1 Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
1 Cor 15:45-49
This morning I set forth on an hour and a half journey to a parish not too far from last week's parish. It bears a 1965 cornerstone, but since it is in the shape of a cross (the old "requirement") I suspect that it may have been slightly reconfigured because inside it has been forced round (the new "requirement"). I could be wrong about this, though. The wooden pews are in five wedge-shaped sections, with the space of the missing sixth section taken by a piano and individual seats for a choir (about half a dozen people today). The kneelers were upholstered but unusually hard. Racks hold the GIA Gather hardcover hymnal and the OCP Today's Missal paperback. The tall, rectangular, stained-glass windows are slightly modernistic and depict various feast days in the Church calendar (dated by "Christ the King" shown as "last Sunday in October"). An unused choir loft is at the rear (lending evidence to the reconfiguration theory). At the center of the sanctuary is a large tapestry of Christ the King. The only crucifix I could see was the processional crucifix. Remnants of an altar rail are found at either side of the sanctuary. The ambo is at the left front, the altar is at the center, and the celebrant's chair is behind the altar. The metal tabernacle is at the right; I suspect that it may have moved sometime in the late '70s or '80s. Small plaques around the church depict the Stations of the Cross.
Mass began as the cantor announced the hymn "I Am the Bread of Life." This was one of the most subdued renditions I've ever heard-- it sounded as though the choir was depressed at the prospect of redemption. I guess one can't expect much when a guitar is present. Three servers, seven lay ministers of Holy Communion, the RCIA director, the reader, and the priest passed through the center aisle in the entrance procession. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite and led us in the recitation of the Gloria.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. She left and stood to the side while the cantor and choir, continuing the subdued opening, led a musical setting of the psalm for the day; this was a Marty Haugen arrangement found in the Gather hymnal. The reader returned to the ambo to give the second reading. The choir led the singing of the Celtic Alleluia before the Gospel, and then the priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo as two servers stood at either side bearing candles.
Instead of a homily, the priest went through recent changes in the GIRM that he explained would be implemented beginning Ash Wednesday. He made a big point about the importance of unity in posture. After the joke about the three monks who had taken a vow of silence and could speak only once every three years, saying in turn, "It's too cold," a year later, "No it's not," and finally a year later, "You talk too much," he devoted most of the time to silence in the liturgy, explaining that a minute of silence should precede Mass after people have greeted everyone outside (I started to like this priest there). Silence should also follow the invitation to recall our sins in the penitential rite, each of the readings, and the homily. The priest also explained that standing now follows the Oratre Fratres invitation (this could have been explained more clearly as so few parishes seem to have it right today). He also described the correct way to receive Holy Communion (either on the tongue or in the hand, but if in the hand, left hand over the right and don't take it back to your seat).
After that instruction, the RCIA candidates and their sponsors were assembled on the steps of the sanctuary to be presented to the priest so that he could in turn present them to the archbishop next Saturday at the cathedral. While they remained there, the priest led us in the dialog form of the Apostles' Creed. Then the reader went to the ambo and led the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. After that, they returned to their places. We sang the offertory hymn, "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace," as a collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets and also as the gifts were presented. Because the three servers were all in the procession (a cross-bearer and two candle-bearers), two of the lay ministers of Communion stood next to the priest to receive the gifts; one of these women, who appeared old enough to know better, was wearing a long skirt with a horribly high slit on either side. It showed-- badly. Ugh. The hymn went through all four verses twice to "cover" the preparation of the gifts. The chalice was of metal; the paten was a glass dish; an additional flagon held wine to be consecrated for the congregation. At the Oratre Fratres, most people stood at the correct time, having been reasonably instructed only a short time earlier.
I am unable to identify the Mass setting used; it is one I don't recall hearing before. Each response had a double repetition of the opening line. The priest used what sounded like a Eucharistic Prayer for a Mass with children despite the half-full church having only a small number of children present. At the Our Father, which we recited, those in the choir and many others in the congregation joined hands, though many others did not.
We sang the Agnus Dei with unusual tropes. The seven lay ministers entered the sanctuary; another priest appeared to assist but had no job after all the vessels were given to lay ministers, and he retreated in defeat to the sacristy. Stations were located at the center aisle, at the far right, and in between the leftmost two sections. The Communion hymn was "Eat This Bread."
After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer. While we remained standing, the reader returned to the ambo from the pews and gave a few brief announcements, including notice of Ash Wednesday services. Then the priest imparted a solemn blessing and departed via the center aisle with those in the entrance procession. The closing hymn was "Canticle of the Sun." The choir finally seemed to awaken at this point, but it was an hour late and a dollar short. After almost an hour and ten minutes, it was again time to go forth into the world to evangelize and convert it. (Oddly enough, this Mass ended at about the same time as last week's Mass, even though this one started half an hour earlier.) Most people remained to the end of the hymn.
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When you're passing through Greeley, Nebraska, you can stop for Mass at Sacred Heart Church on West Wicklow Street. Wherever you go, across the nation or around the world, you can always find a Catholic Mass.
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