Week 347

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I
Ex 19:2-6a
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5
Reading II
Rom 5:6-11
Mt 9:36--10:8

After the usual circling and indecision, I found myself in a large city at a parish I had passed before but don't recall visiting. It is a simple auditorium with a 1964 cornerstone. The most notable feature of the interior of this building is the two-tone color scheme of white and blue-green that I actually liked; it was refreshingly different somehow. The sanctuary retains its altar rail. Behind that is a freestanding, white, marble altar. The wooden ambo is to the left, and a small cantor's lectern is to the right. The rear wall of the sanctuary has a sort of brown millwork with a split down the middle where the traditional crucifix is mounted. The side altars with their statues also remain.

The wooden pews are split into four sections by a center aisle and a break about halfway back. Racks hold copies of OCP's Today's Missal and Music Issue. Square columns line the side aisles but are designed so as not to impede access to the pews. The original confessionals appear to have been converted into shrines; I think I saw some newer confessionals near the vestibule, and one original confessional may have been only partially converted. The choir loft is in the traditional location over the narthex.

Mass began as the cantor introduced the entrance hymn, "All the Earth." Three servers, six extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, a reader, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite, which echoed the preface that goes, "In love You created us, in justice You condemned us, in mercy You redeemed us," except that all three tropes used the word "love." We sang the Gloria to the Heritage Mass setting.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor led us in singing the responsorial psalm for the day. The reader gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel. The priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo and then moved to the center aisle to give his homily.

We heard two stories, given in a way that was eerily reminiscent of the style of my own pastor. The first described the ordination of a priest in the underground Church in China; he didn't know when he was to be ordained until he was with his bishop in the bishop's clandestine apartment and the bishop told him, "Tonight." In two successive Masses, he was ordained a deacon and a priest with about half a dozen other seminarians. At about 3 AM, after a bit of celebration, he was told by the bishop, "Get on your bicycle and get out of town." The second concerned the troubled pregnancy of a young couple; the baby was developing with a malformed intestine, stomach, and lung, and the couple was very concerned. The child was delivered naturally two weeks early; the doctors operated, corrected the deformities, and the child survived. These were supposed to be two illustrations of deep love. The stories took about ten minutes to tell, and I was starting to say to myself, "I hope we get to the point soon."

We recited the Creed, and then the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "Amazing Grace." The gifts were presented by members of the congregation. The priest's chalice was of black metal, while the ciboriums and smaller chalices were of silver. An unusual cameo appearance was made by a silver flagon holding additional wine, but it was quickly emptied into the smaller chalices and made a dignified exit. The congregation stood as soon as the priest began the Orate Fratres invitation, except for a boy a few rows ahead of me, who stood at the correct time; once again the young people saved the day.

The Heritage Mass remained in place as the setting for the remainder of the Mass. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. He ad-libbed the introduction to the Lord's Prayer, and seemed to get lost in the process, causing me to grow concerned that something untoward might happen. Finally, he began the Lord's Prayer, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

An additional priest and the six lay ministers assisted the priest in distributing Holy Communion in exactly the way one might expect in a church of this configuration; four in front and four at the break. We sang the Communion hymn, "On Eagle's Wings."

After Communion, several brief announcements were made. The priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing before departing via the center aisle of the hymn, "Take the Word of God With You," which is often heard when catechumens are dismissed after the Liturgy of the Word. We sang two verses, and almost everyone remained until the end, sparing me yet another solo, a task to which I am wholly unsuited.

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In Kingman, Arizona, stop for Mass at St. Mary Church on East Spring Street. No matter where you go, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.

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Same Sunday in 1999