Week 317

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Mal 3:19-20a
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
Reading II
2 Thess 3:7-12
Lk 21:5-19

This morning was crisp but clear and not too cold, so I walked to the railroad station and boarded a 9:15 AM train that would arrive at the terminal at 9:55 AM. That might be just enough to make a nearby 10 AM Mass, except that a spouse helps one to make sensible decisions. Lacking a spouse, I foolishly decided to look for the entrance on the block behind the church instead of on the block where my printed sheet told me to look. As I finally made it to the entrance as the congregation was in the middle of the penitential rite, I muttered, "we was too late," to myself and headed for a 10:30 AM Mass a subway ride across town. I just missed the first train, and the next one did not afford me sufficient time; the congregation was in the middle of the penitential rite and I muttered, "we was too late," to myself. I walked several blocks north of there to what my sheet lists as a 10:45 AM Mass, but the sign says "10:30 AM" and Mass was well underway. After muttering, "we was too late," to myself again, I tried to get to an 11:15 AM Mass some blocks north of that but four blocks away realized that I'd never make it, muttered "we was too late," without going to the trouble of actually passing it, and hopped onto a crosstown bus that would take me across a noted park to an 11:30 AM Mass. I arrived at about 11:28 AM and found a seat at the far right side of the building.

This church is somewhat interesting. It occupies the ground floor of a multi-story building that also houses the rectory and the parish school. A playground is next door, and my initial impression was that the church had been demolished and relocated to the school cafeteria or something. A sign giving the history of the playground debunked that theory, and, indeed, the church is way too ornate for that theory to have held water. The cornerstone reads "1912," and though the space does look as though it could have been a cafeteria or gymnasium at one time, it looks every bit like a 1912 design. Maybe a full-blown church was a future plan that never materialized on account of land or funding not being available.

The wooden pews are arranged in four sections, with the side sections abutting the walls, and large pillars splitting the center sections. The pews have no racks; instead, the Gather hymnals were at the doors on carts, but as usual I neglected to obtain one. The sanctuary is quite traditional, with a full reredo and domed canopy over the metal tabernacle. A circular ambo is at the left, while a small cantor's lectern is at the right. To the right of that is a section for the choir. Three people directly faced the congregation, while two guitarists and a pianist faced the left side of the nave. The usual side altars to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are found here. The Stations of the Cross are on plaster carvings on the side walls. The rear wall of the sanctuary is painted with long lines of saints and angels. I believe a traditional crucifix was here somewhere as well. Traditional confessionals are on the sides and rear of the nave.

Mass began as the cantor announced the opening hymn, "Send Down the Fire." The entrance procession passed through the center aisle to the sanctuary. As soon as the priest reached the sanctuary, he took a thurible and began sprinkling the congregation with water as the hymn continued. After the hymn, he gave a brief prayer and skipped the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to the Mass of Light setting by David Haas.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. Then the cantor went to the cantor's lectern and led the psalm for the day. The reader returned to the ambo and gave the second reading. The cantor led was I believe was the Celtic Alleluia, but another member of the folk group recited the verse before the Gospel. Then the priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel.

The homily, given from the ambo, began with the story of a woman who came from a wealthy family but did not feel the warmth her older sister received from their parents; instead she felt benign indifference. Finally one day she decided that she would not let this bother her; she would develop her talents as best as she could so that others could appreciate them, and she became a successful pediatrician.We also heard the story of the priest's 87-year old mother, which escapes me on Sunday evening.

We recited the Creed; I noticed many people bowing at the appropriate moment. The General Intercessions followed. At the end, the reader, who was at the cantor's lectern, invited those in the congregation to announce their own petitions. This practice is quite rare at Sunday Mass and has almost never been mentioned in WIDOS articles as a result, but it is fairly common at daily Mass, where presumably the congregation can be better trusted not to voice offbeat intentions. We heard the usual stuff-- "special intention," "my nephew who is really ill," "peace," and the like, but this is a case where the title "general intercessions" probably needs to be kept in mind, and specific intercessions are probably ill-advised. I also find people talking or mumbling over one another (which happened at this Mass and commonly happens where the practice is allowed) to be unseemly, even bordering on rude. Most of these are barely audible anyway. It isn't worth the trouble. Let's stick with "for the intentions we hold in the silence of our hearts," which I've always found to be good enough to include "for a holy wife and a happy, healthy, sacramental marriage."

Two successive collections were taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the Communion hymn, "Remember Your Love." The gifts were presented at this time; the chalice and ciborium were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, a few in the front stood as the priest started the invitation to pray, some more stood during the invitation, and most of the rest stood after the invitation was complete.

The Mass of Creation setting was used for the remainder of the Mass, except possibly for the Our Father, which we did not sing to the usual setting. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. At the sign of peace, the priest insisted on disregarding the GIRM and went into the congregation to greet people.

A second priest and two extraordinary ministers assisted the celebrant in distributing Holy Communion. Two lines formed at the center aisle, and the chalice was offered at two stations to the sides. The Communion hymn was "On Eagle's Wings."

After Communion, the reader went to the cantor's lectern and intoned that several important announcements would be made. After making them, she advised us to obtain a copy of the bulletin, which had most of them in printed form. The priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "Amazing Grace." The priest was at the doors of the church by the middle of the second verse, but the folk group sang all four verses and an encore of the first verse before receiving a round of applause from the quarter to a third remaining of the original congregation of about two hundred or so. Then I slipped out a side door and hustled back to the subway for the trip home alone.

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In Goshen, New Jersey, Mass is offered at St. Elizabeth Church on Route 47. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.

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Same Sunday in 2003
Same Sunday in 1999
Same Sunday in 1998