Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
2 Cor 13:11-13
After two weeks of intense itineracy, today was a Sunday for lighter travels, so I headed for a parish about an hour and a quarter from where I live. Demons once again tried to prevent me from arriving there in time by constructing a confusing set of highway interchanges and exit ramps, but I swallowed hard, maintained my composure, and somehow managed to arrive before the start of the Mass, which was scheduled for 10:00 AM. I believe it started late, perhaps by as much as five minutes, because my clock read 10:00 AM when I was parking, and no one seemed to be in any hurry as I entered the building, which I later found to have a 1934 cornerstone.
I had guessed a 1960's church based on the simplicity of the design, but either the strippers of the '80s must have done an excellent job of obscuring the '30s features, things were starting to go sour long before Vatican II, or the founders were working on a very limited budget. The wooden pews are stocked with old copies of NALR's Glory and Praise hymnal and the Catholic Book of Worship II, which notes that it is approved for use in Canada. Otherwise, the building is a simple auditorium-shaped structure, with traditional stained-glass windows and a large, engraved, white figure of Christ crucified on a large wall at the rear of the sanctuary. A similar engraving is to the right where the side altar used to be and depicts the Holy Family, with Joseph towering over Mary and an infant Jesus. The tabernacle is behind a wrought-iron gate where the left side altar was; entrance was made via an additional side gate in the sanctuary. A freestanding altar is at the center of the sanctuary and a wooden ambo is at the left. The narrow nave was forced "in the round" by pulling the sanctuary forward and placing the organ and choir at the right and two or three rows of individual seats at the left, with each of those sections facing one another and the altar. This is another one that simply looks silly and does not work. Maybe someone with sense will de-renovate this church soon; at least this restoration shouldn't cost too much..
Mass began after a non-celebrant priest, who I presume to be the pastor, stood in the sanctuary and gave several announcements, including an introduction to the celebrant. Then the cantor/organist announced the first hymn, "O God, Almighty Father." The reader, five extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest passed through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite and then we recited the Gloria.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The organist led us in the hymn "We Praise You," from one of the hymnals. I couldn't tell if it had anything to do with the psalm for the day or if it could qualify as a seasonal psalm. Then the reader gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia, and the priest went to the ambo the proclaim the Gospel.
The homily was interesting; in it the priest mentioned that those of other faiths are sometimes scandalized when they misunderstand us as worshipping three Gods. In fact, the Jewish people were proud that they worshipped the one, true God. When Jesus came, He clearly was different from all those who had come before him. This was manifested in three ways: first, He referred to Himself as "I AM;" second, He changed laws that only God could change, such as the Sabbath observance; third, He spoke in a way that implied a familiarity with God, calling Him "Abba." I have to disagree with the second observation; Jesus did not actually change the Law but corrected gross misinterpretations of it. The priest also explained that the Trinity shows us that God is relational, and that tells us something about ourselves as well. The priest made a good effort to explain the difficult mystery of the Trinity but I think fell a bit short.
We recited the Creed; the priest bowed his head at the correct point. The reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. Two collections were taken in succession using long-handled wicker baskets as the organist played a hymn on his own. The chalice and ciborium were of metal. A glass flagon was used to hold additional wine and remained on the altar throughout the consecration. At the Orate Fratres prayer, no one stood until after the congregation's response was complete.
Mass of Creation was used for the remainder of the Mass. The priest offered the third Eucharistic Prayer. We recited the Lord's Prayer; I saw no one joining hands. The sign of peace was typical and not ostentatious.
At Holy Communion, the five lay ministers assisted; four of them offered the chalice, which may have been a bit much for a congregation of only two hundred at most. The Communion hymn was "Abba, Father."
After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. He did not dismiss us until after the closing hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy." We sang all three verses as the priest processed to the rear of the church. Only after he reached the rear of the church did he say, "The Mass is ended, go in peace." I guess technically that's the way it should be if we don't want people leaving before the final hymn, but of course that's not by the book.
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In Santa Monica, California, Mass is offered at St. Monica Church on California Avenue. From coast to coast and all around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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