Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
I wandered through a densely populated area this morning and considered two parishes before settling on a third. It is listed as having an 11:30 AM Mass but I doubt that it started before 11:40 AM or so because the 10:00 AM Spanish Mass (much better attended than the English Mass to follow) ran quite late. The building is old and grand but appears to have sustained considerable water damage in spots over the years. It is greyish-brown stone on both inside and outside and is shaped like a cross with a high peaked center section and lower side sections. A flat bell tower is near the sanctuary. The cornerstone reads "A. D. 1922" and little has changed since then.
The wooden pews are divided into four sections; the side sections are shorter (except for the first four or five rows in the transepts) but do not abut the walls. Large pillars about three rows long line the outer aisles of the inner sections. Racks hold copies of WLP's Seasonal Missalette and OCP's Misal del Día. The huge choir loft remains and is still used by the organist and houses a giant pipe organ. Small traditional stained-glass windows line the lower walls; a few much larger ones are found on the upper walls. The ceiling is dark wood with small chandeliers.
The sanctuary is very traditional. The original altar and square metal tabernacle remain, but the tabernacle is not used, having been abandoned in favor of the tabernacle on the side altar at the right, underneath the statue and painting of St. Joseph. Clues that this is the active tabernacle are that it is veiled in green and has a tabernacle lamp right alongside it (the old main tabernacle is fully exposed). Of course, I didn't spot these subtle hints until I'd been there a while. A large traditional crucifix is to the left of St. Joseph's side altar. Over the original altar and tabernacle is a smaller metal crucifix and over that is a giant painting that has grown so dark with age (along with everything else in the building) that it was hard to see.
A freestanding marble altar is at the center of the sanctuary A small matching cantor's lectern is at the right, along with additional chairs. The celebrant's chair is in front of the original altar. At the left and to the front is a square marble ambo, again matching the freestanding altar. Behind that are seats for the servers. The stone altar rail remains (and I actually saw some folks using it after the Spanish Mass). To the left is the side altar to the Blessed Mother. At the end of the right transept is a niche with a Pieta-like statue of Mary holding Jesus. At the end of the left transept is another statue. Both are behind iron grillwork.
Mass began with the organist/cantor welcoming everyone and announcing that he'd be taking a short break for the rest of the summer. He then indicated that the entrance hymn would be "We Gather Together." One server, the reader, and the priest emerged from the sacristy, at the right of the sanctuary, and took their places. We recited Form C of the penitential rite and then sang the Gloria in a through-composed setting not familiar to me and not obviously one of the three or four in the missalette.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. After that, the organist led the singing of the psalm for the day from the loft, using a common tune. The reader then gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel. The priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel and remained there to preach the homily.
The priest basically explained that our God is the "God of the impossible" and that if we don't get what we want when we pray, it is probably because we aren't praying hard enough and putting all our energy into it. He told us the story of a woman who was devastated when her three-month old baby died in his sleep. Her doctor told her that she would never be able to become pregnant again. She asked the priest to pray for her, and every year she'd ask if he was still praying; after five years or so, he had to fudge a bit in his answer, but he never forgot altogether. Finally, after eight years, the woman bore another child, who is now two years old. The priest also explained to us that Scripture shows that whenever Jesus was about to something important, he went to pray by himself.
We recited the Creed, and then the reader went to the ambo to lead the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful; the organist led the response, "O, Lord hear us, hear our prayer." A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets. The offertory hymn was "Faith of Our Fathers." The chalice and ciboriums were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, only one person stood at the correct time; everyone else remained seated until after the congregation's response.
The Mass setting for the remainder of the Mass was unfamiliar to me. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the Our Father; since only about 100 people were in a church that likely seats 700-1000, few attempted hand-holding.
Two extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion assisted the priest in the distribution; one line formed at each of the three inner aisles. The chalice was not offered. The Communion hymn was "At That First Eucharist." After that, the organist sang another hymn on his own but did not announce it and I'm not sure what its name is.
After Communion, the reader made some brief announcements. After that, he asked if anyone had any birthdays or anniversaries this week. No one stood. He then asked if any visitors were present. I hid behind one of those massive columns so he wouldn't see me, and fortunately no one stood and pointed to me saying, "Him! He's a visitor!" Two kind people in the rear stood to save the reader from total embarassment and to reduce the chances of a thorough search of the premises for other visitors. They received a round of applause.
The priest imparted a simple blessing and departed via the center aisle with the server and reader. The closing hymn was "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." The priest was to the rear of the church by the time the second verse was complete, so most everyone remained. I then scurried out a side entrance before anyone decided to look for hidden visitors.
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As you pass through Bowling Green, Kentucky, look for Church Avenue and stop for Mass at St. Joseph Church. Remember-- you can find a Catholic Mass almost anywhere in the world you might be.
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