Week 339

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Reading I
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 23:1,3a, 3b4, 5, 6
Reading II
1 Pt 2:20b-25
Jn 10:1-10

Precipitation of any sort has been scarce around these parts the last week or two, after a long, cold, rainy, and snowy winter. Thus another railroad trip seemed appropriate. I boarded a 9:15 AM train to a large, nearby city and stopped in the destination railroad station to weigh my options. A subway trip to a church with an 11:00 AM Mass seemed sensible, so I boarded the subway and debated which of two 11:00 AM Masses to try. I chose the further of the two. When I passed through a long pedestrian tunnel and exited the subway station, I saw that the target church was at the top of a steep, rocky hill-- and totally inaccessible from where I was in the two minutes I had to get there. The demons had another laugh as I consulted my pocket Mass schedule for the area. I located an 11:30 AM Mass that seemed within a reasonable distance, entered another long pedestrian tunnel, and boarded another subway train for that area. I arrived a few minutes past 11:30 AM, but the priest was still by the doors, so I decided to remain.

The church bears a 1914 cornerstone and appears not to have changed much in the last century. It is grey stone on the exterior, with the name of the church inscribed in Latin across the top. The front has a peaked portico with large columns underneath. The nave is shaped as a cross with transepts as wide as the main axis, resulting in almost a square shape. The wooden pews are in four sections, with wide aisles all around. In the corners are confessionals; the originals have a booth for the priest but simply have curtains around the sides for the penitent-- a design I never noticed anywhere before. One confessional was renovated into a large room suitable for both screened and face-to-face confessions. The center of the nave rises into a large domed area with a Latin inscription around the perimeter. The side walls of the transepts each have a large, traditional, stained-glass window. The sanctuary is surrounded by a marble altar rail, although the gates apparently were removed. A small balcony-style ambo is at the left, while a tiny lectern is at the right. It looks as though the original high altar has been detached from the reredo and moved forward. The celebrant's chair and deacon's chair are in front of the reredo. A large bronze crucifix stands atop the reredo (which has a flat surface). The original tabernacle has been closed permanently, leaving a slightly odd look, but not as bad as others I've seen. Behind the reredo is a small chapel with a rough, dark, stone wall on which is a niche for a statue of the Blessed Mother. Inside this chapel today was a picture of Pope John Paul II on a table with some vestments. The tabernacle is now at the right in what was probably a side altar. Racks by the doors hold copies of the third edition of GIA's Worship hymnal, revised to include the 1998 Lectionary revisions.

The back page of the bulletin did not contain the usual advertisements; instead, it was the program sheet for the Mass. Since it was fairly detailed, I too can be fairly detailed without too much effort. As I entered, the choir (about half a dozen people in a choir loft with a huge pipe organ) was singing the Introit, Misericordia Domini, based upon Psalm 33, as Latin chant. After that began the Processional Hymn, "That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright." Two servers, two readers, and the priest participated in the procession via the center aisle. The readers sat in the front pew, while the servers sat at the right of the sanctuary. The priest led the recitation of the Confiteor, which was followed by the Kyrie from Schubert's Deutsche Messe (even though the program indicated a Rite of Sprinkling at the 11:30 AM Mass accompanied by Vidi Aquam by Morales). The Gloria was also from the Deutsche Messe. The priest chanted the opening prayer.

The first reader ascended the short, circular steps to the ambo and gave the first reading before returning to the front pew. The choir led the responsorial psalm. Worth noting here is that much of the choir's singing was a cappella. The second reader went to the ambo and gave the second reading. This was followed by what is listed on the sheet as #237 in the Worship hymnal; an Internet search indicates that this is "Chant Mode VI." The priest incensed the ambo and Book of Gospels before proclaiming the Gospel.

The homily focused on the notion of the Good Shepherd, particularly with respect to the papacy, as it is the center of attention during this interregnum. The priest gave a quote from G. K. Chesterton that got past me (he had a bit of an accent, and in the moment or two that I needed to absorb that he actually said "Chesterton," I got distracted).

We recited the Creed, and I caught at least one gentleman bowing at the correct point. The second reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the small lectern. Two ushers took a collection using long-handled wicker baskets as two members of the congregation presented the gifts and the choir chanted in Latin the offertory motet of "Surrexit Pastor bonus, de Monte." The chalice and ciborium were of metal. The priest incensed the altar and gifts; one of the servers incensed the congregation, which stood and remained standing for the Orate Fratres prayer.

The priest chanted the offertory prayer, and recited the Preface. The Sanctus was from the Deutsche Messe. We knelt for the consecration; even the person at the other end of the pew where I was sitting knelt, which is notable as the kneeler there was missing. The priest offered the third Eucharistic Prayer. The Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen were from Proulx' Community Mass. A server sounded bells at the consecration. I didn't see anyone join hands for the Lord's Prayer, which we recited.

The Agnus Dei was from the Deutsche Messe. It was kind of out of place in this classy atmosphere as it had creative tropes instead of just sticking to "Lamb of God." At Holy Communion, an additional priest assisted in the distribution. The choir came down from the loft and received first. The Communion hymn was "How Good the Name of Jesus Sounds." ("My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" is listed for the 5:30 PM Mass.) After Communion, the choir sang a Communion motet of "My Shepherd Is the Living Lord," by Mueller.

The priest chanted the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain." The congregation sang all the verses, but no one left before the hymn was complete, even though the priest was well into the rear of the church before the second verse had started. After that, I walked through a park across the street and toward another subway train, which arrived at the railroad terminal just after a train home departed, leaving me to walk around the railroad station with a church bulletin in my hand for a half an hour. No holy young ladies on their way home from church noticed, despite the railroad station being filled with people. Maybe next week I need to try a different railroad station.

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In Grenada, Mississippi, Mass is offered at St. Peter's Church on College Blvd. In Grenada, across the nation, and all 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