies as a seasonal psalm. At this point I noticed the hymn number projected very small in light on the upper wall on the left and right. That's an interesting detail I don't believe I've seen before. The reader then gave the long form of the second reading. We sang the Alleluia before the Gospel, which the priest proclaimed from the ambo.

The priest then told a joke about a family which adopted a new diet that consisted of little more than fish and cauliflower. One night, one of the children found a bone in his fish and asked his father what to do with it. The father said, "Just place it in a place where you are sure you won't eat it." The child promptly placed the bone into his cauliflower. The priest then explained that he felt as if he had bitten into a bone today because it was the weekend for the annual archdiocesan appeal. He then introduced a video from the archdiocese; this apparently was projected onto a wall that was not visible from the section of pews where I was sitting. I was able to hear the audio, however. The production ended with the archbishop leading a group of children in a Hail Mary. Then the priest gave his own appeal, once again apologizing for things which have gone wrong but saying that the money would all be put to the good use the contributors intended for it.

Next, the catechumens were given a blessing and dismissed. We recited the Creed, and then the reader led the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. The choir sang a hymn on its own to organ accompaniment as a collection was taken using deep, metal dishes passed across the pews. At the Orate Fratres, almost everyone stood at about the correct point for a change. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal; a glass flagon held additional wine.

The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen were sung to a setting whith which I am familiar but am unable to identify. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. At the Our Father, which we recited, a number of those in the congregation were afflicted by hand-holding, but it was not promoted and those to my left and right were indifferent. After the Sign of Peace, we sang the Agnus Dei to the Mass of Creation setting, using "Lamb of God" only in the first of three tropes.

The distribution of Holy Communion was initiated in rather a strange manner that I had not experienced before today. First, three lay ministers joined the priest in the sanctuary while six others formed two lines in the center aisle. The priest distributed Communion to these "seed" ministers. Then the priest and one seed minister distributed to the other waiting ministers, while another minister distributed to the choir. The second group of ministers then approached the altar and retrieved the vessels to serve the rest of the congregation. The priest and three lay ministers distributed the Sacred Body at four stations, two on the center aisle and two on either side; the center stations each had two ministers of the Precious Blood; and the side stations had one minister each of the Precious Blood. The organist began by playing some piano music before the choir started a hymn on its own to organ accompaniment.

After Holy Communion, the priest returned the remaining ciboriums to the tabernacle. He offered the closing prayer, which was followed by two short announcements from a member of the choir. Then the priest gave a general St. Blase blessing (the bulletin states that individual blessings will be given on Tuesday, the actual feast day) and imparted a simple blessing before the closing hymn, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," two verses of which we sang to organ accompaniment. Those who were in the entrance procession were also included in the exit procession. About a quarter of the congregation left before the hymn was finished. This 11:30 AM Mass was complete by 12:40 PM.

I sat in the parking lot and made some quick notes on the back of the bulletin, so I didn't start to leave until 12:48 PM. Cars just kept streaming into the lot, even at 12:53 PM (I was trying to see if the old building had a cornerstone), and I looked at the bulletin to see when the next Mass started. According to the bulletin, it is scheduled for 12:45 PM. Sigh.

Same Sunday in 2000
Same Sunday in 1999

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