Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
After I left the bridge to the mainland at about 10:00 AM, I parked the car and consulted my list of Mass schedules and a local Hagstrom map to locate a suitable 10:30 AM Mass within a twenty-minute drive. I saw a handful and selected one that was probably too far from a railroad station to visit on a railroad trip. Demons tried to confuse me by making the street where the church is located discontiguous and partly one-way in the wrong direction, but with the aid of the map and a slight bit of persistence I was able to arrive in the parking lot by 10:25 AM. I looked to see where everyone was entering; the most popular entrance seemed to be at one corner of the church, nearest the parking lot, so I walked around to the main entrance and checked the cornerstone at the same time; it bears a dual date of "1897/ 1937." A check of the web site confirms my hunch that this is the second building.
It is brick on the outside; on the inside we see a beautiful, old, Gothic church probably not too much changed from its original appearance. The dark, wooden pews are split into two sections with a break in the middle. The last two rows of pews in the front right section are shortened to make room for a baptismal font on a pedestal. Adjacent to that, the ambry is mounted on one of the massive stone columns that line the side aisles and also shorten several rows (although none of the pews is dead-ended). The pews are stocked with copies of OCP's Today's Missal and Music Issue in the usual blue plastic binder as well as the Spirit and Song hymnal. Over the narthex is a large choir loft; the organ is still there. The stained-glass windows, arched like the sections between the columns, are traditional and depict various saints.
The domed sanctuary is separated from the rear wall behind it by black wrought-iron grills. The square, metal tabernacle is on a stand to the right; it likely has been moved from its original location underneath the canopy and traditional crucifix at the center rear. That crucifix is as close to a figure of the Risen Christ as one can get without actually being that; the corpus is clearly nailed to the cross but the figure of Jesus holds His head erect as one full of life rather than as a dying or suffering man. The freestanding altar is at the center; the ambo is at the left, and the cantor's lectern is at the right. The celebrant's chair is underneath the canopy, with the deacon's chair to the left of that. The American flag is on a stand at the left, while the Vatican flag is on a stand at the right.
Mass began as the cantor announced the opening hymn, "Morning Has Broken." Two servers, the reader, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite. We recited the Gloria.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading; she spoke clearly but needs to slow herself somewhat. The cantor crossed the sanctuary to lead the singing of the psalm for the day from the ambo. Then the reader gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel as the priest approached the ambo to proclaim the Gospel.
The theme of the homily was "Are we listening to God?" He mentioned that lots of times people are talking to us and our minds wander off until the other person says something and we respond with a non sequitor or a "Huh?" and we get embarassed. The priest shared his own problem with trying to hear what God is trying to say to him and confessed that even as he prays the Rosary he is often distracted by mundane concerns and he often finds himself just saying the words but not really doing any useful meditation. He also noted that his life suffers when he doesn't spend enough time listening to God; we need to take the times of silence during the Mass and outside of it to try to let God speak.
After the homily, the organist started playing "Here I Am, Lord" softly and the ushers marched to the front to begin a collection, taken with long-handled wicker baskets. I don't think that I ever saw this in five and a half years of Sunday Masses; I was concerned that both the Creed and the Prayer of the Faithful would be omitted. I was actually more surprised when the collection was complete and the priest began the Creed. The reader then led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. Then a second collection was taken just like the first. I just never saw this sequence; it left me wondering how many more years I will have to do this before I can truly say that I've "seen it all." The offertory hymn was "Turn to Me." The chalice and ciboriums were of metal; a glass flagon held additional wine. At the Orate Fratres prayer, almost no one stood until after the congregation's response was complete.
Bernadette Farrell's Mass of Hope setting was used for the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen. The priest offered the third Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the Our Father to the most common setting with organ accompaniment. (It's often done a cappella even when a Mass otherwise has an organ.) The Sign of Peace was fairly quick, as might be expected in a church that holds 700-900 but was only about a third full. We sang the Agnus Dei to David Isele's Holy Cross Mass setting. (A glance at the Mass of Hope version, printed in Music Issue, suggests that this was a wise move; the Mass of Hope Agnus Dei is full of extrapolations and emendations and is not really suitable for liturgical use.)
At Holy Communion, two more priests appeared along with three extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to assist in the distribution. The "dual-station" method was used at the center aisle; the chalice was offered at a single station on each side. The Communion hymn was "Like A Shepherd."
After Communion, the priest dismissed two extraordinary ministers to take Communion to the homebound by giving them a quick blessing. He offered the closing prayer before the reader went to the cantor's lectern and read one quick announcement while we remained standing. The priest added to this a reminder about the parish picnic in September. He them imparted a simple blessing before leaving via the center aisle with the servers and reader to the hymn "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee." Probably because the priest was still only two thirds of the way to the rear when the second verse ended, and the organist decided that two verses were enough, almost everyone remained until the end of the hymn.
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In Kentwood, Louisiana, Mass is offered at St. Elizabeth Church on Avenue C. All across the nation and around the world, no matter where you may be, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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