Week 327

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Is 8:23-9:3
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14
Reading II
1 Cor 1:10.13, 17
Mt 4:12-23 or 4:12-17

After the lights darkened in the movie theater, and the usual announcements and ads for popcorn and soda were shown, the coming attractions began. A wide shot of a lone figure trudging through the snow filled the giant screen. He was completely bundled so that only his face barely showed. "He was a man with a mission," intoned the narrator in the deep, solemn tones typical of movie trailers. A tight shot closed in on his face, which showed beads of sweat frozen by the chilly wind. "Nothing would stop him," continued the narrator.. Then a series of quick cuts showed various frantic people making observations of various sorts. "He's crazy!" said one. "Only an idiot would go to Mass in a blizzard," added a second. "He'll fall into a snowdrift!" was another comment. Then, as the figure approached the side entrance, he tested it and found it locked. "Nothing would stop him," the narrator emphasized as the figure went to the front entrance. "IW Productions Presents: The Daring Worshipper" was emblazoned on the screen.

A woman in the audience said, "I don't understand the whole plot." A man near her said, "I think I'll be skipping that one."

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Warning: professional worshipper operating one oar short. Do not try this at home.

The usual Sunday excursion was impractical this morning on account of a giant storm which needs no introduction, so I elected to visit the parish I selected for Mass at Midnight on Christmas morning. As we did that day, we'll dispense with the detailed description. The blizzard was in its waning moments as I walked through deserted, snow-covered streets toward the target parish. The side entrance was locked, so I had to maneuver my way to the main entrance, which the maintenance crew managed to have fully cleared for the twenty or so of us who managed to defeat the forces of evil and arrive at the 11:00 AM Mass. I stopped to call my mother to let her know that I arrived safely, turned off the cellular telephone, and entered.

Before Mass, the organist played some soft music as the priest probably debated over exactly when to begin the Mass. After an admonition from the cantor to turn off cellular telephones and pagers, and an instruction to introduce ourselves to someone near us who we didn't know (I had strategically placed myself so that I would be near empty pews), Mass began with the entrance hymn, "All Are Welcome." The priest passed through the center aisle alone. He used Form C of the penitential rite. We recited the Gloria, although it is usually sung at this Mass by the choir, which was absent today.

The reader went to the ambo to give the first reading before stepping to the side while the cantor led the responsorial psalm from the ambo. We sang a musical setting of Psalm 27 found in the GIA Gather hymnal; it was credited to David Haas. Then the reader returned to the ambo to give the second reading. From the cantor's lectern, the cantor led the Alleluia from the Mass of Light setting (Haas again). The priest then went to the ambo to proclaim the long form of the Gospel.

The homily was basically this: "Remember all those hot, humid summer days before we had air conditioning in the church-- days when you wished the priest would skip the homily? Well, today is one of those days. Just as Jesus called the apostles in the Gospel, He calls each of us again and again each day to do something. Let's simply reflect quietly for a few moments to try to hear what Jesus is calling us to do today." We then sat quietly for a minute or two.

We recited the Creed, and the cantor led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the cantor's lectern. No collection was taken. A person who looked like a sexton (please don't ask me what the distinguishing characteristics of a sexton are-- I know one when I see one) assisted the priest in place of the absent servers. At the Orate Fratres prayer, the congregation stood as soon as the priest began the invitation to pray.

The Mass setting for the remainder of the Mass was "A Community Mass," composed by Richard Proulx. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We recited the Lord's Prayer. The sign of peace was omitted.

At Holy Communion, the priest distributed by himself, serving both lines in the center aisle. The chalice was not offered. The Communion hymn was "One Bread, One Body."

After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "City of God." We sang one verse; I don't believe anyone left before it was complete. After I was once again outside, I called my mother to let her know I was on my way home. Then I walked past vehicles speeding through the snow and inconsiderate snow-blower operators blowing snow into the street as I headed toward an afternoon of snow-shoveling at home.

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About twenty people were in the theater on the opening night of a new movie. They watched as a lone figure trudged through the snow, attempting to get to Sunday Mass in the tail end of a blizzard. "Go, go!" shouted one person. "You can do it!" Another person said, "I don't understand the whole plot. This is just so boring." The person next to him said, "You should have seen the trailer. It was even worse."

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In North Pole, Alaska, Mass is offered at St. Nicholas Church on St. Nicholas Drive. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.

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Same Sunday in 2004
Same Sunday in 2000
Same Sunday in 1999