Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
This morning I set forth in search of a church but demons thwarted my best efforts. I knew of one church with a 12:30 PM Mass but neglected to note that it was in Spanish. I just missed a second 12:30 PM Mass and a 1:00 PM Mass on account of a lack of available parking. Head hung in shame, I headed home to take a nap and start over again.
At 4:15 PM I left for a 5:00 PM Mass that I should have been able to make easily, but a legion of Sabbath-desecrating shoppers was leaving a shopping mall on the way, and I was delayed enough to prevent my successful arrival at the first parish. I was unable to locate my next choice on my map because demons split the map right where the street is, and the name was not visible even though it was in the index. At this stage, I felt I was slowly being driven mad, but I thought of the folks in the audience and somehow mustered enough strength to make a try for a 6:30 PM Mass some distance away from where I was. After some more miscues and attempted blocks by the demons, the angels finally got their game together and won it for me in the final seconds, and I managed to locate a parking space in the church parking lot and enter just in the nick of time.
An Internet search reveals that the parish was established in 1935, and the building appears to have been built shortly afterward. Recent changes have not been too drastic, though. The nave is rectangular with two sections of wooden pews split by a center aisle and flanked by side aisles. The walls are mostly white and have traditional stained-glass windows with painted plaques depicting the Stations of the Cross between them. The peaked ceiling is supported by dark wooden trusswork. The metal tabernacle is at the left in what appears to be the location of an old side altar, but the rear wall is gone and behind that are a few rows of pews facing the freestanding altar at the center of the sanctuary. The servers occupied the first of these rows today. Similarly, a niche for an old side altar at the right is missing its rear wall such that one can see through to the organ and a few sections of pews where the choir now likely sits. (A choir loft is also evident in the rear.) The marble ambo is at the left; it consists of a stand on three pillars with orange center sections. The cantor's lectern at the right is nearly identical except that its pillars have green center sections. The original high altar appears still to be in place underneath a statue of Our Lady. A traditional wooden crucifix is at the right, on the wall near the side altar. The altar rail has been truncated to short sections at the left and right. Racks in the pews hold still-new copies of OCP's Heritage Missal.
I entered and slipped past the priest, who was waiting at the rear, and took a seat at one end of a pew about halfway back. I would have that pew to myself for the whole Mass, as about 100 to 150 people were present in a building that can probably hold 500-600 when full. Mass started with the opening hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Three servers, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, the reader, and the priest passed through the center aisle in the entrance procession. We recited the Confiteor as the organist/cantor, in a red robe and white sneakers, lit the candles in the sanctuary. He made it back to the organ in time to lead the chant of the Kyrie. The Gloria was omitted for Advent.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. She stepped aside while the organist led the responsorial psalm for the day. She went back to the ambo to give the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel. The priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel.
From the ambo, the priest gave a long homily. It began with a story of a man whose family was busy preparing a surprise birthday party for him when he arrived home early. He asked his wife for a glass of water, one daughter for his slippers, another daughter to call the doctor, and his son how his day was, but they were all too busy to help him. When they were all finished with the preparations, they went to his bedroom and shouted "Surprise!" but found him dead; he had left a note saying that he was feeling bad and had come home early just in case anything went wrong. The priest said that Christmas has become an excuse for us to be too busy to honor the person whose birthday we are supposed to be celebrating-- Jesus. We should give him our time, do works of charity, and "show evidence of reform" as John the Baptist admonished the Pharisees and Saduccees in the Gospel.
We recited the Creed, and the priest was careful to bow at the appropriate moment, although I didn't catch anyone else doing so. The reader went back to the cantor's lectern and led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "Jesus, Come to Us." Two people presented the gifts. The chalice and ciborium were of metal. At the Orate Fratres prayer, almost everyone stood at exactly the correct point!
I believe the Mass setting for the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen was the Heritage Mass, but I'm not positive. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the Our Father to the most common setting. The sign of peace was what one might expect in a Sunday evening congregation scattered throughout the pews. We sang the Agnus Dei to David Isele's Holy Cross Mass setting.
At Holy Communion, the lay minister assisted the priest in distribution; he knelt alongside the servers after he entered the sanctuary. The chalice was not offered. I noticed that the organ continued to play even while the organist had left his place, so this must have been a newfangled electronic organ of some sort.
After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer, and the reader went back to the cantor's lectern to read a few brief announcements while everyone remained standing before the priest imparted a simple blessing and left via the center aisle with the lay minister, reader, and servers. The closing hymn was "People, Look East." We sang two verses; almost everyone remained to the end. A weary, itinerant worshipper then slipped out the main entrance past the priest to begin the journey home.
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In Goshen, New York, Mass is offered at St. John the Evangelist Church on Murray Avenue. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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