Week 3

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

For those who recall installment one and were hoping for more: installment two was pre-empted as last week I got my signals crossed and missed the Mass I had originally intended to attend. I got there in time for the final blessing, so after walking forty minutes there I made an about-face and walked an hour to the cathedral for the choir Mass there. That's almost the same as the choir Mass at my own parish, so I didn't do too much careful observing.

Yesterday, I went to the parish where my sister was baptized. It is an older church but was renovated (I guess) sometime in the last ten years. The parish has perpetual adoration, so an attached chapel with a separate outside entrance was constructed for this purpose adjacent to the main church. Naturally, then, the tabernacle is in the perpetual adoration chapel and not in the sanctuary or anywhere in the church proper. It's still disappointing in a way but certainly understandable. No traditional crucifix is present, but behind the altar (moved forward) is a picture of a hand reaching down, plus a dove and two angels with a cross as a background. Stained-glass windows remain. The pews seem to have more space between them than usual, so a person can fairly easily walk past someone who is seated. (In my parish, the person seated must kind of stand and lean back to let someone pass.)

Unlike week one's "L" configuration, this church is a "T" type with seating at either side of the sanctuary as well as in front of it. The entrance procession, however, did not attempt to cover all parts of the T and just proceeded through the main aisle of the church. Four altar servers joined the priest and other ministers in the procession. As I've mentioned, two servers should be sufficient for any ordinary Mass; more than that seems excessive. They did show, though, which is encouraging when so often no servers at all appear for daily Mass (and occasionally even for Sunday Mass).

The Mass (8:30 AM) had no cantor, but the organist apparently doubled and introduced the hymns. The first hymn was very traditional ("To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King") as was the closing hymn ("Now Thank We All Our God") but sandwiched in the middle were hymns of more recent vintage ("Here I Am, Lord" and "One Bread, One Body"). The only odd thing the organist did was to ask us to recite together the verses to the responsorial psalm (we sang the response itself). The choir loft is rather majestic and deserves a good choir; I hope the parish has a good one (it serves the following Mass). The organist really looked kind of solitary by himself in such a grand space.

The readings were straight (OCP missalette and hymnal again) except that the priest changed "sons of God" to "children of God." Although I could live with that if it were an approved translation, it loses the sense of inheritance expressed in Scripture, but I've seen far worse. (Sigh.) Meanwhile, it's not approved and really isn't necessary.

The priest, who served at my old parish twenty years ago, gave a decent homily that meandered at first but came to rest on a good point: we spend too much time dwelling on our rights and privileges (for example, who of the seven husbands would have the "right" to the woman in heaven) instead of what we can do for others. One sign of how times have changed: I remembered him as "Father Rogers" and don't recall him ever being described in any other way, but he was introduced yesterday as "Father Paul." He was very soft-spoken but passionate, almost as though the physical fire had been drained from him over the years but the spiritual fire was still struggling to express itself. I hadn't seen him since he left my old parish, and it was as if he were a priest I'd never seen before, which was a really strange feeling. I knew him, but I didn't.

The chalice and paten were glass-- not really my preference, but not exactly rare these days, either. The Eucharistic Prayer was one of the more recent ones, for a "Mass of Reconciliation" which I kind of suspected was coming when I saw the Sacramentary turned all the way to the back. The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen again were from Haugen's Mass of Creation. We were invited to join hands at the Our Father, but the Mass was sparsely attended enough that nobody was close enough to me to do this, so I was spared.

Because the cup was not offered to the congregation, only four lay ministers of Communion were used in addition to the priest. Although offering the cup does express the symbolism of the Eucharist more fully, it probably does not need to be done at every Mass, and distributing under the form of bread alone does reduce the crowd of lay ministers substantially, so I'm in favor of that. The Hosts were smaller than usual (in my experience) but I don't know what to make of that (if anything) other than to note it in passing.

As usual, I found lots of plusses and minuses. This parish is less than a 40-minute walk from my home (although on account of a swollen toe, I chose to drive), so I would consider attending this Mass on a temporary basis if need be. However, afterward, I stopped at another parish (probably a 50-minute walk), and I heard an organ playing at its 9:00 AM Mass as I grabbed a bulletin, so I might try that one on a future Sunday.

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