Ps 117:1, 2
Heb 12:5-7, 11-13
I meandered only a little bit this morning before finding an 11:30 AM Mass in a sleepy village at a church located on the west bank of a major river. The cornerstone reads 1963 but the parish was founded in 1852, so at least one earlier building preceded this one. It is perched on the side of a hill sloping towards the water such that the parking lot is on the basement level, while the nave is at street level. The outside is of brown brick; the inside is auditorium-style, typical of its era. Two groups of wooden pews are split by a center aisle and lined with side aisles. Two ends of a truncated altar rail remain on each corner of the sanctuary, enough to leave room to kneel before the tabernacle, which was apparently moved to the right side altar. A traditional crucifix hangs on the rear wall of the sanctuary, behind the freestanding altar. An unusual ambo is at the front left; it was much wider from left to right than it was from front to back. The windows on the wall facing the river are mostly clear, which is understandable given the breathtaking view that God provided. The Stations of the Cross are large painted relief figures, all located on the west wall. At the left is the American flag; at the right is the Vatican flag. A choir loft is over the narthex and was used today; I saw two or perhaps three people there today; one may have been the organist. The OCP combination of Today's Missal (large-print) and Music Issue is used here; I neglected to obtain them from the stand by the door as I entered, though.
Mass began as the priest, reader, and an extraordinary lay minister of Holy Communion passed from the sacristy at the front left, down the length of the east side aisle, and then through the center aisle. Fewer than 75 people were present in a church that can probably hold 500 or so. The opening hymn was "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee." We recited the Confiteor and then the Gloria.
The reader gave the first reading. A female voice from the choir loft led the responsorial psalm; it may not have been the one for the day, which I see is rather short. 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.
In the homily, the priest took each reading in turn and spoke a bit about it. The main focus of this homily seemed to be that God loves each of us very much, so much that He would die for us on the Cross. We must also be careful not to be presumptuous about our salvation, saying that one of the "hard sayings" of Jesus-- "many will attempt to enter... but not be strong enough"-- is somewhat discouraging. He also spoke of a local fireman who died at age 25 and was buried yesterday; I believe this was an example of "we know not the hour."
We recited the Creed, and the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. A collection was taken by two ushers, starting in the center aisle and then taking care of the side aisles. They used long-handled wicker baskets. After the collection was taken, it was presented along with the bread and wine. The offertory hymn was "Prayer of St. Francis." The chalice and ciborium were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, no one stood until the congregation's response was complete. The extraordinary minister functioned as server at this point as well.
The Mass setting used was Mass of Creation. After an ad-libbed introduction stating that we had come to the most sacred part of the Mass, where ordinary bread and wine become really and not merely symbolically the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer, straying a bit when he came to the memorial of the dead; he included many different groups of deceased people explicitly before returning to the beaten path. We recited the Our Father; almost no one was close enough to anyone else to join hands, although the majority of the congregation was seated in the back half of the church, near the main entrance. (The left front quadrant was almost completely empty.)
At Holy Communion, the priest stood way to the left, while the lay minister stood at the expected location at the center aisle on the right (after giving Communion to a person in a wheelchair on the west side aisle and an accompanying person). The reader held a paten for the priest to catch falling particles. The chalice was not offered to the congregation. The Communion hymn was "We Remember."
After Communion, the priest went to the rail in front of the tabernacle, knelt, and announced that we would spend a few moments in silent prayer while Jesus was dwelling within us. Then the reader gave a few short announcements and the priest imparted a simple blessing. He, the lay minister, and the reader departed via the center aisle to the closing hymn, "I Am the Bread of Life." Almost everyone remained to the end.
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In Miami, Arizona, Mass is offered at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church on Sullivan St. Almost anywhere in the world you might be, you can find a Catholic Mass.
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