2 Kgs 5:14-17
Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
2 Tm 2:8-13
Once again, the cat got into bed with me this morning and caused me to tarry, leaving me fewer choices than I might normally like. Nevertheless, I selected a car from the fleet and drove an hour to a parish I've passed many times before en route to other destinations, as it is just off a main highway. I tried a different parish first, but my printed schedule is now about three or four years old and, like me, is showing signs of age, so the first parish had changed its 11:30 AM Mass to 11:00 AM. Instead, I headed for the noon Mass at the second parish. From the outside, it looked rather conventional, so I had kind of looked forward to it, but as we shall see, appearances can be deceiving. Even to the last, this building was teasing me, with its dark brown brick and 1932 cornerstone, beckoning, "Come inside, I'm old-fashioned like you!"
As I entered the original main entrance, I discovered that invaders had almost completely gutted the inside of what probably was a beautiful church in 1932. They forced it "in the round" by doing what I've called a "90-degree rotation job" on it. The original sanctuary was destroyed; instead, some individual upholstered seats (with kneelers) are located there underneath a plain cross without a corpus. The metal tabernacle is now in what was the left side altar. The arched, stained-glass windows don't look like 1932 vintage, although they are not completely abstract, either. I meant to check if the one behind the current sanctuary, now on what was the left side wall, depicted a crucifixion scene, but I neglected to do so and couldn't tell from where I sat. (That would have sufficed as a substitute for a crucifix for me.) The altar is further into the center of the nave than the wooden ambo, at the left. The celebrant's chair is behind the altar, to the right. A piano, covered today, is to the right of the sanctuary. The choir loft remains somehow, and I think it is still in use, as the organ and possibly a choir seemed to be there (again, I couldn't quite tell by sight since I was sitting underneath it). The ceiling is flat, and, like the rest of the interior, is plain white. Small plaques on the wall opposite the sanctuary depict the Stations of the Cross.
I initially neglected to obtain a hymnal and missalette (OCP Music Issue/Today's Missal) from the rack by the door, as I usually don't think of that sort of thing, but I realized my error in time to correct it before Mass. As Mass began, the church was nearly empty, with under 100 people in a nave that can now seat perhaps 400-500 after losing many seats to the reconfiguration. The entrance hymn was "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come." Two servers, three extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the reader, and the priest participated in the entrance procession from the "new" main entrance in one corner, across the new rear of the nave, and then through the center aisle. We recited the Confiteor and then sang the Gloria to a setting I am unable to identify. The priest offered the alternative opening prayer.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. We sang the psalm, and then the reader gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel as the priest walked around the sanctuary holding the Book of Gospels high over his head. He arrived at the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel.
The homily delved a bit into the background of Naaman before explaining that we can have four possible reactions to the blessings of God: frustration and bitterness that we don't have more than we have; smug, righteous assurance that we're entitled to all that we have; simple indifference; or deep gratitude for even the small blessings that God grants us, such as a nice, cool fall day. Clearly, the fourth attitude is what we Christians need to cultivate.
The priest almost skipped the Creed, but hesitation from the reader reminded him that today was Sunday, so we recited the Creed and then the reader led the recitation of the intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful. By this point, another 50 to 100 people had arrived at various points, and many of the empty spaces in the pews were filled. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "Humbly, Lord, We Worship You." The chalice and ciborium were of metal; a separate glass flagon held additional wine. At the Orate Fratres prayer, no one stood until after the congregation's response was complete.
I am unable to identify the Mass setting that was used for the rest of the Mass, but it sounded familiar. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer, for which the congregation knelt. At the Our Father, silliness reigned as almost everyone joined hands while we sang it, though I managed to escape that somehow. (Perhaps the same qualities that discourage single ladies from approaching me also discourage bystanders from attempting to grab my hand as well.) The "Deliver us, O Lord..." prayer was skipped and everone simply went straight into "For the kingdom..." The sign of peace took a bit longer than necessary as the priest ignored the GIRM and went into the wooden pews to greet those in the congregation. Almost no one knelt after the Agnus Dei, as the GIRM instructs for the United States.
The Communion hymn was "On Eagle's Wings." (It was in the fourth position on the hymn board but used at this point instead.) Stations were located at the center aisle and on each corner, with ministers of the chalice shared between lines. I noticed at this point that each of the liturgical ministers wore a square, white ID badge with name and function. That may be marginally better and slightly less obtrusive than announcing the names before Mass, I suppose.
After Communion, someone went to the ambo and gave an announcement about a retreat program for women. Those who had already made this retreat were asked to stand so that everyone would know who they were in case anyone had questions. I thought these people would be applauded, but somehow they were not. They sat and the person giving the announcement explained it a bit more before receiving a round of applause herself. Then the priest offered the closing prayer and departed via the center aisle to the alternative text of the hymn "A Mighty Fortress." I'm not sure why one version would be preferable to the other. Almost everyone remained to the end of the second of two verses (no one left after Communion, either).
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In Moab, Utah, Mass is offered at St. Pius X Church on West 4th North. Across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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